Monday, September 21, 2015


to the Good Days....

As teachers, we are on constant roller coasters that wind, whip, creep, climb, drop and loop throughout the years. 
 Some years never seem to end, while some years in a blink, they are done.
Some years are one challenge after the other, while other years are full of sense of achievement.
Some days you wonder if you did anything that mattered to any student, while other days you receive a glimpse of something that mattered.  
Today was one of those days.
While shuttling off students, after school, to their various modes of transportation, one student came up to me and asked me why I did not teach his class this year, "I miss you", he said. 
Due to our school's growing population, their is another art teacher that instructs 2 classes. 
 I explained to him the reason and then asked him "why"?
"She doesn't teach like you do", he said with a subtle whine.
There hasn't been a smile on my face the entire time of my teaching career but I can say that today,
"I'm still smiling".

xoxo, Smock You.

Friday, September 18, 2015

modern twists....

Looking at the Art of Suzan Shutan....
in second grade

A component to the second grade curriculum engages my students in the theme of community.  Much needed, this theme builds on several important and vital skills in today's world:  cooperation and collaboration.

All that is great but we are dealing with 8 year olds.  Engagement and interest are key elements for creating an environment for 2nd graders to build and grow these skills.  They also need to feel like it is fun.

As their art teacher, I search out new  and exciting artists that will capture the attention of these wonderful students, while "teaching them a lesson".  I came across Suzan Shutan in my search (I can't remember if it was on Pinterest or just a Google search-but I found her).  She is an installation artist!  How often do you use one of those in your classroom?

I was inspired to by her Tar Roofing Paper installations in which thousands of paper are looped to created wonderful undulating designs across walls, floors and ceilings.

I thought to myself, "Well, isn't this just perfect".
"What if all 2nd grade students worked collaboratively towards creating large hanging paper installations in the style/work of Suzan Shutan?"

And that is what we did.

Along the way we had to learn something and along the way we had to use some critical thinking skills.  I created a "sub-lesson" (meaning a lesson within a lesson) for my students to look beyond just rolling paper and explore these installations with an imaginative, exploratory eye (or eyes).

In connection with Suzan Shutan's modern work, I introduced my students to the folk art of quilling.  We looked at the process of quilling in comparison to the process of Suzan Shutan.  With many different examples, we focus on a more contemporary approach to the folk art and reflected on different ways to combine the two.

The results were magical.
Groups of students worked very diligently for an hour, rolling a gluing strips of pre-cut, colorful construction paper.  Everybody had a role, and everybody lent a hand.

These wonderful installations were hung in our school's hallways, receiving amazing reviews by staff, parents and students.

Find the lesson here:)

xoxo, Smock Room