How I bribed my students with presents the week before winter break!

Yep! Your read that title correctly. My middle schoolers were ready for winter break waaaaay before winter break was even close. I needed to get creative when it came to ways to keeping them engaged. Besides just an engaging lesson, I really needed something to keep them on task. Positive rewards were the first thing that came to mind to me!

Around this time, my classes were working on Perspective. They had practiced and expanded off of a room drawing, with the vanishing point in the middle of the square paper, a wall in the back, two walls, a ceiling and a floor. We talked about how the lines go to the vanishing points and then many of the lines stay parallel, for example windows, doors, etc.

I ran out to Five & Below and only spent about $20 on a variety of different things:

Winter socks, Watercolor Paint Sets, Gel Pens, Pencils, Color by Number, Paint by Number, Dry Erase Boards for Lockers, etc.

Obviously buy things that would relate to the age group you teach! My middle schoolers were super excited about these. I also grabbed boxes, wrapping paper, and bows. I wrapped up all the presents and arranged them in two different areas throughout our classroom.

These presents served two purposes in my classroom during the last two weeks of school. The first purpose was that my early finishers were able to choose a seat near either still life and create a still life composition of the presents and the bows. This really helped me to give extra help to those students who were still working on their assignment.

The behavior aspect of this is really what helped me though. When the students came in and asked about the presents, I took some time to explain what I planned to do with them. I told students that there were 12 presents. I had a roll of tickets to hand out during the last days before break. When I noticed good behavior, good effort in class, etc, I would give a student a raffle ticket. Students put the raffle tickets in their binders if they received anyway. There was no limit to how many raffle tickets a student could get but each one would increase their chances of being picked.

 

On the last day before break, we had a half day. I selected 6 names from each of my 2 classes. When a student’s name was selected, they were able to pick a present and open it.

So yes, the title is read correctly, I totally bribed my students with presents the week before winter break. Would I do it again? You bet! It was highly effective in not only keeping my students engaged but also keeping them on their best behavior, as they knew a positive reward could come from it.

Do you do anything similar in your classroom before a break?! I would love to hear about it!

Screen Printing our Art Club shirts!

So a few years back, when I was living in Nashville, I was really interested in screen printing. It was a new process to me and I wanted to learn it! I worked with an independent printmaker and also a printmaking company, taking classes, learning new things, etc.

This year, with my Middle School Art Club, I decided to teach my kids how to screen print. I like the connection that it brings to the real world. Kids go, Wow! I can actually make my own t-shirts, clothing, etc! I had a bunch of kids asking about the screen while it was sitting in my room, but my Art Club kids were the ones who actually got to make them.

I purchased an 18×24 exposure table a few years ago for about 200 dollars. I get my money’s worth out of it. The exposure table makes it really easy for me to burn the screen.

My art club kids were asked to come up with designs. Then, we voted on what we liked best out of all the designs. We combined them into one design that everyone was happy with. I then went home and created it on Photoshop, printed it as a transparency, and then burned the transparency onto the screen.

I took the screen into school for Art Club. I explained the process that I did at home to the students so that they could be aware of the process too, they were extremely interested! I had students working on various low maintenance projects during this particular art club, and as they were working, I pulled students aside to screen print in small groups of 3, 4, or 5.

I showed them how to place the screen wherever they wanted the design to print. I explain to them what happens if they go too far over, if they don’t press hard enough, if they don’t have enough ink, if they lift up the shirt too quickly, etc. I monitored how much ink was going on the screen at a time and I offered them individual suggestions as they printed.

Although I have ton various printmaking techniques in the past, this was my first time screen printing with my middle school students! I would love to hear what printmaking techniques are used in your classroom!

Tiki Cups

This tiki lesson was a fun, somewhat simple lesson that the students seemed to really enjoy. After doing coil building, slabs, creating their own templates, we gave them a little bit of a break by providing them with a simple slab template to give them the base of the cup. For this, we used low fire red clay. We talked about creating emotion in art. I talked to the students about how to make someone look angry, mad, sad, happy, excited, etc. We discussed how to be successful in that by shaping the eyebrows, eyes, nose, mouth, all a different way. Students came up with their sketches. During the sketches, I had them choose ONE aspect of their tiki that they wanted to emphasize using color. The rest of the tiki was stained with a black underglaze and then clear.

This lesson was a fun alternative because it showed students a different way to glaze ceramic rather than just coating it with a glaze. After these were bisque fired, I then demonstrated how to stain their tiki. We used a watered down black underglaze and you can even make your own stain! We painted the wash all over the tiki, in all the crevices and textured areas especially. We waited about 5-10 minutes for the stain to dry. Then, I had students use a wet sponge to sponge off all of the extra stain, this left the crevices and textures dark, and created a cool look for their tiki. After staining, the students were able to glaze one small aspect of their tiki using color. Lastly, student applied 2-3 coats of clear glaze to the remainder of their tiki.

Overall, this was a really fun lesson to teach and the students seemed to enjoy it.

Art History Meets Pop Culture Acrylic Paintings

Yesterday was my last day of the school year, and this year, my kids were focused up until the very end! This year, I decided to start an acrylic painting assignment the last few weeks of school. I gave each student a canvas, and I feel like having a canvas helped. Many of the students had never worked on one before so they were really excited at the opportunity to create something great! Working on a canvas enabled them to stay focused, which is definitely hard to do in the month of May and June!

This assignment is one that I have been doing throughout my teaching career. I think this is the third time I have done this! I’ve taught this not only in high school but also in middle school and I love the results! We talked about Pop Culture and what types of things are popular today. Students brainstorm many ideas and come up with a good list. Then, we research all different types of art and artists! I have had them research in a computer lab, but this past time, a computer lab wasn’t available so I brought in a ton of printables and art magazines and books. I had students work in groups to write down different artists that caught their attention and different art movements that they enjoyed.

Then, students had to come to me with an idea. They needed to tell me what artist they wanted to base their painting off of, what painting specifically, and what they would incorporate into the painting to make it more original and their own.

Another really great thing about this assignment is that you can guide students in a direction that they will all be successful. For example, I had some students who were more successful doing a Pop Art inspired painting, where they did not need to mix colors or do any shading or blending. Some students had experience painting before so I guided them in the direction of a Monet or a Rembrandt painting, etc. This way, all students had different results at all different levels, yet they were all able to be successful!

The PowerPoint that I created for this lesson can be found at https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Pop-Culture-Meets-Art-History-3210234

I have a variety of different examples on the slideshow, all of which I have permission for.

Besides though examples, take a look at some of my examples from this current school year!

What works for you as an end of the year lesson? Would love to hear! Enjoy summer!!

 

 

Realistic Self Portraits

Ahhh self portraits! Some kids love em, some kids absolutely hate em.

I start out by teaching basic cartooning. I feel like this loosens kids up a bit, and it also allows them to consider showing emotions. Cartoons have such exaggerated emotions and I feel like it is great practice for students to consider how to show emotions within their own portraits.

After cartooning, we spend some time focusing on each facial feature. We spent a day on eyes, a day on noses, a day on mouths, and a day on ears/hair. I graded these as progress, so I told students that as long as I saw effort, they would get full points. I took off points if they did not consider value or shading, or if they were misusing their cell phones.

I collected the facial features sketches and we moved on to proportion. To switch things up a bit, I decided to have my students do group drawings. Each group started with a face outline. They set up all of the proportions- we looked at an example on the board of where the lines should be. Where the eyes sit on, the noses, how far apart the eyes go, and where the ears go, etc. These can be found online.

I had students set up the face and then draw one realistic eye. After drawing, they were asked to switch with someone else. The second student drew the second realistic eye. Each time they switched, the student had to consider where each facial feature would go. These ending up looking like really creepy mugshots and my kids absolutely loved them!

This took about two days, because we wanted to make them look realistic and shade well. At the end, we did a critique. Students were asked to go around and identify anything that looked proportionally “off”. Comments included things such as “eyes are too far apart,” “ears are too high”, “mouth is too close to nose” etc. Students got the sketch that they had originally started with and they held onto it for reference.

Lastly, I introduced the final assessment. Students drew a realistic photo of themselves. I asked them to bring in a picture of themselves. I opted to do it this way rather than looking at mirrors because I wanted them to be able to compare and contrast the values and progress of their drawings with the actual picture.

Students had two options for this- they could choose to freehand their portrait or use a grid. We had used a grid earlier in the year for realistic animal eyes, the link for that lesson can be found here. http://www.makemesanguine.com/index.php/2016/12/12/animal-eye-value-drawings/

If students wanted to grid, they could either do an outline first, or go square by square and shade everything completely. As a beginning Drawing & Painting and class, I felt that this approach really helped my students understand and be able to take their time throughout this assignment.

Here are the results!

Realistic Self Portraits High School Lesson Plan

Vans Shoe Submission 2017!

Very excited to report that our Van’s Shoe Submissions are officially entered!!

Let me also continue by saying that with this contest, the struggle was real! I worked with one other art teacher at my school. We opened up the contest to any of our students who were interested. We required students to create a sketch first and then any students who showed interest by sketching were allowed to work on the shoes.

Well, turns out these high schoolers have a lot going on. Honestly this contest often felt like pulling teeth! There were kids who often asked to work on them and did enjoy working on them, but with the deadline fast approaching, it was something that we really had to continuing hounding on the kids.

As I mentioned, after students submitted their original designs, I then met with the other art teacher and we brainstormed a theme. Although a theme wasn’t required, we wanted all the shoes to kind of go together. We decided on a beach/boardwalk theme. We met with the kids and we all brainstormed ways to fit each category. Once everything was decided, I then assigned each student a job and they began working on these.

I’m curious as to how other teachers coordinate this!

I’m interested to see how others incorporated the Technology in Design aspect of this into it, being that it was a new part of the contest this year.

Overall, I’m very proud of these! They came out super fun and I know my students are proud of their work. Here are our submissions:

Our Art shoe features a Sand Castle building contest right in Atlantic City, New Jersey. We incorporated waves and focused on bringing a sculptural aspect into our design.

Art Shoe Vans Shoe Design Contest High School Art Class
Art Shoe Vans Shoe Design Contest High School Art Class

Our Music shoe featured two different live music events. The first is a jazz musician playing on the Ocean City Boardwalk, with the sunset in the background. The second is a rock/rap concert (we haven’t decided which! ha!) with plenty of people in the crowd.

Music Shoe Van's Shoe Design Contest High School Art
Music Shoe Van’s Shoe Design Contest High School Art

Our Extreme Sport shoe focuses on our surfer. He’s in a pretty big wave that is made up of both of the shoes.

Extreme Sports Shoe Van's Shoe Design Contest High School Art
Extreme Sports Shoe Van’s Shoe Design Contest High School Art

Our Local Flavor shoe is made up of some boardwalk favorites! We have the boardwalk which shows Curly Fries, some Curly Fries made from shoe laces. We have Kohr Brother’s ice cream, and a seagull coming down to eat the boardwalk pizza! We also have a ferris wheel and a roller coaster.

Local Flavor Shoe Van's Shoe Design Contest
Local Flavor Shoe Van’s Shoe Design Contest
Van's Shoe Design Contest High School Submission EHTHS
Van’s Shoe Design Contest High School Submission EHTHS

This contest was fun! It was definitely time consuming and challenging to complete all of the shoes the way we wanted them to be in the time frame, on top of teaching our classes different lessons, but overall I am very happy!!

Altered Books

This lesson was something NEW for my classes, and here’s why-

  • This was the first project that I allowed them to work in groups for. They were in groups of two, three, or four, depending on class size, etc. I wanted them to work in groups because I did not want them spending A TON of time on this project, and also because I have two really quiet classes and I wanted them to get to know each other a bit better.
  • The name of my class is Drawing & Painting, which mainly focuses on two dimensional artworks. I wanted my kids to expand past that and consider how to use their knowledge of drawing and painting to create a three dimensional work of art.

My kids were very excited about this project, being that it was so different. I selected their groups for them, so that I could differentiate between skill levels. For example, I put a girl who definitely knows what she’s doing, able to draw well, could probably be in AP if she wanted to be, I put her with a girl whose drawing skills are not nearly as creative or developed, hoping that they would be able to work alongside each other and offer suggestions.

This was the final project in a Unit I created on Words in Art. We began the unit by discussing how words can enhance or strengthen the quality of an artwork. Students worked and created blackout poetry, along with illustrations that supported their poems. They did this individually for a few days to get them thinking and experimenting with different options.

When I introduced this altered books assignment, I began with A TON of visual examples. I scanned Pinterest and various websites in order to come up with as many great examples as I could find. (If you follow my Pinterest Boards, you will see my “Altered Books” Board, which has a ton of great ideas!

I focused on additive and subtractive techniques, which meant they were either sculpting or carving into their books. I also talked to them about the possibility of leaving the books open versus having them closed and creating a cover page.

After me talking for what seemed like a very long time, I read out the names of the groups and I had my groups get together. I let them select a book and then they began sketching out ideas. Their sketches had to show me:

  • Will anything stand out? Will you create three dimensional works of art from pages?
  • Will anything be carved into? If so, what will you be carving?
  • Will your book be open or closed as a final product?
  • How will you incorporate drawing and painting into your altered book?

(Sidenote) When students were finished with these, I found that it was a great time to introduce Critique. Until this point, my students hadn’t really spent a great deal of time practicing the correct way to critique. I gave them a handout that introduced the 4 Steps to Critique, and we also viewed Starry Night as an example of how to answer each step of critique.

Along with an individual rubric for each student, I also had them write up a 4 Step Critique on another group’s altered book project.

Overall, I really enjoyed this project. It was something different that allowed my students to let loose a bit and bounce their own ideas off of each other.

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Pastel Mannequins

This was a quick lesson that only took a few classes. I noticed my students were struggling with Analogous vs. Complementary Colors. I had students complete an oil pastel worksheet for the first day, where they practice different blending techniques and ways to get different results with oil pastels.

Once we finished, we viewed some examples. We focused on composition and zooming in to really fill up the space. Students sketched 2-4 different mannequin poses in their sketchbooks, complete with shading and at least 7 different values.

Then, students were asked to select their most interesting and favorite composition. They then selected an analogous color scheme of their choice and shaded in their mannequin using the oil pastel. They also were allowed to use black and white to create their shadows and their highlights.

I love these results!!

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Shape Vs. Form Legos

One of the questions on my Benchmark exam asks the students to identify the difference between Shape and Form. While this is something that I felt is simple, I noticed many of my kids struggled with it!

I wanted to do a project that focused on shape versus form to really help students understand how the two differ. We had done some observational drawings already but I wanted to do something that allowed them to focus on WHY we were shading. I wanted to focus on the illusion of form that is created when you are shading, using highlights, shadows, etc.

As a sketchbook warmup, I had students create themselves as if they were a lego character. We discussed how legos are three dimensional, they can be picked up, held, etc. So I told them to consider that as they were sketching (I didn’t want to see any flat lego people)! Students personalized them according to their physical features, character traits, interests, hobbies, etc.

I then showed students some examples of lego drawings. We talked about two different approaches to this. The first was for the students to construct a composition that was more structured and orderly. I then demonstrated how to set up a composition using two point perspective techniques to create realistic legos. The second option was for students to create a more hap hazard composition, where the legos were not lined up perfectly and were instead kind of thrown onto the surface. If they chose this, they did not need to use perspective techniques and could free hand the legos, as long as the legos were still three dimensional.

I felt that this project was challenging, but as the drawings were finished, I could tell my students were really proud of the hard work they had put into this. I also had them do an exit slip and nearly everyone was able to distinguish the difference between shape versus form, hooray!

Overall, I found this lesson to be really engaging- the students were definitely concentrated and focused throughout the entire time, and also rewarding- I was able to get my classes to identify shape vs. form, and they also ended up being very proud of themselves for completing this assignment!

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Blackout Poetry

Blackout Poetry is one of those lessons that I’ve always been intrigued by, but I’ve never tried it. I have some pretty cool classes this year and decided to give it a try. I must say, I really enjoyed this lesson. We began this as a sort of introduction to a Unit on Words and Art. Following this lesson, students created Altered Books (blog post on that to follow later on)!

I introduced my classes to the idea of Words and Art and we discussed how words can be used to further get the point across. I showed them examples of both Blackout Poetry and Blackout Poetry with Illustrations. They were required to create a poem or phrase of their choice and then come up with an illustration that fit their idea.

We incorporated a few different concepts into this including:

Emphasis: How can you emphasize your poem and make it stand out from the rest of the words? How can you emphasize your illustration?

Movement: Is your poem easy to read or is it jumbled and somewhat confusing?

Contrast: Is there a strong contrast between your illustrations and words versus the actual page of the book?

Etc.

I would love to hear some other examples and perhaps how this lesson has been taken a step further! Like I said, I used this as an introduction to a Unit on Words and Art. I am very pleased with these results!

 

Megan

 

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