Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Creating Success

Today's topic is going to cover several areas from doodling and retention rate, to one more that creates successful opportunities for our students and ourselves.

First, I want to share something with you that I recently read, "I have students who like to draw...unfortunately it's while I'm teaching..."

When I attend a meeting, sit through a class or what ever it might be I need something to do while you or anyone is talking. Why? Cause, if I don't you'll lose me and usually pretty quick. So, for me doodling or doing something else might be considered a fidget for me. It helps keep me focused and although it might NOT seem apparent I am listening to you. I remember having elaborate drawings on pages of my notes while in school. These drawings would run all four sides of my papers, in the margins and even through the words. Most of the time they were battles including, airplane battles, anti-tank guns, houses, buildings, landscapes, people, etc... you name it I drew it in my notes. I didn't realize it at the time but I was developing strategies that were going to help me survive school as a child. Now they help me survive a meeting when my head would normally hit the desk and snoring will ensue. I guess what I'm getting at is please look for ways to embrace a child or even an adults differences and different way of achieving what you are after. The retention of the material you are delivering. With that said why does study habits have to be the same old way, I talk, you listen-take notes and read them later at your convenience. Most recently I came across something that I know is not new but, with technology headed in the direction it is, why not embrace it and give our students even yourself an advantage. Forward thinking. The website's are Quizlet and Flash Card Exchange the best part is they sync with the app Mental Case beautifully (which can be found in iTunes or the App store) I bought the $4.99 version and have found it to work excellent. Imagine creating studying guides, flash cards, visual memory games, tests, etc... that your students can download right to their iPads, iPhones, iTouch's, smartphones in general. Imagine students being able to send it to each other via Bluetooth and or thru wireless networks. Imagine a student being able to go on vacation and all of their study notes are inside their iPod's or other devise. No bulky notebooks and binders just a hand-held devise. They are already going to have iBuds in their ears listening to something. Why not create a situation were they feel confident when they come back into your classroom. I know I'm always looking for ways for my students even myself that promote a successful opportunity. Well, enough for now. So, look for new ways you never thought existed that help our students. Encourage "Out of the Building Thinking" with your colleagues and allow the creative spirit to run freely through your body and mind!

Just a couple resources to help fuel your response to the non-believers

Saturday, November 19, 2011


I read a very interesting article while working out yesterday, yes, I can use an elliptical machine or ride my bike and read at the same time. What kind of resources or you utilizing in your classroom or home to teach our students and the ramifications of today's technology? Have you ever wonder does a 1st thru 12th grade student know more than you about technology? If so, why is that? If not, congratulations for staying up on what is going on in today's technology world. The magazine I was reading was the November 2011 issue, Art Education, titled, Beyond, by the NAEA. On page 8 at the top of the third column there was a statement I really agreed with, "Rheingold's point is not just that kids are tech-savy; rather it's because of this fact, teachers now have a new role to play: teaching ethical behavior and cultural citizenship." Students today are really Globally connected and its this notation what we need to find a way to embraced and incorporate technology into our classrooms. Either as a mainstream tool or an assistive technology tool. Imagine being in a school where cell phones are band, iPod's are only to be used as a relaxation tool during their free time. What happen to educators be forward thinkers and thinking beyond today and how they will use this technology if you like it or not. As an educator we get frustrated when someone does not turn in their homework or do their assignments. Well, the very items they love we keep them away from them all day long. So, what do they do when they go home and well into the night? Use the very items we tell them not to use during school, in turn ignoring assignments and homework. Stop! What if there homework was to be done on the very items we band them from using in class? What if their cognitive development increased because we thought "Outside the Building" and show them ways that will help improve their studies. Me personally I am very closed to going paper free with my work to-and-from school. How so? I use Google Docs and search Google Templates for ways to improve my output. I use Google as my cloud for personal paperwork. Why not teach our student the same thing? This is providing them the life skills that will transfer into the work place once they graduate. Put a keyboard in a first graders hand, and iPad in every ones hand, this includes teachers. I guess it is my opinion that we need to stop sitting on our hands and be forward thinkers and stop thinking we will stay on the cutting edge of education. Be the cutting edge! With this said, please allow the creative spirit to fun freely through your body! And, yes there is more to come on this issue.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

2011 Michigan Art Ed Conference

This past weekend has been many things for me: amazing, a moment to get away, reconnecting, eyeopening, inspiring and finding a new (old) craft for me. While I was at my annual Art Ed. Conference in Kalamazoo, Michigan I was in awe of all the amazing things my colleagues are doing in the classroom. From advocating for the arts to finding new ways to further their own craft and just how we love sharing ideas. Yeah, I treat this as a moment to get away and get some rest at a nice hotel but, the reconnection that happens is something I live for. Back in school on many occasions feel like I am by myself and I know they feel the same way. We usually are the only one in the school doing what we do and its at this moment that being with each other we appreciate. Discussing art techniques and showing each other new ways of doing an old technique. I presented in two different seminars what I thought was a new way to approach an old craft: Paper Pulp–Paper Mache'. I had approximately 25 art educators on the Thursday night and 30+ the following day Friday morning (workshop images). To engage them I even tried a new way of starting my presentation, I created a video with website xtranormal which is very easy to do and one I recommend we show our students how to use. From there I discussed several different ways to use the pulp mixture and then turned them lose in a hands on workshop. They took off in ways I never dreamed of creating amazing products that they will wear and take back to school to show their students. I love creative people, problem solvers and "Out of the Building" thinkers they are. I once worked for a Creative Director and he told me something that has resonated with me until this day, "Creative people are the greatest problem solvers in the world, cause that is what we do all day long," The following days people who were in my workshops came up to me stating, "I can't believe how quick and easy that project is to do," "I love the results," I will be using this instead of ceramics to teach figurative sculpture this year," And, the list goes on. Yes, I am very happy about the results of what I took to the conference, inspiring educators in a new way. But, I came upon a vendors booth that was selling their felting supplies. They had a demo table where people were creating small samples. I watched. I inquired. I asked questions. I began to create. And, then one of the ladies working the booth (Back To Back Fiber Products) says, "Why not felt your bag?" Me, " I can?" Well, need say no more to me I was off and running with my felting needle and Alpaca wool in hand. My burlap messenger began to take on a new look and one I know will continue to evolve. I couldn't stop. Every where I was sat, I was felting. Even while working the booth for the College for Creative Studies, I was felting. People were walking up to me, "your the one that felted the burlap bag." Yes, that was my small moment of celebrity status. I even thought about it, is this something I want to take into the classroom? Or, just use for me? It is so relaxing and therapeutic that I found myself settling right down and concentrating on what I was doing, felting. Not to say I won't take it into my classroom but at the moment it is for me! I was even talking with a colleague about getting together with friends, bring some wine and your felting materials and create with great conversation. I'm in for sure. Well, of know that is about it, I have more to right about the conference but I need to gather my notes, organize them and write. So, continue to allow the creative spirit to run freely through your every part of your body. :)

Saturday, November 5, 2011


Lately I have a been having a lot of conversations about "Engaging" and how we do it, both in the classroom and outside of it. Outside: conferences we attend, seminars, webinars or is just getting together with friends and colleagues. Inside: what is we do with our students and the connections we make together. Because, there are many days I learn just as much with them I teach them and this even takes place with my colleagues. Like yesterday I attended the first day as a presenter at this years Michigan Art Education Conference in Kalamazoo, MI. This past spring I came up with an idea of how to change an old practice that is done in the art room, the making of Paper Mache' and Paper Pulp. I married the two into one substance. Well, I presented it and I was just amazed what happen, they took my idea and ran with with it, making comments how this we be so easy to incorporate into their classrooms. I was so happy and can't wait to see what will happen today when I present. But, I did one more thing when I was there, I released a document I've been working on called, Artist Career Guide. I've receiving all this information from various institutions on how the potential careers available for artists. I kept thinking to myself there is a bigger idea here. So, I began researching, scanning, typing and this is what I can up with. It is a living document that I am asking each and everyone to make a contribution to, borrow it, share it, steal it, put your name on it. Just do me one favor and please give me credit creating it. I feel the engagement I am talking about does not stop in the classroom and even out of the classroom, it continues forever and what I/we do as educators and professionals will make a difference in peoples lives forever. It doesn't have a be a student that we inspire, it can be anyone. Stop trying to think outside the box and start thinking outside the building. Think about it when we are outside the building and the wide open space you are in. Outside the box, "ok." Outside the building, "Amazing." Have a wonderful day and allow the creative spirit to run freely through your mind, body, and soul.