Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Collaborative Art Warm-Up Activity.

The best thing about having kids going through the education system is that they learn from the village. They then come home and teach me what they have learned.  This year my son is in middle school and I'm teaching 6th grade for the first time.  I have taught 7th and 8th grade... 9 through 12... and P-5. But this is the first time to teach 11/12 year-olds.  My coworker Mark Pederson has had lot's of years with this age group and is now teaching my son.  I'm learning so much from this man!

My son explained a warm-up game to encourage teamwork and collaboration. I had to give it a try in my classroom too. It was a blast for my students and I thought it might be great for yours as well. Thanks so much to Mr. Pederson for being an inspiration for this post.

Here is how I did this game in my class:

First I gave each table-group a sheet of paper with a circle (or two) and a line on it. I told them they had two minutes to discuss how they would take these shapes and lines and make them into a monster.

When the 2 minutes were complete I showed them the tool they would be using to create the monster. This is a marker with four strings taped to it. The strings are roughly two to three feet long.

The rules of the monster making were that they can not touch the marker after the cap was removed. Each person in the group must have a hand on one of the strings the whole time. I set the timer for 5 minutes.

After the 5 minutes, I asked them what tips and tricks they have to offer others that made this task more successful.  Suggestions such as holding the string closer to the marker, moving the paper rather than the marker, communication... were all mentioned.

Then I asked them to trade markers and draw a second 5 minutes to complete their monster face.

This was a fun 15 minute 'Friday Fun' activity for my 6th graders. Again, thanks to Mr. Pederson for reminding me that middle schoolers need to have a little fun.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Art to Remember- K/1 Snails

We are starting off the year doing Art to Remember projects.  Art to Remember is a school fundraiser that allows families to purchase products with their student's artwork on it. I don't consider this a fundraiser for our school, but rather an opportunity for arts advocacy as well as a service.  I have this scheduled out to have products returned by the holidays.

I have done this little snail lesson before with K/1 and it was time to bring it back.  It's such a fun lesson. (click here to see the lesson the last time I posted) I have been running the project the same in many ways; Painting on day one, drawing on day two, and coloring on day three. I also have stations set up around the room to allow for some play and discovery around the idea of the snail. At each of the stations, I have created some clay snails for the littles to play with.

Here is how I used the little snails in the classroom. I also added a station with Snail books from the public library.  They were able to 'read to a snail' if they wanted. 

Here is the class in action! Early learners do such a great job with SHORT little lessons. That is why I show them how to draw in tiny groups for about 5-8 minutes.  Then I believe learning through play and discovery is the best. So setting up these stations is a blast for the kids.  Adding the snails increased the interest.  What a fun way to learn.

If there was extra time I showed the book Escargot. I am really bad at a French accent it turns out but The kids have enjoyed the book so far. As I went to post this book here, I noticed there is another version by Sophia.  She does a really nice job reading as well so I wanted to share both options here in this post. 

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Snapchat in the Classroom

Many of you know this about me... but I just got my first phone.  I went to the store in March and said, "I would like to buy a phone." 

The sales person said, "Great, what phone would you like to trade in?" 

I said, "No, It's my first phone."


"Oh" he said, "You have been sharing with your husband?"

"No, It's our first phone." 

The man was so confused. Eventually, we were able to help him understand that people still survive without a phone... I was a little sad that day to join the rest of the world... I have loved being phone free, but I know my kids will have a phone sooner than later. So my job as a parent is to learn the proper use of a phone and model that for them.

Well, it turns out I use this tool all the time for school.  I mean ALL the time.  One of the latest tools that I have started to play with is Snapchat. What a hoot.  I do not want to use it socially... I'm not snapping (is that what it's called?) my friends.  I am recording and downloading to share a message with my students. I have been very inspired by GREAT educators such as Kari Haan, Holly Bess Kincaid, and Abby Schukei. Both have used Snapchat for instruction for their students.

Here is how I did it... of course... there might be other ways, but this works for me.

First I record my videos in short clips. Traditionally snaps are 10 seconds or shorter.  Recently, Snapchat allows you to record longer videos by recording into a new video. I like the idea of 10-second clips, so that is still what I'm using. It forces me to be concise and to the point. My overall videos are right around 1 minute... that is perfect for most of my students to get a tiny bit of information.

I record a video horizontally.  It appears that the video will turn out sideways, but when it's downloaded, it is the correct orientation.

I choose a filter. The filters are the things that change your face. Some of these filters are only intended for vertical use, but I have found most to work horizontally.

I record, and then download... you will be able to save at the bottom of you snap... it goes into your 'story' (that no one sees because I don't have any 'friends' on Snapchat but it also downloads to my camera roll.

Now, I go into iMovie (my favorite app on my phone) and quickly bring in the clips I recorded.

I double check the order and edit if needed then upload my new movie to Youtube. 

So far there has been an overwhelmingly positive response from students. My K's are mesmerized, my 6th graders are completely entertained.

Here are some ways that I have used the Snapchat videos thus far

Introduction to a concept or project

Celebration of my students

Even a little mindful, deep breathing

Sunday, September 3, 2017

My New Space

I have had such a fun ride on my career path so far. I started in Wisconsin for a year teaching High School.  We moved to Minnesota and I worked downtown in Minneapolis for a year. After several interviews, I landed a job with ISD 728 in Elk River, Minnesota. This district now has an Early Childhood Center, an Alternative High School, 3 additional high schools, 5 middle schools, and 10 elementary schools. It seems like a huge district and it is big in comparison to other districts in Minnesota, but as our new Superintendent reminded us in our welcome back event, it's not as big as many districts in the nation.  

Now I'm starting my 13th year at ISD 728 I realized that this big district keeps growing in numbers, but for me, it keeps getting smaller and smaller.  I have had the opportunity to work at several buildings. I was part time at Rogers Elementary and Otsego Elementary for several years. I traveled and was on a cart. But I had the opportunity to work with Carol Thuleen and Jerry Goettsch, the full-time Art Teachers in each building. What a treat to learn and get to know these two individuals.  I became the full time teacher at RES because Hassan Elementary was built and Mrs. Thuleen went there. I had a total of 7 amazing years at RES. I made a deep connection with the staff and families of this school.  An opening at Rogers Middle School allowed me to give Middle School a try. I learned what it means to be a department with my coworker Kris Enga.  She taught me how to create relationships with the middle school student. This was the feeder school for many of the students I had at RES so I was able to work with them through their middle school experience. The kindergarten students I started with were the class of 2017 and I had the privilege to have them as students for almost 9 years of their education. What a gift... and an amazing class. With shifts in the district, I was moved to Hassan Elementary and it was a perfect match.  The staff was wonderful! My room was in the middle of several new/newer teachers who I came to love. I watched their excitement for teaching and life. My friend/peer group was diverse with educators who are more experienced and others who have young kids and are in the same boat as I am right now. I had an amazing leader, Heidi Adamson-Baer who had helped shape me in more ways than she will ever know. This was going to be the school I would finish my career in.

Well... there was a new school being built. Prairie View Elementary and Middle school is a K-8 School (this year, K-6 and will grow to 8th grade as we follow these 6th graders each year). The school was designed to alleviate the rapid growth of our district.  It was going to have elementary and middle school, it was going to be in a more rural area of the district (for right now). I had to interview, just see what it was all about.  When Kari Sampson offered me the job, I chewed on the thought for a moment. Is this the move I want to make, Hassan is so good, my life is balanced. I have everything I need but change... It turns out I'm addicted to change.  I continue to grow every day because of the experiences I have been able to be a part of. I needed to make this move to feed my soul, my need for growth.

So here I am, a new start of a new year in a new building.  Every one of us is new to this experience from the staff to the students. We are all on this adventure together. The opening house of Prairie View Elementary and Middle School was so full of positive energy that I can not WAIT to jump in with both feet! I wanted to share my new home with you today. I know I have taken a break from new posts for the last week, but this is where my energy had to be... at PVEM. Let me give you a little tour of my classroom.

This is why I was invited to come to school a week earlier than some of the other teachers. Starting a new Art Room from scratch means a lot of boxes.  Fire marshals don't like that so I was put to work right away. So construction workers and I became friends.  I was overjoyed to be working on this dream room and they were around... and I'm a bit of a chatter :) 

After day one, the pile was down. I turned around only to see this... more piles. So it continued... 

I brought in my right-hand gal... The Mini Matisse that this blog was named for.  My daughter Matisse is not so mini anymore, she is in 4th grade and will be joining me for the first time ever.  I have never had my kids go to school with me.  I'm so excited to have this girl join me every day at Prairie View.

We worked on organizing all the storage in this amazing room. I have lot's to share in future posts about some of the details about this storage. 

And then it was the opening of this new school.  We were ready to invite the families of PVEM to open house. This was the calm before the storm.

There is so many more post to come.  I mean, who wouldn't want to shout off the mountain tops (or prairie fields in my case) how amazing this space is! I'm excited for Tue as we open the doors to the students of PVEM.  Go Hawks!! 

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Last Chance for the Artist Trading Card Swap

The Artist Trading Card sign up has been a HIT!! We have over 80 participants already! That means we have room for about 20 more. At 100 participants, we close the ATC swap to make sure that I can manage the trade.  I feel much over 100 participants does get a little confusing.  Would love to have you join us. If you want to learn more about this years ATC swap, please click here!


I posted this earlier today and the trade has filled by 8pm. I will be removing the Artist Trading Card sign up for this 2018 from Teacher Pay Teachers. I know this is going to be an amazing trade this year! I'm sorry if you were not able to get in on the fun this time around. Be sure to check next year in August.