Art is the only way to run away without leaving home. ~Twyla Tharp

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Kellise and the Giant Pencil

It's almost the end of the school year and at this point, I usually start getting teary eyed thinking about my 8th graders leaving me and heading to high school.  The difference in them from when they walked into my classroom as 6th grade children to now, when they are ready to walk out into the very different world of high school as young adults is phenomenal.  I feel so lucky to have been a part of their lives for the last three years.  This year is going to be particularly rough as I stand on the Bulldog saying good bye to so many kids that I have grown to love.

One of those students in particular is Kellise.  The funny thing is, that I haven't taught her at all except for this last semester of her middle school career.  She is one of those kids that has just gotten under my skin.  I have an art history calendar that was given to me as a Christmas gift and she never fails to ask me what the art of the day is.  Every day we connect, even for just a few minutes, which isn't always easy in a room full of kids demanding attention, not to mention the other-you-don't-belong-to-me-right-now-but-you-know-I'll-do-anything-for-you-kids pouring into my room on an almost daily basis needing string, or construction paper, or a pencil or can I please use your hole puncher or can I have some lotion and a band aid?

So, today's blog is not so much about what art we are doing in my class right now (for the record, we are finishing kaleidocycles and about to start a quick Robert Indiana lettering project) but a little exchange that Kellise and I had the other day.

I need to preface this post by explaining that I have a lot of STUFF in my classroom.  I have a shelf behind my desk that is full of art books and art projects of students past and photographs and artist puppets and colored pencils made out of branches and treasures that I have been gifted by students or that I have picked up here and there over the years.  And things that I just don't want in my house (and holy cow what am I going to do with all this junk when I retire?) My students are drawn to this stuff like mosquitoes are drawn to a porch light at night.  They are always messing with my stuff.  I really need to relax because it's kind of there for them. And it makes my room fun.  One of my most fascinating treasures is a giant pencil.  I got it at a now defunct (in my part of the world, at least) store called Space Savers about 15 years ago.  It's a real, working pencil with a real, working eraser, except it is about a foot and a half long. My kids love to write their names and draw little pictures with it.  I tell them that I don't use it much because, duh, I don't have a pencil sharpener that big.

The other day, I was helping Kellise glue her kaleidocycle together when she picked up my giant pencil off the shelf.  (Seriously can someone please invent a glue stick that will actually stick heavy, folded paper together without too much force or pressure or complaining or frustration.  That doesn't cost a fortune?  Please?) Kellise asked me the usual questions about the pencil that I have heard about a thousand times: Where did you get it?  Does it really write?  Can I use it?  But then, she said...

Wouldn't it be neat if you could write your life, like you have been living it, and if you made a mistake, you could take the eraser and erase your mistake and rewrite it?  You could just decide that you don't want to do something or say something and erase it and rewrite it so that it is better.  

That would be awesome, Kellise.  Indeed it would. You really have no idea how awesome that would be.

And then she said...but you would have to charge the pencil.

At first I thought she meant that the pencil would charge a price for rewriting your life.  That you would have to pay the pencil back for every mistake that it fixed, for every unpleasant moment that it rewrote.  But she meant that it would have to be some kind of electronic pencil in order to work.  But I told her my idea...that you would have to pay the pencil, some way, for every moment that it took back and changed.

She liked my idea.

So we decided that for every moment that the Giant Pencil rewrote, you would have to sacrifice a moment at the end of your life.  (but you would still have to plug the pencil in, because, electronics you know)

And then I showed Kellise the Giant Green crayon that sits on the file cabinet behind my desk.  Kellise smiled and said that you could draw a lot of pictures to change your life with that one.

After her class leaves, I have a short planning time and as I sat there trying to get my end of the year act together, I thought that I might just need to incorporate more writing + art in my classroom next year. (What?  Thinking about next year already? Noooooo!)

But, that moment that Kellise and I just had would not be one that I would erase and rewrite.  For sure.   How lucky am I to be inspired by my kids as much as I hope that I inspire them? 

The Giant Pencil itself!

And a giant green crayon.

Did I mention the giant (non-working, for show only) scissors.

Aaaaaaaaand the giant calculator.  I think I may need a giant supplies intervention.

The Shelf of Intrigue.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Sharpie Shoes and Art Club

I have had an art club for about half the years that I have been teaching Middle School.  I enjoy it and recently, most of the students that join me are 6th graders, primarily because there aren't a lot of other after school activities for them to participate in and band students.  Band students, because of the nature of our schedule, don't get the opportunity to take art.  Band is a year long, every day of the week program and as it turns out, those kids are also some of the most creative, so I am glad to be able to offer them a visual art outlet and get to know them on a deeper level.

This year we did some fun activities that I have been wanting to try.  I had on and off about 10 dedicated students that came every week and a few more that came every now and then.  As happens, the last couple of weeks, I have been inundated with meetings and had to cancel art club for the week with is always met with boo hoos from both the students and myself.  I have one last project planned for my kiddos this year and I'll get to that in a minute.  Before I do, I want to share the latest project with you.

Because of the nature of art club, I can do things that I can't really do with my regular classes.  I can do bigger things on a bigger scale.  There are less of us.  Storage isn't as much of a problem and supplies aren't either.  I've been lucky to have had things donated, been able to purchase things with the small ($5.00) fee that I charged and have kids bring in items to use.  That was the case with the latest project.

If you look on the interwebs, you will see that 'Sharpie Shoes' are a thing.  A simple Google search yields millions of image results.  The first thing that we did to prepare ourselves and get inspired was to look at some of those images and sketch some of our favorites.  A couple of my cuties have their own pinterest account (be still my heart) and saved their favorites there.  Had I been using my head, which often doesn't happen until it's about a day late and a dollar short around here, I would have searched "sneaker templates", which I obviously did after the fact and come up with this. As a side note, fast finishers in my class are loving designing their own sneakers using print outs of these shoes.  It's been fun for them to do as they are finishing up projects and need to find something creative to do.

A few more of my students have to finish up their shoes but we will be starting a new project on Monday since we only have 4 more meetings until End-of-Year testing starts and I want to squeeze justonemoreproject in before we say our goodbyes for the summer.

Here's a few pics of our finished sharpie shoes:

Cage and his creation. I'm not sure of the theme here but he seemed happy with them!

Emma loved hers, put them on right away and has worn them several times.

Preston's design.

Hayden made these for his little sister.  I might have to have him make a pair for me since I am a fan of Hello Kitty!

I should have taken a picture of Alyssa's face when she finished.  She was so proud of her shoes!

When the rest of the kids finish theirs, I'll edit to add those pics.  I also need to take a picture of our band directors sharpie shoes that she created over Spring Break.  In a fit of jealousy a moment of creativity, Miss A designed an awesome pair of Minion Sneakers that she has worn to school a couple of times already. She is a big fan of the minions (who isn't, really?) and she has musical instrument playing minions all over her shoes.

Our next project is going to be a 3D paper mache' letter.  Shhhhhh!  Don't tell anyone but this is kind of what we are going to do. I love paper mache' but ohmygoshthemess and don't even talk to me about storage...