Month: May 2013

Suburban Burn!!!

I had the wonderful opportunity to attend and participate in the local high school’s graffiti contest. The coolest part was that two of my junior high students and my daughter also participated.

Suburban Burn was created as a response to the illegal tagging and vandalism that has been running rampant in our community. The administration and police asked the high school to create a positive outlet. Large makeshift easels were set up in the HHS courtyard at the beginning of the event. At Students and teachers who had each paid $25 to participate picked up their spray paint cans and set to work at 18 giant easels. They painted while live music was performed by one of the HS bands and art students sold their wares. The completed pieces were displayed in the school hallway.

My daughter was ecstatic to have won first place in the “Dream” category, and one of my Jr high kids beat out the high schoolers and won first place in the “Music” category. Proud Mom/ Teacher here. It was a great experience connecting with the community. I hope to create events like this in my future permanent school.


Problem Finding: 5 Stages of Creativity

Csikszentmihalyi (1996) presents five stages of creativity:

  1. preparation, becoming curious about ideas or questions
  2. incubation, subconsciously making connections
  3. insight, when an understanding is realized
  4. evaluation, analyzing the worthiness of the problem
  5. and elaboration, the physical realization of the idea.

Under typical constraints of school schedules, the first four stages of problem finding and solving are often compressed, leaving much more time for the final stage where the artwork is pursued. Some teachers engage learners in discussions that promote divergent thinking toward solving an assigned problem. Other teachers avoid the stages of problem finding altogether by assigning the problem to students with no discussion, and students resort to convergent thinking with limited creativity.

Diane Jaquith, (2011) “When is creativity?” Art Education, 64(1), pp. 14-19.

Don’t limit Creativity…

PicassoQuote-500Among extrinsic motivations that that may limit or hinder creativity are:
• Prescriptive step-by-step directions
• Strict teacher expectations, such as assigned seating or “no talking”
• Inflexible deadlines
• Rewards, such as “free draw”
• Grades
• Competitive atmosphere
• Peer pressure or interference
• Desire to please teachers or parents
• Limits of scheduled time
• Adequate storage for artwork
• Required exhibitions
Art class cannot function effectively without certain constraints and boundaries. Students understand and appreciate knowing what choices are and are not acceptable in terms of artistic practice, content, and behavior. By reviewing the list of extrinsic motivators, teachers can make decisions about what is non-negotiable and where flexibility is possible. Diane Jaquith, (2011) “When is creativity?” Art Education, 64(1), pp. 14-19.

Middle School Art Show

After weeks of hanging artwork and preparation, this past week was the middle school art show. This night of art is usually paired with the vocal ensemble and bands; however, this year that was not to be so. In its place rose the idea of a poetry slam. It was a great night where the students were able to express themselves through their original poetry and visual art. This night was just another example of how important the arts are in our school.

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Art Room Rules

I have seen many versions of art room rules online and after using this list in my last classroom- I’ve decided to create a more colorful version to share with you. It can be printed in black and white to be included in the students individual art folders, or printed in full color and posted in the classroom as a reminder of the rules. If you are wondering what #6 means- well, basically if the students have an easy question, more than likely they can get an answer by asking a neighbor if you are busy helping another student at the moment. This helps to keep things moving in the classroom.

Be sure to review these rules the first day of class. It prints nicely on letter sized paper. Help yourself!

Art Room Rules

The Art Survey

One of the ways art teachers can get to know their students is by having them fill out an art survey the first day of class. Teachers can use the Art Survey as a great pre-assessment tool, and it can be modified depending on the grades of your students. Below is an example of the survey we used in 7 & 8th grades:

The Art Survey questions are:

  1. Describe Art in your own words.
  2. How do you feel about art?
  3. Tell about your most exciting art experience.
  4. Tell me about your most frustrating art experience.
  5. What are your favorite art activities?
  6. Do you feel art is an importand subject? Why or why not?
  7. Who is your favorite artist or style and why?
  8. Name one thing you would like to know more about art.

I not only enjoy reading them and learning more about my new students, But I also enjoy leaving them notes to read so that they know their opinions matter. Knowing how they feel gives me the option of altering or changing my lessons where necessary, it also tells me of any negative experiences they may have had that I could help them get over. I will end this post with one student’s answer to the question #6. I couldn’t agree more.

“I think that art is a very important subject because it not only lets people express themselves but also it could be a way for people not as good at academics in school to show their creativity and ability to others.”