Tuesday, June 29, 2010

PE, Art, Music, SPED or ESL what will get cut...

If you have followed my blog you know that I've lost some work hours for next year as my principal was trying to add new programs to our school. While I still have decreased hours, all of his grand plans have gone down the drain as my school district has a 19 million deficit for the 2010-2011 school year. We have had a district wide hiring freeze for over a month. Leaving us without a new 4th grade teacher or a middle school math teacher.

I'm sure any teacher has been in this situation before and knows that in the end it usually works out...money is "found," budgets are re-arranged and life goes on. I am wondering how things will work out this time though.

Today is a HUGE school board meeting where they will announce the cuts they are making for the fall. They want to make cuts that effect schools across the board, not just the poor or the rich schools. Right now the major plan is to cut PE from all the elementary, middle and K-8 schools. Then they plan to cut the SPED and ESL programs by 25%. I think music already did layoffs earlier in the spring.

Ironically there has been no mention of cutting art. I think that is because there are so FEW art teachers left in the district, especially at the elementary and middle level, that even if they got rid of all of us it wouldn't make much of a dent in the budget deficit.

I think all of the cuts proposed would really hurt our school, but loosing ESL programing would be a huge blow to our 69%+ ESL population. It is not an equitable cut. Cutting, music, gym or art would be equatable, but ESL/ ELL no way. The simple fact in Portland is that the lower income schools have much higher ESL populations than the high income schools. By cutting ESL programs the high income schools will not be impacted the same way that a school like mine would. To them the loss of a ESL teacher may be an annoyance and disappointing impacting a handful of students. To us it is a disaster, especially when you look to the future and think of how the loss of services will impact students state test scores and how test scores impact a schools ability to get money and services.

I wait with an heavy heart to see the outcome of tonight's meeting.

On a fun side here is a new photo of my chickens all grown up and my new "Lady GaGa" haircut as the kids like to call it.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Polymer clay masks

I do a Ton of projects each year with my K-8th graders. And honestly most of those projects come from other people. Beg, Barrow, Steal and all. However, occasionally, my little brain comes up with it's own projects. This I think is my best one yet and can be used for so many different things. I was blown away with the success rate and the students really really enjoyed the media and process. I had no clue it would work so well so I did not take any in process photos but it is really self explanatory. So without further ado...Polymer clay masks!

Unit: African Masks 6-8th grade (adaptable for lower and upper grades)
Research: Art Factory African Mask Page, teacher created web scavenger hunt
Goal: Choose the mask you like best from your research and re-create it in polymer clay. Then create a flag book and included six facts about your mask on the flags of the book.
For mask:
*2 copies of mask to be created
*wax paper
*polymer clay (I used Bake Shop Clay by Sculpty because it is cheap, soft and comes in lots of colors)
*butter knives
*Plastic rolling pins
(directions for making Flag books are available all over the Internet. Make sure to use a sturdy cover so you can glue your masks on)

Step 1. After having students research the masks I had them choose their fav. I printed out black and white line drawings of all the masks from the website. I made them about 3x5 inches.
I then had students take two copies of the same mask. Set one aside and lay a piece of wax paper on top of the second copy and tape everything to the table (Put name on wax paper)

Step 2. I showed the kids how to warm up the clay and told them to use the techniques we use from our regular clay work to make slabs, snakes and cut out shapes. They dug the fact that no slip or score was required. I asked each student to choose one base color, roll a slab and cut out the overall shape of the mask. Lay the slab on the wax paper. Cut out eye holes if you want them.

Step 3. After that I let the kids go to town. They keep referencing the uncovered copy of the mask and had a great time using their clay skills to add decoration. I allowed students to make the masks any colors they want. Some choose to make their masks traditional colors and some went for a more modern approach. Students added coils, balls, cut out shapes, incised with pencils and mostly worked out their design issues on their own. My main job was dolling out the clay and picking it up at the end of class.

Step 4. When the students were done making their masks I took them home, plopped the wax paper on cookie sheets, baked them for a few min and gave them back to the kids. Their names were on the wax paper. We then took our hard mask and used a hot glue gun to add them to the front of our research flag books.

I feel this is a great method to take art history to a whole new level. I plan to use this technique several times next year to have students re-create famous works of art in polymer clay. I think doing Van Gogh this way would be amazing! Or how about having students choose a illustration from their fav picture book and making it in clay. The possiblities are endless!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

scrub a dub dub

7 hours of cleaning later my classroom has been cleaned top to bottom. I'm not talking about the putting stuff about and organizing type of cleaning. No I'm talking bottle of spray cleaner, scrub brush and sos pad kind of cleaning.

Usually the kids and I give the room a surface cleaning and the deep cleaning is done by the summer custodians. They have told me several times that they are going to use the super power cleaner on my room anyway so not to bother scrubbing to much.

Imagine my surprise when I learned that the summer school program that is using our school this year is NOT using my art room for their art class. They are using for a kinder/1st class and the room needed to be cleaned top to bottom by Monday!!!

I figured art class would use my room, get it messy again and then custodial would deep clean it.

I found out yesterday afternoon that my room needed to cleaned and sanitized by Monday and I would need to be the one to do it. Let me tell you, I don't think my classroom has EVER been so clean. I hate to see anyone use it because I want it to stay perfect for next fall. After cleaning from 8:30am till 4pm the night custodian came in and found me scrubbing my walls and took pity on me. He brought me a chocolate bar and said he would take care of mopping the floor for me tonight. Thank god.

Unfortunately since I spent the day cleaning I did not get to go through my filling cabinet crammed full of papers and lesson plans like I planed to. Looks like I will be spending my first official day of summer vacation back in my classroom tomorrow trying to get my lessons in order.

Don't tell anyone, but I think I'll sneak in my dog to keep me company:)
that would be my dog and my father in law

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

another one bites the dust

Whewww another year over! I have neglected blogging because I've been to darn tired at night to do anything but sleep.
In the last week and half we had the 8th grade trip, 8th grade dance, 8th grade promotion, kinder celebration, field day and my husband graduated from grad school! Now if it would only stop raining so that it feels like summer! We are having the wettest June on record. On Portland.

The last week that I saw students I played the marshmallow and spaghetti building game that was mentioned over at Teach Kids Art. I only saw the kids for 30min so this was the perfect project. The kids had fun and made some pretty cool structures. I found the 1st graders struggled to build anything that stayed upright so I gave them some extra marshmallows and just let them build and then had a good time. To make sure the kids did not eat the marshmallows I gave all groups that had intact marshmallows at the end of class a chocolate kiss.

I also had kinders do self pouritrates that were hung up at kinder celebration and were super cute.

6-8th classes ended the year with paper machie animals that they loved so much that they took them home before I could get photos and Nico's (memory boxes) that turned out really well and I'll post photos of later this week. Finally I had the 6-8th graders try a really cool project from another blogger that focuses on creating form using shadow and highlights.

As I have been cleaning up and packing my room I am struck by how much LESS art I have left over at the end of this year. I think I did a better job of getting the art returned to students this year and students are getting more into the idea of keeping their art and displaying it at home. Hopefully I have also narrowed down to projects that the students are more interested in and want to keep. I look forward to being able to draw from this years lessons to plan for next year. I feel I will repeat about 70% of my lessons from this year.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

monet inspired...

I found this lesson over at art projects for kids. I thought this was going to be my last week with the kinders and I guess I will have them next week also...which means my traditional end of year self portraiture needs to wait till next week. I am low, low, low on supplies but we do have paper, nubs of oil pastels and oddly enough a big bottle of blue liquid watercolor paint!

I doubt any of my students will have seen works by monet and I wish I had time to grab a video copy of Lillian in Monets garden. I have the book and will show the kids some photos and then demo the waterlilies. I think I have one print of his water lillies in my class set.

I'm going to use the art projcts for kids lesson with the exception of letting students use yellow, purple or pink for the flowers. Variety is the spice of life...and I think I'm running out of yellow;)

here are some inspiration images and then the snapshot of how to do the lesson.

I report back how well this works with the kinders. I'm going to tell them that a waterlily is a big letter W shape. Hopefully that helps!