Category Archives: School

Long Weekend

Oh hey there, mini-hiatus. Didn’t see you there!

It was a nice long weekend on this side of things. We went up to Flagstaff for a couple days and had a pretty lovely time wandering around and doing a lot of nothing.

We sampled a flight from Mother Road Brewery. And Blaise made a new friend!

The flight was accompanied also by a dirty game of scrabble in which tricky words like “djinn” were played, followed by a complete bogart of the triple word score. I got “tired” and didn’t want to finish the game shortly thereafter.

But then it was time to come home. Back to the grind!

Pointy weapons

New pencil sharpener and pencil set-up

Raffle tickets! Students earn these by earning table points, or by being awesome individuals. I have one bucket for each class and on Fridays I do a drawing for fun things.

They are earning more and more points every day!

We’re now breaking into the watercolors… which means…

Water damage sneaking into all my decorations!

along with all the regular wear n tear, of course…

Oh well… at least they’re making neat things!

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Gothic Gombel

I gave my first test of the year this past Friday. For the last two weeks, one of my classes has studied the art and culture of the Middle Ages.

The first week I introduced major social roles and gave them worksheets that described – in simple language – Kings, Noble(wo)men, Knights, Bishops, Priests, Friars, Monks/ Nuns, Serfs, Servants, Minstrels, and Merchants. I had them complete “fill in the blank” worksheets to help them learn these roles. We did creative writing exercises.

The second week we talked about Gothic Architecture. Again, I gave them many, many handouts and had them do “matching” exercises to learn that Gothic Architecture is marked by (1) tall, sweeping designs, (2) flying buttresses, (3) vaulted ceilings, (4) pointed arches, (5) light, open, and airy interiors, (6) gargoyles, and (7) an emphasis on decor. We viewed a ton of slides and sketched our own features.

The night before the test, I purchased folders for each of the students, put stickers with their names on them, and put their worksheets inside. I provided these folders for the exams.

I took each and every question on the test AS A DIRECT QUOTE from their worksheets which they had in front of them.

This is what I got back.


I’d say about a quarter of the tests I got back were left blank on the backside despite numerous reminders that they needed to complete both sides of the exam.

A shocking lack of understanding of basic geography.

An inability to cross-reference with answers in front of you.

Interesting, oftentimes comical grammar. Please also note that one student thought “The Middle Ages” was the country in which Notre Dame de Paris was located.

Creative spelling.

This. Is. Depressing.

The average test score was 59%.

I am not mad at my students. Yeah, they did some pretty silly stuff on their tests, but when you look more closely, this is obviously my fault. I’m their teacher. I should have taught them better. But I only see them 40 minutes a day and… and… and… who do I point the finger at now? I mean, for pete’s sake, finger-pointing seems to be all the rage in the education debate these days, so clearly I need to point at someone else and scream “not it! not it! not it!” at the top of my lungs. This isn’t fair. These kids are passing through the public school system and despite their teachers’ best efforts… they aren’t learning anything.

Do we blame then? The education system? The federal, state, and local mandates? The district? The curriculum advisers? The school administration? The faculty? The parents? The students themselves? Or do we look elsewhere? TV and the internet? Hollywood? Video games? Popular culture? Ugh.

Frankly, I’m feeling pretty depressed about this whole thing. Clearly this problem is far, far over my head and out of my hands. I’m discouraged by the lack of care people have for education and especially for my Fine Arts classes. I feel so terrible for my students who are struggling and misinformed and not getting a stellar education. I wish I could make it different. I am trying. We are all trying. But it doesn’t seem like it’s making a difference.

 And I sort of want to scream “NOT IT” and quit.

Peeling

After only two weeks of school, my room has begun to unravel in tiny ways.

The first graders at the yellow table love pulling up tape…. I smell a lunch detention coming up!

Things are going well… mostly. I have a few unruly classes that I am attempting to motivate, but goodness knows I still love them dearly and look forward to seeing them each day. There are lots of little projects we are working on and I am getting more and more excited about my curriculum as time goes on. I’ll try to explain more about what I do in depth at a later date, but for now, this is what next week looks like:

KindergartenIntroduction to Warm Colors
First Grade: Art of Ancient Egypt
Second Grade: Different types of Line
Third Grade: Introduction to 3D shapes
Fourth Grade: Introduction to Gothic Architecture
Fifth Grade: Crash course in Greek, Roman, and Medieval Art (insofar as it informs the European Renaissance…. which we shall begin to study the next week)

A few great things about this week:

My class points system seems to be working! This is a little complicated, andI will explain the whole thing later. The class with the most points at the end of the quarter will earn a fun, fun pizza party from yours truly! (I get a lot of concerned questions about which KIND of pizza there will be and similarly, a lot of lamenting that the end of the quarter isn’t until October. Oh the agonies of being a kid!)

My first group of Monday Masterpiece classes went great! Second grade studied “Red, Yellow, Blue” by Kandinsky in an attempt to refresh our memory on primary colors. We are also about to start a unit on different types of Line, so I thought Kandinsky would be good for that, too.

To kick off our unit on COLOR, Kindergarten studied Monet. They had a lot of fun coloring their lily pads.


Kindergarten also talked about the way different colors made us feel. Most of them concluded that red = angry, yellow = happy, and blue = sad. Some were a little confused by the whole concept so we’re going to have to take a few steps back and talk about it again. I also threw in “what color is surprised? SURPRISE ME!” sheet and boy-oh-boy did they surprise me…

Third grade is talking about value shading and shadows. As I mentioned above, next week we’ll get into 2D to 3D objects and I thought starting with shadows would be a good place to begin. They’ve been a super fun class and we had some good times with flashlights this last week!

First grade has studied Cave Paintings this week (their Monday Masterpiece was an image from the Cave of Lascaux), but we haven’t gotten to do a ton of fun stuff yet. I did teach them, however, how to trace their hands. Unfortunately, we’ve had to spend most of our time practicing procedures and learning how to stay quiet in the hall and during class. Yesterday I marched them up and down the stairs for about twenty minutes. I felt like a drill sergeant.

Fourth and Fifth grade are purely art history courses this year. Fourth was introduced to the Middle Ages this week and we had some time to do a bit of creative writing on Thursday. They are a very, very large class, however, and my room is rather tiny, so I’m having trouble keeping them completely quiet and on task.

Fifth grade worked on research skills this week (I think I posted a picture of a reference book scavenger hunt I had them do earlier this week), and we’ve also talked about plagiarism and bibliographies. I haven’t gotten through as much of this as I wanted, but I suppose I’ll sprinkle it throughout the quarter. They will be working through the European Renaissance the entire time.

 But for now, it’s almost the weekend. And pssst! Guess what?!

It’s like…. cold outside!
Thanks for the break from blistering heat, Phoenix!

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Heating Up

I had a sinking feeling that once school started up that I’d stop blogging as regularly as I had been… and guess what! I was right.

Life has been pretty hectic. I’m not going to lie – I’ve had a bit of a tough time adjusting back to the school year, getting everything ready in time, and staying energetic and positive about the whole thing. Not that I need to waste time complaining about it at this point, I guess. It is what it is, you know?

In any case, there’s a lot to get used to these days. And I suppose blogging less than I’d like is just one of the side effects of returning to full-time work. I’m too tired after school to do anything interesting or take any pictures, so I find that I just don’t have anything to blog about. Hopefully I’ll get into a rhythm soon and get my life in some sort of order and return to making this blog a happy place.

For now, it’s all lesson planning and brainstorming…

a teacher’s work is never done!

Progress

We’re inching ever closer to that ominous first day of school and my room is finally starting to come together. A big thanks to my Mom and to Blaise who stopped by on Thursday to lend a hand.

Progress:

 

There is still a ton to do. Hopefully I can get it – and some serious lesson planning – done before Wednesday!

Deep breaths…. deep breaths… here we go again!

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An Ongoing Quest and A New Beginning

Hey, everyone? Really quick I want to toss out a big fat T-H-A-N-K Y-O-U to everyone who read and commented on my previous post “Egghead.” WordPress featured the post on their “Freshly Pressed” page yesterday and the response was really overwhelming. People had such sweet things to say about the birdies and my writing, and for a brand spanking new blogger like myself, it was a super rewarding experience.

My apologies if you stopped by my “About” page to check out what this blog is all about… I haven’t gotten around to putting a thoughtful one up yet! Here’s “The Good Life” in a quick word:

My desire to start blogging was a two-fold one. I really like writing and I was starting to get out of practice, so I thought that having a forum to hammer out a few lame noun-verb sentences every day or so would be a good thing. Maybe, hopefully, surely they will be less lame someday! Secondly, I have come to the conclusion that I am truly and deeply happy at this point in my life. There are so many wonderful things going on right now, and every day that I don’t write them down or snap a few photos, I start forgetting them piece my piece. So here is my organic, shifting, changing, ever-breathing scrapbook. I don’t want to forget a single blessed detail.

So here are some updates.

Now that we have our couch frame, we are starting the process of shopping for fabric and foam in order to start making the cushions. My neighbor recommended that we check out Fabric Depot. Although it was a bit out of the way for us, we made a morning of it and drove up to check out the warehouse full of designer fabrics.

We were excited to be greeted by bins and bins full of leather scraps! I believe it was $3.99 per pound, and some of the scraps were awfully large. Perfect for a good wallet — lucky Blaise who happens to be an excellent leatherworker!

There was SO MUCH FABRIC. It was ridiculous. I can’t believe how many different patterns, textures, and colors there were. We had a lot of fun looking at the weird ones…

This bird looks moderately frightening. I do not want it on my couch, thank you very much.

Some of the fabric was very reasonably priced, but apparently it takes about 17 yards to make a full sized couch. Now, we haven’t exactly measured out our couch yet so we’re not quite sure exactly how much fabric we will need, but 17 yards sounds fairly right. However, that is a darn lot of fabric!

I like this one a lot. A lot.

We came away with these four swatches. (What did I say? Did I not say I was thinking neutrals and Blaise was thinking blue? Well guess who picked out which swatches….)

If you feel so compelled, leave me a comment with your vote! I know the picture isn’t of an awesome resolution… but you can get a decent idea. Let’s give them names… from left to right : chocolate, cerulean, straw (which we have sort of ruled out, so I hope you weren’t planning on voting for it), and smoke. Have at it!

IN OTHER NEWS:

Classes start in one. week. from. today. WHEW.

I got into my classroom for the first time today and boy oh boy do I have my work cut out for me! Here is the current state of my room:

I have to-do lists like you wouldn’t believe. Even my to-do lists have to-do lists!

Stay posted… there will be beautiful, bright, shiny pictures of all the fancy-schmany posters I am currently in the process of making.

(here’s an itty-bitty baby sneak peak of some of the room decor.
Classroom Theme: WILD ABOUT ART!)

xoxo –
Cal

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A Grey Day

So it’s not really a grey day here, but it’s as close as you can get in Phoenix. Mostly, we have taupe days. Or beige days. Tan, languid, sanguine days. It gets dusty, a little blustery, and everything seems to be coated in a slight sepia haze. If Phoenix were one giant instagram photo, it would be in the “Sierra” filter. That’s hipster speak for “it is really gross outside.”

Despite the home improvement swing I’m in, I’m starting to feel staid. I’m ready for school to begin. However, I still have so much lesson planning to do! I’m a little nervous. I do have a great book to work through – Art in Story – that seems promising. I also have a cute little book for teaching the elements of art to young students that I’ll use for my ECE classes. So much to do, so little motivation – and yet so much anticipation and excitement.

There’s a potluck for faculty next Tuesday, and I think I’ll make these guys to take with me.

They’re actually pretty simple, and a lot of fun to make. Grab a Ritz cracker and spread some goat cheese (or some equally delicious, spreadable cheese – even cream cheese would work!) on it. Quarter a cherry tomato, and arrange two of the quarters like the little wings. I tend to deviate from the above picture, when I also quarter a black olive (the above uses a whole olive) and use one of the curved ends as the head. I use a toothpick to drill two little holes into the olive, and fit in small (less than 1″) clippings of chives therein. Then I use a little bit of black icing for the dots. If you are truly ambitious, you can use a smooth pesto paste for the dots, but I find that that the icing adds a bit of unexpected sweetness (but not too much!).

I feel it’s a good potluck item for an art teacher to bring. Just creative and cute enough! I imagine a lot of people will bring potato salads or cakes or cupcakes (yawn!). Potlucks require strategy… people want yummy, filling things that are easy to grab with their hands. For example, as much as I love pie, it’s just not good for potlucks! Far too messy!

So I suppose the moral of the story is that I am, in fact, excited for school to start. Even if I have to take baby steps – like preparing tasty ladybugs for the faculty potluck – it will be nice to return to routine-world. Ha! Just you wait, world, it will be a few short weeks before I will truly miss my free-wheeling summer lifestyle!

For now, I shall blog away at Lux, sipping on a hand crafted cocktail made by newly-minted bartender, Titus, and reading SPIN magazine’s latest issue. Boy that Bethany Cosentino is some piece of work! Cocktails in the late afternoon, you ask? Well, what else am I supposed to do on a grey day?

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