Wednesday, April 30, 2014


My principal at my home school is big on students knowing what they are supposed to be learning. She will stop in any classroom, any time during the day and ask students "What are you learning?" She doesn't expect a huge answer, even one word is fine, as long as they have an answer and not an "I don't know". If they don't have an answer then something went wrong in translation or you didn't make that learning goal obvious enough. Which makes 100% sense! I think a lot of times, especially as a new teacher, I get carried away with projects and process and forget the "WHY are we doing this" part of projects. (This was actually a huge point in a lot of NAEA sessions I attended at the national conference!) So here is my history with "I CAN" statements a new-ish, easy to understand,  and easy way for students to see and know what their objectives are....

Round One: My long term substitute job was very free for me to do what I wanted. When I shadowed the teacher I would be subbing for she told me the district used these I CANs as part of a district initiative and she had this awesome wall in her room where she could post the statements. She told me I didn't have to do it, but I could if I wanted. She also said it was hard to keep up with so she eventually just hung the project examples there instead. I tried my hand at writing them and kept up with them for most of the year. But, I found myself writing too many for one project or too general and eventually I began just hanging the projects again like she had. Below is a picture of the wall from my time there...awesome space for this but just couldn't get it!

Round Two: With my first projects in Steven's Point I gave it a try again. This time not writing them for Kindergarten and First to try to work on writing stronger ones for the older grades. I typed them in a word document for each project and tried doing them in a sequential way that lined up with the steps of the projects. I would print them out and carry them around to my buildings on my clip board and put them up on the visualizer for students at the beginning of class. This while a good idea at first, turned out to be a disaster! These simple "I Can" statements turned in to over a page long with the main goals being lost and students just saw it as too much to read and did not take advantage of all the "answers" and steps being in front of them. Not to mention, with back to back classes, I would forget to put them up or when transitions didn't go smoothy from the last class I would be frazzled trying to put them up in time. So while it seemed like a good idea.... It did not last! Here is a screenshot of a set of these babies from earlier in the year.

The Knock Out Round: A few months ago I got a brand spanking new (kinda, it was going unused in the gym) white board at my home school. Making it one at each building rather than chalk (which is my worst enemy)! So I wanted a way to take advantage of having this beautiful thang and be able to utilize it every day. In came my I CANs again... I was finally beginning to understand what I CANs should be used for and the simplicity of them. Short, sweet, and to the point! I asked myself what am I trying to get them to do or understand and what vocabulary can I put into these statements. And bingo bango something clicked! ONE SENTENCE. And my reminders for the project that day, steps, or process information would just follow up below the statement.  While I know I have not perfected I CANs yet, I finally feel on the right track and best thing is.... I squeeze all my morning classes up before school with a little space from drawing and then squeeze in all my afternoon classes during lunch. AND I snap a picture of any new ones I write so I have them already written for the next day of classes and just copy them back up! There have only been a few days where I forgot or ran out of time to write them up, but I am trying. I was even so proud that I had my principal come down to admire these babies. (I need a lot a reassurance that I'm not totally screwing everything up!) Here are a few shots of my board...

I would love feedback on how you use I CAN statements or post objectives and how you think I am doing with this!

P.S. I used to be seriously paranoid about how my handwriting looked up on the board. This has long since passed after writing all of this EVERY DAY. Thank God!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Spring Break Drawing Challenge

After seeing a few monthly free draw challenges from Tiny Art Room I was inspired to give my students something to do over Spring Break! The biggest challenge for me was writing prompts that were gender neutral and would appeal for students across age groups. I ended up offering it to 3-6 but some K-2 students got a hold of it that really love art! My bad for not putting the grades under the directions. Across my 3 schools 50 students participated. I'm going to work on getting a prize for all of them. Hopefully Michael's will give me a hefty discount or donation. High Hopes!
Here are some of my favorites and best of the best that got handed in across all 3 buildings...

Monday, April 21, 2014

Keith Haring with 3rd & 6th

 The best for last to share with you from my big Art History unit. KEITH HARING! I absolutely love him. I'm really aesthetically attracted to color which probably plays a big roll in me loving his work so much. Which in turn, means every year for the rest of my career I will probably do a Haring project (AND why I did two different projects with two different grades)! I get a little nervous introducing him because I think it is important to share that he died young from AIDS and how bad of a disease it is because it relates a lot to his subject matter of death, birth, AIDS and celebrating the time he had left. I know my older students especially 6th, are a little more educated about AIDS and possibly know the history of the disease with the gay community. And still being early in my career, I never know quite the right responses for certain questions. One student flat out did ask if Keith Haring was gay and I did say "I believe so" and then continued on with what I was talking about. Hopefully over the next few years I will figure out what I feel comfortable with talking about to students. Teaching is a work in progress! Onto the projects!

3rd Grade: Keith Haring with Positive and Negative Space
I did get my inspiration from pinterest for this project from this post which just linked to an artsonia gallery.  

Day 1: Intro to Keith Haring with a quick PowerPoint about him and exploring his art work. There is a really cool YouTube video that I believe was a google doodle but I have to remind them that he didn't actually animate it. Someone else animated his artwork. I can't get it to embed but here is the link. Then we did a super fun activity that I got from here. I created my own sheet so it looked a little different, but essentially the same. First individual students came up and posed then we did pairs and small groups. Lots of laughter was had and they got used to drawing people in Keith Haring style. Winning!

Day 2: Artist poster review of Keith and then we dived in to talking about Positive and Negative Space. I love relating concepts to every day life to students so we explored Positive and Negative space through logos from companies. I put a one page PDF together with all different logos and we figured out what was positive and what was created from the negative space. Super Fun! Next I did a little demo of how to draw the figure on the square of paper to keep it one scrap and a clean cut. I really emphasized keeping a clean side and having that clean side showing when assembling. Per usual, some did not follow that direction!

Day 3: We did need another day to finish assembling and cutting, not quite a whole class was needed but one work day for sure was not enough. I probably could of squeezed in the intro for the next project but I gave them a break.

McDill Elementary, displayed with 6th grade...

Kennedy Elementary...

I drew the figures the early finishers colored it!
Jefferson Elementary, displayed with 6th grade...

 6th Grade: Metal Tooling and Keith Haring
 Once again, pinterest inspired! Pin came from here at Teach Kids Art. Per usual, I changed it up a bit. I wanted more of an idea than just figures.

Day 1: Intro went the same as with 3rd but without the drawing activity. I just did a quick demo of how to draw a figure in Keith Haring style. I gave them a confidence boost by saying "3rd grade could all do it so I know you can!" However, I do still show them the cheat of drawing a stick person then a bubble around it. Which is actually harder for me to do! We spend the rest of the time sketching different ideas. I put emphasis on the messages that Haring tried to send with his work and how he included color concepts, pattern, repetition, unity, etc. The only requirement was at least one Keith Haring style figure. I'm glad I kept it so open ended because some amazing ideas happened!

Day 2: Artist poster for a little review. Then they put their final ideas onto a piece of copy paper that had a square blocked on it that was the size of the metal they were going to be working on. (Some fast workers did this on Day 1) The biggest challenge came here when students that wanted to include words had to do it backwards since we do the sharpie on the opposite side of the metal. I showed them the holding it up to the light trick and that worked for most. Then I did a demo of how to do the tooling. My assistant and I taped their drawings to the paper that had the metal attached to it to cut down on mistakes (since metal ain't cheap) and they got to work!

Day 3: Did a little sharpie explanation about working slow since the sharpies want to jump the walls made when tooling and they spent the whole class working. When they finished they told me what color they wanted behind for when we mounted them.

I LOVE THESE! Check them out!

Kennedy Elementary, hanging right next to 3rd grade....

McDill Elementary, together with 3rd grade...

Yup, that says YOLO.
Jefferson Elementary, together with 3rd grade...