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What Is Your Least Favorite Color? Sharing On Padlet

Everyone always wants to know, “What is your favorite color?” How many times have you been asked, “What is your least favorite color?” Let’s face it, certain colors annoy us and it’s about time we had a chance to vent.

Antonia P.

Antonia P.

During two subsequent Creativity Sparks (bell ringers) recently, students were asked name a color they strongly dislike (least favorite color) and describe why they don’t like it. The next class they were asked to draw something that is normally their favorite color BUT color it in with their least favorite color.

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Anna F.

While these were two quick exercises, each lasting no more than five minutes each, they make an interesting post on a sharing wall such as Padlet. We had enough posts that I set up two walls for sharing. You can visit them at Favorite/Least Favorite Color and Favorite Color 2.

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You will be amazed at the strong feelings the students have about color!

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Samantha S.

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First Artsonia Uploads Of The School Year

It is always a milestone in the art room when the students add art to their Artsonia gallery for the first time in a new grade. Last week all of my students uploaded cropped images of the design from the cover of their portfolios that they had completed within the first weeks of school.

Alison C

Alison C

As a formative assessment of some of the elements of art and principles of design as well as the use of a ruler, students traced their hands and filled them with line pattern. They then divided the background into segments, added color with colored pencil and outlined everything with silver Sharpie. I learned a lot about my students’ abilities with this project and they ended up with some nice, colorful artwork to upload to Artsonia.

Lauren H

Lauren H


Parents/Guardians – if you need help establishing your child’s Artsonia account, please email me – I’ll be happy to help you out. Here is some more colorful art work. To see the rest of them, visit: Patterns & Hands

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Monday Conference Hours

Conferences are being held on Monday, November 9. I will be available in the 5/6 Art Room from 12:30 – 2:30. Please email me if you would like to schedule a conference. I’m looking forward to seeing you!

Come say "hello" on conference day...

Come say “hello” on conference day…

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When Clean Up Goes Well

When clean up goes well, we have a little extra time before the next class. During this time I like to show videos that help us leave the classroom feeling joyous, inspired, or curious. The typical video is between two and four minutes long and is the last impression of each class. We recently used four classes in a row to end with Kid President videos. If you don’t know him, Kid President is precocious and funny, yet sometimes very serious. There is a message in every video and he leaves us feeling inspired every time. Here are the four videos we viewed. Click on the image to see the video. Enjoy!

Kid 2

Kid President’s Pep Talk To The World


Kid President’s How To Change The World

Kid President's 20 Things We Should Say More Often

Kid President’s 20 Things We Should Say More Often

Kid 3

Kid President’s Letter To A Person On Their First Day Here


iPads and Websites for Parents/Guardians

Now that iPads have been rolled out with all Miscoe Hill students, there are a few things you should know:

1. Soon you will be receiving an email from Artsonia.com about our online art gallery. Artsonia is a website established by art teachers for art teachers. It is a secure site. In the past three years, my students and I have uploaded thousands of images of student artwork. Check out our school gallery here to see how it works.

Your child has a gallery set up and waiting for artwork at Artsonia. All you have to do is authorize it. Be on the look out for an email from Artsonia asking you to verify the email address I provided. Follow the steps and you should be all set. If you have any problems, please contact me. Parents/guardians of 6th grade students – if you activated an account for your child last year, it will be the same account this year.


2. We are using Google Classroom as a learning management system in the art room. This allows for me to not only share resources with the students, but also for the students to turn in projects. Please note that when I post assignments to Google Classroom, they are to be done in class. I like to organize the posts in advance, but please don’t think it is homework. Ask your child to show you his/her art class on Google Classroom.

3. Certain websites must be enabled (un-restricted) if you have a privately owned iPad. Please enable:
www.youtube.com (I will share direct links only, we will never be searching Youtube)
That is it for websites now, there will be more later, so stay tuned.

While we are on the topic of iPads and Websites, it is a great time to bring up Digital Citizenship. Richard Byrne, creator of the Free Technology for Teachers website shared some great digital citizenship games and tools in his post 12 Good Resources for Teaching Digital Citizenship. For parents of my fifth and sixth grade students, I recommend the games geared for elementary level students. Between Internet dangers and cyber-bullying, kids can’t get enough on the topic of Digital Citizenship, in my opinion.

#ee8614 (2)

Click on the link to go to the website


60 To Zero In Five Seconds Flat

As I know I mentioned before, I was fortunate to spend a week in the Project Zero Classroom program at the Harvard Graduate School of Education this summer studying the big ideas of prominent figures in education. One of the big ideas I encountered is Making Thinking Visible, introduced by Ron Ritchart and David Perkins. Of the Six Key Principles they identified, this one stands out for me:

  • Fostering thinking requires making thinking visible. Thinking happens mostly in our heads, invisible to others and even to ourselves. Effective thinkers make their thinking visible, meaning they externalize their thoughts through speaking, writing, drawing, or some other method. They can then direct and improve those thoughts. Visible Thinking also emphasizes documenting thinking for later reflection.

Throughout the week at Project Zero Classroom, my classmates and I were encouraged to use inquiry to define our purpose for participation in the program. My purpose took shape pretty quickly thanks to the workshops on Thinking Routines and Artful Thinking I attended. I soon realized that I haven’t been providing enough reflective processes for my students to align the projects they do with the concepts they are learning. We need space between instruction and performance to integrate fully with our learning. I knew right away that I wanted to slow things down and make room in my curriculum for making thinking visible. That is when I decided my classroom goal for 2015/2016 goal would be Slowing Down The Learning.

My purpose

My purpose for participating in Project Zero Classroom

Something else on my mind during Project Zero classroom was the idea of process vs. product. This is not a new idea at all to me and I wish I could say that I have remained steadfast over the years. However, it can be difficult to focus on process when so many art educators share lessons and projects via Twitter and Pinterest. Like birds attracted to bright, shiny objects, these clever projects and their products can become our focus rather than the intrinsic lessons within the process of  art making.

Artistic Moments by 5/6 Art Club investigating the creative process

Artistic Moments by 5/6 Art Club investigating the creative process

This train of thought led quickly to Studio Thinking and the Eight Studio Habits of Mind developed by Lois Hetland and the co-authors of Studio Thinking: The Real Benefits of a Visual Art Education. Also not new to me, re-examining this text in conjunction with Making Thinking Visible has created a new focus for objectives in my art curriculum. Along with addressing the Massachusetts Frameworks and the National Arts Standards, we are also following the Studio Habits of Mind.

The more I thought about how to engage my students in making thinking visible and focusing on the Studio Habits of Mind, I realized they would require sketchbooks or something to record their thinking in as well as time set aside to develop their thoughts. My students have always been asked to bring sketchbooks to class so that part would be easy. Here is an example of one of my student’s traditional sketchbooks from a few years ago:

To follow my goal of Slowing Down The Learning, I knew the sketchbooks had to be handmade. I also wanted them to be stored in the classroom so they wouldn’t be forgotten at home or in lockers. I ordered large paper (23 x 35) which we would fold for the pages. I knew I had a reserve of large thick papers, donated by a friend who worked in printing, that I could cut up for the covers. Knowledge and memories from my own twenty years in the printing industry surfaced as I watched my students make their books. for most of them, this was the first time they had made a book from scratch. I am excited to see what ideas for format they will come up with when they make another book for the next term.

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Once the large paper was folded and the covers stapled on, the students trimmed the folds using scissors. This adds a handmade quality to the books. At the start of the next class, I showed them this video, which shows the automated book making process:

Once the books were finished, it was was time to think about covers. In planning this project, I knew this first round of books would be uniform, so I wanted the cover to be open to creativity and artist voice, yet with 250 books to manage, the materials choices would be somewhat limited. We went with collage using magazines (or whatever students brought to school), colored pencils, and construction paper crayons. The last step would be Mod Podge to add the gloss sheen and make the covers more durable. In future classes, metallic Sharpies will be available for final embellishment. On starting the collages, I was happy to open the glue sponges and see they are still holding up three years after they were made. This post describes how to make glue sponges.


Click on the photo to see how to make glue sponges

Oh, what a glorious mess we made in finding “good” magazine pictures!

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Students used the cutting technique of silhouetting to make images appear as part of other images. Themes began to emerge very quickly:

Cats theme

Cats theme


Art is fun


Sports theme


Dogs theme

The final step was to add Mod Podge for a glossy, durable cover:


Mod Podge station


Mod Podge station


Finished cover


Mod Podge gloss

After just three classes, the books were finished. Students have used them every class since to respond to Creativity Sparks as they enter the classroom. Soon they will use them to map and record the Design Process and as Learning Logs, which will contribute to Making Thinking Visible in the art room.

Technology is fully integrated in our art curriculum. We are a 1:1 iPad school and as such I am so fortunate to be using Google Classroom as a learning management system for my nine classes. I truly love it. We save a lot of time and and it is a huge asset to organization. We use technology for many things including drawing, painting, “sculpture” and design for 3D printing. Sometimes, using technology in the classroom can quickly take over and become the objective, when it is actually an agent for learning. It is easy to be swept up in the quick pace and immediacy of technology and forget to slow down and provide adequate reflection time for the learning to take hold. In my opinion, when we use technology well, it becomes just another tool in our giant magic bag of tricks and strategies for teaching and learning.

I walk by this rack of sketchbooks several times a day. As I do I am filled with pride that my students and I are working hard at Slowing Down The Learning with sketchbooks and Making Thinking Visible. Let me reverse a common car phrase and tell you we are happy to be going from 60 to zero in five seconds flat!

Rack of Sketchbooks

Rack of Sketchbooks

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International Dot Day 2015

In the Miscoe Hill 5/6Art room we have had a blast creating dots and watching them come to life using the Quiver app on iPads. Why create dots? Because of the book The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds.

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We colored in templates made by Quiver and then used the app to view the dots we have made. Quiver uses Augmented Reality to transform the dots into dynamic, moving dots. Here is a video of some of the creations:

Nice work, right? The video will be posted on the International Dot Day wall and on Twitter with the hashtag #DotDay15 Over four million dot makers have participated in International Dot Day since 2014!

Always remember:

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