Wednesday, December 3, 2008

SO, who READS these days anyway?

Well, for one I do. Try to stick my head full of facts and figures, yuck, but give me something that fills my imagination full of images and gives me the feeling that I can't put down a book. That is what reading is all about. The new discussion as of late is getting our students to read again. To engage them in creative and imaginative thinking. I must confess, I am NOT a supporter of AR in the schools. When my daughter was little, she loved being read to and couldn't wait to start reading. She love all types of stories and wouldn't go to bed without at least three stories under her belt. I could see that I was going to have a reader on my hands. Once she started school, she started accelerated reader program which is required in our district. From that point on, it was downhill. Getting Ali to read was like pulling teeth. In her 5 years of school, she has maybe read 2 books that she absolutely enjoyed reading. The rest of the books were ok or horrible, chosen from a list because that was considered her "reading level." Although she read the books, she didn't enjoy them, because of what came afterward. The dreaded AR test. Questions based off the book that unless you picked up and remembered every detail from the book, you may or may not pass. Now I don't know about you, but I have read several books in my past that I have thought were ok or enjoyed, but did I remember the details after I was done, heck no.

This year, however reading is changing for her. Her teacher, Mrs. Wright has made it her passion to engage students in what they read and to assess from there. Ali is now reading and enjoying it again. She is making projects, powerpoints, even timelines using what she has read. Instead of being strictly tested by true/ false and multiple choice questions, she is getting to demonstrate through creativity and imagination those things SHE found interesting in the book. And to Mrs. Wright I am indeed greatful for instilling that love back in to my daughter.

My Dad was a sixth grade teacher for 37 years. I always thought he was a great teacher, because he actively engaged his students. He found ways to get the students into the stories they read. For instance, my favorite was reading Treasure Island and at the end, they had a treasure hunt with clues from the story to find the chest. Engaging activities that encourage paying attention to the details while making it fun and relevant.

At the high school level, our focus is now getting our students to read again. With all they are active in, how do we find the time to incorperate reading into our specific curriculum. For instance is it possible to get students to read 16 books a year? There are a lot mixed reviews on this one. Yes students are busy and yes, there comes the question of, if we require them to read will they really enjoy it. Tough call. Here is what I know. Lately I have had to ask or even beg some of students to put down their books for class, because they were reading the Twilight series and apparently it is one of those sets, you simply can't put down.

Yes we are all busy as teachers, but really, how hard is it to be a little creative, take a little time out of our personal curriculum goals, and get kids to start using their imagination and sharing their creativity. I know I am as guilty as the rest when I think that if I don't finish my semester at a certain point in my intended curriculum, that I did not succeed. But who sets my standards on where I have to finish...I do. So if I want, I can be brave, get out of my comfort zone and assign my students to read. Read a book about at artist, read a book about a time period where art came to a great turn, or simply a book that is non-fiction or fiction that falls within a specific decade. Does it have to be something that pertains to what I teach, it would be great, but no. I can make anything relevant to what I teach by picking something about the book and working it into my curriculum. I think if I am encouraging reading time, talking to them about it, and then we create something that is meaningful to them to help them remember and enjoy, then it is all worth it! A piece of art, do a photography project, create a group project that works with the story...those kids will remember that and enjoy it. Do I expect them to remember the details of what color dress someone was wearing, no. Do I want them to gain a new interest or remember an old love in reading...yes. As much as kids having going on, they still need reading in their lives. It gives them a time out from the real world and let's them use their imaginations and be kids again.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Controlled Chaos

This week, Mr. Doughan's creative writing classes are up in the artroom 1st, 3rd, and 7th hours. They are creating art for their Poetry Books. What these students are coming up with is so creative. Most people that would walk into the room at any point during these hours would think it was absolutely crazy with two classes combined, kids working on the floor and at the tables. I think it is amazing to see these kids so focused and enjoying themselves, being creative and having fun! I encourage any teachers or administrators who get the chance, to stop by and see these kids in action! They are great. I having a great time and I think Mr. Doughan is too. Talk about bringing him out of his comfort zone and into a whole new world...but I am finding that he is getting kinda used to it!

***pictures are coming soon!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

three things

So today, the day before vacation, I must admit I feel that my students are more productive than me. Honesty sometimes hurts. My students are working so hard right now in groups on recycled art projects. I hear them talking about everything under the sun and working. Who knew they would multi-task the day before a holiday. I, on the other hand, have three things on my mind: An amazing concert that I attended (listening to the artist now- my students are listening to the radio), shopping for a pair of fabulous boots this afternoon, and going blonde tomorrow. I guess the first thing to do is admit it, and now perhaps, I will move on and keep on task like my students!

Monday, November 24, 2008


Today Mr. Russell has been in speaking to my photo students on the use of Lightroom in photography. If you have never looked into this program, it will change the way you work with images. I am crossing my fingers that at some point my students will have the ability to work in this program as much as photoshop.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Go Big or Go Home

Advanced art students are currently taking on self portraits that are above and beyond what is considered normal. Check out their works in progress

text as art

It has been awhile, but we have been extremely busy with our current assignments. Here is a sample of the latest Art I project completed. Students were to use text from magazines or the computer and create art from it. As you can see, the students are extremely unique in their response.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


So I live on one of those trick or treat streets. That when the dark takes over here come the the masses of spidermen, hanna montanas, and creepy things that don't have names. It is always funny to see whose light goes off first which means they have simply run out of candy. I shopped in bulk this year and finally made it to a quarter till when it was gone. The trick or treaters all come in different shapes and sizes and I love the look of shock and horror from those parents who are walking their children up and down the streets when they see a car pull up in front of my home and piling out are flight attendants, rocks stars, witches, and divas. My high school kids. It is a tradition to come to my house and every year I buy special treats for them. I love seeing them dressed up heading out to have fun and visit those that know them. But the initial shock of parents is almost amusing. They look slightly angry to see them out, as if they might take candy that belongs to their kids, when they know good and well most of it will end up in the trash in a couple weeks anyway. I encourage my students to be creative and have fun being kids... they grow up too fast, too soon!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Assignments for the Week of October 6th

Photography: Our Town image assignments. 13 + images that depict a theme on our town or community.

Art 1: Completing the Andy Warhol paintings and using outline to simply the design

Advanced Art: Beginning work on our 4x8 feet self-portraits

Painting and Drawing: Students have an open two dimensional drawing assignment

Pointillism is Complete

Here are a few example of the 100 projects that were turned in for a grade. As you can tell, the students were able to capture a great understanding of the concept and did an amazing job!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Warhol vs Seurat

Both of these artists were considered uncomfortable artists of their time. Each for varying reasons. Both challenged the traditions of classic art. So he is the question I pose to you... which is a better artist? What a question!!! But now that we have studied both of these artists and their work, who do you feel is the better of the two and why? Do I know what what or even if there is a right Do I want to hear your voice....yes.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


Students in my Art 1 and drawing classes are learning the art style of Pointillism. The art of pointillism revolves around the idea of color theory and optically mixing colors in an artwork. Georges Seurat is known as the artist who created this idea. Seurat was born in 1859 and began painting in his 20's. Seurat did not have a big following in regard to his work. People were uncomfortable with his style and felt that his worked looked "fuzzy" and "messy." The idea behind his work was as scientifically based as artistically based. He would not even bother keeping his models for an entire sitting as he was so focused on getting the paints to optically blend that it would take hours upon hours. Some of his most famous works are Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte, Le Chahut, and Eden Concert.

Monday, September 22, 2008

HS Photography -Windows

“Art is the window to man's soul. Without it, he would never be able to see beyond his immediate world; nor could the world see the man within.” -Lady Bird Johnson

Thursday, September 11, 2008

6th hour Art 1

Here are 6th hour's portraits...enjoy.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Advanced Art

My class of advanced art students is all girls this semester. Their first assignment has been a challenging one. They have been asked to create a work of art that reflects who they are as a person.

ART 1 -- 4th HOUR

Students just finished up their first assignment in high school art. Most of these students have not had any art up to this point in school. I am very proud of their hardwork and their ability to overcome frustration. I told them I wasn't actually worried about them truly looking like anyone exactly, I was simply hoping for them to learn proportion and a little shading!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Assignments for Sept 2-5

  • Art 1 and Art Exploratory -finishing your portraits. Look online, there are some great sites with quick and effective shading tips. Projects are due on Friday. Please turn in to the Substitute
  • Photography- Assignment 1 and 2 are due on Wednesday. Check last weeks assignments for project detail. Students may turn in a set of images printed at wallet size on Wednesday. Thursday and Friday students will have photoshop learning assignments. Each project is due at the end of the class hour.
  • Advanced Art- Students are working on Self-exploration project Projects are due next week. Students need to blog 1x this week on their first project, the idea and where it has taken them
  • Drawing and Painting-project assigned last week is due on Friday. An additional two drawings may be completed for a total of eight for extra credit.

Thoughts about Prom

Now usually I am talking all the time about ART, ART, ART. Today though, I am tackling Prom. Now for some crazy reason Mrs. Skelton, one of our fantastic guidance counselors and I have taken on the responsibility of Junior Class Sponsors this year. Although most people think we are nuts for doing it, we are really quite excited. In Mrs. Skelton's other life, meaning the one outside of school, she is a wedding coordinator. How fantastic. So now, the wedding coordinator and the art teacher have taken over out!

We have a lot of ideas which we are so excited about! We have met with the junior and senior classes about our ideas. The students, I believe are quite excited too! This year marks our 100th anniversary of Paris High School and there is no better way to celebrate than mixing in some new traditions into the old. This year we have decided to make prom an extremely special event for the students. Our focus this year is giving our students a prom that let's them show their peers, our faculty and administration, parents, and our community that they are responsible young adults and have the best prom imaginable. For the first time in for I can almost say "ever" PHS prom will be hosted in Terre Haute. We have booked the Ohio Room in downtown for our celebration.

Our biggest concerns in the past have been a concern of finance and safety. Let's face it, it is not uncommon for the average teenager to spend a few hundred dollars on a dress or tux that they will wear one night, flowers, prom tickets, dinner and gas money to get to and from dinner to the prom.

Prom is just expensive. Our goal this year is to make prom as inexpensive as we can for our students. For the first time we are incorporating dinner into our prom. Paris did not provide a venue that could hold us all for dinner and dancing, there fore we had to look in other directions. The Ohio Building fell into our laps. How luck were we! By using a strong fundraiser we are hoping to pay for the majority of the dinner and dance, hopefully cutting out completely or making prom tickets minimal in cost, making dinner basically free for the students. In regard to the expense of fuel, we are encouraging students to get creative. In the past, most of them traveled to Terre Haute to eat dinner and back to town. To them it was not ever considered an issue. To others, it may pose a question. We are talking to students about carpooling and safety, getting together and renting those limos (now that they aren't having to pay for dinner) they have always talked about. We are also looking in to alternative transportation or students such as a bus service. We will make sure that any student who wants to be at prom,makes it to prom.

Our second great concern is our student safety. In years past students have finished with Grand March and raced to Terre Haute, rushed through dinner, and raced back to town for prom and then the after-prom. You do not know how many stories I have heard from students. Frankly it is a situation that needs to be fixed and that is our goal. Students will continue going through Grand March as normal. Once Grand March is over, students will be given a time that the dinner for prom will begin. There will be no need for students to rush or speed to get there, they will have enough time to make it safely. At that point our students will be at prom for the entire evening until the close of the event. Keeping our students together and with our faculty in a safe environment is very important to us. At the close of prom students will again be given an allotted amount of time to drive safely to the after-prom. This will be coordinated with Mr. Doughan.

We have a really good group of students at this high school who are in desperate need to show their responsibility and maturity. We are stressing from now until the night of prom how important each "move" that they make is a reflection on not only themselves but for our school and community. We only want the best for our students and giving them this way to show their maturity, will be a fantastic way to add a new tradition into the next 100 years at PHS.

We are asking you as parents to please come to us with any questions. We are happy to answer them and if we don't have answers, we will find them. We need you to be as supportive as you can for your children. Please help us make this a safe and fantastic event for your children by encouraging responsibility and safety each and everytime they mention prom to you.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Looking at Line

Picasso (left), Duchamp, Davinci, Magritte

It is funny how every year I begin by teaching the same type of project. It isn't because I can't think of anything else to teach, but rather I think it is because it is probably one of the most important things that art students need to learn. I had never really thought of it before posting my last entry of assignments, but there it was right in front of is amazing what lesson plans can do for you :)
Line. It is such a simple concept, yet I don't think we ever take the time to look at what an important role it plays in our artwork. Line in art move the eye around the image, it keeps it observing and interest the viewer. It can be complex or simple. It can show a simple subject or it can almost cause viewer confusion. Here are a few pieces that you might find interesting. And the next time you are at a museum or online looking around, try to figure out why that piece of art interests you and I bet you will find it is all due to the movement caused by line.

Assignments for Aug 25-29

Here are the assignments for all the classes. If you have any questions, let me me or stop by and see me.

Photography - Assign. 1 = 12 images following the powerpoint presentation
of taking strong images 2-rule of thirds, 2-using diagonal lines, 2-curving lines, 2-leading line images, 1-little to no background, 1-showing background importance, 1-fast moving action, 1-stopped action. Assignment is due next Tuesday

Assign. 2 = 5 images from following the ideas given in the powerpoint on using windows as imagery Assignment Due Next Tuesday

Art 1 & Art Exploratory- Students are working on a contour line portrait drawing. They may choose to use 50/50 contour line or blind contour line for their drawings. Assigment Due Friday

Painting and Drawing- Continue working on 6 square drawings, bring in pictures or close-ups that are interesting to you. We are using contour line drawing to create form and will be developing these drawings using shading. Assignment due Next Wed/Thurs

Advanced Art - Once students have completed their blog portfolio, they will begin their first assignment. The first assignment is to create a painting or drawing that depicts who you are as a person. You can most definetaly add items to your work to create a mixed media work. Assignment due in 2 weeks.

Our New Fine Arts Blog

I am very excited to introduce the New District Wide Fine Arts Blog! We are hoping that many students and parents will find it useful. On this particular blog you will be seeing entries from the various instructors k-12 in all Fine Arts Areas. There will also be various concert dates and performance dates. For parents with kids in a variety of different schools, we hope this makes it easier on you!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

So how does our brain work?

It is funny how our hands connect to our brain, and our brain connect to our thoughts, ideas and memories. Today in all of my drawing classes, we completed a fun little project that always makes my students think about art a little different.

When we are young, we are bombarded with these colorful picture books that have, for instance, a picture of a bright beach ball with the word ball below, on the following pages, the same ideas exist. We start at a young age learning to put pictures of objects into our brains so that the minute that we hear a word, we have an image. This is an amazing process. As we get a little older our memories develop more and we add more detail to the initial symbol we learned.

The trouble is that when students are asked to draw, for instance a sunflower, they still draw a simplified child-like drawing of a sunflower. In their head they may see wonderful colors and lots of beautiful petals, but what goes on the paper is a circle surrounded with oval shapes that they were taught as a child. It is almost like we can't seem to get our memory to match up to our hands and drawing.

My goal this year is to help students begin to see, remember, and create more realistic ideas. I am excited to see their style progress and gain a wonderful sense of detail! The key is that we need to look at an object to remember what it looks like as we draw it, not trying to draw from memory. Hard concept to grasp, but I know we can do it!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


Wow another year has started! I can't believe it! My classes are...what is the best way to describe it.....FULL! On average there are 28 students in each class. They are bringing in new desks and chairs soon. I only had enough for 21! We even had to round up a few more computers for the lab. I am so excited. I am not sure what to do with that many students, but it will come to me eventually!

We ran a short schedule today with an assembly this morning. I saw all the students today. I have a nice combination of repeat students with some new faces as well. I am also very excited to see so many of my former Mayo students in art as Freshman and my senior Mentor Kids!

This year I am going to work hard to create some one of a kind and special activities for the students that will end up being meaningful to them! I want the students this year to do a lot of creative brainstorming so that they become more aware of the how and why of a project, not the "just cause they have to..."

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

A New School Year, A New Look

Well, in a little over a week we will be back at school! I am so excited and so not looking forward to it at all. ---Hey, at least I am honest, right! I am very excited about all of the new faces that I will be seeing this year. We have quite an enrollment jump in the arts this year with the addition of an additional class hour in our schedules. For that I am so grateful. But I must admit, I am what you call a true procrastinator. Although I am excited about the classes, I can honestly say I will be getting things together at the last minute for them. I really like my summers. I start all of these projects at home and am lucky to finish them in time to go back to school. I really admire those great teachers who are preparing and working at school in the summer and I wish I had some of that in me. With that said, I am sure I will be flying by the seat of my pants the first week. We will see!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008


Well, it is July 2nd and about this time of the summer I wonder where it has gone. This summer has been a crazy one. I am teaching classes at the Paris Art Center. I have done this for several years and I always enjoy it. The kids are great! It gives me a chance to work with students that I hope to have in the future. But squeeze in classes, vacation, and being sick, my summer has vanished.

I started thinking that it is time for me to think about my curriculum for next year. I am one of those silly teachers who thinks I should change my lessons every year. I hate teaching the same thing, it is so dull, so I always manage to create new lessons each year that bring a similar outcome. Any ideas ... let me know! I can use all the help I can get.

I know this school year will be very different. I am already missing some dear teaching friends who made a difficult decision to move closer to family and teach. They were a lot of fun and I know how much the kids will miss them as well!

Take care and have a great rest of the summer!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

School is Over

This was an amazing year and an amazing class of seniors in Advanced Art. Everyone of these students will be majoring or minoring in Art in the Fall. I am very proud of every single one of them. They are outstanding students who made this year one of the best in my teaching career!