Monday, September 29, 2014

Monitor! Monitor! Monitor!

Day 29

How have you changed as an educator since you first started?

One of the big things I would get deducted for on my observations was the monitoring piece. I either was inconsistent or didn't do it at all. It was so easy for me to justify my lack of monitoring by telling myself I only get these kids for 40 minutes once a week and that we have a class packed full of learning so there was no time.

I was WRONG!

I can monitor, and very easily and quickly. TeachThought had a great article on formative assessment a few months ago, and Edutopia had one just a few weeks ago. 

Some of the assessment listed I implemented immediately in my class and I put a very BIG reminder to myself on the walls in the front of the class.

With these visual reminders as prompts, I know am able to use quick and fun formative assessments to monitor my students throughout the lesson.


Last week we were discussing Empirical Observations versus Inference. A few students were still struggling with the difference. So I picked "Act Out" I had 2 students who understood the difference come to the front and act out each one. Other students in the class had to guess which one they were. I then had the students who were confused come up and act them out. 

It was quick, engaging, FUNNY, and memorable! Best of all I was monitoring them and assessing on the spot in a fun way.

Let me know if you are interesting in hearing other ways I quickly Monitor in my Art Class. Would love to share!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

What's a Weekend?

Day 27

What role do weekends and holidays play in your teaching?

I'd like to say I spend my weekends and holidays playing with family and recharging so I can feel refreshed and ready for each new week. I'd love to say that I create wonderful memories with my children on these weekends. But the truth of the matter is that my weekends and holidays typically look like this. 

I took these pic just now.

I've been working on a 9 week unit that incorporates Dali...

Into the "Practice of Science in ART!" Notice my wooden man is always ready to help with the creativity portion of the work. ;-p

I am working on finding more balance in my schedule but it's extremely difficult. As a single mom, my weeks are filled with driving my awesome kids to practices, attending their games or meets, grocery shopping, cleaning (or not), homework help and the list goes on an on as you moms know.

I am going to set a personal goal for myself right now. 

IWBAT (I will be able to), Marzano people you get this lol, find a way to make my schedule more efficient so I can spend the time doing this...

From the Dali Museum in St. Pete

Friday, September 26, 2014

They've Got What I Need!!

Day 26

What are your three favorite go-to sites for help/tips/resources in your teaching?

Love these guys! The Animation Chefs have taught me SO much about making movies!!

Edutopia and TeachThought are my favorite sites for PD in my PJs! I love learning from great articles found on both sites and have had tremendous growth as a teacher from the learning that took place because of the resources found here!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Lions and Tigers and EOC's in the Elementary Art Room OH MY!

This year, for the first ever, my elementary art students in grades k - 5 will all be required to take an End of Course exam.

Here are my concerns.

What's in My PLN Mix?

Day 22

What does your PLN look like?

I love interacting with the best teachers on social media sites and around my community. 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Doctor Who?! Sherlocked!

Day 21

Do you have other hobbies/interests that you bring into your classroom teaching? Explain.

Yeah baby!!! 

I LOVE the BBC. 

My two favorite shows are...


And here my friends is how I bring them into my class room...

Last year

This year

In addition to the outside decor, the inside working of my classroom have also been transformed. The theme is incorporated into everything we do. Last year our lessons took us time traveling with Doctor Who. This year we have mysteries to solve. 

I love the fun we have in class together!!!

Curating Art: A Job for Teachers and Students

Day 20

How do you curate student work–or help them do it themselves?

I am the curator of the Art Gallery at our school. Throughout the year I rotate pieces from the varying grade levels and projects to keep our gallery "fresh"! The picture below is from our Poetry in the Art Room unit. Students, Teachers, Parents, and Administrators love walking these "hallway galleries" looking at all the creative works of art.

Once a year we have Renaissance Night. It's the BEST night of the year. Almost all the families at our school attend this night for the Arts. The cafeteria is transformed into an impressive gallery, eliciting awe and marvel from all of our visitors.

In addition to these traditional forms of displaying student artwork, I encourage students to curate their own "galleries" on our Edmodo page and on their Instagram accounts. I love to see what inspired pieces students create at home, when art is not a required subject but a creative outlet for personal expression.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Student Interviews in the Investigative Art Room

TeachThought Reflective Teacher Blogging Challenge

Day 19: Name three powerful [ways] students can reflect on their learning, then discuss closely which one you use most often.

In my Investigative Art Room of Sherlock Holmes, I have a border listing formative assessments inside magnifying glasses. At any point during the lesson, I may point at one of these magnifying glasses and ask students to do what is listed inside. This works really for me because it is a constant reminder to monitor their learning. It also works really well for my students because they never know what I am going to ask them to do...and they LOVE surprises. Sometimes ;-p

The motto of our class this year is "Magnify Your Learning". These visuals cues are a creative reminder that we aren't just brushing the surface on things we learn. We are going deeper this year into true understanding and connections between the Art Room and their other academic subjects.

Below I have listed my top 3 student reflection strategies:

Identify Critical Information

Exit Slips
Don't mind the water leak from all the rain this year.

Some sample exit sleeps filled out by students after we had our first lesson about Contemporary Artist Diana AlHadid.

My all time favorite! Students love this one too. Students are strategically paired together and take turns being the interviewer and interviewee. Connections are sealed with this strategy as students are put on the spot to come up with questions and prove their responses. The class enjoys watching students "perform" and many happy laughs are heard 
as students do their best to take on their roles.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Teachers are Like Whales

Day 18: Create a metaphor, simile, or analogy that describes your teaching philosophy.

When I was in D.C. this summer at the Smithsonian Natural History Museum I was fascinated by some amazing facts about whales.

I recently reflected on these notes I took while there...

"Whales are mammals who adapted to their circumstances and surrounding. They moved from ocean to land back to ocean. Fossil records traced their transformations."

I jotted down that I wanted to compare the evolution of whales to the evolution of teachers.

--We have to adapt to our circumstances and surrounding too. Teachers must evolve in a way that allows us to function better in our new environments. Even if it's a radical shift like that of the whales. 

Which brings me back to my blog from the other night, Fish CAN Climb Trees!

So what describes my teaching philosophy?

Teachers are like whales! See above. :-)

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Fish CAN Climb Trees!

Reflective Teacher Challenge

Day 17 - What do you think is the most challenging issue in education today?

"Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid."

-Albert Einstein

I'm sure you've all seen this classic cartoon based on Einsteins quote above. I think we teachers experience this just as much as the students do as this picture so poignantly illustrates. Rather than an exam, we are asked to change our way of teaching with the changing shifts in education.

But, I think we need to make a shift in our own way of thinking. If you are a fish being asked to climb a tree what do you do? Give up? NO! Figure out how you can keep your fins and scales and make it up that tree anyway! You're definitely going to need to make some modifications to adapt to your new surroundings but we are teachers!!!  Our classes couldn't run successfully without the modifications we use for our students on a daily basis. We just need to use them to help ourselves.

Case in point! :-)

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Savor the Moments with this Super Power!

30-Day TeachThought Reflective Blog Challenge
Day 16: If you could have one super power in the classroom, what would it be and how would it help?

There is NEVER enough time in my classes.
If I could have just ONE super power, 
it would be to slow time down... 
so we can savor the moments of learning and discovery.

Check out this great video I found called Nature vs Humans.
Posted on YouTube on April 11, 2014 by Sandro Antonucci

"What would it be like if your life's best moments could slow down to the speed of nature?"

It's worth the wait to watch this whole video and then...
Imagine if this was possible in your classroom!

Monday, September 15, 2014

The Strength to Perform, Overcome, and Love!

Teachthought 30-day Challenge
Day 15: Name 3 strengths you have as an educator.

I found these graphics to illustrate my strengths. 
I'm the art teacher...what can I say...I like visuals!

The more pressure I have to perform multiple tasks the better my brain works. The more things on my plate, the more driven I am to complete them. Much of my best work and growth comes from when I am under tons of pressure and looming deadlines. This week is one of those weeks. Come on brain, let's kick it into gear!!
I didn't think I'd be able to incorporate Marzano into my 40 minute classes and still have time to teach my art lessons. I thought for sure something would have to take the back seat. But I took the challenge on and worked hard to overcome my time constraint challenges, because I knew I could find a way to make everything work together for the ultimate learning experience for my students.

You may be thinking I chose this picture because Popeye is a symbol of strength. I actually chose this because Joseph, a second grader, loves drawing Popeye. I love my students! I love getting to know them and their likes. I love seeing the potential they have and working together with them to achieve it. I love being a teacher and working with students everyday. It takes a lot of strength to overcome the challenges and pressures of a changing educational world. 

But when I think of my strengths as an educator, my biggest one is my passion for teaching. 

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Reverse Feedback in the Art Room

Day 14 Blogging Challenge 
What is Feedback for Learning? And how well do you give it to your students.

Ms. Elliston, do you like my drawing?

I hear this questions ALL the time in my Art Room. Students in my class are constantly asking for feedback and reassurance. Years ago, when I first started teaching I would answer the questions with an excited Yes! And follow up with all the reasons I thought their art was great.

But that really is taking the easy way out. Because honestly, there are a lot of pieces I don't like. And that is one of the great things about art, we don't have to like everything we see. So I started to direct the questions back to the students. I wanted their feedback and self reflection on their own work. I started hiding my own feedback in the form of questions that encouraged the students to critique themselves.

So when I am asked if I like a student's work of art, I ask them what they like about it. I ask about the details in their design, and the colors they chose. I ask about the time spent creating the piece and if they think they rushed it.  I ask a lot of questions, and I comment on specific qualities I think each piece has, but my feedback never answers their number 1 question..."Ms. Elliston, do you like my drawing?"

I hope that hiding my feedback by making it their own helps my students learn that the only person they need to "like my drawing" is themselves.

My top 10 EdTech Tools

Day 13 TeachThought Challenge - A day late but I made it!

Drum roll please...

My top ten list of Tech Tools I use in my class.

Let's Start with my #1

1. Class Dojo - Love it! And so do my students. Great for classroom management.

2. Google Translate - I use it ALL the time! From Hungarian to Arabic and everything in between, our school has a lot of ESOL students from around the world. Google Translate is a life saver!

3. Power Point - I love creating interactive multi media presentations for my students that not only stimulate their minds but engage them in active learning that they enjoy.

4. Dropbox - It's the best way to store my lessons for easy access from home, school, or anywhere I happen to be.

5. Twitter - The best source for PD on demand! Love twitter and all my fellow teachers who share wonderful resources that help me become a better teacher every day!
6. Instagram - It's a great place to connect with my students for extra credit opportunities. I feature Instagram Challenges throughout the year. Students frequently post pics of Art seen on vacations or artwork they have created.

7. Edmodo - Is another social media option for students. For the students who don't have Instagram accounts this is a great alternative. I feature challenges on Edmodo as well. There are a lot of nice features on the site as well that allow for more interactive participation.

8. iMovie - Awesome and easy to use to create all kinds of movies. Love it because I can use it on my laptop or iPad.

9. iStopMotion - Great user friendly app to help students learn how to create animations. My students pick this up so easily and make awesome animations.

10. DoInk Green Screen - Love this one too. Once again a user friendly app that allows students to create movies that can mix together a variety of mediums.

Friday, September 12, 2014

In 5 Year's Time! "Noah and the Whale" Teaching Style

Day 12: How do you envision your teaching changing over the next 5 years?

This song instantly came to mind when I read today's prompt!

Noah and the Whale...5 Years Time
I love this song! How appropriate.

Now this song is not about teaching but hey...I'm the Art Teacher! I can make anything work.

"And it was fun fun fun when we were laughing. It was fun fun fun, oh it was fun..."

This is an after school art program I run out of my house. Kids Create Art WooHoo!! 
We incorporate ELA standards into our classes, mix it together with some art and face painting, 

Drama? Yes please!

and throw in some edtech to create a movie that is totally Fun Fun Fun!!

In 5 years time I envision my students in the public school I teach at being able to experience to excitement and FUN that comes from making movies by "hiding the veggies" in my art room!! 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Not Enough Family Time!

Teachthought Challenge: Day 11

What is your favorite part of the school day and why?

Today my favorite part of the day is right now!

At the Fitz and the Tantrums Concert with my kiddos!

Work hard! Play hard! I definitely do not Play enough!!!!

Today I will relax with my family. This is my best part of the day that I don't do nearly enough!!! ❤️❤️