Sketchbooks… I High School Necessity

While teaching elementary, I dreamed of using sketchbooks in class. I had seen others in the blogging world implement them successfully, but for some reason or another I could never get around to making it work. Not even in my 45 minutes of time. 

But… I knew in high school it would be different. The very first thing on my supply order for the year was sketchbooks. Our art department is very lucky to be able to charge an art fee and fundraise to have the funds we do. I was able to purchase them all. I think of the sketchbook as my textbook and here's why...

Sketchbook "pinsperations" 

Project ART-A-Day
Pinterest sketchbook page

Sketchbook Goals

Note taking / Bell Ringer Work
   At the beginning of each class I will have a Bell Ringer (something for the students to work on when they arrive and while I take attendance and basic "house cleaning" things) on the screen. Usually it is an activity that relates to the lesson or notes. I do this using PowerPoint and my projector. 
   When I give notes, I try to cram as many of our notes onto one PowerPoint slide that are easily read. I also try to keep my notes as short and simple as I can. Students have 10 to 15 minutes for Bell Ringers. If they didn't have enough time to copy notes, it's okay. The notes they needed reappear when I actually go through the PowerPoint for the day's lesson. 
   If students didn't have time to finish the activity they will need to finish it after the lesson/instruction. 
Students may trace a post-it so they can draw a picture alongside their notes. 

Cut out color wheel for Bell Ringer that is pasted into sketchbook for note taking.

All Bell Ringers are dated. Monochromatic bell ringer Pre-Assessment 
   The thing that scared me most when I was in art class was little prep for the actual project. The teacher would explain and demo during the lesson, but then hand you the paper and say, "Now let's begin." I was always scared to begin because I had had no practice. I always allow my students to practice with materials and techniques before beginning an actual project. This has worked best with color mixing and value studies with various materials. The 50 lb paper may not be best for all materials, but it works well for practice. 
   I teach by the "I do, we do, you do". First, I demo. Then, we practice together. Finally, they do it on their own in the sketchbook or go right into the project. This has been such a successful teaching method and the sketchbooks are an crucial part of it. 
   I have seen less waste for "Redo's" because of the sketchbooks. 
Pre-assessment Bell Ringer
"We do" student does while teacher demos

"You do" student practices on their own.

   Kinda the same as practice. Students experiment with color mixing and techniques. 

Grid drawing 
   Many students are leery to work BIG. So, when we begin a large sized project they may want to draw it first in their sketchbook and then use the grid system to enlarge. I will usually provide a template to trace into their sketchbook so that the sizing will be correct. 
(Sorry, somehow I managed not to get a pic of this)
   Most Bell Ringer work is a pre-asseement of sorts. I can walk around while they work and get a grasp as to who needs more work. Sometimes I am pleased to see that I don't need to spend as much time as expected on a technique if I can see that most have it. It's also a great way to document student growth. 
Color wheel and pre-assessment for color mixing

Pre-assessment for color pencil and composition

Pre-assessment for drawing and hatching
Rough Sketches and Drafts
  I require rough sketches and drafts for some projects we do as part of their grade. I may require 3 thumb nail sketches or just one to see what their idea is. This has been wonderful to help with 3D planning. 
referring to her plan

planning out designs
Notice her plan in the background

More design planning
Drawing out her painting from her draft

sketching some ideas
What Sketchbook do I use? 
   I like to use Strathmore Sketch. It has 100 sheets of 50 lb paper. Not the best for watercolor, but it will do the job. I like to have many pages so they can continue to sketch on their own. Students in Art I must leave the book in their class "mailbox". All other arts can take them home, but must have them each day as a part of a daily grade. It was the best bang for the buck.
  At the end of the semester the sketchbooks are theirs to take home. They may choose not to keep them and I will keep them for reference or repurpose them. If I don't have enough sketchbooks and I get a new student, I will tear out pages and give the old sketchbook. 

How to "Pin" it.

What better way to start Thanksgiving then by "pinning".
So I was "pinning" this morning when I kept stumbling upon a very erky situation that many of my fellow artsy pinners make. I saw a fabulous idea and clicked on the pin only to find myself on the correct blog or website, but not on the post or article I actually wanted… This really erks me. 

Here's how it's done:

"Wow, this is a fabulous idea. I must pin this."
DON'T hit that pin it button yet! 

First, take a look in the address bar. If it is just the website address with no extras then you will only pin the site and not the particular post or article.
 "What does that mean?"
It means that when someone clicks on this pin a month from now to pin it for themselves, it will only lead them to the website, which may have written newer posts or articles, and not the EXACT post or article you wanted. Leaving them helplessly searching to find that picture that we were inspired by. 

"So how do I pin the post or article?"
I'm glad you asked. First, click on the post or article title.
 Notice what happens in the address bar? You are now only on that post or article. 
 "Oh, I see. Now can I pin it?"
Yes, pin away! 
"So, how do I know that the pin I'm about to pin from pinterest is correct?"
Always check before you pin. Click on the pin and look for the things explained above. Unforuntaley, if the pinner didn't pin the exact post or article you may be left searching… Then have to follow those steps again. 

Following these simple steps will insure that not only will you be able to get back to that fabulous idea a month or two from now, but so will your followers. 
Happy Pinning!! 

A big and tall bird told me...

   A big and tall bird the other day told me I needed to get back to blogging. Thanks Mr. E, it was the kick in the tail I needed. 

   I've been reluctant to blog lately because of many things, but that is no excuse. Because there technically is so few resources out there for art educators, it's up to bloggers and pinners to spread the paint so to say. My friend Whitney Duncan (a fellow art eddie) told me just yesterday at our PD that it's unfortunate how few resources there are for middle and high school art teachers. Don't get me wrong, there are GREAT ones out there. Take Art of Apex High School  and Artful Artsy Amy for example, and don't get me started with pinterest. There still are not enough. 
   THough I am still saddened to be leaving my elementary followers, I hope you do still continue to follow my blog. Much of my management has not changed. It's just been modified. A lot has been happening this first semester so expect to see more posts over the holiday breaks. 

   I'd like to start off with an awesome moment from yesterday. I awoke so excited for our county's art teacher professional development. Why, you may ask? Because leading our PD was non-other then Ted Edinger. YES! Art With Mr. E and is awesome friendister Janet Malone! 

   We began by going over our state's new portfolio evaluation for fine arts teachers. I won't go into the details here, but you are more then welcome to read about them yourself… HERE. What I will say about it is that TN has woken up and realized that teachers from different subject areas need to be evaluated differently and we are so excited to be starting this process. 
   Then after many great examples and questions about the portfolio came the fun stuff!! We got to make a project with shrinky dink (aka Grafix Shrink Films). All you need is half a sheet or 1/4 sheet of the stuff, draw on it with permanent markers, color with wet chalk, punch a hole in it, cook in toaster oven, and Ta-Da!!! You have an ornament, pendant, earrings, whatever!! It is awesome and sadly the first time I'd ever used the stuff. 

   We then went to have a lovely lunch at the local favorite Mt. Pleasant Grille. If you ever come to the small town of Mt. Pleasant, TN you must go there. It was so packed that our whole 12 person party had to split up amongst booths. Not even a short power outage slowed this place down though. Their homemade ice cream is simply amazing as well. Wish you could have been there to hear the crazy animal tales we all shared...
Thanks @whitleah for letting me use your pic. 
   We ended the day with more amazing examples for the evaluation portfolio and a final project. Ugly Dolls which you can find on Mr. E's website. I unfortunately don't have any pictures of my ugly doll. 1. Because I was enjoying the process too much to take a picture and 2. Because when I sat my bag down in the floor when I got home, the little guy tumbled out, and my two puppies thought it was for them… It was quick and painless I dare say… 

   I want to finish up by saying a HUGE thank you to Mr. E and Janet for one of the best PD's we have had in a long time. I came away with a better since that I was on the right track for my evaluation. We really do hope you are able to come back again. Oh, and I promise to keep blogging. ;)


High School… The beginning

    As my loyal followers know, I have made the switch from elementary to high school. It has been quite a whirl wind. To begin, I was hired to teach high school visual arts I. Two weeks before school started the 2nd art teacher had taken a job closer to home. I was floored and saddened because she is such an awesome person and I couldn't wait to work with her. She was also part of the reason I wanted to work there, but I totally understand why she decided to leave. We're still tight and she's a great mentor. That being said, I made the decision to take on the advanced classes art II, III, and AP instead. 

Me in my first official CHS faculty shirt.
   I know… wow! I have to admit that I panicked inside. My husband and I both knew that there would be tears and panic attacks. Yep, there were plenty. I'm not ashamed. "My name is Becca Ruth and I have panic attacks." Why was I panicking? Well, it's my alma matter and I am following in the footsteps of some pretty amazing art educators. Plus, I was coming from elementary to high school. I had student taught HS and it was amazing, but still. 
   My husband has been so supportive. He kept telling me that the reason I was panicking was because I wanted to do my best. I was working and pushing myself so hard to create a good classroom design, management plan, and lessons. "You're gonna kill it." he said. "You always do." I am not a perfectionist, but I research and plan my booty off to give my students the best. Well, that and I had a huge research paper due for one of my grad classes the first week of school. I also saw flashbacks of my first year of teaching. You know, "that year". The year we grow into our aprons. The year that we cried every day on the drive home. The year we lost or gained some weight through the process. I did not want to relive that year.
   Then an amazing thing happened. After my first full day with my classes it was like a weight had been lifted. My lessons went well, the students were exceptional, and nothing went wrong. It was like that the whole first week, and the week after that, and the week after that. I started to remember why I wanted to teach high school to begin with. I love the advanced classes. They want to be there, to be challenged, and learn. They work so hard. I could not have asked for a better first semester. So far so good. 
   I promise to blog more, but until then here are some snap shots of my first month at Columbia Central High School. 

Candy and Composition
Prisma Colored Pencils

Cube Yo' Face
oil pastel
 Analogous Still Life
Oil Pastel
Art II


To open a new door, you must close another.

As my followers may recall, two years ago my husband and I packed up and moved back home. I had to leave my first teaching job and it was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do
That door closed and a new one opened
I loved my second school at Mt. Pleasant Elementary. The staff is made up of some of the finest people I have ever had the pleasure of working with. We were a family and worked as a team. Being a Title one school never let us down. Our family art nights are so much fun and the parents and students rally around the art program. The administrators are two of the most understanding people and have been a pleasure to work for. The faculty was there for me when my father battled and survived cancer and their prayers were there again when my uncle started his treatment. If you ever needed anything, they were there. They even awarded me "New Teacher of the Year" (with 5 years or less experience) for our school. I went on to be awarded "New Teacher of the Year" for the county. 
So when the art position at my alma mater Columbia Central High School opened up, a lump caught in my throat. Why the lump? Well, it all started 12 years ago when I walked into Bettye Kinser's art room. I loved art and Mrs. Kinser made it so much fun. My love of art grew as I moved on to art two with Mrs. Carrie Lancaster, and flourished with Mrs. Kinser again in advanced art three and four. I even got to leave my mark on CHS as did all senior artists by painting a brick on the wall.
CHS is where I decided what my career path would be. As I began my student teaching I hoped that I could teach at CHS with Mrs. Lancaster and Mrs. Kinser, but they would not allow you to student teach where you were taught. 
I had the rare opportunity to student teach at two high schools. Santa Fe Unit School (Pre-K - 12) and Spring Hill High School. 

By the end of student teaching I was hungry for a job teaching high school, but God had other plans. So, when the job posting went up in May, I just had to try. I talked with my principal who had nothing but kind words and understanding for my decision to apply at CHS. 
After interviewing, I got the call a week later and was asked if I would like to accept the art position at CHS. I did. After I hung up the phone I cried tears of joy and tears of sadness. You see, it was a win win for me either way. If I hadn't gotten the job I would have continued to be That Little Art Teacher that teaches elementary art at one of the best schools. If I did I would be teaching where my love of art began. So I cried that I would now be teaching at the place that fostered my love of art and I cried because I would be leaving MPES.  
So, I close this elementary door, and I walk through the doors of high school art. 
I have now packed up "my stuff" and said my goodbyes. Am I excited? Yes! Am I nervous? Oh yes, but I know I can do it. It will be challenging, but that's what makes life fun. Change is hard but it is also good. 
Don't worry loyal followers, I will take you on this transitional journey with me. I will still make elementary posts here and there, but until next time please enjoy some of my highlights from my last two years of elementary. 

Goodbye room :(

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