Tuesday, August 31, 2010


We're working on our placecards this week. With over 700 names to learn/remember every year, I've found this helps A LOT!!

I cut up white tagboard into 5" squares and fold in half.

I write the first name of each student. I tried having the kids do it themselves way back when but unfortunately some were illegible or misspelled or didn't fit the card or...

Since we start every year with a quick refresher on line & pattern, they're instructed to create a line pattern on both sides.

I limit marker colors to the lightest colors: yellow, pink & orange. In the past, they had a larger palette to choose from but often chose darker colors which made the name hard to read from across the room. I set my timer for 5 minutes & then put away the markers. They can work on them at another time if need be...

Placecards are kept at the edge of the table, near the middle, with the hope that they are not in the way during class. If a student is playing around with the card during class, I promptly put it away. This cures most of them from using the cards as a distraction...

Table helpers put the cards out when they enter the room at the start of class & put the cards away at the end of class. Cards are stacked with the table helpers name on top of the stack, stacks next to each other in our class drawers.

Although I now use tagboard, originally I used the paper inserts from these boxes for medical supplies.

Not sure what was in the box, but a fellow teacher's wife was a home health nurse & thought maybe I could come up with a use for the leftovers. A match made in heaven until she switched jobs & now I have to order the tagboard to continue the tradition of placecards...

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Extra Activities

My first graders were able to explore all the extra activities available IF they finish their assignments early in class. Give 'em a taste and they'll be more likely to stay on task during projects to get that privilege!

K'nex were a hit! Notice that someone (upper right corner) missed the direction NOT to color or draw in the drawing books! I let out a loud "eeek!" right after snapping the pix & quickly redirected her...

Oil based clay was enjoyed by many - laminated 12 x 18 construction paper keeps the mess off the table.

Legos are the most popular!

Here we have the drawing books used the way they were meant to be used...

Someone donated these tanagram pieces - need to get more...

I found these foam shapes at the dollar section in Target. Kids seem to like them...

No drawing books needed here!

A good time was had by all...

Magic Dragon magazine

Among my many emails, I had a recent one from NAEA Elementary Division about a new publication, Magic Dragon. According to their website, this quarterly magazine highlights the art and writing of elementary age children, ages 6 - 12. They are a Winner of Distinguished Achievement Award from the Association of Educational Publishers.

The artwork featured on their site from recent issues looks beautiful so I will definitely look into this! Unfortunately, their link to the Permission to Publish form is not working - hope that's fixed soon!

You can also visit them on their Facebook page.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

First Week

Ahhh...the first week is over & now the real work begins!

I created 29 'Special Needs' check-off lists for my teachers and -SURPRISE! - received some back already.

I created 29 class lists for my 5 grade levels and have spent all day today re-doing the lists of three grade levels (11 classes) who are moving kids around due to high numbers (Can you even imagine 38 first graders in one classroom?!?).

I still have 29 seating charts to finish this week...

Good news is we've covered expectations, fire drills, lockdowns and drawing assessments. Next up - permanent seats & placecards. Line projects will also begin this next week & I hope to have pictures posted w/lesson plans.

State conference is in a few more weeks...gotta get those plans done for my workshop too! No rest for the weary...

Friday, August 13, 2010

Are you tech savvy?

Web surfing early this morning when I couldn't sleep led to a new discovery - Are you tech savvy? Found a new site - Free Technology for Teachers from my Treasures 4 Teachers Facebook page. Here's 11 things you can try with technology this year:

1. Build a blog

2. Build a Wiki

3. Build a website

4. Create Videos Without Purchasing any Equipment

5. Create Maps to Tell a Story

6. Try Backchanneling in Your Classroom

7. Join a Social Network for Your Professional Development

8. Use an Online Service to Save Your Bookmarks

9. Get Your Students Searching More Than Just Google.com

10. Have Your Students Create Podcasts

11. Eliminate Inbox Overload

Some I'm familiar with, others are new to me - how many do you use?

Sunday, August 8, 2010

New Kids on the Block

Well, only a few days until we start back - to meetings that is...This year our school will have several new teachers joining our staff. Although I don't know much about them yet, I imagine that some will be 'baby' teachers (brand new to our profession), some will be transfers from within District and others may be new to our state.

Make your newbies welcome - ask how they're doing on a regular basis, offer help when they need it, and let them know when they're doing well. Although it was a long time ago, I still remember what it was like to be the new kid on the block..."Where is the...", "How do I find...", "I can't get this to work. Can you help?" Sometimes I didn't even know enough to know what to ask! Just watch for that 'deer in the headlights' look - that's your cue to step up and lend a hand. Sometimes all they need is a shoulder to lean on or a listening ear.

If you are one of those newbies, know that we've all have been where you are now. We don't expect you to know everything. We do expect you to let us know if you need/want something. We expect you to be open to new ideas and the ways of our building. During your first year watch, listen and share. Be cautious when sharing with us how you've done something previously - by all means please share successful methods that you've used in the past but do it respectfully, not as a know-it-all.

As an art teacher, it's important to establish a relationship with each of your classroom teachers for the benefit of your students. Those teachers will be a wealth of knowledge for you when you're experiencing difficulties / successes with your kids. They should have the most recent & accurate phone numbers for Mom and Dad, particulars on the family situation (divorced, step parents, siblings, etc) and behavior techniques that you can reinforce in your room if they are not responding to your cues. Be sure and relay your concerns with them on a regular basis.

Once you've been around a while like I have, the knowledge can flow in reverse to those new teachers who don't have the life history of their kids like you do - who missed a month of school last May because of an appendectomy, whose sibling died in a car crash over the summer, or whose parent was arrested & jailed for domestic violence. Not to mention the student whose one saving grace in school is his/her art talent or musical ability or sports prowess. Those 'pieces of the puzzle' are often absent from permanent record files and are priceless bits of information to understanding the whole student.

Good luck on your first week!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Oh No!

My favorite back-to-school shopping spot, Treasures 4 Teachers, suffered damage in a recent storm here. During a downpour, the wind peeled back a portion of the roof and all the water poured inside! According to news reports, they suffered $30,000 - $40,000 worth of damage and will have to move to a new location.

I was fortunate to go on a buying trip there with a colleague just a few weeks ago. In case you missed a previous blog on this wonderful place, the store is a donation center receiving goods from both individuals and businesses. Teachers pay a yearly membership fee and have access to everything at reduced (ie: indecently cheap) prices or FREE!

We found business cards that are large enough for artists trading cards (good call J!) so I grabbed half a bagful. Some black & white fabric remnants from Ikea, 'new baby' greeting cards (we have about 3 baby showers coming up at school this fall & the potential for more), a paperback read-a-loud book featuring desert animals/reptiles for my sister (the school librarian) back home in Iowa, padded 9 x 12 manila mailing envelopes, 9 x 12 regular manila envelopes, numerous business envelopes (for saving small student project pieces), a denim bag that will hold my 12" x 18" projects when I have to take them home to grade, a few free posters to bribe my classroom teachers with, metal file folder sorters to hold my many drawing books, printed certificate papers for our awards assembly next spring, and some odds & ends. All this for about $13. J filled 3 cartfuls - mostly 5" dia. cardboard tubes for future sculptures so had a higher total but most of what we bought either fit in to a bag - fill a bag for $5 - or was free!!

I hope they will be up & running soon! Follow the latest and get great ideas on their Facebook page.

More Elementary Art Blogs