Friday, November 9, 2007

An Picture can say a Thousand Word....

Or an image can speak only one as the students in my digital photography class have found. Students drew a single word from a hat. They then needed to figure a way to convey that word through an image. Here are the results.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Today had been a very insightful day to me. This morning, I subbed for the Econ teacher. The students were given an assignment on budgets. They were each given an amount that they made working, and then a list of all of their bills they would have to pay in a month. The object of the assignment was for students to figure out what bills should be paid out of what check and how much money they would have a month left just to spend. Well, they found out the had no money left, and that in order to pay their bills they would need to drop somethings out of their monthly budget. What a great assignment. I still have to do this only a daily basis. Just yesterday, my husband reminded me I needed to watch grocery shopping for the week because he had just made the house payment.

It was remarkable what these kids were thinking whe filling out these sheets. They were choosing to cut out their gas and groceries in order to keep their cell phones and internet. WOW! This was an amazing lesson to me on how kids think.

I know when I was there age the only thing that was important to me were practices after school and my boyfriend. I neveer thought about the future, a job, or anything of the sort. My parents paid my bills and I used my summer job money to pay for gas, etc. I never worried about anything. Oh course, we didn't have internet or computers when I grew up and we only had cable for about half of that time. And the future of having a job and responsiblity was well just that...the future.

When I graduated from college, I still didn't get it. I tried to live like I had before, only know suddenly my money didn't seem to go as far as I thought that it should. Well that was 11 years ago. Times changed and I got older. The older I got, the more that it sank in that something was going to have to ideal of spending or my credit. Yeah know, I chose my spending habits. Trying to decide what is a priority is so hard. Now I am old, married with children, and still today I am constantly questioning my spending. It makes me wonder if we ever learn our lesson on spending or if we will just be fighting an uphill battle the rest of our lives.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Art 1 Abstracted Self-Portraits

Art 1 students are just beginning to look at and work in portraiture. There is nothing harder to a high school student, then looking at and drawing themselves. To make this a little easier we abstracted our images slightly, so the students would not be so intimidated about getting everything perfect.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

New drawing class projects

Students have just completed a few new projects. The first was a project that combined music and art. Here are the results!

Friday, October 19, 2007

The End of the Nine Weeks

Well today is the day! The end of the first quarter. I have a few students scrambling to turn in assignments and extra credit in some cases. Overall we have had a very busy first nine weeks. The students have been very busy and very successful. I am very excited about working in Graphic Design with my photography students this nine weeks.

When I graduated from high school, I first thought that I wanted to be in Graphic Design and for a year and a half I was in an extensive program at Southern Illinois University. In December of my sophomore year, I realized I just wasn't happy. I was spending so much time in my room or at the studio working that I was exhausted and overwhelmed. I realized that if I continued in graphic design...that would be my life. And if you know me, that isn't me at all. I decided I needed to work with people and becoming a teacher seemed to fit.

I love the opportunity to work with these wonderful, funny, and very enthusiastic students who bring so much energy and life to the classroom. I think it is wonderful that they are willing to try anything and I am excited to see who will just fit into Graphic Design.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

So, what do teachers do on Institute Day?

I am sure that a lot of students, parents, and community members wonder what the area teachers do on Regional Institute Day...let me tell you...a lot. This day is set aside by our Regional Office of Education for area teachers to take courses on new curriculum or materials in education, to learn more about dealing with students who may have certain needs that are to be met, or to sometimes gain extra or specific knowledge in our field of teaching.
I am never really sure where to go on institute day, but I always end up attending the workshops at Eastern Illinois University. They are interesting classes in which we have the chance to round table with other educators in the art field, tour the Tarble Art Center's current show, and then take a class in which we complete a lesson that relates to the show.

This year however, I tried a new class and loved it! I attended a class presented by area art teachers. Two of these teachers, I have always admired. Jamie Willis is a wonderful art teacher in the Mattoon School District who has a vast knowledge in fiber art. Pat Mahler, who is retired teacher from the Charleston district also taught this class, is an Illinois Artist in Residency. She too, is an amazing fiber artist. Together, they taught a class on bookmaking. They were a fount of information to me. I learned so much about bookmaking and soft sculpture. It has made me quite excited about finding ways to put this in my art curriculum. In the spring I am going to put these into place in our hand arts and sculpture classes.

The thing I love about teaching is that I in turn never stop learning. There are so many ways that I can improve what I teach and these workshops help me succeed in that. So thank you Pat and Jamie and thank you Regional Office of Education for the experience!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007


The homecoming parade was wonderful. I didn't realize how many students that I had in class that were so active in other clubs, sports and organizations. Here are a few recaps...

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Creativity is in Everyone

My sister and I grew up like night and day. My sister would stay in her room reading Beverly Cleary books or writing these wonderful stories on her non-electric typewriter. You would hear the steady tapping of each key as her stories grew. Me, I spent countless hours riding my bike, counting with pride each new scar I would gain from another mishap, and playing the in the dirt trenches of the addition going on our home.

As we grew up, my sister gained her Bachelors and Masters in History. She took an internship with House researching Bills and later began working in the Senate. Currently she is a Fiscal Officer for the Senate. I can't imagine what it is like to work in the Capital each day. As I grew up, I found a love of the arts, gained my Bachelors and Masters in Art Education, and obviously became an art teacher.

I had always thought of myself as the artsy freespirit and my sister as the total opposite. It wasn't until my sister found scrapbooking, that I found the other side of my sister. Her talents in teaching scrap classes in her spare time and a growing interest in design made me realize that there is a little artist in all of us.

If you are not familar with scrapbooking or think of it as simply cutting and pasting paper and pictures together, you couldn't be farther from the truth. Scrapbooking has become an artform. Altering of found objects, transforming pictures and words into works of art is what it is all about.

My sister's love grew into a love of design. Last year she began a design company called Dude Designs where she designs lines of scrapbook paper. Her paper is now an internationl success. Her understanding of Photoshop and strong sense of design and color have played an important part in her new second career.

My sister has taught me to truly appreciate every student who takes my classes. Some kids think that they have to be known as being artsy to be in my classes, but what I have found is that students who are "mathy", "sportsy", "sciency" (if those were even words) have an artsy side waiting to be brought out and when it out!

Homecoming Week

Today, school was a lot of fun! The students are extremely excited as this week is Homecoming. If you never had the opportunity to attend a smaller school, then you have truly never experienced a homecoming at its finest. Throughout the week, each day is a dress-up day and almost everyone participates. Today was character day. Roaming through my room came pirates, rockstars, clowns, a blueman group member, sitcom favorites, and even a guy riding a turkey! I love these days. The kids are so happy. They have so much fun just being kids!

Friday brings class spirit day and powder puff football in the evening. Powderpuff is something I had never heard of until I came to this school. The girls in each class play flag football at the field. Apparently this is huge and always has been. All I know is the girls are already "trash talking" each other. It is a cute banter as they are all such good friends. Saturday leads to the afternoon football game and the dance in the evening. This year's theme is Under the Sea. The art club students have been helping with the decorations. I promise there will be fun fish everywhere. As for tomorrow I will be wearing each class color with pride...that way everyone is happy!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Latest Assignments

Photography- Portrait Assignments are due in Powerpoint Presentations on Thursday and Friday. New Assignment "A Picture is worth a Thousand Words" or in this case just one. Don't lose your word sheet. Take several pictures and present your strongest image!
Exp Art- Wednesday we begin gridded portraits
Art 1 4th hr- continue working self portraits, due Friday
Adv Art- Working on Homecoming this week
Art 1 6th hr- Grid portraits begin on Thursday
Drawing- Music and Art due on Friday

Monday, September 24, 2007

Drawing with a Grid

Each class is beginning new assignments this week. Art 1 is starting self-portraits. We are going to learn how to grid. I know that a lot of teachers hate the grid style of art, but to me, I think that it can be amazing to student self-esteem. When I was in high school, I never learned how to grid out a piece of art. We did grid activities with premade art that you filled in from a copy, but never really used the grid on its own. My teacher taught us face position and shapes, but I don't remember using grids to every help with drawing the face. I know that eventually I learned how to draw, but I ended up so frustrated at how my pictures would end up...never quite looking exactly the way I wanted them to look. All of the faces that I drew, ended up looking alike. Talk about frustrating!
When I started teaching, I looked at different ways to make my students feel successful when drawing. The grid really helps. It lets students look at a picture piece by piece rather than trying to figure out the whole thing at once. Sometimes that is just overwhelming. Some teachers claim that it doesn't teach kids how to draw and they become too dependant on it. Me, I think it gives them the courage to break away once they get the feel for faces and proportions. Do I teach the traditional drawing of faces...sure...but I don't force it on them.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Art In Progress

My Advanced Art students are a great group of students. They are the students who have taken every art class possible, some twice and now have entered into Adv Art. Before I came to PHS I believe that this class was considered an open studio class. The students worked when they wanted...visited when they wanted. Last year as I worked with them, I found they had a lot of great ideas and a lot of potential, but had no sense of time well spent or wasted in class. They were not completing an amount of worked suitable for a semester of a year. Now we are in our second year together and things are turning around. They are coping with and have even come to accept due dates for assignments! I have found that they each bring something special to the class and it shows in their work. Above is a small taste of works in progress.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

So this blogging thing is pretty addictive

So blogging, who knew I would ever start. My sister used to blog all the time and still does. I always admired her for it. I loved getting on line and reading about my nephews everyday life. The boys live a few hundred miles away, yet I could still find out what happened at school that I was there with them.

I thought blogging looked like the hardest thing in the world to do. I didn't know a thing about it and didn't want to! Then one day in teacher inservice, Ms. Hill, our librarian, spoke to us about new technology. We discussed the idea that here are all of us...old dull teachers...not knowing a darn thing about things like my space and the likes...things are students spend hours on, everyday single day. The idea is that we should adapt to our students rather than our students conforming to us. You have to admit, times have changed! I remember the day they put the card catalog on computer at Eastern and no one could find a darn thing...but guess what, we adapted and we learned. Now I am not sure that I could look up a book in the files.

I don't think that that any of us simply don't like change. I think it is that change scares us. I am an art teacher who deals in color everyday, but deciding what color to paint my bathroom scares me. I don't want to make a mistake and I don't want to look like I don't know what I am doing!

So to adapt to my students has been quite challenging. Challenging...but successful. I must say that blogging isn't hard, it was simply putting aside my fears and trying something new. The students love to see there art online and knowing how things are going in our room. And we as teachers one by one are moving out of our little shells. I love to get on our high school website and see each new teacher who puts up a blog. Even a few teachers that might suprise you...teachers who are adapting!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

new picts from drawing class

These are some wonderful pictures from drawing class. They are done in oil pastel!

Monday, September 17, 2007

So, how do you grade art?

Grading art is not like grading any other subject. It is probably one of the most difficult parts of my job. The first thing I do is give very structured guidelines for an assignment. That is the foundation for the grade. If you follow the directions and work to the best of YOUR ability, that is all I can ask for in class.
Contrary to what a lot of students think, we as art teachers, don't line up student work and give the "really good" projects the "A's", next in line the "B", etc. Rather art is something that is graded not by talented but rather by trying. If you work and you work hard, fulfilling all of the required aspects of the assignment, then you will do great! On our grade rubric for each assignment, there is always a spot that asks if the student has spent time wisely, etc. That counts just as much point wise as parts of the technical assignment.
A lot of students are afraid to take art because they don't feel that they are "good" enough for the class. In my eyes, those students are some of the best I get. They are ready to learn and try new things. So when you think about taking art or taking an art class that isn't in your comfort level, go for it! If you work hard, you will do great!

Wednesday, September 5, 2007


Shading is probably one of the hardest things to learn in art. To some it comes naturally and amazing depth and strength develops in their work. To others it is an impossible task which seems tedious and gives little reward in the end. My Art I students are struggling with shading. It is difficult for them to work from an elementary perspective of cartoon-like images into a world full of depth and illusion. I am not sure how I can better explain to them that it takes time and practice to "see" an image in black and white and grays. When this happens, the magic of art begins and opens a whole new page in drawing.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Shattered Images

Art I recently completed a project entitled shattered images. The point of this project was to introduce shading in an interesting way. As you look at these pieces, there is a subject drawing hidden in the shading...can you find it?

Note to Photo Class

Just a reminder about cameras at school. Make sure that you only have your cameras out for 2nd hour. Please keep them locked up the rest of the time or if you do have them out for a photo shot, please ask the teacher's permission first.

New assignment is "ourtown" Be thinking of images that reflect your life or thoughts about our town.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Mentor News

One of the great things that PHS is doing this year is a little something called Mentoring. As teachers, we are given a homeroom which becomes our Mentor Group. I have a awesome group of juniors. They are all bright, friendly, and extremely cooperative. We meet once a month to dicuss all kinds of things, like job shadowing, testing, name it and we can talk about it. I have encouraged them to come to me with any questions, complaints, comments..anything!!! I think this is a wonderful program that seems to really be ok with my group. Today we met and talked about the student handbook, testing, and college scholarships. We had a little beach party and it was a lot of fun! Next month we are getting online and looking at ACT test prep. I'm thinking a fall theme!