Music is a great way to set a tone in your classroom, reward your students, or to add an additional learning element to the overall classroom experience.
I first started thinking about music in a classroom when I taught in an elementary school. My third-grade class said, “Don’t forget to tell our homeroom teacher that we were good in our special area because if we get enough stars, we get to listen to Christmas music.” That next day I popped into this classroom and was so shocked to see all the students on task at their desks while a CD player on a low volume was playing a Mannheim Steamroller CD. I think the teacher had purposely turned it on a lower level, so the students got quiet to hear it. I have since tried this in my classes, and it is correct, if you turn on music to reward your students, they will get quieter to hear the music. This is an excellent classroom management strategy. I love to have this dangling carrot to reward students but also something simple like background music to take away when voices get out of hand.
I know that students are exposed to enough music from Disney CDs and the radio, so I do not play any Disney or top 40 hits in my classroom. Instead, I take the opportunity to use the music in the classroom to expose and teach the students about some great artists. I have a jar of names in the classroom, and once a week, a student selects an artist’s name from the jar, and they become our Musician of the Week. The artists in the jar include Fleetwood Mac, Beatles, Mozart, and Michael Jackson, just to name a few. I then go to my favorite streaming services such as Spotify, Pandora, or Amazon Music and type in that artist. I love it when after the Beatles week, a parent came to me and said that her child had correctly identified a Beatles song that was playing in the grocery store.
The last great way to use music in your classroom is to enhance your lesson plans. If you are doing drawings on animals in the safari, why not try to find some African beats from the world music section? It would be a great tone-setter in the classroom and auditorily transport your students to that time and place. Global music is a terrific way to add a layer of multiculturalism to your classroom with very little effort. It can easily become an anticipatory set to help hook the students as they are walking into class, or as background music while they are working.
Below is a link to a general Spotify album that I use in my classroom. As of this moment it has 52 of my favorite songs from Motown.
Here is also a link to another Motown’s Greatest Hits on YouTube. It is 2 hours and 24 minutes of some of my favorite songs.
How do you use music in your classroom and what are your favorite albums? Comment below to share your resources with others.
Don’t you love the coziness of a crackling fire? You can pull your rocking chair right up to it and do a little weaving or read a good book. I think background ambiance can set a mood, so I have been using screensavers at school to do just that. If you have a projector, a screen, and the internet here are a list of the best screen savers on YouTube for your classroom.
Here is a picture of my classroom ready for Friendsgiving with the fireplace on the screen in the background.
It all started with an episode of Bob Ross's Joy of Painting (Netflix). I showed it during some open studio time in the classroom just as background noise. Bob, as you know, is wonderful and so soothing so he was a perfect choice while my students created. It was open studio time, so the students were busy working and I was walking around slowly giving advice and directions for their projects. I noticed a few students actually watching the Bob Ross video instead of working, and I redirected them to continue working on their own artwork. After this I went in search for a video that could set a mood but also be background. I didn't want students to be caught up in watching the screen like they watched the Bob Ross video. YouTube is filled with screensavers, many are 5 to 10 hours so I don't have to worry about what is on the overhead screen. I can literally, like the commercial says, set it and forget it. These are in no particular order, I encourage you to try them all.
1. Crackling Fireplace
I use this one on a cold snowy day, and it seems to warm up the room. It is also good for story time, time when students are laying on the big pillows weaving, and for Holiday parties. FYI- This one is 10 hours!
2. Aquarium (Water Zoos)
Even my college students love an aquarium. I have the Monterey Bay Aquarium Jelly Fish webcam as a permeant tab open on my laptop so I can click right to it and see the jellies. They also have webcams on otters if that is more your style. This is great for any “under the sea” unit or just to get your students to draw from life in a quick manner. Click the image of the jellyfish to be taken to the Monterey Bay Live Cams. The Jellyfish cam has music playing behind the swimming jellies, but the other webcams such as the otters or sharks do not. I go back and forth on the music so the following YouTube link is an aquarium screensavers without the music.
Here is a second Aquarium with natural sounds instead of music in the background.
Being from a land-locked state I love the ocean, but do not get to visit as much as I would like. This ocean waves helps and is very soothing to hear and see the waves come in and go out with the tides.
4. Winter Snow
Just as the ocean waves is a hit in the middle of winter because it gets us dreaming of warmer weather, when school starts in September and it is still Hot, Hot, Hot, try this YouTube video of a snowstorm. It might also be a great screen saver on the day you are painting that polar bear in a snowstorm.
5. Birds in the trees
It feels like a hike in the middle of your day. This screen saver is a gem to play in the background on any day but especially on a day when you might be working on drawing birds or insects.
6. Cave sounds
My pre-service teachers showed me this video that they used with their cave art lesson. It was a great addition to the overall class period and really set a tone that we were in a cave.
I know there are others, comment below on the ones you use in your classroom on a daily basis or for special assignments.
My students in Art Education: secondary spent part of our class time marbling paper today. We are allowing the paper to dry and then we will create 3-Dimentional pumpkins out of paper and pipe cleaners.
Marbling Paper is so quick and easy to do.
Shallow pan, I used aluminum roasting pans
Shaving cream- the cheap traditional kind, not the gel
Tooth pick or dowel rod to blend the colors
Scraper, we used paint scrapers but old student ids or credit cards will work.
Thank you for taking a look at how easy and fun it is to marble paper. You can use the paper to scrap book, make a sketchbook, or any paper crafts.
Leave a comment on how you use your marbled paper.
This is my first year to do a food plate in Art Education class and I am loving the results. Be Prepared for all the photos because so many of them turned out great. I began talking to my class about PopArt and showing the class pictures of food in artwork such as Andy Warhol’s 100 Soup Cans or Claes Olderburg’s Spoonbridge Cherry sculpture. We had previously discussed 2D elements that are flat and 3D elements that are sculptures, so a project where they had to combine both 2D and 3D was appealing.
The second objective in this lesson was the student had to use multiple media to create their projects. They have a tendency to stay in their comfort zone, and this objective got them moving around the room to use paint, clay, yarn, beads, cotton balls, etc.
Having my Art Ed students begin to think about how art can be incorporated into the Core subjects, such as, a social studies unit with foods from other countries or a science lesson on nutrition and making good food choices based on the food pyramid, is a good place for them to be when we return from fall break and begin constructing a lesson plan.
The students did draw out of a basket the category (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Snack, Dessert) and then brainstormed three ideas on paper before they were given the supplies. Most students took home Model Magic air-dry clay to make their 3D element and let it dry overnight before bringing it back to class to paint.
I just can't stop posting photos! This project turned out so great, and the students loved it!
I put a new Bulletin Board is up outside of my classroom. I think it is the perfect spot for the class when they are leaving my classroom, and can just grab one of the post-it notes that they might need.
The post-it notes say anything from, “a hug” to “courage” to “coffee.” Whatever a person might be needing on a particular day.
Along with this bulletin board effort I have placed Blessing Boxes around the Art department in different locations the last two years. The first year it was outside my classroom and I don’t think it was well used. Last year I placed one by the main entry doors and filled it with portable ready to eat or easily microwaved food. I like this for two reasons, one the students know it is there, many of our art students are working in the building long hours, and they know this box is an option for them. The second reason I like this is there is a way, a place for them to give back as well. I have found in my experience, when you give students an opportunity to “pay it forward” they will.
I am providing these Bulletin Boards and Blessing Boxes and I am happy to fill them up and contribute because it adds to the whole experience and can be a help for students in college, but I love that other students are contributing to them as well. This meme stated that, “You can’t teach Blooms until you take care of the Maslow stuff.” In reference to Bloom’s Taxonomy with moving our students to higher order thinking and learning skills, and Maslow Hierarchy of Needs. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs states that you can’t learn if you are hungry in class and your basic needs of food, clothing, shelter, etc. are not met.
Something for us as educators to think about…
Recently I went on an artist’s retreat to the Ozark mountains in northwest Arkansas. It was a great time with other artists all doing our art side by side. At this retreat, there was a printmaker, a metal jewelry designer, a fiber artist, a painter, and a draftsman. I learned many things, just working alongside these other artists, and being part of this community.
The fiber artist, Caroline Day, was doing some ice dyeing, and I had the opportunity to watch and learn. I had purchased some raw cotton material to dye in this new method, and I ended up making the fabric into eight napkins for my table.
The method of ice dying was easy and fun, and I can’t wait to show my students in the fall. I love the look, it turned out vibrant and beautiful and like a watercolor painting, completely different from my experience tie-dyeing.
Here I am with some amazing artists on a mountain in Arkansas!
I am not an expert on ice dying, but I loved the process and will be doing this method again.
Mix soda ash, 2 cups per gallon of hot water, and let the pre-washed fabric soak for 10 to 15 minutes. After that time, pull out the fabric and squeeze out the excess water. You may want to wear rubber gloves for that step.
Set up the dying center. Caroline had trays to catch the dripping and a grate to hold the fabric up while it was dying. You can see that set up in this photo.
Scrunch the fabric to lay it on the grate and begin piling it with ice. Caroline told me it was best when the ice is a little melty, so it sticks to the fabric. After the ice is covering all of the fabric, you sprinkle up to two tablespoons of dry powdered dyes. As the ice melts, it slowly transfers to the fabric.
I love this method because you cannot control the dye. You never know what you are going to get.
We let the ice melt and the fabric sit overnight and then hung it up on a makeshift clothesline to see the vibrant colors.
The last step is to rinse your fabric. You should rinse your fabric in cold water until it runs clean, then warm water until the water runs clean, and finally hot water until the water runs clean. After that rinsing process, I put my pieces in the washing machine by themselves before cutting them up to make napkins.
Here are my finished napkins ready for my next dinner party!
Oh….. relaxing summer! I know people joke about teachers having their summers “off” but when you look at all the doctor’s appointments I have failed to schedule during the year, the workshops, conferences, continuing education classes to take to remain certified, summer school to teach for that little bit of extra money, and vacation bible school to help with at church teachers, teachers rarely have the summer off. This summer is my first one in I don’t know how long (five years?) that I don’t have a long list of things to do.
I’m in recovery!
Since finishing my doctorate in April, I have heard many people ask what I intend to do this summer, trying to help fill my time with activities. It has been hard to have firm boundaries and to pick and choose their seemingly good-intentioned advances. I had to say no to so many things while I was in grad school and especially last year as I worked on my dissertation, that I want to be normal again and go and do everything. I called last year the season of sacrifice, so if that is true, this season of fun activities will be the season of plenty.
Plenty of rest, plenty of food, plenty of sun, and plenty of books. I still love books, (I thought grad school would have killed that love of reading with all those journal articles) and now I get to read for pleasure. I have unlocked the joys of storytelling in fictional books.
With all that said, here are a couple of books I recommend…
The Chaperone by Laura Moriarty
The Chaperone is a story of a woman who accompanies a young dancer to New York from their hometown of Wichita, KS. The girl’s journey is fantastic, but the story is really about what happens to the Chaperone while in New York and how that changes her life.
When I was looking for an image of this book cover, I discovered that PBS Studios made it into a movie that came out March of 2019. The movie stars Elizabeth McGovern (Downton Abbey) and Haley Lu Richardson.
Here is the trailer for the movie:
The next book is the very popular:
Educated, a Memoir by Tara Westover
Educated seems to be on everyone’s list for a summer read, so it was hard to get my hands on. I was waiting for the audiobook from my local library for over a month when my friend sent the actual book as a graduation present. I went back and forth, listening to the book in my car and reading the book on my nightstand. The story is a memoir, so it follows the remembrances of the author, Tara in her life journey of not going to school being raised by their survivalist Mormon parents in Idaho to going to BYU and eventually getting her Ph.D. from Trinity College at Cambridge. According to her website, she was a visiting fellow at Harvard University in 2010.
Here is Tara Westover on Ellen talking about her memoir.
Enjoy your summer reading!
Years ago, my sister and I took our turn playing with the babies in the church nursery during the second service. I quickly realized that the last 10 to 15 minutes before pickup time was the hardest. Those babies were done with me and wanted their mammas. That was the time my sister would break out the bubbles. Babies love bubbles! To be honest, I love bubbles and this last semester I learned that my college students love bubbles. Bubbles are universal and a great cheap trick for the last 15 minutes of any class!
I separated my Art Education class into two different centers for the day and one half painted with bubbles, and the other half drew bubbles to show how a theme can go from elementary to secondary students.
Painting with Bubbles
What you will need is heavy 80-pound drawing paper or watercolor paper, tempera liquid paint, dish soap, small cups, and a straw for each person. In each small cup put two parts water to one part soap, and just a small amount (1 Tablespoon or so) paint. Have the students stir up the liquid with their straw and then they simply blow into the cup to create bubbles. When the bubbles are on the top of their cup, set a piece of paper on the cup to transfer the bubble to the paper. The bubbles eventually pop on the paper and leave their round impression like a print. I made a dozen different colors of bubble cups, and when the students wanted to change colors, they moved their straw to another cup. (That is the secret to not making everyone sick, each student has their straw instead of a straw per color!)
The students layered color bubbles on their paper until class was over and then stacked them on the drying rack. The next day they wrote a quote on the dry paper like a beautiful watercolor background.
To draw iridescent bubbles, my students began with black construction paper and colored pencils or oil pastels. The media was their choice. They practiced drawing circles with the compass until they had three to five concentric circles. They should draw lightly because the circles are only used as a guide to know where to place the reflection areas. As a class, we discussed the reflections in our eyes and how the squares match the squares of the windows where the light is coming into the classroom. Most students followed this same reflection pattern with the shapes inside the bubbles. Any color will work, but I found pastel colors of turquoise, green, and purple make a nice cool toned bubble.
I saved the bright white and yellow for the dots and bursts of light. My students also enjoyed following this YouTube tutorial:
Hope you enjoyed this blog post and share some photos of your own bubble artwork!
Accommodations benefit all learners and it is your job as a teacher to make all learners that enter your classroom, no matter their level or ability, to feel comfortable, confident, and engaged.
Art is important for all learners because it provides another avenue for communication. The openness of art and how there are many solutions to problems naturally allows the freedom of expression or voices of multiple learners. Art provides opportunities to problem solve, to observe the world around you, and to strengthen aesthetic awareness with critical thinking skills.
Make sure the student can access the art materials comfortably, think about counter/desk height, stools with adjustable seats, and overhead lighting that can cause a glare.
Don’t be afraid to change project requirements
Small changes can make all learners successful, such as, 2 prints instead of 6 for a child struggling with stamina, or larger paper for students struggling with fine motor skills.
Don’t be afraid to change the media
Foam blocks are easier to carve than linoleum during a printmaking unit, and Model Magic is a great air dry clay alternative to traditional clay that still keeps the spirit of the project but make it user friendly.
Make it applicable and relevant
All artist look for meaning with their work. For some having art class is purely processed-based: spraying watercolor, smearing paint, dragging a tool a certain way.
Accommodations that are common in the art room:
The local elementary school has been hosting a STEM (Science* Technology* Engineering* Math) night for many years. It was a cross between a science fair and a robotics team demonstration. Since the college art department has gotten involved, it is now called STEAM because we added the “A” for ART. Pair the STEAM night with an added book fair from the library, and a local pizza restaurant donated dinner, and you have a fun and educational time for the community.
The student organization of future art teachers was asked to set up a booth during the STEAM night. Last year we were a novice to the STEAM night adventure, and we had make-it-and-take-it paper masks. We had long lines at our table and major glue issues. This year we followed suit with the other booths and had an experience booth whereby the students and families could interact and enjoy but not make something that needed to dry and be picked up later.
Our idea was a pegboard and colored golf tees poked into the holes to create a pixilated picture. This project reminded me of the old LiteBrite from the 70s and 80s. Since my LiteBrite ‘s lightbulb was always burnt out this pegboard was very similar to my childhood experience.
We used a pegboard we bought at the hardware store ($10) and painted it black with spray paint and 1000 golf tees we got on Amazon ($20) we spray painted various colors. Spray painting the golf tees were the most difficult part of putting this project together. We used empty boxes and sprayed the golf tees in the boxes a little at a time and then shook the box to make sure they were evenly coated. You have to continue to shake the box for an hour so the golf tees will not dry stuck together in a large ball. We tried to line the golf tees up on a piece of styrofoam but the spray paint dissolved the styrofoam. If you have an idea of how to easier paint the golf tees, I would love to hear about your ideas.
The pegboard stood up on the card table and the tees were separated by color in front of the table ready to be arranged into art by the elementary kids.
We had a lot of fun, and I hope you will as well.
The Dot by Peter Reynolds encourages us to make a mark and see where it takes us. International Dot Day is a day inspired by Peter Reynold’s book and is celebrated each year on September 15th-ish. This year the 15th fell on a weekend, so we celebrated in Art Education class the following week.
The day started with students and teachers wearing anything, and everything, with dots. There were polka-dotted rain boots, scarfs, shirts, pajama pants, dresses, and socks! The abundance of dots gave the room a festive feel. I passed out snacks to the students, Dots Candy, and Trix Cereal that not only fit the dot theme but added to the colorful atmosphere. The students watched The Dot video and read the book.
Each student table group had discussion questions that they answered together to reflect on the broader themes in the book. Discussion questions can be downloaded here.
After the small group table discussions, students learned the Dot Song, singing and doing the actions along with the following youtube video. Each student finished the day creating their mark and displaying them on the bulletin board.
It was a great day of creativity, courage, and community!
When I started college way back in the 1990s, I was an Art Therapy major. That never worked out for me because it was too much Psychology and not enough Art. In one of my Art Therapy classes, my professor went over the medical format of SOAP notes. Used primarily in doing patient intakes SOAP notes are an acronym, so each letter stands for a word and in this case SOAP Notes stand for Subjective-Objective-Assessment-Plan.
This year I began using the SOAP note format as writing prompts in my art class. I think it is essential for students to be self-reflective before a class critique and the SOAP notes help them gather the information they would like to share with the class about their inspiration and studio processes. As some of you know, leading a class critique can be challenging to get students to go beyond, “I like it” to explain why they like a piece of art, or what prompted them to go in a particular direction or make a decision regarding their artwork. The students writing their answers to the SOAP notes beforehand also focus their attention during the critique on studio practices or patterns they have not thought about previously.
Subjective: Here you document your inner experiences of your creativity in class. Here is where you can record your stream of consciousness. You can also document your observations about the research you did, and our previous class discussions. (Example: How is gesture important in my work? What did I learn from the thumbnail sketches I did? Why do my drawings need to look dark and moody for this topic? Etc.)
Objective: Here you write feedback that you receive from me (the teacher) during the class, or you can also document peer comments from previous critiques or working sessions. What did you take from this feedback?
Assessment: Write what you believe contributed to your most successful moment for this assignment or artwork. Also, write what contributed to your least successful moment in class. In other words, in this portion, you document your diagnosis of yourself in class including research, participation, and studio time.
Plan: In this section, you need to state what you feel is the most important plan for you to adopt for next class. What can you do to make your participation in class a better experience? Write a one sentence plan of action for the next class.
I hope that SOAP notes are something you will consider implementing in your class critiques, and please share your tips for successful critiques.
Sticks of Fate is a creative spin on the classic technique of a teacher calling on students to ask them questions. The teacher has a cup with popsicle sticks each with a student’s name on them. The sticks are stirred around, and the teacher randomly calls on a student to answer a question or contribute in the classroom. There are endless ways the sticks can be used in the classroom, but some important ways would be during discussion, brainstorming, presenting individual or group ideas, or even paring students for projects.
When the can is picked up by the teacher and swirled around it gets everyone’s attention because it uses randomness to the teacher’s advantage; therefore, students feel more accountable to not only listening in class but listening to their peers in class to summarize and demonstrate active listening techniques.
Sticks of Fate: May the odds be ever in your favor!
Lemov, D. Teach Like a Champion: 49 Techniques that Put Students on the Path to College (2010). San Francisco, Jossey-Bass Publishing
I am so thrilled with the feedback I received from my Getting to Know You Sculpture Project I rolled all that encouragement into a line project for my students. See what a little positive reinforcement can do to a teacher!
Part Two is an assignment that came after a lecture on the Elements of Art (Line, Color, Shape, Space, Texture, and Value) and was a quick way to incorporate line and color into a drawing project.
I had the student look at the handout to answer questions about their summer vacation. If they did these things last summer they would make the appropriate lines on their paper drawing paper with pencils. The students colored in each smaller shape that was made when they overlapped the lines with the media of their choice. I prefer oil pastels because they are basically juicy crayons, cover quickly, and are vibrant. Other media choices for fast application and limited drying times would be markers, crayons, chalk pastels, or tempera cakes.
After the shapes were colored in completely the students traced the original lines with a bingo dotter filled with India ink. Bingo dotters makes a consistent dark black line very easily, especially for little hands. I bought a gross of them on Amazon, half of which I filled with glue and the other half ink to draw.
I love the finished look! I would love to hear if you try this lesson in your class. The handout is available as a download and you should feel free to tweak it for your needs.
Blessings on a great start to the school year!
Today is the first day of school, and I always like to jump right in with an art activity. Who said that the first day is just the syllabus day? Not in Art Education!
The Getting to Know You Sculpture is inspired and gleaned from a fellow art teacher, Cassie Stephens. Cassie teaches at an elementary school so her prompts were things like “I can tie my shoes” and “I am missing teeth.” That is great for elementary kiddos, but I needed to adapt my questions to meet college student’s needs. I also did some larger categories such as play sports. While I am walking around the room if I see them make a black arch, I can ask what sport they play. I also have different shades of paper so they can pick their favorite, or add different colors for each item, such as, pets. I have seen up to six green arches for different pets.
The wildcard paper is the paper I painted last night. I cut it into strips, and it can be anything they want to share with the class. They can use as many or few papers as they would like.
Pictured is the painted paper before it was cut into strips, and all of the strips of paper on the table ready for ensemble.
I run this beginning activity as a quick Think-Pair-Share activity. Each student spends 30 minutes creating their sculpture quietly at their desk; this becomes the Thinking part of the three steps. I walk around and try to ask some leading questions. After the initial 30 minutes, I have them meet a colleague at their table to Pair up and ask about each other’s sculpture. I allow 5 minutes for this Pair time. The final step is when we all come back together as a class, and I ask for volunteers to Share out with the whole class something they learned about their new colleague. I have found it is sometimes easier for people to talk about someone else than themselves.
This sculpture is an excellent addition to my first day of class activities because it is quick and easy to build, doesn’t require many materials, and everyone can find it successful. I mean everyone! I hear many times a semester, “This is my first ever art class” and “I don’t have any creative bones in my body.” Everyone can be successful.
I hope this inspires your first day of school activities. I would love to hear from you if you try this Getting to Know You Sculpture in your classroom. You can download the handout here and then tweak it to fit your needs.
And just because it is in my head, here is the song Getting to Know You from the King and I!
With my tear ducts thoroughly lubricated I write today about the new documentary, Won’t You Be My Neighbor? This documentary has a release date of June 29, 2018, and is a very timely story for all grown-up viewers.
Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood ran for 32 seasons from February 19, 1968, until August 31, 2001. Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood also had 17 prime time specials that ranged in topics from a Christmas special to an address after 9/11 when Fred Rogers stated his now famous line of, “Look for the helpers. To this day, especially in times of 'disaster,' I remember my mother's words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers — so many caring people in this world.”
I sat in the darkened theatre seats with my sister who also grew up watching Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood and my college-aged nibblings, and we were all so moved by this movie. We left the theatre saying how loved we felt! The niece and nephew did poke fun at their mother and me for the number of tissues we consumed during the hour and a half movie. I explained it away as not just a big cry at the end; it was that one tear rolling down my cheek the entire time. It was a careful blend of a nostalgic feeling of a simple time eating cereal before school and Mr. Roger was always in the background setting the tone for the day. This documentary also highlights Fred Roger’s humanity in his beginnings as a pastor and how he used the new media of television in his mission of children. You can see his love in his eyes, and see his heart right there on his cardigan sweater, that his mother knitted for him. As my niece said it was interesting to see Mr. Rogers younger having grown up with him in the 90s, for me it was interesting to see clips from the first episode in 1968 at the peak of the Vietnam War and how King Friday XIII wanted to build a wall to keep other people out of his land. Wow, how timely that lesson! I wonder if the animated spin-off, Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood is addressing immigration and the southern border wall? And I wonder what new media we as educators should be using to reach our students?
Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood tackled issues head-on, and part of Fred Roger’s mission was not to sugar-coat issues but to talk to children like they are people that live in our world and hear new vocabulary. In the documentary, they show clips of Lady Aberlin, played by Betty Aberlin talking to Daniel Tiger (puppet, voiced by Fred Rogers) about what the word, assassination means. It was a relevant and heartfelt moment on the show. As was the scene when Mr. Rogers cooled his feet in a wading pool and asked Officer Clemmons, played by Francois Clemmons, a black man, to join him. At the time, racial segregation in public pools was a hot-button issue of debate in the country, and Mr. Roger’s did a small gesture that let you know where he stood on the issue. “Love is at the root of everything- all learning, all parenting, all relationships. Love or the lack of it.” Fred Rogers, Won’t You Be My Neighbor, 2018.
Won’t You Be My Neighbor? the documentary is filled with guest stars and personal interviews of the people that knew Fred Rogers the best. Fred’s wife Joanne Rogers and Yo-Yo Ma speak of the friendship they had with Fred, and Johnny Costa and Nick Tallo who are former co-workers are some of the funniest interviews that show Fred Rogers’s humor. A section of the film that I have been thinking about is when members of the PBS family are in Washington defending their funding to starch Congressmen. Fred Rogers testifies before Congress, stating that he is not going to read his prepared document of facts and figures regarding the impact on educational programming for children because the Congressman has already received the document and he trusts that he and they will read it, thoughtfully. I have been thinking of this wondering if I, as a public educator, would trust that my members of Congress are reading documents thoughtfully? This is a terrific scene in the movie as are the poignant interview moments from Junlei Li, the Director of the Fred Rogers Center outside of Pittsburgh, and between Francois Clemmons, but I don’t want to give you too many spoilers. You need to see the film yourself.
When looking up the movie on Rotten Tomatoes, it has received a 99% rating. I scanned through eight pages of reviews to find the one reviewer that did not like this movie. Apparently, Brandon Weatherbee of Brightest Young Things gave the movie a 6.6/10 and thought the movie was overly sentimental, “emotional manipulation approved by the Rogers family.” Yeah, that was the point! You can see the love in Fred Roger’s eyes and isn’t that what we all need right now? Someone to look at us lovingly for an hour and a half and tell us that we are loved? Fred Rogers said it best, “The greatest thing that we can do is to help somebody know that they are loved and capable of loving.”
Glen Gaylord from the Super Reviewer started her review with a twist on the popular song, “It’s a beautiful day in the Cinema, a beautiful day in the Cinema, won’t you go see…” I felt this same way. I love the man, I love the film.
If you have seen the film, please comment below on your feelings of how Fred Rogers was intentional in every aspect of his life. Thank you for reading!
This last year I moved from my small liberal arts private college to a much larger public-funded state university. During this move, I have learned a great deal about government-run institutions and have begun a dialogue regarding how to be a Christian in public school.
When I type out the words “Christian” and “public school” I begin to get a little nervous. Thinking that perhaps a mob of strangers will be at my door screaming about the separation of church and state! Spirituality at work is an area that many teachers, caregivers, and professors deal with on a daily basis, but rarely discuss. In Dallas Willard’s article, The Call to Think for God (1988) he states that “…the Christian who expresses concern about this balance is rarely if ever, concerned about being too spiritual” (page, 2). This statement can mean two different things. I have heard talk that the court of public opinion thinks that college professors are communist and Christian students need to be mindful when they go to college to not take in all the liberal ideals. The second way to interpret this statement is from the vantage point that Christian teachers are trying not to say overly spiritual things in their classroom, as to not offend anyone. The separation between spiritual and the secular is evident in the fact that I do not call myself a “Christian scholar” or a “Christian professor” or even a “Christian artist.” I am a Christian whether I mention it in my classes or not. Therefore, being a Christian is how I do all things. Being a Christian is the lens through which I view the world. Hughes, (2005) asks, “do we have an identity that stands at the core of our being, an identity that informs every other aspect of our lives and around which every other aspect of our lives can be integrated” (Page, xvii)?
C. S. Lewis was a great example of how an academic scholar can balance or even work harmoniously merging their worlds of being a Christian and being an academic. Bruce Edwards (1998) explores C. S. Lewis’s Christianity and scholarly writings to determine that he was “a man who refused to compartmentalize his faith or his vocation” (page, 2). C. S. Lewis who taught at both Oxford University and Cambridge University is best known for his works of fiction, The Screwtape Letters, The Chronicles of Narnia, and The Space Trilogy. He also wrote the non-fiction book Mere Christianity. When visiting London in 2010, I learned that C. S. Lewis was criticized for writing to a popular audience instead of more scholarly writings when he was a Professor at Oxford University. We toasted him at his old pubs of the Lamb and Flag and also at the Eagle and Child feeling like we needed to raise two glasses to this professor for reminding us to get out of our ivory towers and appeal to the masses.
C. S. Lewis’s faith was not set aside while he did his job or even went about normal daily activities. There was a seamless connection between the two worlds or a philosophy that the worlds were not separated. Pointed out in Willard’s article is the connection in the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke the connection to loving God, “with all your heart, soul, mind and strength” (strength omitted in Matthew), Matthew 22:37, Mark 12:30, and Luke 10:27. Reframing this thought as our intellect or mind as a spiritual gift leans itself to the connection between our academic world and spiritual world. Romans 12:6-8, lists the spiritual gifts of “prophecy, serving, teaching, exhortation, giving, leadership, and mercy.” What is our role in education if not serving, teaching, and leadership?
In public school we as teachers have been taught to not disturb the norm and accommodate to the current wishes, but does that mean we should not unapologetically love our students? C. S. Lewis “rejected the split between the sacred and the secular” (Edwards, page 5) and in doing so found the balance for his life. I am still striving for this balance in my world but reframing the conversation in terms of my spiritual gifts is a start.
Edwards, B. (1998). C. S. Lewis: Public Christian and Scholar. Retrieved from: http://personal.bgsu.edu
Willard, D. (1988). The Call to Think for God, commencement address. Retrieved from: http://dwillard.org
Hughes, R. (2005). The Vocation of a Christian Scholar: How Christian faith can sustain the life of the mind. William B. Eerdmans Publishing, Cambridge, UK.
Today I wanted to take a slightly different approach to this blog post and share with you some interview tips I have tried over the last 16 years, and hopefully, they will help you land the art teaching job of your dreams. I have successfully landed jobs in elementary, middle school, and high school, but now that I teach future teachers in college the one thing my students always ask me is, “How do I get a job?”
First thing, it is a numbers game. Apply for everything that interests you. When I was in grad school in New York City, I knew that I could not afford to continue to live in that expensive city if I wanted to teach. I applied to every school that was hiring from Juno, Alaska to Dodge City Community College. I had an accordion file folder that I kept all of my application materials and correspondence from each school so if they called for an interview; I would be ready. There were over 50 schools that I applied to from my little apartment in the city. I got several phone interviews and a couple of on-campus interviews before landing my first teaching job 20 miles away from my family in Kansas City, Missouri.
1. Edit your social media
Back when I was first applying for jobs, social media was not a thing. Fast forward till today when before you start the application process you need to take a good look at all of your social media accounts. I have looked up applicants I was interviewing, so trust me when I say, administrators will look you up on social media before your interview. Edit everything that could be questionable. Edit every picture or post of you with a drink in your hand, wearing a bathing suit, or anything that shares your political opinions. You are going to say that you are of the legal age of 21, it was your wedding toast or a vacation in the Bahamas and you look good in that red two-piece bikini. All of these counterpoints are true, but while you are landing your dream job, be ultraconservative online.
2. Do your research
I did not do my research on all 50 schools I applied to that year, but now that I narrow down my search for future jobs I research the job extensively. I like to know it the school is rural or inner-city. I plan how long it will take to drive there for my interview and then because I do not want to be late, I add 30 minutes for traffic. If the interview is close by, I will do a drive by the day before, so I know exactly how to get to the school and what the school looks like.
You can find out a lot on the internet, so check out the school. What are the names of the administrators? These are most likely the people that will be interviewing you so look at their photos so you will be able to identify them. Will you be the only Art teacher in the building, or in the district? If there are several art teachers in the building see what you can find out about the other teacher(s). Many times, teachers have webpages linked to the school’s website that would give you an idea of past projects.
Knowing about the school and district shows your level of interest in the job and is always impressive to people interviewing you.
3. Gather your resources
When I went to my first interview for a teaching job I had a huge three-ring notebook that chronicled all of my lesson plans, bulletin board displays, and my teaching philosophy. Now future teachers in Art Education programs at my university and others across the country create websites to house all of this information, and more, electronically. These are great resources and so easy to attach to online applications or link on your resume. The only problem with these or even bringing an iPad to show your website during the interview is that only one person can look at it at a time. You can provide your website beforehand, but the day of the interview I like to show up with packets for my interviewers. I am visual, and after all, I am applying for a visual teaching position, so I want people to be able to see what I do. Sample lesson plans, or bulletin board displays can be color copied and you can make three packets to put something in the hands of the team interviewing you. I would save pictures of your own artwork for later, focus on community projects, classroom management plans, letters from parents or professors, and possibly your transcripts to compile this packet of your resources.
4. What to wear
I have taken students all over the world on study abroad trips and while in Italy most of the artwork we want to see is in churches or cathedrals. The churches in Italy have dress codes so even though it was hot on the streets of Florence we would all have an extra scarf in our bag to cover up with when we went inside. Those are my general rules for what to wear to an interview. The old signs that say, “No shirt, No shoes, No service” My rule is: “No shoulders, No toes, No thighs.” You should dress one level above the position you are applying, so if you are interviewing for a teacher position, ask yourself what a vice principal or principal would wear. Be conservative, but a little artsy. I love a colorful scarf or an interesting pin but remember that the people interviewing you are not fellow art teachers that appreciate your “wild and wacky” style, so tone it down. You want your interviewers to focus on the words coming out of your mouth, not your funky-felted brooch.
*Side note- If dressing in a Rembrandt costume or a full color wheel skirt ties into how you approach teaching, include photos of these in your packet.
*Side note- Most of my students ask me about my tattoos, do I cover them up when I go for an interview? My tattoos are quite extensive and hard to cover. I do not reveal them all, just as I wouldn’t reveal them all to my elementary students the first day of class. Following my own conservative dressing rules, one or two of them will peek out. My thoughts are if a school does not want to hire me because of this tattoo on my arm, I most likely would not like to work for that school.
5. Arrive early
I do not like to arrive frazzled and stressed out. I like to get to the school at least 30 minutes early to avoid any traffic delays, and I either drive around the surrounding area or wait in my car. I check my teeth for lipstick and walk in 15 minutes early to show I’m punctual, and I care about this interview.
6. Leave your cell phone in the car
It is tempting to bring in your phone when you know you have to wait for the interview. Leave your phone in the car! Bring a book that makes you look like the intellectual teacher of their dreams! I suggest the book, Teaching with Love and Logic by Fay and Funk.
7. Know the questions
Review some possible questions that they will ask you and practice your answers. You will not know everything, there will most likely be a curveball thrown in there but at least you will not be going in blind. Administrators know if you are a first-year teacher or if you have taught for 20 years before they interview you. Even if you are a first-year teacher, you can still have a packet of things from classes or your student teaching experience, and you can show that you are capable of doing the job. Never say, “Well I don’t know because I’ve never taught before.” The questions will most likely be related to classroom management, encounters with a problematic or unmotivated student and how you handled that situation, and why you want to be a teacher. Practice your answers. Practice your answers in front of a mirror to make sure that your face matches your enthusiasm for what you are saying.
Reach out to fellow art teacher friends for some advice on answers to prepare. Most will tell you that during their interview administrators asked about their willingness to collaborate with other teachers. If asked, say Yes! You can do a great lesson on tessellation shapes that ties in with a math unit. Also, state that you have National Standards and a curriculum that is important. You are hired as the Art Education teacher not the supplemental craft helper for the classroom teachers.
8. Don’t make promises you can’t keep
If you are asked during your interview about a community-wide mural project that needs to be completed on the weekends and over spring break, or to decorate every bulletin board in the school, or to decorate the cafeteria every month, be honest with them. It is okay to say, “I don’t think that would benefit my students.” Most administrators like an annual art show, and that is something that you should expect to do. It is okay to say no to other opportunities that do not involve displaying your student’s artwork but instead you being the decorating committee for an alumni luncheon. Be polite, but be honest. If this is a deal breaker, you might not want that job. Don’t say things just to get the job because they will remember and be holding you accountable for those extra duties.
9. Ask questions
At the end of your interview, they will be asked if you have questions. Come with questions in mind, in fact, a whole list in case they already answered several. Possible questions are:
10. Send a thank you note
Within 24 hours of your interview ending, you need to send a thank you note. I always preferred a handwritten thank you note, but an email seems to be the current and fastest way of communication. If multiple people interviewed you, send a thank you note to each person. Explain that it was nice to meet them and how much you enjoyed the school.
I wish you well in landing the gig of your dreams! Please post any questions you have in the comments, as I am happy to help.
I printed this gorilla shirt myself! I have been printing my own t-shirts for clubs and special events for about 10 years, now I'm sharing my secrets with you in this DIY blog post. (Video is at the bottom of the page)
- Embroidery hoop
- Sheer curtain fabric (the thinner the weave, the finer the detail)
- Something to print on (t-shirt, canvas bag, your choice)
- Screen printing ink, but you could get away with acrylic paint if you're on a super budget
- Mod Podge or some other type of non water soluble glue
- A small paint brush you wouldn't mind dedicating to glue
- Something to use as a squeegee, paper or an gift card
- Wax paper if you're printing on fabric (to put underneath the layer you're printing on)
- A black marker, I used a Sharpie
Put the fabric in the embroidery hoop and pull it as taught as possible. Put the hoop (aka screen) fabric side down on top of your image, and trace it with the marker. Make sure there's at least an inch border of extra space around the image or the inside of the hoop.
Flip the screen over and paint everything you DON'T want to print with the Mod Podge glue. This part is about craftsmanship, so paint slowly and carefully with small brushes. Let it dry, then do a second coat checking for small pin holes. To check for holes, hold it up to a light and look very close.
Let it dry completely (I usually wait overnight, but it probably only takes a couple hours), then stretch out the fabric ready to print. Put cardboard or wax paper under the fabric so it doesn't soak through. Lay the screen on top, fabric side down.
Get a decent amount of screen printing ink (or paint) on the old credit card, and while holding the screen firmly in place, drag the ink at a 45 degree-ish angle across the screen where the image is to be printed. Re-dip as much as you need to get the space covered.
Lift the screen up and marvel at your new t-shirt!
My future art teachers have been inspired by Claes Oldenburg’s larger than life sculptures since we visited the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City and came face-to-face with the 19-foot-tall shuttlecocks.
Claes Oldenburg is just one of the artists that began the Pop Art movement in New York in the 1950s. Other Pop Art artists include Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Jasper Johns, Keith Haring, and others some still working today. The “pop” in Pop Art stands for mass media and popular culture, and from this, artists would take popular everyday items and reproduce them, think Andy Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup Cans, 1962.
Warhol, Campbell's Soup Cans, 1962 (Image courtesy of MOMA)
My class was asked to bring in their favorite chip or candy bag from a vending machine, and together we recreated these bags in papier-mache at least twice their original size.
You will need a large piece of newspaper that is folded. Keep the fold in the paper and with masking tape, tape two sides creating a bag or in class, we referred to it as a pillowcase. After you have your pillow case, ball up other pieces of newspaper or any recyclable paper and stuff you bag as full as you would like it, mimicking the original. Once you have your bag stuffed, tape the open end and begin to papier-mache your bag. This will take several coats of papier-mache, and we took two classes to do both sides.
Once your bag is dried from the papier-mache, I recommend painting your bag with a white primer (Gesso) to make it a little stiffer and to begin with a clean white surface. Students started drawing every detail on their bag before painting. Class conversations revolved around fonts, color choices, and spacing.
The class noticed new details such as backgrounds had stripes instead of being a solid color (Funyuns) the first ingredient listed is “Smiles” (Goldfish) and everything looks like it was designed and placed on purpose. “This process makes you pay attention to the details and that each thing has been designed by an artist” stated a student.
Here are some finished pictures of the Pop Art Bags.
I am taking my art education class online this summer, and in anticipation of that experience was thinking about recreating the feeling of being in an art studio and playing around with materials. When I show students different ways to use art materials, and they get the chance to experiment with them, they are more likely to use them in their classroom. This raw experimentation and the art of "gettin messy" is something I did not want to lose with an online class.
With the help of some of my students, I created a few videos and set up my YouTube channel! It was a little bit of a process to create the videos and edit them using my iPad and iMovie. I then uploaded each video to my google drive for safe keeping. The following day I set up a YouTube channel and uploaded each of my first five videos. YouTube was very easy to navigate, and the uploads went quickly. There is always a learning curve with me and technology, but I am proud to say, I figured it out!
As I write this blogpost, my YouTube videos have no views, and no comments, so give them a look-see and tell me what you think.
I had purchased ping pong balls at the Dollar store, and with a fine point permanent marker (Sharpie) wrote questions on the balls that related to the Elements of Art and Principles of Design. As a teacher, you could add questions related to your content area, or even chapter questions to help students review for a test. I then separated the class into two teams, and they took turns throwing the ping pong balls into the cups. If a ball landed in a cup on their side, they would dig out the ball and answer the question. We have been looking at contemporary artists of Kehinde Wiley, Kara Walker, and in the video, Hank Willis Thomas' Afro-American Express is on the overhead and currently being analyzed. (click instagram icon on the right column to watch this video)
Art Education teaches more than color and lines and my students learn techniques and tricks that are transferable to their future classroom whatever their subject matter.
Note: My college students took great pleasure in this activity while laughing and giggling. I told them if they are good at this activity they could blame it on art class.
Pittsburg State University is hosting their first ever TEDTalks in the spring of 2018. A massive email went out to all faculty members that would like to do a TEDTalk having them submit their cv, application, and an abstract of their research presentation.
I sent in my application for a TEDtalk outlining a presentation I have been working on titled, Self-Care: it’s not what you think. I had recently written a paper on self-care for my doctorate Leadership class and was planning to submit this presentation to the Kansas Art Education Association (KAEA) annual conference. This research was fresh in my mind and readily available. The dates from the original email to when the application was due did not allow for new research at my current pace. The timing over winter break and the Christmas holiday meant that I would need to pull something ready or spend my time researching a topic to submit. I chose the first option of submitting something already on my shelf.
I was selected as a finalist, and from the email invitation was given possible times and dates for my video audition. The email included a YouTube linked to two TEDtalks that show TED’s conversational style.
I practiced my talk out loud in my apartment the weekend prior. I was having a difficult time getting the research element and conversation style down to the 18-minute time frame.
The day of the audition I planned my outfit accordingly and was 15 minutes early to my 3:00 pm audition. The conference room was set up to be very intimidating, and I was nervous. I walked in and went past the table with six committee members waiting with their notes. The coordinator cued the video to begin recording and told me I would get hand signals from her when I had 2 minutes left in my time frame. I walked to the front of the conference room and began talking about self-care.
My talk ended at the 14-minute mark and I know I was talking too fast. I had put bullet points and quotes on small index cards that I could hold in my hand. I like index cards because they don’t show how nervous you are. A larger piece of paper without a podium would shake in my hand and give me away. The panel clapped at the end of my presentation, and the room coordinator gave me a paper that outlined that I was one of 200 people auditioning for nine presentation spots.
I got an email two weeks later stating that I was not chosen this year. I will continue to audition and try out next year and the following years because a TEDtalk is on my professional bucket list. I would be honored to be part of the prestigious organization of writers, artists, scientist, and researchers that makeup TED, just like I am honored to have been a finalist for the Pittsburg State University inaugural year.
First things first, Happy Galentine’s Day to all my lovely lady friends! I love you and cherish our friendship even if we are far apart.
Are you confused? Galentine’s Day is a fictional holiday made up by Amy Poehler’s character, Leslie Knope, on the long running and still playing on Netflix, sitcom, Parks and Rec. Leslie explains it as a holiday to eat brunch with your girlfriends celebrating lady love and the friendships that make our lives worth living.
"Oh, it's only the best day of the year. Every February 13th, my lady friends and I leave our husbands and our boyfriends at home, and we just come and kick it, breakfast-style. Ladies celebrating ladies. It's like Lilith Fair, minus the angst. Plus frittatas." (Leslie Knope, Parks and Rec)
Leslie loves waffles and some may say that they are a supporting character on Parks and Rec, so I decided to make waffle postcards to send to my gal pals.
Model Magic air-dry clay, 3 single packages per waffle (White)
Craft Paint (White, Yellow, Brown)
E6000 Industrial Strength Glue
I combined three packages of clay to create enough dough to lay in my cold waffle iron and press into the shape of a waffle. Do not turn on the waffle iron. I cut around the extra with scissors and with it created small flat squares for butter pats.
The clay needs to dry for 24 hours before it can be painted. I did a base coat on the waffles and then used a dry brush technique to highlight the raised areas and make them a little darker like they were cooked. I painted the butter pats with bright yellow paint. I set everything aside to dry overnight.
I took ½ cup(ish) of glue and put it in a plastic cup and added brown paint to look like syrup. I then poured the glue over the waffles and let it dry for 24 hours. (Hint: it will dry darker)
After the waffles were dry I colored cardstock with colored pencils to recreate the waffle look and address them to my friends. I used strong glue to glue on the butter pat and the cardstock.
Now they are ready for the mail. They only weigh a couple of ounces but have them weighed at the post office for proper postage. I have mailed them before and they have arrived perfectly and how fun it is to get a waffle out of the mailbox!
Issue: The post office in my little town had never seen anything like this and refused to treat them as a “first class letter” instead wanted them to go as a package. I don’t mind paying the postage, but packages get large stickers with tracking codes that my post officer wanted to put right across the butter!! In the case of dealing with people that just don’t get it, don’t create a scene, just put them in a padded envelope. The waffle postcards that is, not the people.
Enjoy your waffles on Galentine’s Day and remember, “Ovaries before Brovaries!”
Today was one of my favorite days in Art Education. It’s edible color wheel day! I have been doing this project for years and it is always a hit. After lecturing on the color wheel, color schemes, and color theory to my class I like to take the next class to assess their knowledge with a group project. In class, each table of 4 to 6 students make their own color wheel with cookies and frosting. Here is what you will need:
Materials (per group)
20 or so cookie wafers
1 can of white frosting
food coloring in red, yellow, and blue (Take the green out of the box)
black food coloring- 1 bottle at the teacher’s station has lasted for years!
Spoons, plastic cups, napkins, poster board, and markers to label.
Step 1: As a group, draw the color wheel diagram on your presentation paper and frost 1 cookie with each of the 3 primary colors and place the cookie on your team’s poster board diagram of the color wheel.
Step 2: As a group, mix each secondary color and frost a cookie to place on your diagram. (Note: Some primary colors may not be able to be "treated equally" - your color intensities will vary. See what works for your colors - and "fudge" a bit to get the best secondary colors possible)
Step 3: As a group, mix the 6 tertiary colors. Then frost one cookie for each of these 6 colors and place them on the color wheel in the correct spots.
Step 4: As a group, mix any two complementary colors to make a Gray/Brown neutral and place that cookie in the middle of the color wheel.
Step 5: As a group, mix tints and shades of one hue (red or blue work best) to form a 5 point value scale on the side of the color wheel. (black coloring available at the teacher’s station)
I teach Art Education at Pittsburg State University. Here is what is going on in my classes.