Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Unemployed and Feeling Defeated

So I have been a college graduate for four months now. I was employed by the Oshkosh School District in Wisconsin for 5 weeks, and worked for a week at a Aviation convention. It is now late August and I am JOBLESS! I hate it. I just went to school for six years and can't find a job.
Today, I came to the end of the road and started applying for jobs at Applebee's, a floral shop, and a photography position at target and JC Penny's. WHAT AM I DOING. I have applied for subbing in the school districts surrounding my home town, but haven't heard anything.
I was really excited the other night when I found a position that was designed to take care of an autistic child at home as an aid to the family. I applied right away and I'm crossing my fingers. I worked this past summer with a first grade autistic student in my summer school class. I loved this student and always wished I could work one-on-one with him. This job would pay for training and give me the chance to work with someone I could help and work with. I really would love this position.
EITHER WAY, I NEED A JOB... I like to work, and as you can tell im going insane not being able to work.
There is something very defeating about having a college degree and applying for the same position a high school student without a degree or diploma can apply for. What can I do I guess, I have loans I have to pay off. I just hope that if it comes down to a high school student and I, that they pick me.
Well here's to the weeks that follow... Who knows what I will become. Im hoping I get something that allows me to use my degree instead of something that pays the bills.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Pinatas... The Last Week

It has been a while since I have added anything. I have been busy trying to make money and pack up my house so I can move back home. There is nothing like moving back home with your parents at the age of 25, after six years of being on your own (feelings of DEFEAT).

Anyway, my fifth and final week of summer school went too fast, and was a sad farewell. On the Thursday before the last week, I did something I never would if I was teaching during the regular ed. school year... I asked the students what they wanted to do for the last week of class. The majority yelled out (no hands raised) PINATAS! I told them that it would be really difficult to finish the pinatas in four days and that they would probably have to take them home to paint. The students didn't care, after working with the paper mache for the monster project they we eager to work with it again. So I left that Thursday wondering how I was going to make the pinata project work out.

PREP:
That Monday...I had bags of blown up balloons, buckets of paper mache, a pile of garbage collected from all over the building and cafeteria, and bags full of newspaper strips. I worked hard preparing for this lesson, but it worked out smoothly and helped to not waste too much of the students time.

LESSON:
To start, we talked about the shape of the balloons. The students said they looked oval and almost like a tear drop. This was important for them to see because they had to work with this shape in order to make whatever kind of object they wished for their pinata. We then made a list of creatures or objects that had this shape in them... (alien head, ice cream cone, fish, octopus, and a large human belly). This list helped the students when coming up with ideas for their pinatas. I used this opportunity to experiment how difficult it would be for the students to take an idea and make it 3-D using a balloon and some garbage. Everyone of my students did a phenomenal job. I asked the students to draw their idea in their sketchbook first, and then get my approval before starting. As they brought their drawings up to me, most of the students could tell me what objects they were going to use and how they were going to use them in order to make the shape they wished. They all learned a lot from the monster project, and used what they learned on this lesson without me having to remind them... It was so exciting to watch (k- 2nd graders... WOW).
As the week went by, the pinatas started to take shape. The random colored balloons, garbage (bottles, cans, cardboard, bottle tops, crumpled paper, and egg cartons), and tape was starting to get covered with newspaper. When Thursdays class came, I was upset I wouldn't be able to see the finished product painted. Enjoy the pictures, I'm sorry I didn't get any pictures of the students making the pinatas using the random objects.


The FISH
Notice the fins and bulgy eyes made from egg cartons.


One of my favorite pinatas, this student was a first grader who worked so hard to make this amazing fish pinata. This is the reason I wish I had more time to work with these students! Awesome job!!!!!


These two ladies made ice cream cones. They worked hard to think of ways they could create the cone piece. After some problem solving, they used construction paper to form a cone shape. Great thinking on their part!

Align Center

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Pasta Necklaces

Today the students finished all of their pasta shrinky dink necklaces. They loved how the shrinky dinks shrunk. Today we took the pasta that we died the other day and put it on a piece of cotton yarn holding our shrinky dinks. The finished necklaces turned out awesome!

To make the shrinky dink pendants, I took a 8 1/2 x 11 sheet of shrinky dink paper and cut it in half. Using previously drawn insect drawings, the students traced the drawing onto their shrinky dink paper and colored it in with permanent markers. Then, I took them home and shrunk them in my oven.

Let me know what you think...

Initial bug drawing on paper


shrunken Shrinky Dink version


Shows the size difference after shrinkage


Finished necklaces





Nowhere Boy Trailer

For over a year I have been waiting for this movie to come out. It was made and released in the UK in October of 2009. Its won a bunch of awards and has gotten 4 stars everywhere it's gone. Check out the American trailer. Its release day in the US is October 8th 2010. NOWHERE BOY!!!!
If you can't wait that long... read the book John Lennon the Life, by Philip Norman. I'm a dork.... but it looks really well done.






Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Love for storms and a hatred for WIND

So I try to be a frontier man (with the help of the girlfriend) and grow a garden in the back yard of my still college house. I have planted a garden before, but in a much smaller fashion. I get all nifty and plant everything from seeds. I work the soil and slave over the garden for a month without any results (actual food). Then comes July and the crop takes off, I have tomatoes five feet tall and 15 corn stalks, green beans, egg plant, five pepper plants, and three zucchini plants. Each stalk of corn has two ears of corn forming... and then... WIND...RAIN... and TORNADO WARNINGS!!!!! Guess how my beautiful crop weathered the storm... Not very well! All the hard work and its all gone. I was so bummed that I decided to tell my students the (boring) story. One of my students came up to me while we were making the Shrinky Dink bugs and told me that her mom and dad have a garden, I quote "They have thousands of corns, Ill bring you ONE." Gotta love this job, I wanted to tell her the difference between a garden and a FARM but she was so nice to offer me one ear of corn... It did make me feel better though.


BEFORE






AFTER WIND, RAIN, AND TORNADO WARNINGS


Pasta .... Shrinky Dinks... food coloring

When trying to think of something different for my students, I came across another art teachers blog, and got the idea to do a lesson dealing with pasta. The first class, the students learned how to die pasta using food coloring. I used three different kinds of pasta (all with holes). The students got around 35 pieces of pasta. The separated the pasta by the color they wanted them to be on their desks. Starting with the lightest color food coloring (yellow), the students placed the pasta they wanted yellow into their Ziploc bag. I came around and placed two drips into each bag. The students closed the bag and began to shake. They shook until they got the desired color. We repeated this for the next three colors. At the end I asked the students to pick one or two pieces of pasta from each color and place them back in the bag. Using the food color left in the bag, the students shook the bag once again to get multicolored pasta... (they loved this part). Place the pasta on a napkin with their names on it and set it aside to dry.



For the second half of the class we got away from art and learned to work as groups, while thinking creatively in the Marshmallow Challenge. I got this idea from http://teachkidsart.blogspot.com/ . It was great to do something different. The kids had a blast and they learned how hard it is to work together on one thing with a time limit and a candy bar first place prize for the tallest structure. (little did they know that everyone was getting a candy bar).

Materials (per group of 2-4 students):
  • 20 - sticks of uncooked spaghetti
  • 1 - yard masking tape
  • 1 - yard string
  • (scissors for cutting the string)
  • 1 - marshmallow
  • a large digital timer that counts down (You can use your computer - download a free timer application for windows or mac.)
  • tape measure
Directions:
(I recommend first watching the TED Talk video at www.marshmallow challenge.com to familiarize yourself with this activity.)
1. Have students work in groups of 3 if possible (groups of 2 or 4 will also work), around flat tables or desks.
2. Give directions and repeat them a couple of times so that everyone understands what to do:
Students will have 18 minutes to work in their groups to build the tallest freestanding structure possible, using only the materials p
rovided. (The structure will be measured to the top of the marshmallow, so the marshmallow should be at the highest point of the structure!)
3. Start the timer and give warnings at 10 minutes, 5 minutes, 1 minute, and 30 seconds. Then count down the final 10 seconds together.
4. When the time is up, measure all structures that are standing, from lowest to highest. (Structures may not be taped down and must stand on their own, without students holding them up!)

5. The team with the tallest freestanding structure gets a standing ovation! (Interesting side note: I was surprised to discover that only one student in my entire K-6 school knew what a standing ovation was!)




We started making the shrinky dinks today. Tomorrow we are going to be using the died pasta to make necklaces for our bug shrinky dink pendent. I'm really excited to see how they will turn out!


Sun Flowers

Since it's summer, I thought it would be appropriate to have a lesson that dealt with plants and flowers. I brought in a little plastic planter with dirt and we planted sun flowers from seeds. The students loved being able to plant something and watch them grow over the weeks. To start the sunflower I handed out 4in x 4in yellow paper squares. I asked the students to draw the biggest circle they possibly could on the yellow square. Once they finished, I told everyone to crumble up the paper. They were so surprised by this... they looked at me like I had lost my mind. When they crumbled it, I made it a contest to see who could make the smallest crumbled ball. We opened the paper up and did it two more times. Then, they cut out the circle and saved the paper scraps. On the upper half of a piece of paper, place the scraps on the page and glue the outer rim of the yellow circle. Put the circle on top of the scraps, forming a raised center. Using crayons, the students drew in the peddles and stem... and finished with watercolor to create the sky.


week three




second grade


Kindergarten

MONSTERS

In class last week we started to make paper mache monsters. I started the project with my students by reading a monster book to them titled, Big Lips, and Hairy Arms. After the book I sent the kids back to their desks and asked them to close their eyes and draw a big circle on a sheet of paper. After they made the circle, I asked them to make a monster out of the circle. I asked for legs, eyes, and arms, but didn't specify how many, or where I wanted them placed. This warm-up drawing got their creativity flowing. After they finished this drawing I asked them to divide a new piece of paper into three even parts. In each section the students wrote down a type of animal. Soon enough each section had a drawing of a monster with an animal feature.
From all these drawing the students picked their favorite monster. The next class, I brought in recycled water bottles, tape, construction paper, and aluminum foil. With these four materials the students created unique skeletal monsters. The third class I introduced the students to paper mache. For the paper mache I used the paper towels from my classroom instead of newspaper (lack of money and resources). I might have been crazy allowing kindergarten students to paper mache and design their own monsters, but they all did a great job.
The only thing I noticed was the large difference in building skills and patience obviously between the kindergarten students and second graders. The projects are turning out great and I cant wait for them to be all finished.







The difference between Kindergarten and second grade



Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Lessons Learned

Today was the second day of my fourth week teaching summer school. When I got the job I was asked to stop by the office of the principal in charge of summer school in my district. I went in and got my "paperwork," which included a folder and my class list. I thought it was strange that I wasn't asked to fill out a W-2 form or any other kind of forms. I never signed a contract or found out how much I was making. I was so excited to get my first chance to teach on my own, that I didn't ask questions. I grabbed my folder, smiled and walked out of her office without asking any questions.
DON'T DO THIS.... EXCITING AS IT WAS, I STILL HAVE NO IDEA HOW MUCH I'M MAKING, AND I NEVER RECEIVED MY FIRST PAYCHECK!

This is the first lesson learned this week. Make sure you ask questions, and when you think something isn't right, chances are .......things are not right. So today I finished teaching and drove to the district headquarters to talk to the payroll department. After 10 minutes of filling out some basic job information, I was out the door and ready to get paid in two weeks.

Lesson two:

I always check and recheck my projects before I teach them to my students. Since I'm a first year teacher, I have been making a sample of each project two nights before I teach it, and then once again the morning of the lesson. The first time I make the art project I check to make sure I know how to make it, and have the materials to make it with the number of students. The second time I create the project, I try to think like the age of the students I'm teaching. At this point I'm thinking of ways to break down the project in steps to simplify its creation for the students.
Lesson learned.... Just because I have used a material in the past doesn't mean it will work like I think.
The first lesson I don't test ahead of time flopped on me today. The lesson involved using Shrinky Dinks which I bought the night before on a clearance rack (10 sheets for $1.99 ... I was so excited) at a local art supply store. I have used Shrinky Dinks in the past and was able to use colored pencils. Well, my clearance Shrinky Dinks were the transparent kind and had zero texture to grab the colored pencil. Without any sharpie markers for twenty students who were excited to create something that shrinks before their eyes, I had to give them the bad news that we were unable to make them. SUCH A DUMB MISTAKE!!!! So after I gave them the bad news we moved on to the next days project, which I luckily had tested and was ready to go.

Two lessons learned, and another day passes...... at least I know im getting paid for these days.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Arts and Crafts - Summer School 2010

First Day

Discussed the word RESPECT.... I ask the students for the meaning of the word, and then we thought of the many ways we could use it in the classroom. Respect: other students, the classroom, and the teacher. After we talked for a little bit about what I respected from then for the next five weeks, I handed each student a paper circle. Each student was asked to sign the circle with their name and walk up to the wall and stick it on. The name circle acts as a type of contract.

Finally its time for ART!

I Have to give props to my Co-operating teacher during my student teaching (Thanks Deb) for this idea. At the elementary age students tend to finish art projects at all different times. Some take their time, while others speed through it in hopes of something greater. For those classes when you need something for students to do for 15 minutes while others finish I made sketchbooks for each student out of cereal boxes. Its cheap and easy, it just take a little work on your part to create.




On the first day, I handed out the blank sketchbooks. The covers were blank and the pages were empty. The students spent the first day Decorating both the front and back covers. I asked them to put their names on the top of the front page, and then draw themselves and things they like on the front cover. The back cover was all up to them on how they wanted to decorate it. The students enjoyed having their very own book and worked well to decorate it.

My Dislike For Condiments

As with the other plates, I enjoy using the functional pottery surface as a canvas for expressing myself as an artist, and any other views or concerns I wish to express.
In this four plate series I share my hatred for condiments with the viewer. On the face of the plate I display the chosen condiment. On the base / bottom of the plate I have my personal feelings and reasons behind my dislike for that particular condiment.







I enjoy making plates. So many artist use the cup or tumbler as a surface for artistic design. The creation of the plate is such a complex and tedious process... I feel it deserves just as much attention as a decorative surface. The plate just like the cup has a bottom, outer wall, and an inside. I love making the viewer turn and flip the plate as they discover the meaning behind the design.





What I Like To Do








The above images are recent works of mine. I uses stoneware clay to create a series of six plates that use decals to make the viewer uncomfortable. Everyone eats food off of plates and think nothing of what is on the plate other than the food. I wanted to make the plates into a work of art. As the food is eaten off the plate, it reveals the image or messages meant to make the viewer disgusted or uncomfortable.


My Hopes

What I am hoping from this blog is that other first year teachers find it comforting to read about my challenges and mistakes as I grow and learn as a teacher. I have just recently graduated from the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh. I got a degree in Art Education, and I am currently still searching for a full-time teaching position.
Two weeks after graduation I was fortunate enough to land a summer school teaching position for five weeks. This is my first official teaching position, so as much as i'm terrified, I am evenly excited. For the five weeks I am responsible for teaching Arts and Crafts to two classes of 20 students. Each class includes and combines students in Kindergarten, first, and second grade.
One question... DOES ANYONE KNOW HOW MUCH OF A DEVELOPMENTAL DIFFERENCE THERE IS BETWEEN A KINDERGARTEN STUDENT AND A SECOND GRADE STUDENT? Here comes the challenge. Time to see if six years of schooling and a life long love for art pays off.