Wednesday, August 31, 2011

How 'bout that first week of school, eh?

Just a small check in after finishing my first whole week of school. Granted, I'm half a week late doing this but there was that whole Hurricane Irene thing (y'know?) that kept me out of the classroom because of a serious power outage this side the power grid since, oh... last Friday-ish?

Anyway, things have gotten of to a pretty decent start. The 2D classes are working on their first project doing Name Tangles on Scratch-Art board and though they have hemmed and hawed about the many steps I am requiring them to take before they get to their final scratch board phase. Since this project requires working knowledge and understanding of negative space, contrast, emphasis, balance, and composition within non-objective art, it's kind of advanced for them as an initial project. The way I see though, what better way to learn something than to just jump right in with all of it. The students are quickly learning the creative side of the planning process as well as building greater respect for the creation of art on the whole.

The above pics are just quick snaps of some student WiPs taken with my phone (I upgraded from my blackberry and this phone has a much better camera on board so now I don't feel so bad about not wanting to lug my big camera in every time I need to take a picture. I WILL use it for the final student work pictures though for when I do the lesson idea blog postings.)

Anyway, right now I'm working on getting my presentation ready for Back-to-school night tomorrow night and though I wish we could postpone it a little bit so I would have some more time with the students to share with the parents who will be visiting my classroom, I'm pretty ready for the most part. I'm just revising some powerpoint items and then I'll be set for tomorrow! *Phew!* Cannot believe the school year is officially here. The summer just went by WAY too fast!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Lesson Number One

I am 4/5 of the ways through my day and I'm happy to report that it's going pretty swimmingly so far. One more class (2D Design - one of the foundational courses) to go that will finish out my day and then a faculty meeting to debrief the day's events. Funny how this is the first day back of the school year after being out of the classroom since June because it certainly doesn't feel like that to me! I actually feel like I never took a break from last school year and I'm simply picking up where I left off.

My class plans for today were to establish classroom procedures and seating arrangements, distribute and go through the syllabus, and address any student concerns or issues of scheduling. I've had a few students missing from my roster that I thought I would have but also a few more who have stepped right in to take the spots that I thought were already filled.

Something else of the first days' activities? I gave a pop quiz of sorts to the three sections of Graphic Design I have this year...


I got this item from the source linked above and thought it would be a clever and real attention-getting way to start off the course. It wasn't intended so much to force them to be on their toes right off but more to illustrate the importance of obeying the order of operations that exists with regard to learning certain software platforms   that we will be using. In my own experience with teaching Photoshop, about half of the students I instruct have a major challenge with dealing with the challenge that learning software presents - especially in their advanced stage of skill at this point since they've worked their way through a significant amount of the visual art courses here. They want to just GO(!) and make something already and they can't so easily do that in photoshop. They end up skipping through tutorials with overconfidence of what their previous abilities have let them do until they finally get to a point of not being able to go anywhere or coming even close to finishing. The little pop quiz above really drives home the importance of having the greatest attention to detail possible and in a clever but pointedly humorous way. I'm so thankful for other Art educators/bloggers like Kathy Barbro (her blog is where I found the test) who so kindly share things for me to be able to implement in my classroom. What good are we as community of art educators if we don't share our clever ideas, right?

So that's about where I am today. I'm working on getting sketchbooks assigned to the students so they can start using them to do thumbnails for their first projects - Name Tangles  (a lesson idea from another wonderfully brilliant art educator/blogger) with Scratch-art and the graphic design class will be working on rending a photograph into a realistic looking jigsaw puzzle. Both are wonderfully approachable lesson ideas to help build confidence to start off while still creating something that can be visually complex.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Everything in its place

Monday is the first day of school for me and I'm happy to report that not only am I ready but as of 5pm of this past Friday, the studio classroom is ready as well!

It was a lot of work getting everything organized so that classroom procedures could be as efficient as possible but even with the horrible sinus headaches I've had to endure from all of the cleaning and dust that has been kicked up, it's all been very worth it.

Here's a picture of the paint cabinet (below) and the adhesives and cutting tool cabinet (above).

Here's a great shot of the new standing easels we were able to get for the advanced studio classes (painting, portfolio prep, and honors studio art). They are H-frame Winsor Newton brand with trigger adjustments on the mast. We got them for a really great price at the end of last school year and I love seeing them assembled and lined up like soldiers in this picture. Such a blessing to have these for our students.

And here is a shot of my side of the shared desk space. I am on the left and though I still need to organize some of my lesson plan files/archives, I decided to use the shelf above the desk for my current reference library of instructional books instead of just a place to put display/art pieces like I did last year and the year before.

All of my class syllabuses are copied, stacked, and ready to be distributed, my electronic/online gradebook is set-up for the first assignments in 2D Design and Graphic Design (I will be teaching 3D, Interactive Art History, and Digital Studio in the Spring) and other than one more item/activity I plan on doing with my students on the first day of class, I'm pretty well ready to go.

Tomorrow I am headed to church with my family to REALLY start off the school year in the best way I know  how and I'm also going to be working hard to catch up on photo editing for all of the portrait sessions I've had   this month in addition to designing a client wedding album.

Here's to another school year that will be overflowing with great blessings of learning opportunities for both my students and myself, creative inspirations, and everything else in between that can glorify the Lord.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


First day of classes is next Monday. Would you like to see how ready I am?  Here's the art studio classroom...

The supplies order came in late yesterday afternoon and my amazing department head mobilized every hand and foot available to her to get the boxes off of the truck and into the hallway by my classroom door. It was such a blessing to walk in this morning and see a mountain of boxes just waiting to be unpacked, inventoried, sorted, and organized. I had mandatory meetings this morning (my first real stretch of "working" time in my classroom) and even with the incredible assistance from my visual arts "team mate" (she instructs the upper-level studio classes in a part-time capacity), I was only able to get this far along.

The good news? Well, it really looks a lot worse than it actually is.

The not-so-good news? There's still plenty of work that still needs to be done and I have maybe a day and a half to finish it AND most of that time I will have my three year-old daughter in tow because of a very inconvenient turn of events. *shrug* I'm just trying to take it all in stride and be overwhelmed despite of unprepared I feel like I am because in all honesty? I've done a lot of prep work and so it's just a matter of going down a checklist and just doing a whole lot of easy and little tasks.

Remember one of my last posts with a hazy picture of my planning notes for the year? Well, here is a updated and perhaps easier to read version... (click on the image to enlarge)...

I always start out planning in an excel spreadsheet and then I print it off and hand write notes, work out material listings, etc. etc. etc. and then go back and update the spreadsheet and re-print it. What you see pictured above is I believe my second draft of my whole year's project list for all of the classes I'm instructing this year. I will keep this document in my notes/files for reference purposes for years to come when I'm interested in either repeating a project OR expanding/improving upon it.

Anyway, just thought I would check-in here and show you not only finished works of my students but also the "works-in-progress" that is the working studio classroom of my own doing. Will try to update in the coming weeks once school kicks off with my finalized project list for the year and maybe some pictures of how I organize the classroom work space.

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