Sunday, August 21, 2016

Art Class RULES!

The first day of school is filled with newness! New classes, new teachers, new kids, new seats, new pencils, new crayons (I'm a sucker for new crayons), the list of "new stuff" goes on and on! A big part of that first day is learning the ropes. What do teachers expect, what are the rules, how does it all work? Well, we have building expectations that we review together as a school. In addition to those expectations, teachers have basic rules and procures that make each of their classes flow! I'm always looking for ways to improve what I'm doing, ways to help kids remember what's going on in my space, and this year I tried something REALLY NEW. Really new things can be intimidating, often frustrating, and challenging. They also tend to be a bit time consuming, but that shouldn't deter us from trying them out. This new venture of mine was all of the above! But, on the bright side, it'll be much easier next time around....I think. At least I hope so. We'll see...I'm really good at pickin peoples brains to make things work, and our technology folks are some of THE BEST brains to pick.

So, what IS this new venture? A totally brilliant new way to introduce students to the rules and procedures of the art room! Alas, the brilliance wasn't mine! Surprised?! Don't be!!! One of the best ways to learn and grow is to observe colleagues who are amazing at what they do. I read and follow several art education blogs, but my FAVORITE blog to learn from is that of the ah-mazing Cassie Stephens. She is my art teacher hero, and if you haven't read her blog, you totally should. Seriously. Her blog is FULL of great ideas. 

This summer I read that she came up with an exciting new way to start the year by incorporating technology and games on the very first day. I am not a tech person, but I was so inspired by what she was doing that I was determined to figure some things out and make it work. First days are filled with rules and procedures, so I loved the idea of engaging kids in teamwork, allowing them to find the answers to share with me rather than me telling them, and creating a video of everything saves me from losing my voice the first week of school! Otherwise, I repeat the rules and procedures every day for 3 days all day to everyone. Cassie Stephens is a genius! Yep, it's true. 

So, on our first day to art students will be watching me blibber blabber some directions for the "ART RULES GAME" (that Cassie Stephens brilliantly imagined and made a reality). To play, students will work as a team to put together a puzzle at their table. They'll look for that very image hidden somewhere in the room. When they find it, they'll need to solve the puzzle waiting there for them. To solve the puzzle, they'll use the code provided. Each code is actually a rule for the class. They'll also take a personal tour of the art class locating important parts of the room, such as the drying rack for wet artwork, the blue table, where we find sharpened pencils, and the art jobs at the front of the room. In Cassie's video she dresses as a wigged character with an exaggerated voice and everything, it's fantastic top notch stuff. In my video I'm just my plain old self. Everyone's got to start somewhere!

I edited out the tour of the art room portion, but you get the idea. It was a workin-on-preppin-the-art-room kinda day, so I'm wearing my favorite Star Wars shirt! Since I don't know much about making videos and putting together sections of them I used movie maker on my computer to merge all of the individual bits I filmed. I did everything in one quick take and moved on as quickly as I could! Next time I'll pay closer attention to the camera orientation so it'll all be widescreen...There's a lot of room for growth here, so let's focus on the good and fun stuff, the learnin games parts. I let Cassie know that I was putting my spin on her idea and she assured me the kids will love it!

My daughter couldn't wait to watch my video and try out the games herself, and I was grateful for her feedback! SHE LOVED IT! You're never too old to learn something new, even if it takes awhile to get it. This new venture is officially kid tested, and we'll see how well the students approve tomorrow! 

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