WIN Wednesdays

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So,  after 26 years of teaching kindergarten or first grade,  I am living the dream of teaching art.  But art isn’t the only thing going on in my classroom.  On Wednesdays,  our district has what we call WIN Wednesdays.  The WIN stands for “What I Need Most” and that is exactly what we focus on.

Or district has implemented PLC’s,  professional learning communities.  With this we practice RTI or Response to Intervention.  Through collaboration we can find ways to better help our students with areas they may find difficult.  RTI shifts the responsibility of helping all students to become successful from not only their classroom teachers but to their special teachers and the entire staff as well.  By using this approach,  on Wednesdays we break down into small groups and focus on certain skills (literacy at this time)  that each particular child could use help on.

Each grade level devotes 45 minutes on Wednesdays to WIN.  The results our district is seeing since we have implemented this program are very rewarding.   It’s also nice to work with students in the small groups so we can get to know them better.  If you are an educator and wish to learn more about RTI,  I highly recommend the book Pyramid Response to Intervention by Buffmam, Mattos & Weber.

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I’m Lovin’ It!!!!

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It just makes my day to see children that love to make art.  The smiles on their faces as they come into my art room don’t go un-noticed.  It gives me a heart warmed feeling to know that no matter how great or limited their artistic talent might be,  they are enjoying creating and using their imaginations.

When we finished a project early I used to always try to have another project for them to start on right away.  This worked well for some children but too often there were issues with too many projects going on at once.  Now,  I try to give the children what we call “free drawing” time.  I always make sure I have plenty of drawing paper and pencils on hand.  I also have lots of “how to” drawing books for the children to use.  I tell the kids that drawing is kind of like reading,  you can never practice too much.

What I have noticed since I have added our “free drawing” time,  is that many of the kids that often were messing around and not getting their work done were now working harder than ever to have their free drawing time.  They used to depend on me for ideas on what I thought they should draw.  Now,  they are letting their imaginations and creativity kick in,  without needing my assistance and I couldn’t be happier.

Building Knowledge About Architecture

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This past couple of weeks the 4th graders at Washington School have been studying architecture. With many old homes in our town, it has been fun learning different architectural terminology. Some of the items we have talked about in class include dormers, Russian domes, Victorian turrets, bay windows, padillian windows, fanlights, columns, spindles, shingles, fish scales, siding, and the list goes on and on.

After learning these terms, we designed our own dream homes. This was really fun. We could include anything we wanted on it, whether it was a tower, columns, or a big, beautiful balcony, the sky was the limit.

One of the highlights to our study of architecture was a visit from a guest speaker, Daric O’Neal. He is the father of 4th grader, Lennon O’Neal. Mr. O’Neal is a project manager for the firm of Alley Poyner Macchietto Architecture out of Omaha, Nebraska. We were lucky enough to have Mr. O’Neal come into all of our 4th grade art classes to share his expertise. He showed us blueprints, which were pretty cool. He also showed us models of buildings and some of the tools that he uses to draw his plans.

Mr. O’Neal showed us an awesome online drawing program called Sketchup, which you can use to design houses, buildings and many other things. He said we could even go online ourselves and try this free program, which we thought sounded like a lot of fun.

Mr. O’Neal decided that he wanted to become an architect when he was a 6th grader right here at Washington School. We were happy that he decided to come back and share his knowledge with us. We also learned that one of Mr. O’Neal’s things he likes to work with in his job is the reconstruction of old homes and buildings, although that’s not the only type of architectural work that he enjoys doing.

We were happy to have Mr. O’Neal as our special guest. It was nice of him to take time out of his busy schedule to come and share his knowledge with us. It was also nice of his firm,  Alley Poyner Macchietto Architecture to let him visit us.

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Christmas Will Be Here Before We Know It

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As Christmas gets closer,  it’s time to start thinking about what to get those special kids in our lives.   Perhaps this year instead of  giving expensive hand-held video games,  you could consider art supplies for Christmas.  In years past,  students have asked me to share with you some ideas that you might wish to consider giving.  They’ve also asked me to share  where you could purchase them.

I love shopping for supplies at Hobby Lobby.  They have a weekly online newsletter.  Just go to www.hobbylobby.com/weekly/coupon.cfm to register.  This often has 40% off coupons!  That’s when I like to shop for big supplies.  Check it out!

Here are a few of the things we have been using in classes that have been popular hits with the kids:

*oil pastels (these are kind of a combination between oil paints and a piece of chalk)

*watercolors (these can be found in most school supply areas of most department stores)

*drawing paper,  pencils,  charcoals,  (Hobby Lobby,  some department stores)

*drawing books with simple step by step pictures

*colored pencils

*weaving supplies – Looms can vary in price,  depending on what kind you get.  Different grade levels are learning different types of weaving so if you need some advice with this,  please contact me.  These can also be found in some department stores,  Hobby Lobby or Michael’s.

I hope this has been helpful. Remember,  art is a WONDERFUL way to help your child’s imagination and promote creativity. Please share some of these ideas with grandparents too.

Georgia, Sweet Georgia… In Our Art Room

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We are currently learning about a great American artist by the name of Georgia O’Keeffe.  Georgia was born back in 1887 on a farm in Wisconsin.  Way back then,  we found out that girls hardly ever went to college to study art.  Georgia’s mother and father encouraged her to do this because when she was growing up,  they saw just how talented she was.

We learned that Georgia live in many places including Wisconsin, New York City,  Texas,  Chicago,  and New Mexico.  Even though it was hot she loved Texas and New Mexico the most.  She loved the land,  the sky,  the sunsets,  the hills in the distance,  she loved being there alone.

Georgia enjoyed painting many things,  but some of her favorites included animal bones and skulls,  the sky,  the plains,  cityscapes of New York,  and the subject she was most famous for,  FLOWERS.  When she painted flowers,  she painted them BIG.

Georgia lived to be 98 years old.  We thought that in itself was pretty amazing.  We can’t wait to start on some of our Georgia projects.  Be sure to stop back in a couple of weeks to see our completed masterpieces!

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