Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Waking up in Paris

I write this a day late but, really, it is just in time when you are in Paris!  And in all honesty, we are not entirely fast moving.  Our plans of being at the Louvre at 9 am have changed.
The started with some coffee and doodling on the balcony, while listening to our neighbor practice her octaves.  We are after all in the Opera district.
To see the city in its entirety, and to understand where in the world we are, we jumped on a Big Bus Tour.  It was actually a really great way to jump on and off at all the sites.  And- it was a gloriously sunny warm day, making the adventure even better.
I have to admit, I held back a few tears... More like Niagra Falls.  I'm not sure how today will be....
Best part of day one....waking up in Paris.
But hearing the bells toll at Notre Dame du Paris wasn't so bad either.  It was 3 o'clock:)
It was time to see the city from a different perspective.  The bus arrived at Arch de Triomphe and it was enormous.  I remember sitting in art history seminars and surveys, learning about such monuments but pictures do not capture their true essence.  Big.
And we walked all the way to the top of this big monume, something unexpected and....well, we lost our breathe.  The view was worth every 200th step.
We saw a familiar site...and wanted ice cream!
We also sat along the Siene and listened to The Goldies, a rock cover band.  There is nothing better than knocking on heaven's door with a French accent.
Alas, it was time to head back home and grab some dinner.  Our little neighborhood has wonderful charming modern restaurants, even a barbecue joint, but we settled for something across the street.
And ate well.
Until the next post....

I, also, realized that I am posting this on the wrong blog...what can you do when you are writing this from your phone.

xo, an art teacher in paris

Friday, June 12, 2015

Hello Summer...

I would love to share my sadness for today, but the last day of school felt really GREAT today!
It was a wonderful year, full of fun and laughter.  But, it was a long year, full of everything else. 
As it rolls to an end, I say "adieu" to the past and "bonjour" to summer.

Follow "An Art Teacher in Paris" and say "hello" to summer.

xoxo, Smock Room

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

My Art Adventure...

Throughout the year, first grade students venture in the amazing story of Anna and her quest to find the toilet in Anna's Art Adventure.  It's a remarkable story of adventure, mystery and urgency.The story introduces my students to artists and their styles, with quirky references and a red dress.  

A few of weeks ago, I filled a couple of buses with 6th graders and headed to the Art Institute of Chicago for their annual art field trip.  Along with jumping (or trying to jump-the AIC is a big place) from group to group, I snapped photos of some very important art works... at least to my 1st graders...

Such as the hunt to find the toilet, my quest was to find the artworks and artists Anna encounters on her search.

Luckily, my hunt lasted about 20 minutes as apposed to the 9 months my first graders had to endure.

Here is My Art Adventure in the 
Art Institute of Chicago:

Ellsworth Kelly 

Rembrandt van Rijn

Edvard Munch

Piet Mondrian

 Vincent van Gogh

Pablo Picasso

 Insert Andy Warhol HERE.  

 Rene Magritte

Marc Chagall

Paul Cezanne

Henri Matisse

Jackson Pollock

Marcel Duchamp

Salvador Dali

Mrs. Angelopoulos

Because when you've gotta go...

Check out the full 1st grade curriculum, with a complete power point presentation.

xoxo, Smock Room.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Is art important?

"How she made the holocaust a unit for art"--5th grade student responding to "What did you like".

Towards the end of each year, the 5th grade curriculum prompts teachers to focus on the Holocaust, a necessary and important topic.  Every year, I integrate their classroom experience with some sort of art lesson, from illustrating poems written during that era or creating 1,000,000 butterflies in memory of the kids who died durning that time.
Although we were making art and learning aspects of history, there was not a great synergy of the two subjects.  
Until now.
And why it has taken me so long, I can not say.
Until now.

I am guessing...but sometime in the fall, I finally got around to watching "Monuments Men", a movie based on the true story of the special task forced, assembled by President Dwight D. Eisenhower during World War II to protect cultural artifacts and artworks being destroyed and/or looted by Nazi forces.  Yes, this was a Hollywood movie but the based of the film prompted me to rethink the end of the year art unit for my 5th grade students.

I thought.....well, I thought a lot of things...BUT I ended up with a discussion about the impact on cultural and world history, and Adolf Hitler's perspective of Modern Art.

With a little (really a lot) of research, I ended up creating a lesson based on "Degenerate Artists".  Along the way, I discovered great resources including

The website address is deceiving.  It is actually a wonderful resource for educators.
In designing and re-designing this art unit, I paused at the enormity of this topic and the relevance in today's world events.  It seemed extremely important to me, for my students to see past their 'school world' and see the rest of the world, good and bad.

The art unit goal was simple:
Recreate an artwork, originally created by an artist labeled "Degenerate" and formulate a reflective response to "Is Art Important?"  (in 4 weeks)

I was really blown away with what my students achieved.  They considered, carefully, what medium would help them achieve the most accurate results, but only after considering their own individualized abilities.  It was liberating and refreshing to let these 5th grade students make their own choices.  Each of them started their piece with a bit hesitation and uncertainty, but by the end, their was nothing but confidence and pride. 
A great feeling by all.


Horse in a Landscape, 1910, by the German Expressionist
Franz Marc, denounced by the Nazis as a "degenerate" artist.


And in the end, we did answer the question.
Art is Important.
It's our history, our culture, our world
 that helps us understand 
who we are, 
where we came from 
where we are going.

xoxo, Smock you.