Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Kindergarten Line Designs

 Kindergarten art is off and running! This week we are learning about different types of lines. In the hallway, our teachers like us to be in straight lines, but in art the lines can be all kinds of crazy ways! We practice making different kinds of lines with our fingers, then draw them with color sticks. Wavy is soft, zigzag is sharp. Loopy lines are like a roller coaster! When we have drawn some lines with color sticks, we use strips of paper (straight lines) and see if we can bend, fold, and roll them to create new lines. We created zigzag, spiral, and even some that looped or looked like jack-o-lantern teeth!
This is one of my favorite lessons to do with Kindergarten because not only does it teach basic skills with drawing and gluing, but it allows room to use their whole body. Moving is essential for these littles so early in the year. We get up and act out all the lines to help them learn the difference between all the different ways to draw a line. The black paper really makes them stand out, but I've done the same lesson with lots of color combinations. Aren't they fun!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Classrom Report Cards

When you teach 400+ kids over the course of one week, it presents a few challenges. Keeping track of everyone's name can be tricky, let alone tracking progress and staying on top of behavior concerns. I rely on getting to know each of my 23 classroom teachers' individual rules and behavior system. But over the course of the day, I often forget who needs to pull a ticket, owe a card, color a smiley face, earn a sticker, etc. This year, I developed an "Art Report Card" for each class. There is a space for reflection for the class, which helps remind me to add some closure to my lessons, there is a space for measuring whole-group success, and there are separate boxes to report successes and places where there may be room for improvement. The report is generic enough to be used K-5, but provides the classroom teacher with feedback that lets them see behavior trends for individual students and their class as a whole. It helps me see trends as well. If I am writing down "This class had trouble lining up in a hallway ready line" over and over, I know that I need to spend some time reviewing my expectations for line-up time. I'm hoping that this form will help keep me and my students on track this year!

Monday, August 19, 2013

My Classroom, Year 8

This is it! This is the year I will FINALLY have a blog. The one I had planned on doing seven years ago when I first started teaching. SEVEN years! How can it possibly have been seven years since that first day I stepped in front of my first group of students and began this amazing journey? If I had known what that first day was going to be like, I might have chickened out and done something less terrifying for a living. Skydiving maybe? But since that day I have learned so much about what goes into being a good teacher. I'm not perfect, but I'm learning more every day! So here it is. My blog. And my dedication to posting updates and lessons as often as possible for parents and fellow teachers.  

After eight years in the classroom, I've learned a LOT about teaching. I've learned what definitely does not work for me and my classroom. Finding out what works takes lots of trial and error.  I spend large amounts of my summer gathering ideas for what my room should look like during the year. My classroom furniture set up changes little from year to year because of space, but I love to change things up and keep things fresh! Do you know how many amazing art teachers have blogs? Probably millions. And they're way better at blogging than I am. So I borrow their ideas, too. 

 We are incorporating lots of whole brain teaching ideas in our district this year. This techniques uses lots of movement and call-and-response techniques to keep students focused. Using tallies to keep track of when your students are on track or not is a fun way for them to see how they are doing. This year the infamous "grumpy cat" is keeping track of my "grumpy" tallies! Having more "happy" tallies earns the class chances at group rewards like "sit where every you want day" and class ipad time.

 Other new additions to my classroom include this vocabulary/word wall on the cabinets for talking and writing about art. I tend to use a lot of vocab when I talk to my students, and I realized that they were hearing new words without ever seeing them. Solution? Word wall. I also have my essential learnings for Fifth Grade posted in our room. These are the essential skills I want my students to master before leaving elementary school. Bring it on, school year!