Art teachers were STEAM-ing before STEAM was cool!

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Getting Involved: My work with the NHAEA


You know it's been crazy 'round here! I'm in my first year of teaching in a public school and my focus has been embracing my first year of teaching and learning as much as I can about my job. That means saying "NO" and not overextending myself (because I have four kids as well, so I'm pretty much overextended at the get go). Saying "no" is hard for me--I'm THAT person. You know, they one who steps up and does the thing that needs doing, brings the snacks, starts the committee, etc. But not this year (Um, and it is killing me a bit, but it is also nice to focus on my work and kiddos and hubby). SO if you are wondering why the blog is sssssllllllooowww to be updated, that's why. There's only 24 hours in a day people. :-)

HOWEVER, one commitment I did say "yes" to last year, was being the newsletter editor for our state's  chapter of the National Art Educators' Association. The New Hampshire Art Educators' Association (NHAEA) publishes a paper newsletter three times a year and as editor, I am responsible for that and attending board meetings monthly. As a graphic designer and blogger, I have always felt that communication is key to a thriving group and since the art teachers of the NHAEA are spread out all over NH, the newsletters help to strengthen our community of educators and help us to learn from one another.

HOW THIS HAS HELPED ME: I'm not going to lie, being involved with the NHAEA has been a bonus for me as well. I started going to NHAEA events while I was a grad student and was able to:

  • Meet lots of art educators--hey, we don't get out much and sometimes we are the only art teacher in our school--it's nice to connect with others like us!
  • Get LOTS of ideas that I incorporated into my studies and my after-school and substitute teaching gigs and now into my own lessons in middle school
  • Network and hear about long-term substitute teaching positions and more permanent art education positions
  • Get support when I was worried I wouldn't find a job
  • Find friends to travel with when I went to my first national conference
  • Meet one of my student teaching mentors through the organization

I decided to step up and become the newsletter editor because the position was open (the former editor was looking to move on to bigger and better things) and I had a background in graphic design. I LOVE graphic design--it is my art--the way I express myself. I thought three newsletters per year would be a doable commitment for me and it actually isn't that bad--the deadlines are far less strict than the graphic design world. And....I love it. I miss doing design work and laying out the newsletters is actually fun for me. The NHAEA newsletters aren't going to win any design awards but I try not to stress over the minutia and have fun.

I've attached the newest newsletter for you to check out. It's the smallest issue of the year, but it's still got some great stuff in there--there is a lesson on Mixed Media Idioms by our NH Art Educator of the Year, Mary Ann Lessard and you can see what the NHAEA is up to.

I STRONGLY ENCOURAGE you to get involved with your local chapter of the NAEA. It's good for you and good for them (the organization) and for your students!

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Dunkin Donuts Box O'Joe Gingerbread House Craft!

I have a really cool project for you today that my daughter and I are super-excited to share with you! One of my family members had brought a "Box O' Joe" from Dunkin Donuts to Thanksgiving dinner and since I am a hoarder, ahem, art teacher, I couldn't throw the weird-shaped box away. I thought it would be perfect as a gingerbread house!

Box o' Joe Image Source: dunkindonuts.com

I thought of having my daughter create her own decorations for the house, but she's six and I thought she might get frustrated creating all of the "bits" from construction paper. Then I thought I could print out a couple of coloring pages that have candy on them, have her color them and then cut them all out. A good example of a *free* candy printable you could use is here. Now my daughter's good with scissors, but you know who would actually get stuck cutting all of those little bits out!

Then I was out at Hobby Lobby the other night and happened to see foam candy shapes. The package had 100 foam shapes for $5.99 but it was on sale for $3. There were gingerbread people, red and green glittery gumdrops, and red and green starlight mints (all peel and stick). Unfortunately, I do not see these on their online site, but you could probably get similar items near you.

This was a great craft for us to do together but with little involvement from me. I love crafts like that where I don't have to set the pace and she can really go on her own and make the project her own. I was there just there to make the windows and use the glue gun, if needed. It was a relaxing, calorie-free project that will last throughout the holiday season!



And in case you are looking for step-by-step directions, here they are!

Materials Needed:

  • 1 empty Box 'o Joe from Dunkin Donuts (remove the bag of liquid and discard)
  • A piece of red corrugated cardboard for the roof and windows (our piece was 12" square and came from our recycling bin)
  • Scraps of yellow or orange paper, optional, for the windows
  • Scraps of green paper for trees
  • Hot glue and glue gun
  • Scissors and an X-acto knife
  • Tempera paint (brown, white, red (for roof, if you can't find red cardboard))
  • Paint brushes
  • Glitter glue (totally necessary!!)
  • Bag of sticky-backed foam candy shapes (or you can make your own decorations)
  • A base for your creation--ours is a cardboard used when cake decorating
  1. Paint the outside of the box with brown tempera paint. Let dry.
  2. Cut a square for the roof and edge with white paint. Let dry.
  3. Cut a slit in the roof and slide it over the handle of the box. Adhere with hot glue.
  4. Adhere the entire box to the base now, if you'd like.
  5. Create some windows by cutting 6 little strips of red cardboard and glueing them to make a window. Glue the window frame to a piece of yellow or orange paper, if desired to create the illusion that a light is on inside the house. Make as many windows as you like and glue to the house with hot glue.
  6. Now's the fun part--stick candy all over the house! I love peel-and-stick foam shapes so that the kids can to it themselves and don't have to wait for glue to dry.
  7. Create trees from paper and stand-up gingerbread people and attach them to the base with hot glue.
  8. Glitta it up baby!! I squeeze glitter glue on a paper plate and have my daughter use her finger or a paint brush to add some bling all over everything!
You are done! Enjoy your easy-peasy gingerbread house!

Box o' Joe Image Source: dunkindonuts.com

Monday, November 14, 2016

Looking at a NH Artist: Don Gorvett


I never know where I am going to find inspiration for my art lessons! A couple of weeks ago, I was browsing a craft fair in New Hampshire (by myself--Yay! MOM TIME!!) and I was chatting with lots of the artisans there. To one couple, I had mentioned that my 7th graders were learning about relief printmaking and they mentioned they had seen a feature on NH Chronicle about a woodcut artist named Don Gorvett. Of course, I HAD to check it out! Boy, am I glad I did! Don Gorvett, a woodcut artist with galleries in Portsmouth, NH and Ogunquit, ME, does these amazing seaside-themed reduction prints that my seventh graders were in awe of.

Another great video about Don's work is "Moonlight Drawbridge"

I showed this video AFTER my seventh graders had completed a linocut project, so they had a bit of experience from which to view this video and process Don's work. Of course, their pieces were 4" x 6" and done using flexible printing plates I had in my new classroom. In contrast, Don's work is done on large piece of plywood and he sometimes uses up to 8 colors to our humble 1 color. After I showed this video to the students, there was silence. And some of them had their mouths gaped open. Seventh grade! :-) Yipes! 

Anyway, fast forward to the weekend. My hubby and I went away on a 23-hour anniversary celebration and we drove up to the Portsmouth, NH area to see the sites, shop a bit and have dinner at one of my, ahem, OUR favorite restaurants. My husband suggested we go to Don's gallery, and who do you think was there? Don himself, working away. He graciously took time away from his work to talk to my husband and I about his work and gave me some tidbits about being an art teacher and how I can foster a climate of creativity and wonder in my students. I am so glad we stopped in to visit! I also was able to post a picture of Don and me on "The Instagram"--the account I have for my students' work and artsy happenings at our school! Having an Instagram account is new for me, but I am trying (10 followers-YAY!)!
Hanging with Don Gorvett in his Portsmouth, NH studio/gallery.
So, I would HIGHLY recommend looking at Don's work as well as taking the opportunity to show the work of local (to you) artists. This can be done by showing the students real work or artifacts, a video from the Interweb, or a video you made yourself, or having the person come to your school for an artist visit and demonstration. BTW: Cassie Stevens just began a new series on her blog called "field trip" where she takes her students on a virtual video field trip to meet artists. Her first installment features a musician and visual artist named Bebo. Check that out too!


Thursday, October 27, 2016

NH Art Educator's Fall Conference 2016!!

The New Hampshire Art Educators Association's (NHAEA) Fall Conference is one that I look forward to every year--"Clear the calendar! My Conference is coming up!!!" I love to connect with old friends, meet new friends, enjoy a lunch that is made for me and that I don't have to clean up after (hey, I do have four kids!), and get my artsy-ness on!! I purposely sign up for hands-on art making workshop choices. While I love me some lecture on art education theory, I don't get to make art as much as I would like, and art school was a-ways back in time, so any chance I have to create and learn new things I can take back to my classroom, I am game!

Interacting with the art at the Currier Museum...

This year's conference was fabulous and inspiring! It was held at the New Hampshire Institute of Art (NHIA) in Manchester, NH. Keynote speaker NH Artist/Illustrator/Author Marty Kelly spoke about his artistic process and how his multiple "failures" have been useful to his creative process. He urged us as educators to create a "culture of failure" in our classrooms where it is OK to make mistakes and take chances (leading students to further growth, risk-taking, exploration). He suggests that failure is part of the learning process and is essential to learning and growth. He encouraged us to change our attitude about failure as well as our students' attitudes about it as well. He explained that if we are afraid to fail we will be afraid to imagine, innovate, explore, and try. Having a classroom culture where failure is accepted and seen as an opportunity for discussion and growth also allows students to begin to accept advice and criticism and use what is right for them. He says that failure is a "pit stop along the road to success." 
Keynote Speaker: Author and Illustrator Marty Kelly
Photo courtesy: NHAEA website (www.NHAEA.org).
This is particularly useful to me as much of what we do in the middle school art room is moving away from product-focused, cookie cutter art to process-focused, student-centered work where the students are encouraged to problem-solve, explore and make the piece their own. This is a tough transition for some and some students struggle when they do not have a teacher-model to "copy" and are asked to try and explore and adapt. I've often have students come up and ask, "Is this an A? Am I done?" The first couple of times this happened I was floored, now I counter with: "I don't know, are you done? Take a look at the project objectives and talk to one of the other students in class to see if they have suggestions for further improvement (or to see if your piece is "saying" what you want it to say)." To me, this part of the creative process is a gradual release as the students' confidence and skill-level increases, ultimately preparing them for the independence and self motivation that high school will require. 

Session 1: Reinterpreting With Recylables. I went on a mini field trip to the Currier Museum of Art and saw the Mount Washington show that just opened. Mount Washington is the highest mountain in New Hampshire and is known throughout the world for its crazy weather. We went downstairs to classroom and Linn Krikorian taught us how we can use the art and artifacts within the Currier's collection as well as from life and other disciplines and have students reimagine them using recycled materials. Resources were shared for places to get interesting recyclables and for using this idea across the curriculum. Then Megan McIntyre discussed how art can be used to facilitate other ideas across the curriculum such as Science, Math, etc. This is particularly pertinent to me in my art room as I strive to develop lessons that are individualized and cross-curricular in nature. This lesson idea (and its spin-off ideas) will be helpful to me as I encourage the students to observe and reinterpret art and artifacts in class but make them their own. 

My take on a Robert Indiana from the Currier's collection.

Session 2: Structures to Sculpture (Bookmaking) This was a wonderful hands-on session led by Erin Sweeney, professor at NHIA (and her student helper Karen) taught us about a number of book-making techniques and led an open discussion amongst the creative educators present as to how we are currently using these structures within our classrooms and how we could potentially use them even more. Connections to other courses were discussed as well as connections to STEM/STEAM. While the pieces we made weren't complete (just the "bones" of the books and not fully developed within), the examples took the 2D linear idea of "book" and transformed it into 3D sculptural forms (easily!!) that could be used in our teaching in a number of ways (assessment, reflection, student mini portfolios, the documentation of a unit or the transformation of an idea, etc.). This was a VERY relevant workshop in that it allows a student to move from 2D to 3D in a seamless and accessible way while allowing them to reflect on a process or subject matter and use the 3D model-making techniques that we strive to teach them in class. This will definitely be applied to my future 7th and 8th grade classes next trimester! 

Busily working at the Structures To Sculpture Session led by Erin Sweeney.
Photo courtesy: NHAEA website (www.NHAEA.org).
After our sessions, we met back in the mail hall for closing remarks, a raffle (nope, didn't win anything this year), and a wine a cheese reception sponsored by NHIA. I went away physically tired, but rejuvenated and with so many great ideas that I can bring back to my students!

And here are some other images from the Currier workshop--the art of my classmates. ENJOY!

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