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Clay Projects Going Home Today & Tomorrow

Just a heads up that student clay pieces are being sent home today and tomorrow. Why a heads up? They are super fragile and have a long journey home! The clay pieces have been wrapped in newsprint and exit the art room door that way. I can’t vouch for their safety beyond that moment (sorry).

Sometimes small parts like appendages or eye balls fall off in transit. Sometimes they fall off between the bisque firing and the glaze firing. My experience has taught me that more times than not, if we glue the parts back on here, they will break again in transit – perhaps in the bottom of a back pack. Anyway – all is not lost. I recommend the following glue for these repairs:


Here is just a sampling of the many terrific clay pieces. Fifth graders created Personified or Animified (we made that word up) Pinch Pots. Sixth graders made Coil Clay Creatures. They all came out great! Those who missed the initial clay building class because of an instrument lesson or illness painted bisque tiles instead so they would have a chance to at least experience the glazing process. If your child’s clay piece doesn’t come home it is because I am saving it with the hope of putting it in the art show. It will be returned after the show, which is on April 11. They all came out great, and I wish I could save them all, but we don’t have the space. Here is the gallery – I hope you enjoy them:

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Shell Sketches Are Up On Artsonia

Last week while the snow fell and the cold air swirled around outside, we sketched shells using Ebony pencils, kneaded erasers, and blending stomps. Looking Closely is the first step in wondering how things work and why they are the way they are. In the art classroom, drawing from observation is a quiet, focused activity, made even more engaging with our new studio lighting.




Students have uploaded their shell drawings to Artsonia and they can be found here. Go ahead, have a look. They came out pretty well and they make you think of summer.


Connor J


Angelina D.


Sabrina C.


Phoebe B.

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A Tribute to Colleague Liz Wernig

Liz Wernig was the kind of colleague who asked nothing from you, but was always willing to help you in any way she could. She was quiet, she was kind, and she was very good with technology and teaching others how to use it effectively.

I asked for her help in my early days with 3D printing, before I found a way to design for 3D printing using iPads. In January 2014, I asked if I could bring the MiscoeMakerCrew (student group) to her tech lab after school to work with some web-based software (Tinkercad). Not only did she agree, she stayed with us, learning the program herself and helping the kids navigate the controls and manipulate models.

Later that spring we were invited to share our explorations at the Burlington 1:1 Summit. Liz had become a regular member of our group and with her help, we prepared our display materials and rehearsed student presentations. Liz and I drove up to Burlington together while the students rode with parent chaperones. We stayed on, touring classrooms and other displays, after the kids left for the return trip home. When Liz and I eventually left for the day, she suggested we stop for an ice cream – it’s no surprise I was happy to oblige ☺️ The photos below are from our day together in Burlington.

And then Liz got sick again. Early in the fall of 2014, Liz told me she had been diagnosed with returning cancer and would be taking some time off. She has worked so hard to beat it for the two and a half years since. She taught when she could and although the treatments had messed up her feet so she struggled with walking, Liz never showed her discomfort around the students. She was still engaged in teaching and sharing her tremendous knowledge of her subject area, creating interesting projects for her students to learn through. Even though she was not well, she would always help me (and others), finding a spare flash drive, or blank dvd to give me when I forgot to bring one from home. She was always there for me.

I visited her at home when the timing was right between treatments. We strolled around her gardens and fairy village, or sipped wine in her “woman cave”. And speaking of wine, as I left one time she gave me a bottle of wine that she had received, because it had a peacock on the label and she knew we had peacocks at home. She was always thoughtful.

She grew animated when talking about her family. She adored her grandchildren and was so incredibly proud of their athletic feats and other accomplishments. She loved her children and the time they spent together. When her daughter Holly married in Boston one New Year’s Eve, it was her single-most focus for the entire winter, whether planning or reveling in the memories (this after an autumn focused on The Best Halloween Party EVER). And her husband, Jimmy, with whom she feigned frustration and annoyance at his projects and ideas, she truly admired for his handiwork and cleverness. The mention of his name always brought a big smile to her face along with another story to tell.

My wish for Liz’s family is for peace in knowing Liz’s pain is over. No longer will she suffer in quiet dignity. She is walking on clouds right now, alongside her daughter Alyssa, probably raising hell while the wine flows.

She was fun. She was smart. She was a love. She was a good friend. She will be missed. Rest in Peace Liz – Godspeed – until we meet again.

At the Burlington 1:1 Summit 2014

At the Burlington 1:1 Summit 2014


Leaving for the Burlington 1:1 Summit 2014

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D is for December/D is for Digital Art

In the 5/6 art room we’ve had a great week or so learning to create digital art on iPads. During a frenetic time in the world outside the room, this focused work has been cozy, calming, and generally pretty quiet. After introductory tutorials in person and provided as a reference in Google Classroom, the students have been engrossed in their work, taking breaks to ask questions or help each other solve problems.

Cozy, quiet, digital art making...by elves?

Cozy, quiet, digital art making…by elves?

“After a period of intense concentration, working with materials that fully engage their interest, children appear to be refreshed and contented. Through continued concentrated work of their own choice, children grow in inner discipline and peace.” – Maria Montessori (The Absorbent Mind, 1949)

Fifth grade students practiced digital art making by creating a singular digital snowperson using Sketchbook Express App by Autodesk (free) through exploring the tool palette, flood fill, templates, opacity, and radius. The tutorial is here.

Avery G.

Avery G.

Once the practice drawing was submitted to Google Classroom, students were given complete freedom of choice as to a snow scene they would create. The only criteria: include at least three snow creatures and some surroundings that indicate space. here are some examples of the work, which is now up on Artsonia.

Sixth grade students have been engaged in Rotoscoping with iPads to create self-portraits. While it may seem simple to trace over a photo, there are many tools and concepts to practice and learn when working with digital art. I believe this practice leads to better observation and eventually better execution of similar projects with traditional media. Working with layers, opacity sliders, color pickers and the various tools in Sketchbook Express App by Autodesk (free) prepares young artists for working in programs like Photoshop or Illustrator when they get older. The tutorial is here. These works are in the Rotoscoped Selfies gallery on Artsonia.

When finished with their self-portrait, students have been choosing “Someone I Admire”, taking a screen shot of a photo of a celebrity and using it for a digital portrait. This has provided an opportunity to talk about appropriation in art, although most images students have encountered do not have the photographer’s name included. Here are some of the entries in the “Person I Admire” gallery on Artsonia:

When we return from the holiday break we will be using our new studio lighting (more on that later) to do some close looking at objects and drawing them from observation. Until then – Happy Holidays to you and yours and remember: Styli Make Great Stocking Stuffers

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On The Day Before Thanksgiving We Traced Our Hands

And made peacocks from the outline. Wait, you were expecting turkeys?

Anyway, we had abbreviated classes on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving – too short to accomplish much, but long enough to accomplish a peacock. We used construction paper crayon on a nice black cover stock and they came out fantastic! Here are a few to hold you over until you can visit the Hand Peacock gallery on Artsonia:


Allison M


Anna F.


Megan R.


Ashlyn S.


Reed D.


Sophia W.


Ari R.

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Initial Animals Are Up On Artsonia!

What started out as a one-shot-deal, easy 5th grade lesson for a substitute teacher while I was at the EdTechTeacher Innovation Summit for two days ended up evolving into so much more. The activity was to take the first initial of one’s first name and morph it with animal features and characteristics until it became the animal. When I came back and saw what the kids had done with construction paper crayon, they were a little lacking in enthusiasm and creativity and I knew they had more in them. I kept the initial animals around until the kids were finishing up their family portraits so the early finishers had something to work on while waiting for the others.


Ashlyn S.

Amazing things happen when you give kids choices and tell them to experiment, explore, have fun and make their art look like a finished piece. I put out watercolor pencils, metallic and colored sharpies, construction paper crayons and pattern scissors like a little art supply buffet, and the students helped themselves to the tools.


Danielle C.

I’m so thrilled with the personality each of the initial animals has, thanks to the artists.


Sabrina L.

This is a great example of imagination at work.


Andrew H.


Phoebe, the bird lover, jumped at the chance to turn her P into a bird.


Phoebe B.

Check out the rest of the initial animals on Artsonia in the Initial Animal gallery. Enjoy!

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Fifth Grade Family Portraits On Artsonia

Just in the St. Nick of time, fifth grade family portraits have been uploaded to Artsonia for your viewing pleasure! Whether gathered around a menorah, holiday table, Christmas tree, or on the beach, students have portrayed their families in warm, welcoming environments. To begin this unit, which addresses many objectives including perspective, space, figure drawing, color, and art history, we spent an entire class looking at and analyzing 18th century family portraits while considering what life was like in the late 1700s when the portraits were painted. We had lively discussions about clothing, customs, the need for the extended family, and the props the families included in their portraits including Memento Mori and “cardboard babies” (stiff looking children who appear to be miniature adults as in this painting by Robert Feke). Try as I might to convey a little bit of societal perspective around the Age of Enlightenment, my students steadfastly refer to this child as the “demon child”. Very sorry Mr. Feke. Anyway, 5th Grade Family Portraits have been uploaded to Artsonia and can be seen here.

Ashlyn S.

Ashlyn S.

Aidan C.

Aidan C.

It was also a great time to take a look at the 2 dimensional picture plane and to define space with a simple horizontal line denoting the place where the floor meets the wall. As well, we looked at one point perspective before drawing the table. Paintings were created with watercolor pencils, which I just love for fifth grade on a finely detailed project like this. It affords the control they need to make the picture realize their vision.

Kelsey F.

Kelsey F.

Libby F.

Libby F.

This is just a smattering of the artwork on Artsonia. Students have posted about one hundred pieces. Of those, some students are missing parent permissions, so they are not viewable. If you need help setting that up, please contact me. Also, students who have been absent for illness or music lessons are still trying to finish.


Lisa W.

Megan R.

Megan R.

Please know that if you choose to order items with your child’s artwork on it from Artsonia, our classroom receives $20 of the cost. I use this money to replenish our supplies throughout the year. For instance, it came to my attention that we had used all the blue and yellow colored pencils and I was able to stock up on those very popular colors. I mean, can you even imagine a drawing of an idyllic day without a blue sky and a sun?

Phoebe B.

Phoebe B.

Tomas M.

Tomas M.

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