Once Upon A Time Two: Miscoe Hill’s Robert Indiana Murals

This is the second in a series of Legacy Posts about projects that happened early on in my art classroom. Recently I was able to tap into some archived photos that I thought had long ago disappeared. I’ve decided to write some blog posts incorporating these photos to share the memories and/or inspire others to try these projects. Some are very dear to me because I took risks with my students and the end result was big learning for all of us, especially me. Also, in my nineteenth year of teaching now, I realize that ideas, projects, and programs come and go, and sometimes come back again. The first post in the series can be found here.

During the 2008/9 school year, my 7th and 8th grade art classes met three times in a 3-day cycle and were offered as true separate focus electives. One of the electives was Art Through Art Movements, where the projects were developed based on periods in art history. One such project were murals we painted throughout the school following Robert Indiana‘s block letters and hard edges from the Pop Art movement.

Eighth grade students worked in cooperative learning groups to brainstorm possible inspirational words and then chose one to develop into a design for a wall. The words they chose were Create, Pride, Faith, Dream, Strive, Peace, Brave, Learn, Give, and Inspire. Working groups then had to design color combinations to empower the words further.

The murals were painted in acrylic in quiet hallways in the eighth grade wing and were finished with a coat of clear gloss medium to preserve them for eternity.

Here are the photos of the murals and of the students painting the murals:


Once Upon A Time One: Miscoe Character Ed Murals

Recently I was able to tap into some archived photos that I thought had long ago disappeared. I’ve decided to write some blog posts incorporating these photos to share the memories and/or inspire others to try these projects. Some are very dear to me because I took risks with my students and the end result was big learning for all of us, especially me. Also, in my nineteenth year of teaching now, I realize that ideas, projects, and programs come and go, and sometimes come back again. I’m going to categorize these posts as “Legacy Posts” because they are in the more distant past.

This first series of Legacy Posts is about the murals my students have painted in my school. I began teaching art in 2004 after teaching regular education (grade 3 & 4) for seven years. My first two years were frenetic with 750 students sorted into 30 classes per week. Frankly, it was nuts. By the third year, we had arrived at a better schedule for electives, where students came to art twice per 6-day cycle for half the year. We hired another art teacher and my student count was down to 450. We offered an exploratory electives block once every other day, and I taught a class called Leave Your Mark (mural painting). We stayed with this model for two years before moving to a model where students enrolled in actual electives in 2008/9, when the eighth grade moved from the high school to our middle school. At this time I changed my curriculum to four electives: Fiber Arts, 2D, 3D, and Art through Art Movements. Three years later, in 2011/12, we decided that a less specific program would allow middle school students to explore a greater range of art making, so we discontinued this model, at the same time changing the schedule so classes met three times per 6-day cycle. This is the model we are working with today.

For the “Leave Your Mark” class during the 2006/7 school year, 6th grade students designed murals and then painted them on the walls with acrylic paints. We worked with the custodians to make sure they were painted within rectangles so they could easily be painted around for routine wall upkeep.  The set of murals below were designed to illustrate a social emotional learning/character education curriculum used in the schools at that time. Some of the key words were Trustworthiness, Respect, Responsibility, Self-Discipline, and Caring for Others.

Students worked in cooperative learning groups to decide on the character trait they would illustrate. They then worked up a design, split up the tasks involved, and chose roles. Quiet work (classes were in session) began in the fifth and sixth grade hallways for these murals and after a few weeks they were finished. The murals were sealed with a gloss medium to preserve them for eternity. Here are some photos of the then 6th grade students working on the murals:

The murals are in the gallery below. Let me know if you have any questions about the drawings and the message they intend – I think they are pretty self-explanatory?

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New Semester: New Beginnings – Google Classroom, Artsonia, Sketchbooks

Starting the second semester is in many ways like starting a brand new school year. As I welcome new classes and learn to put names with new faces, I am also establishing a foundation of communication and routines for our next five months together.

Google Classroom

Google Classroom

Google Classroom – The first goal was to get all of my new classes on Google Classroom (GC). All students were enrolled by the end of our first week together. I will continue to use GC to send out assignments and collect finished work. In the art room, students take photos of their artwork at varying stages and post the photos to GC for me to see. Students will also write artist statements to reflect on their work. My students and I have found GC to be super helpful over the past couple of years with the centralized instruction and efficient sharing of resources it offers.

Parents may sign in to receive summaries of our activity. Rather than actually participating in the class, you instead observe what we are doing. For information on just how to do that, visit the Guidelines for Guardians. Please know if you ever have questions about your child’s class, you can always email me at agentili@mursd.org.



Artsonia – By the end of last week, I had created accounts for all 5/6 art students on our online gallery at Artsonia. Those students who have had art before are automatically moved to the new group. If your child already had an account, you need do nothing ( except watch for emails announcing new work has been posted 😀). If your child is taking art for the first time in middle school, watch your email inbox for an announcement about how to approve their account. Click on the link within the email to give permission for your child’s art to be on display. If you are curious about Artsonia, visit our gallery here to see what it’s all about.

Click on the green button once you respond to the link in the email from Artsonia

Click on the green button once you respond to the link in the email from Artsonia

Sketchbooks – Last but not least of the semester start activities is the creation of sketchbooks. As of the end of the day yesterday, every student had created a sketchbook. They will be using them every day for at least five minutes responding to creativity sparks, quick write prompts, as learning logs, or as plan books for projects. Please read about the importance of using sketchbooks in the art room in this post.

Rack of Skectchbooks

Rack of Sketchbooks

Now that we have implemented all the semester start processes, we will be hitting the ground running with projects. First up is the inclusion of paper circuits and LED lights on the sketchbook covers. Stay tuned for future activities right here on this blog!



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2017 Youth Art Month Artists

It is that time of year once again when we celebrate Art Education with the Youth Art Month Art Exhibit in Boston! Sponsored by the Massachusetts Art Education Association and Sargent Art, the exhibit will display artwork by 900+ Massachusetts students in grades K – 12. Art educators in the Mendon-Upton Regional School District have chosen six pieces each to submit to the exhibit. You can read about the exhibit, the artwork and the artists from all four schools at this link: http://tinyurl.com/MURSDYouthArtMonth

My grades 5 & 6 students whose work has been selected are pictured below. They are (left to right): Laura Piekarski, Sabrina Cassano, Alex Heather, Cameron Giles, Ashlyn Seligman, and Astrid Lee:


2017 Youth Art Month Artists

The artwork submitted for these students has been executed in a range of mediums, including ceramics, digital art, digital rotoscoping, 3D design and printing, watercolor pencils, and Ebony pencils as follows:


Laura Piekarski/Bee and Flower/Ceramics

Laura Piekarski/Bee and Flower/Ceramics

Sabrina Cassano/Cirque de Snow Le/Digital Art

Sabrina Cassano/Cirque de Snow Le/Digital Art

Alex Heather/Self Portrait/Rotoscoped Digital Art

Alex Heather/Self Portrait/Rotoscoped Digital Art

Cameron Giles/Game Pieces/3D Design and Printing

Cameron Giles/Game Pieces/3D Design and Printing

Ashlyn Seligman/Family Portrait/Watercolor Pencil

Ashlyn Seligman/Family Portrait/Watercolor Pencil

Astrid Lee/Shell Sketch/Ebony Pencil

Astrid Lee/Shell Sketch/Ebony Pencil

You can see this fine work and all of the Mendon-Upton artwork at the State transportation Building in Boston from February 13 – March 30. The hours are 9-5 daily (except for Presidents’ Day), Sunday, February 26 and Sunday, March 26 from 12 – 4pm.

Congratulations to all of these talented students!







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Welcome to Term Three in the Art Room

Welcome to term three in the art room. All my new classes have watched a welcome Prezi presentation which you can find here.

Click this image to go to the presentation

Click this image to go to the presentation

As you can see, I may have a slight obsession with the Mona Lisa and Mona Lisa parodies. The presentation contains many of them and you can read more about my collection and how this blog got its name here.


Going home this week is the Welcome Letter to introduce you to the class and explain grading, plans, and goals for this school year. It is also posted below. I look forward to spending the next several months with my new students – don’t hesitate to be in touch!

Welcome to 5/6 Miscoe Art with Mrs. Gentili!

I am excited to welcome your child into the art room for terms 3 and 4 of the 2016/2017 school year. I was thrilled to spend some of last summer at the ISTE 2016 Technology in Education conference in Denver, where I learned a lot about MakerSpaces. I also participated in a course through the Harvard Graduate School of Education called Thinking and Learning in the Maker Centered Classroom. Given that artists are some of the original Makers, I am taking these experiences into the classroom with project based learning, technology integration, and a STEAM focus along with traditional art-making methods and concepts. Our first project will be to make artist journals/ sketchbooks, so there is no need to purchase one for your child.

Assessment and grading will be based on the 8 Studio Habits of Mind as follows:

  1. Develop Craft: Learning to use tools, materials, artistic conventions; and learning to care for tools, materials, and space.
  2. Engage & Persist: Learning to embrace problems of relevance within the art world and/or of personal importance, to develop focus conducive to working and persevering at tasks.
  3. Envision: Learning to picture mentally what cannot be directly observed, and imagine possible next steps in making a piece.
  4. Express: Learning to create works that convey an idea, a feeling, or a personal meaning.
  5. Observe: Learning to attend to visual contexts more closely than ordinary “looking” requires, and thereby to see things that otherwise might not be seen.
  6. Reflect: Learning to think and talk with others about an aspect of one’s work or working process, and learning to judge one’s own work and working process and the work of others.
  7. Stretch & Explore: Learning to reach beyond one’s capacities, to explore playfully without a preconceived plan, and to embrace the opportunity to learn from mistakes.
  8. Understand (Arts) Community: Learning to interact as an artist with other artists (i.e., in classrooms, in local arts organizations, and across the art field) and within the broader society.

            – Studio Habits of Mind from Studio Thinking: The Real Benefits of Visual Arts Education, Hetland, Winner, et al,         Teachers College Press, 2007.

Your child is invited to join Art Club on Wednesdays from 2:45 – 3:45, which runs independent of Enrichment classes. See me for a registration form for Art Club. On Tuesdays during the final session of Enrichment, I will be teaching a clay class after school. Keep your eye open for Enrichment postings in March.

We will be using the following websites and apps in the art room. Please make sure they are downloaded, enabled, and not blocked: Google Classroom, Artsonia.com, Sketchbook Express, 123D design, and Morphi. As we use additional apps I will email you to let you know.

Please identify me (agentili@mursd.org) as “not junk/ not spam” in your email settings. Soon you will receive and email from Artsonia.com – please mark that as “not junk” as well.

To stay up-to-date with what is going on in the 5/6 Art room, see my blog at monalisaliveshere.me, follow my Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/MonaLisaLiveshere, and my Instagram account at @MonaLisaLivesHere.

Thanks for reading this! Email any time with questions.

Mona Schoolbus

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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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