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International Dot Day 2016

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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. Here is a narrated video of the story:

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. You can download the Quiver app to any mobile device, print the template, and view the dots with augmented reality. Here is a video how it works (please substitute “Quiver” for “Colar” because the app has changed hands since I made this video:

As students view their dots with augmented reality, they’ve been capturing them in photos and videos on the iPads. Here is a compilation of their artwork:

Nice work, right? The video will be posted on the International Dot Day wall and on Twitter with the hashtag #DotDay16. Over seven million dot makers will participate in International Dot Day this year!

Always remember:

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Reflection: September 11

My thoughts on the Friday approaching the fifteenth anniversary of the attacks on 9/11/2001:

As I walk through the halls of my school, the same school where I was teaching third grade on that day, I think: “We were here when it happened.” As I pass by classrooms and see the teachers with whom I shared shock and horror on that day, I think: “We have never been the same.” And as I look at the students going about their normal student lives, I think: “None of these kids had been born then. They will never know the fear and anger their parents felt as the drama played out for weeks and months following the event. And they will learn about this in class and in books, as removed and dispassionate as my generation was in learning about historical events when we were young.” 

The following is from my social media post on September 11, 2013:


Flag pins made by third grade students following 9/11/2001

I wore this “flag” pin to school today, as I have for the past 12 years. I was a third grade classroom teacher on 9/11/2001 and had a lovely class of 26 or so kids who I had just met a few weeks earlier. We were just settling in to our school day when an urgent announcement was made for all teachers to check their email. The email informed us of the terrorist attacks and asked to keep our cool and not to talk to our students about it. That was a tall order. We had so many questions. We had email, but few of us had cell phones or cell service then, so we didn’t have access to news or each other. The school internet was shut down almost immediately. Teachers talked quietly in hallways, in doors between classes, and at lunch we gathered around a TV in the teachers room and watched in horror as the planes hit the towers, over and over again. And then we returned to our classrooms. Numb. What a long, difficult day it was. 

My son was in the same school with me, at that time in a fifth grade classroom with a teacher I trusted and respected. Still, somewhere in the middle of the day, I snuck a moment to go across the school and up the stairs to simply look at him, to see for myself that he was okay. I had to see him.

Later that day, the administrators went class-to-class in the 5th and 6th grade classrooms to tell the kids what had happened. I grew concerned for my third graders, who rode the same buses with the older kids. Although they are young adults now, I can still visualize their little faces as we gathered around for circle time at the end of the day. “You will hear stories from other kids on the bus about bad things that happened today,” I told them, trying hard to keep it together, “Just promise me that you’ll try not to listen, and wait until you get home to let your parents be the first ones who you talk to about what happened.” 

The days that followed were full of questions, theories, and patriotism. My classroom became a safe haven, a respite from the incessant news reports. My students had a great need to “do something to help”. We made the pins in the photo above and sold them for $1 each. We also made a simpler version with just 6 large beads on a large safety pin. Entire extended families worked on the pins at home. Parents gravitated to the classroom and helped my third graders produce pin after pin. Together we raised several hundred dollars for George Bush’s “America’s Fund for Afghan Children” .

Today is Sunday, September 11, 2016. My third grade class of 2001 students are now 23 or 24 years old. I wonder what they remember from our shared experience fifteen years ago. I wonder if they or their families still have the pins we made. I wonder what they will tell their own children about that day as they bring them into this world over the next decade. Lastly, I hope I did well by them and their families on September 11, 2001 and in the weeks and months that followed.

We remember.

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Couldn’t Make It to Open House?

No worries at all! This is a super busy time of year and one can’t do everything! The following video shows highlights of the 5/6 Miscoe Hill Art Program and it will give you some idea of what to expect this year.

Also available was the back-to-school letter containing a breakdown of grading criteria and my contact information. Here is a link to the letter: Welcome to 5/6 Art

Speaking of contact information, I emailed every address I had for my students’ parents last week. If you did not receive an email from me, please let me know at agentili@mursd.org 

Lastly, some students have been bringing sketchbooks to class. We will be making our own sketchbooks, so please keep the purchased sketchbooks at home for extra-curricular drawing. I had communicated this to the front office during the summer, yet I think it may have ended up on the supply list nonetheless.

It was a pleasure to meet some of you last night and I look forward to meeting the rest of you one day soon.






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My Slight Obsession With Mona Lisa

Welcome to my website. As you’ll read on the other pages, it is named after a wall of Mona Lisa replicas executed in a variety of mediums. I am slightly obsessed with Mona Lisa, especially Mona Lisa parodies. Thanks to a curious student last year, I now know there are forty-two versions of Mona Lisa on the wall. While my students and I come and go from this classroom, those Mona Lisas Live Here. Every day.

To welcome students this week I showed a Prezi presentation while a student took on the role of narrator. It is a fun presentation made up of various Mona Lisa parodies I have found online (thank you to all the artists who created the parodies).  Once at the site, click on the arrows at the bottom to go forward or backward: Oh Mona

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Have a terrific long weekend and we’ll see you right back here next week!

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Welcome to 5/6 Miscoe Art!

Look who is driving the bus and wishing everyone a fantastic first day of the 2016/2017 school year! Buckle up!

Mona Schoolbus

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Results For “Which Painting?” Poll

I know you’ve been dying to see this, that you’re anxiously awaiting the results of the “Which Painting?” poll. Well, at least the 39 of you who participated in the away message poll I left on my automatic email reply each time I was out of school this year. The automatic reply would indicate the reason for my absence and advise the email sender when I would return. I also set up a Google Forms poll to find out which of four paintings to include in my curriculum based on the interest of those who emailed me in my absence and took the survey. This is what the form looked like:

Google Form

Google Form

Here it is, the end of the school year (almost) and the results are in! Ding! Ding! Ding! Winner winner – chicken dinner!!!

Starry Night is the winner!!

Starry Night is the winner!!

Clearly, Starry Night is the winner! Congratulations to Vincent Van Gogh and sincere condolences to the runners up. Very sorry Mona:

Mona Lisa is not impressed...

Mona Lisa is not impressed…

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Making Thinking Visible with Sketchbooks in the 5/6 Art Room

Handmade Sketchbooks

Last summer I was thrilled to spend a week in the Project Zero Classroom program at the Harvard Graduate School of Education studying big ideas by prominent figures in education that I admire. Naturally, I brought this experience into the classroom with a renewed commitment to project based learning and a generous amount of technology integration. Our focus this year has been on the process of art making, which we began with handmade sketchbooks. I wrote about this in detail on my blog in October 2015. You can read it at this link: https://monalisaliveshere.me/2015/10/14/60-to-zero-in-five-seconds-flat/

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60 to Zero in Five Seconds Flat

As the year progressed, more than 400 sketchbooks were created and filled with notes, sketches, plans, and observations. The sketchbooks have become a regular part of each class, whether as a “bell ringer” or integral element to projects.

Two different approaches were taken in making the sketchbook covers memorable and interesting. The first term covers were made with collage and the third term covers were made with ZoneDoodles. Students were engaged by both mediums with excellent and creative results.

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Collage with Mod Podge sealer

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ZoneDoodles with metallic Sharpies

Close Looking

Throughout the year, students had many opportunities for Making Thinking Visible by documenting Close Looking experiences. We planted Romanesco Broccoli in windowsill pots in the fall, hoping to grow broccoli heads that naturally grow in the form of the Fibonacci sequence.

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Close Looking at broccoli leaves

We were expecting produce by January and even by late May, there were no heads, just lush leaves. At the first of June we brought the plants outside to our courtyard to see if some direct sun and possible pollination would help the plant to form heads. It is too early to tell whether the new location will impact the plants.

Broccoli plants outside

Broccoli plants outside

Dental Molds

Sometimes it takes something just a little bit different to pique our curiosity and engage us in Close Looking. This is the case with dentals molds. With two friends who are dental hygienists, it was easy to collect enough dental molds so each student had one to examine closely and sketch in her/his sketchbook. The students were fascinated by the molds because most had never considered what teeth actually look like and had been content to draw a smile by drawing an upturned crescent with a horizontal line corner to corner and several short vertical lines to indicate teeth. The dental molds gave them a lot to consider.

Angie drawing eight views of a dental mold

Angie drawing eight views of a dental mold

Sketchbook Tours

Throughout the past week, students have been filming Sketchbook Tours with the help of a classmate. Sketchbook Tours are nothing more than one student holding an iPad over a classmate’s sketchbook while the author flips the pages and points out various favorites or challenges within the book. This gives the students a feel for publishing their work and a chance to reflect on a collection or body of work. Because sketchbooks are not comprised of finished masterpieces and instead contain rough drawings and simple sketches, students have an authentic opportunity to critique their own work and to consider revisions and edits. Conversely, the sketchbook tour can catch us by surprise as we suddenly notice a great detail for the first time or a simple addition or subtraction that turns a sketch from okay to awesome.

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