I have struggled with the most effective way to present the art room rules. This fall I plan to try something new – an engaging rules project like the one Elizabeth Stroud uses in her art room.
Ms. Stroud’s rules lesson is an example of project based learning. I love how Ms. Stroud’s students work as teams, and come up with so many ways to demonstrate the art room rules. Even very young students were able to articulate examples of the rules!
Do you have a creative way of teaching the rules in your art room?
One of the best sessions I attended at NAEA14 had to be Meranda Dawkins ‘Flipping the Art Classroom’. Not familiar with flipped classrooms? Essentially, the teacher creates a video lesson which is viewed by the students at home. The next day, students come to school and do the assignment.
Meranda creates her own instructional videos and does a ‘modified’ flipped art room: although she sends the lesson link home, she shows the videos at the beginning of class. After viewing, Meranda puts the video on mute and loops it during the rest of class.
This is great way to catch up a kid who was absent, or to help kids who don’t pay attention very well. It also benefits the art teacher who teaches the same lesson to multiple classes: you won’t leave anything out no matter how many classes you teach.
Slide from Meranda Dawkins NAEA14 session. Scan the QR code at lower right to see all of Meranda’s lessons on smore.com
The big eye-opener for me was Meranda’s use of Smore to organize and send out her lessons. Smore.com is an online flyer design website. I thought Smores were just a way to put out cute classroom newsletters. Not true! Meranda embedded images of Degas, a vocabulary check list and two instructional videos in this Smore.
This is a long post on a topic near and dear to my heart: art room volunteers. We are veryfortunate to have a lot of parent volunteers in our school, including in the art room. Ideally, we will have a parent in every art class.
I’m especially grateful for all the help because I’m a part-time teacher. My motto is ‘delegate, delegate, delegate’. Here’s what volunteers do in our art room.
Art room volunteers can:
set the tables before class (they’d may be willing to come in a few minutes early for this – just ask)
cut paper and templates
wash the bottoms of ceramics
write student name/number on wet clay art
pass out the fired clay
help kids (especially K-2) load the drying rack
empty the drying rack
help set the tables for the next class.
prep for other grades (i.e.not just their child’s grade).
hang students work on bulletin boards in the hallway
be a guest readers (see below)
Our volunteers also cut wire, plaster wrap, and clay.
Volunteers and the art show
Our school is blessed with some dynamic AND RELIABLE parents who are willing to help out with the annual art show. I have an art show chair I really admire and trust. As a result, I have relinquished some control over the show. I select the artwork, but I’ve given up some control for layout and theme. I work in partnership with the art show chair and volunteers and I am pleased to report it has turned out beautifully every year.
Art show volunteers can:
chair art show committee
set up tables and easels
take down the art show
recruit their friends to help
If you exhibit student art in YAM, in local museums, galleries, or even the county fair, you know the paperwork and logistics can be daunting.
Exhibit volunteers can:
fill out the paperwork
package individual artworks
pick up art
Tips to keep volunteers happy and engaged
#1: Keep them busy. Parent volunteers need to feel useful. They want to be helpful. The worst thing is for a parent to show up and you have nothing for them to do. If you don’t need prep help for their child’s class, ask them if they can use the time to prep for another grade (preferably the grade of another of their children).
Model. You need to model what you want done. Trace and cut a template. Make a sample. Show the completed project. You as the art teacher need to take the time to write out instructions. Some art teachers just don’t want to be bothered. But I say go for it! It forces you to plan ahead.
Show them all their children’s artwork. I pull the siblings’ portfolios. I will also pull samples of upcoming projects for all their children’s grades. Parents will be proud of all their children, and have good feelings about your art program as a whole. This really engages the parents.
Ask them to be guest readers: if I am introducing a lesson plan that involves literature, I will ask the parent to read the book to the kids in the art room (I use this time to do more prep). Little kids are especially proud of their parents when they read to the class. More parent engagement!
Thank your volunteers regularly
Thank your parent volunteers every class. Ask the children to say ‘hello’ at the beginning of class, and ‘Thanks’ at the end of class. Write a personal thank you note to each volunteer at the holidays or the end of the year. You could even give a small gift (it could be 1/2 dozen homemade cookies). a personal note is always the best way to say thanks. I also bring bottled water and snacks for the volunteers hanging the art show, and have a thank-you bagel brunch at the end of the school year.
Student volunteers are awesome
I also have 6th grade student volunteers in the art room. They don’t use the paper cutter, but they can do almost everything else if you model it for them. They often already know how to do the projects, and I’ve found they love to help younger students.
Ask the classroom teachers for help signing up volunteers
Let the classroom teachers know that you are interested in parent (and student) volunteers. At our school we sign up volunteers on back to school night (BTSN).
Count on 80% Attendance
Parents won’t be there for every class. Their children get sick or have school plays, they have their own doctor’s appointments, they go on trips. Fine! Any help is better than no help. Every time they help out it is a gift.
Use free online tools to coordinate volunteer jobs
This year I am experimenting with online art show sign ups. I looked at VolunteerSpot and Sign Up Genius. Both have mobile apps. I am leaning towards Sign Up Genius because it syncs with Apple’s iCal calendar system.
The end result….success!
This year I teach 18 classes per week, and have 20 volunteers signed up in the art room so far. Some parents love volunteering in the art room so much they sign up year after year. One mom volunteered a record 9 years in the art room!
With volunteers on board, you don’t just teach art: you manage the art program.
This year I tried a new classroom management system in the art room. It worked so well I had to share it. If your classes are getting a little unruly as summer approaches, it maybe time to review your rules.
I have just six art room rules, which the students have to recite at the beginning of class. They are:
Rule #1: listen when your teacher is talking
Rule #2: follow directions quickly
Rule #3: work quietly
Rule #4: raise your hand
Rule #5: make smart choices
Rule #6: clean up after yourself
During class, I observe both individual and whole class behavior. Both are recorded and sent to the classroom teacher using my art room support report.
The form makes it super-easy to record individual behaviors as they occur, both positive and negative. All of our support teachers (music, science, P.E., media center and computers) use similar reports, although they have different rules.
The section marked ‘Drops in the Bucket’ is for unsolicited extra-kind behaviors that make kids feel good. Helping struggling students or prepping work for a child who is absent are just two examples of behaviors. The entire staff gives out ‘drops’ which are then entered into a whole-school raffle for a prize. It is a really nice part of our school culture.
If a student breaks a rule, I just write down the child’s name and the rule number. A check means the student broke the rule more than once. Rule #5 (‘make smart choices’) covers a lot so I have to specify the behavior.
Group behavior: smileys and frownys
I draw a smiley face (positive) and a frowny face (negative) on the whiteboard, and keep a tally. I give out lots of smileys, generally for listening, sharing, hard work, asking good questions. The rare frowny is almost always for noise.
(This is working well – the smileys have trounced the frownys all year!)
At the end of class, I rate the class behavior ‘coyote’ (best), ‘star’ (good) or ‘oops’ (unacceptable).
The classroom teachers reward or give consequences based on the rating.
I like this because:
It is very specific, both in the rules and who broke them
The classroom teacher can reward the vast majority of kids who follow all the rules