Thursday, April 2, 2015

#NAEA15 Finding Inspiration Down in New Orleans

Wow wow wow!  So inspired.  Between being inspired from the heart to the mind, I am ready to put into motion all I learned!  Here's a recap of my favorite things..

Tim Gunn truly spoke to our hearts.  We are so often left with an island feeling.  Not the blue waters and breezy coconut tree island, but the I’m by myself and have to figure it out on my own kind of island.  Twitter and blogs have definitely helped with some of the loneliness, but there is nothing quite like human to human interaction.  Listening to Tim Gunn fueled my spirit.  He reminded us that a “lesson can be transformational”  and we are responsible for teaching the students with “the least resources or drive” to the “angels” that need inspired within their talent.  To see the passion in someone else for teaching and mentoring, and believing that “qualities of character” are as important as curriculum was exactly what my heart needed.  Thanks Mr. Gunn. 

'Truth telling, Empathy, Asking, Cheerleading, and Hoping for the best.'

Another island I like to swim to is my high school robotics team.  This year in sessions, I was finally able to find the pieces I needed to build a bridge between my elementary art teacher life and high school robotics life. During Peter Nosalik’s Art of Engineering session he said, “Think like engineers and see like artists.” Being immersed in both worlds the past two years, it was so apparent to me how engineering, art and design are interconnected. I have been so inspired by my high school students, I wanted to bring to my elementary students the design concepts and thinking skills I’ve learned. This year I spoke about creating a curriculum that caters to your students, and my students are interested in robotics, engineering and design.  They play Minecraft and with legos in their free time.  Many of my parents are engineers or science majors.  So if I follow my own advice, it’s time to put together a makers program.  I’m thinking I’ll start with a grant for materials and use my Family Art Night set up as the program.  I got great ideas from Steve Ciampaglia and his Art Makers Space he has created with the mantra, “Pop up, drop in, make art.”  Seeing how he made it work was inspiring and gave me the outline for where to start.  I can’t wait to see this project come to life and witness my students become "designer, engineer, and maker of one's own learning experience." 

Art Makers Space session by Steve Ciampaglia.  The Plug-In Studio.

The exhibitor hall is always so much fun!  I’m so excited about these new watercolors!  My students just tear up the watercolors we’ve been using.  I can’t keep up with them and it feels like every class I’m replacing the cakes.  I’m hoping this will be a good alternative.  I got a chance to play with them and the color was fabulous. I also love making palettes for the students, and this new system seems like a breeze to change.  I can even have students do it.  They are more expensive than the ones I currently use, but I’m hoping price per wear, (which is how I buy my bags!) will shake out to be more cost effective for my classroom with quality results.

These frames!  Immediately I knew my families will want them.  They will love not only the ease of changing the artwork, but how these frames really highlight the students work in a simple way, and it will work with all the non-straight edge art we produce, including our weavings.  I’m excited to share them with parents.     

I have so much material and leftover black felt!  The Ymm Art Education display on "Little Fashion Designer Class" is a starting point for inspiration!  AND I REALLY REALLY NEED TO FIGURE OUT HOW TO BUILD THESE TABLES!!!  Look at how you can fill the drawers with items, and then see the items through the clear table top!  To me, they fit right into my curriculum of giving kids choices.


Meeting other art teachers is always a bonus, and Stacey, my friend from grad school and I happened to meet Michael and Ashley, two phenomenal teachers from Wisconsin.  Their session on alternatives to drawing was awesome and I’m so excited to have these teachers in my address book.

My grad school friend Stacey.  We came across an artist
market in the French Quarters at MIDNIGHT! 
The city.  I am so happy I extended my trip a couple days after the conference so I could focus on the conference and then the city.  Southern hospitality is a real thing.  Everyone we met was warm and kind and willing to share their pride for their city. 

A Louise Bourgeois sculpture in the NOMA's
sculpture garden. A really great museum! 
Thanks for the free admission! We thoroughly enjoyed it! 

The architecture...beautiful! 

Our "haunted" hotel! 

Friday, March 27, 2015

NAEA 2015 Presentation Supplementals

Presenting is always so nerve racking for me!  I love to share with my colleagues though, so I fight through the nerves and 'make it work!'

Make, Show and Flip for Videos

Here's a link to view the keynote turned PDF in Google Drive.

Designing Your Curriculum with Students, Standards, and Meaning in Mind

Here's a link to view the keynote turned PDF in Google Drive.

Find the unit planning grid here!  This is google drive published.  If you would like to edit this document you'll have to go to my class website, which will allow me to publish documents without a round about way.  You can find that at

To be able to edit this document go to my school website.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

New Orleans Bound!

I'm leaving on a jet plane!  I am so excited for the ultimate inspirational event,  NAEA National Conference in New Orleans!  I have two sessions I'll be presenting at and I hope you for some great discussion and collaboration!

Make, Show and Flip for Videos! 
8:00-8:50 AM on FRIDAY!

Convention Center/Meeting Room 207/Second Level

Learn how videos, simple to complex, are made in art class, adaptive art and enrichment classes. Learn where to find engaging videos and create flipped instructions for all learners!

Designing Your Curriculum with Students, Standards and Meaning in Mind
2:00-2:50 PM on SATURDAY!

Convention Center/Meeting Room R03/Second Level

Discover a big idea curriculum that partners with the national standards and embraces technology. Explore the artmaking process with my K-5 students and lessons that are relevant to their lives.

NOLA BOUND! Normally, I hate leaving my students, but I won't be missing this view! 

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Form, Fish and Inspiring Mistakes in Kindergarten

This outcome of this project was inspired by running
out of white paper and forgetting to use stickers!
Did you know I take my kindergarten students through the elements of art?  It's really the only place you'll ever see me focus on them in my curriculum.  I just like that I can teach so many procedures and materials by playing and experimenting with the elements and recognizing them in other artworks.  My first through fifth grade curriculum is all big idea based.  It works well having this materials/elements/play foundation and in first grade we are ready to roll with storytelling, heroes, nature, celebration, and all the other big ideas we explore.  At the end of the day though, how do you save an art program based on line and shape and color?  You don't, which is why we create meaning and the elements become what use to create that meaning. 

So when it came time to talk about form we make cubes and cylinders and even try a pyramid all made out of play-dough. Students then make a pinch pot and are introduced to the ceramic process. While the pinch pots are drying I wanted students to see how forms are used in drawings and paintings.  (I'm already thinking I need to add a 3D pen to this lesson and draw!  Have you seen them?  I want one! I'm hoping they'll be at NAEA 2015 convention!)
Copied and in my binder! 

My first year teaching kindergarten was TOUGH.  I came from a high school and middle school background so I was really lost.  School Arts was my paper blog and it was perfect timing that Darcy M. Swope came out with Matisse + a Math Connection in the February edition, exactly when we’re learning about forms. Inspired by the idea, I’ve been having kindergarten recreate Matisse's Goldfish ever since and this year the lesson evolved from some art teacher mistakes! 

First mistake: I ran out of white paper! Seriously!  I’ve been going into reserves and those dusty packs in the back of the closet.  (It's actually been a very decluttering experience!) I had this gray card stock paper donated and after looking at Matisse’s Goldfish painting I realized the gray actually works well as a background color.  It was a happy mistake I ran out of white because the paints (Crayola Florescent Premier) dried beautifully over the dark paper.  I also had these fish eye stickers that I’ve got for Gyotaku printing, and then forgot to use! Another mistake…but a happy one because it made the kindergarten fish come alive and have these cute personalities, just like my kindergartners who I now love teaching!

I love how some students painted the reflection they saw in Matisse's painting! 

I printed the cylinder on the paper ahead of time.  I just used Publisher to create it. 

The fish eyes stickers really brought personalities to all the fish!
I think I have to buy them now every year for this project!

Displayed with Matisse's Goldfish

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Chinese New Year Dragons from 'Ancient' Inspiration

This lesson’s inspiration goes all the way back to the first grade.  As in when I was in first grade!  I did this lesson with my elementary art teacher, Mrs. Worthington.  It was displayed in the school’s art show and my mom saved it under my bed forever.  I student taught during the winter semester, so I dusted it off for the Chinese New Year and took a closer look to figure out how it was made so many years early.  

Fast forward 8 years later, and it’s still a favorite lesson that gets better each year.  Moms tell me their older students still have their dragons and a mom just told me at the Valentine’s parties that her first grade son has played with his everyday since he brought it home.  I just love when kids get to play with their art!!!

I start the lesson with the eyes.  The more detail the students put into the eyes, the more personality their dragon has.  I spend a whole class just introducing the Chinese New Year and building the eyes.  I have since updated Mrs. Worthington’s stencil and created one on the computer to print onto white tagboard or marble construction paper. Find it here. 

The next class the students make the eyes 3D by cutting and folding them.  I fold all the heads for the students and over the years, I have learned to help them glue the eyes to the head.  Too many first graders glue the eyes on backwards to the puppet head, so I now have the kids watch a Discovery Streaming video of a Chinese New Year parade in San Francisco and I help them individually.  This step saves time in the end, and the kids have more patience for holding down the eyes when they dont know the next step yet!  

Then the heads get decorated with pom-poms for the nostrils, paper for the teeth and mouth, and cray-paper for the chin or beard.  I use cray-paper that’s been donated.  In fact, in the middle of this lesson, a new donation appeared at my door!  It never fails! 

After this art class, the kids start getting really exciting.  They are able to use the head as a puppet and their dragons start to come to life.  To end class, we have to put our dragons to sleep in their cave (a brown paper bag) to sleep! 

The last art class students make the bodies and tail.  They glue together to strips of construction paper that’s been cut in thirds.  The paper  has to be cut in thirds to fit inside the dragon head, that’s been folded in thirds.  This is where I go to my bargain remenent box and let the kids decorate away!  While they’re cutting and gluing I staple the body to the head.  I put the staple upside down so they don’t scratch their hands when using the puppet.

To really make the dragons fly, the kids glue cray-paper or ribbon to the end and away they go! 

Sunday, January 18, 2015

The Craft of Quilting in Centers

Over the years of teaching,  I have collected so much information about quilts, Faith Ringgold, and Gee's Bend, but couldn't figure out how to package it all together.  I've done the story in the center of the paper, quilt border on the outside, a Gee Bend inspired quilt, and the pattern crayon drawings. None were really inspiring me this school year and I had so many resources... how to pick?

So I decided not to pick and give it all to my students!  The students often do centers in their classrooms, so I knew the procedure part would not be a problem.  I turned all my resources into centers.  We look at the quilts of Gee Bend and talked about how the artists had limited supplies.  So I gave second grade the same problem.  Limited supplies at different tables with other activities in-between.  The kids were naturals at transitioning from center to center.  We did this for three 40 minute classes and I was able to expose the kids to all the resources I had and ended up with some really amazing second grade quilts!  

CENTER ONE.  Make a Gee Bend inspired quilt from limited supplies. Every year I buy the 10 lb. paper remnants box from School Speciality.  This was a great use of it!  I had many tables dedicated to this center, each with limited and different papers. 

CENTER TWO.  Pattern Play from MindWare.  Best money ever spent!  High quality materials and my students love it!  I use it a lot with students with special needs.  It's something they often work towards.

CENTER THREE and FOUR.  Look at and read Faith Ringgold books and quilt books from our school library.  

CENTER FIVE.  Pattern block stamps with markers.

CENTER SIX and SEVEN.  Research and Tangrams.  Students found links on my website to Craft in America and Lucy Mingo.  They got to browse the website and begin to see what other artworks fall under the craft umbrella.  A Tangram app was the only free quilt related app I could find, but the kids enjoyed the puzzle.  

As you can see from the pictures, the kids carried their own quilt square with them as they moved through the centers.  Artmaking was in between almost every activity.  I had different papers each art class. I was very happy with the results and I do believe the centers helped contribute to the success of this project! 

Friday, January 9, 2015

Curating the Process of Artmaking: TEACH Talk 2014

I had the amazing opportunity to give a TEACH Talk at the Akron Art Museum this fall.  TEACH Talk took inspiration from TED Talks.  Five art teachers spoke for six minutes each and it was an inspiring night to be with and connect with the people that share your passion.  Our theme was how do you LIVE CREATIVE? The art museum has adopted LIVE CREATIVE as their theme this year so as someone who loves curriculum, I love how it all fit together.  If you have to opportunity to organize a night like this, do it! It was so powerful for everyone in the room to hear about our professional life in and out of the classroom.  It was professional development for the art teacher soul.  

Here is my talk in it's entirety.  Unfortunately, I can not publish the slide show, as I don't publish students faces.

My name is Katie and I have worked in an elementary school for 5 years, a middle school for 2 and a high school for 3.  I ski, I surf, I travel, I do youth group, robotics, alumni board, love my family and I live creative.  

Curating my curriculum is my art teacher high. It’s where I thrive and have my greatest teaching achievements.  It’s where i sometimes literally shout out loud because I’m so excited of the encounter of ideas and experiences and students.  

Its when the ideas, materials, resources, and needs of my students merge and collide into an idea and then into process and then into making meaning.  It’s like the colored rice that’s been in your cupboard for 3 years from the previous teacher, and you had no idea what to do with it.  But then you came up with an big idea unit on celebration and saw a lesson in school arts magazine on making 3D desserts and then you read in that paper mache book you had on the shelf that if you add toilet paper to the paste you can sculpt with it and all of a sudden you have frosting and sprinkles (the colored rice!) and a 3D project and you get out your Wayne Theibaud postcards you got in Chicago and that picture you took in San Diego and it all comes together. This is where i feel i’m living my life creatively.  The teaching moments and life moments and that one odd ball material that you been holding on to for far too long. 

Artmaking is a process.  I have my youngest and oldest go through the same process.  From kindergarten to high school classes, the process is the same. To make art in my classroom students experience play, skill, knowledge, connections, and reflections.

I see myself as the curator of this process.  I come up with the big idea and essential questions (which now has been written for us with the new national standards)  and go out a search for all the pieces and parts to fit into my categories. 

My categories, or charts, are the visual of my brain.  It’s not always perfectly geometrically, and often things can go into different grids.  To grid my brain perfectly is pretty scary.  This should really be cubes, on an axis with different orbits.  

In my own life, I am living my own grid.  I’m playing, skill building, knowledge building, and creating meaning.  And in these experiences I find inspiration for my lessons.  My brain is always thinking about the students.  They would love this, I can’t wait to show them, or what would they think of this.  

Travel has been a big part of my life. I even used it as a big idea for my grad class.  It’s something that has changed me. Each trip.  Each site.  And we cherish that which changes us.  So it makes sense that these experiences in my life ultimately affect the curriculum that I curate.  

Travel is how I’ve spent the last couple of summers.  It’s part of my routine now.  My grid.  I’ve spent weeks at grad school, weeks at youth mission camps, and weeks traveling domestically and internationally, for fun and/or education.  And on all these weeks, I’m curating.  I’m grabbing.  I’m taking pictures. I’m buying games in museum gift shops and magnets to cover my filing cabinets.  I’m taking the free pamphlets and I know how we love those free posters.  I’m hunting and gathering.  I'm thinking.  In the calm and quiet, which elementary art teachers don't often experience, I’m thinking and reflecting. Creating connections and ideas and wrapping my brain around what is it I want my students to leave me with.  

The piece that I have to consider when curating is my audience.  The student.  One unit may work for a 5th grade one year, but it won’t work the next.  The students are different.  They have different needs, they come with different talents and stories.  I discovered this was true when I gave my exam in high school.  The students had to record details of their life for 24 hours and make a piece of artwork that demonstrated skills they had learned that semester from the 24 hours of research. For the freshman class, they had lost a classmate the year before, so thinking about life in terms of time was very different for this class then others, and it was evident in their artwork.  My 5th grade students this year are not natural drawers.  They are, however, wildly creative.  Amazing story builders.  For the art show, they won’t have drawings, they’ll have stop-motion videos to show.  

For awhile I’ve felt like those school years or the summers I did not create my own artwork was a failure.  And a part of me still feels that way.  It’s on my to do list.  Make time for yourself to make art.  And I’m hoping that this is the winter I will check that off my list.  But I do find comfort in thinking about what I am putting together every year in my classroom. When I watch my students work in my room, and know the success they are having or the understanding they are expressing to me is because of the process I created for them to work though, sometimes this feels like my art.  My creation.  It’s hard to sell it.  It’s hard to put it in a frame.  But living the encounters of all the pieces and parts, and being with my kids as they make the boxes on my grid come to life, that’s living creative to me.