Monday, 20 May 2013

Drawing to Music

Since my last post was about music in the classroom (found here) I figured it was appropriate to blog about a music art activity that I did with the Grade 4's that ended up working quite well! 

 I began by having students fold big pieces of scrap paper into about 6 sections.  I then played many different types of music (only Karaoke versions so that no lyrics were heard) and had students draw lines to the music.  It was their choice what to draw, but they had to be line drawings.  When we were finished, I went around to each student and together we picked the favourite, which they then made into a colourful oil pastel drawing.  Students were only allowed to use 3 colours in their pastel drawings.  

Here are some examples as to how they turned out:


Electric Rock

Electric Rock

This project was much like the Grade 4's Expressions with Line drawings (found here).  I found they really enjoyed both projects.  They also turn out to be wonderfully colourful art pieces!  

As for the last few weeks of art classes I plan on doing some fun end of the year projects.  I have specifically some great ideas from Art Mash blog.  I'm excited to use some of these ideas!

Friday, 17 May 2013

Music in the Classroom

As the year slowly comes to an end... I am starting to think about three main things:

1. The ideas and plans I did that worked really well this past year. 
2. Those 'awesome ideas I had' that definitely did not work.
3. All the ideas and plans I have for the future...some time....  

I decided I want to blog about all three of these things.  I already have blogged about what I liked that worked, however blogging about failed attempts and future ideas are not so common.  After all, it is always easier to talk and write about 'accomplishments' than failures and ideas that might not follow through.  However, I've realized by leaving those two out, a lot is missed out on.  The best way to learn is through failed attempts and hopeful wishes!

So, I will start with writing about both a failed attempt and an idea for next year:  Using music in the classroom.  

I did use music with my Grade 2's while doing quiet work or working on an art project this past year.  I also played music during my art classes quite regularly.  However, I had no real plan with it.  With my Grade 2's I usually played Christian worship music (since I work at a Christian school).  This worked well - as they would many times sing along and really enjoy it!  With my art students, I picked very random music to play.  Often I played Newsboys, Adele, Keane, some Mumford and Sons, Enya, and some Walk Off the Earth.  Many times the students would ask for requests (as I was playing from Grooveshark on my laptop) and at the beginning, being the naive teacher I was (and still am), I played whatever they asked as long as there was no swearing and I knew what the song was about.  Soon enough, I came to realize that this does not work well for classroom management.  One class, I accidentally played Mumford and Sons and forgot to take out the one song with swearing - lets just say students heard, and it wasn't the most spectacular teaching moment in my life - taught me a lesson of the importance of reviewing everything before playing it in class.  Coming to the end of the year I soon got tired of trying to pick the right music and many classes I just wouldn't play it anymore.  Or I would say absolutely no requests and simply stick with Christian worship music.  The problem with this, is that I had started off on the wrong foot with the music in my classroom and so students weren't so happy.

Next year, I want to have a plan for music in the classroom.  I want to know what I am going to play before I even set foot into the classroom.  (Seems obvious, but while planning all lessons I never took the time to do this.) So, recently I decided to search for ideas.  I found this website: Music to Manage Your Classroom, which has inspired me in many ways.  This teacher uses music for classroom management.  What a brilliant idea!  He plays a certain song when a transition is needed, certain music for when students enter the classroom and to end the day, music to introduce a new lesson, and music to set the tone.  Even his transition times are timed with the song playing.  This idea blows my mind!  Students will be able to hear a song and know what to do or know what is happening.  No longer would I as a teacher have to remind students, count from 10 to have students sitting in their seats, or urge students to hurry up.  I simply play a song, and students are aware.  Oh how I wish I had seen this idea at the beginning of this year! The teacher also gives great ideas for what songs to use in each situation. After hearing about this idea it seems so obvious to me.  Music is all around us all the time, why not use it for purpose in the classroom!

Since I have a SMARTboard in my classroom, easily enough this can be used.  Next year, I may not have a SMARTboard, but as long as you have a laptop and some speakers, you are set.

I cannot wait to use this idea next year!

Paper Mache Men

One thing (of many) I like about teaching art is that it is a really free subject to do fun and different projects.  I don't have a specific curriculum for art at my school, so I am free to teach the students projects that I think they would really enjoy.  I found the following project through Pinterest, on Blog K-12.  It was the perfect project to teach my Grade 4 students how to use paper mache, practice their fine motor skills, and just something different than the regular drawings, paintings, etc. I also love working with paper mache - every kid loves getting a bit messy sometimes! :)

We started with making the shape of a man out of tinfoil.  We then covered these with paper mache strips.  And lastly, after letting it dry we painted them.  This project took two classes - one for the tinfoil and paper mache, and one for painting.  Here are some pictures to show the process and results!

1. Covering tinfoil with paper mache:

2. Painting over our paper mache men:

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Stress Advice

Last week good friends of mine got hitched and I was so blessed to be apart of the wedding as a bridesmaid.  It was the absolute perfect day! (The weather thankfully as gorgeous as it was!)  They got married at a Yacht Club...the ceremony right on the water, and the reception in a gorgeous hall.  The wedding was in Ottawa, so hubby and I chose to take a few extra days off work and explore/vacation! I took three days off work, thinking it'd be no problem.  I've only taken one day off so far this year, and figured planning the sub plans wouldn't be too big of a deal. Well...I was a tad mistaken.  First of all, making supply plans is WAY more work than anyone who is not a teacher would think.  Second of all, coming back to try to figure out everything that was accomplished with the supply teacher is a headache in of itself.  And third of all, trying to catch up with marking WHILE report cards are due is so busy it's really just insane.  Bad timing?  I think so. Man is it tough coming back after "vacationing"!  Don't get me wrong, I love to teach.  But boy do I love weddings more.  Future wedding planner career.. perhaps.. :)    I also do not enjoy this crazy busy schedule.  It's been a busy year, but this by far is the worst it's been.  A fellow teacher of mine told me to just let some things go... well I am letting go reports cards getting in on time, marking getting finished before next class, and my lessons being fully planned.  Winging it is key at this moment.

So while I don't have a an art project, an interesting science lesson, or a writing idea to post today (Though I do assure you I have many pictures ready to post), I just have some small advice.

I thought since I am stressing with all this right now, I'd take a break, and blog a little bit with some advice for fellow overwhelmed teachers...or those who are just overwhelmed in general.  It's my first year - so I probably don't have near as much advice as someone who has been at this for 10..'s a start! You might also be thinking - why not stop blogging and get to work - well, my issue is that when I am as stressed as I am, I have an even harder time not procrastinating.

1.  Make lists.  And cross numbers off when done.  If you don't do this already, it is definitely worth a try.  The accomplishment I feel after crossing off something on my list is just an incredibly great feeling.  Even if it's as small as 'photocopy science sheets'.  Along with this...don't be discouraged when you don't get something done perfectly, or done on time.  *Life goes on..

2. Try a new environment.  After this blog, I plan on going to a coffee shop to write some report cards.  This forces myself so get something done - rather than being distracted with cleaning at home, or doing pointless things at the school.

3.  Always have a back up lesson for times like these.  When I am this stressed there are times when I will just completely forget to plan a period.  Having these back up plans ready to go gives me some leeway for such times.

4.   Take the breaks you need.  Whether it is a coffee date with a friend, a movie, reading a book, or going for a walk - do not give those up.  Whatever it is that energizes you and keeps you looking forward to something, it is just as important as finishing up that marking, or finishing the plan for that lesson.  You have to help yourself before you can help others right?

5.  Take a DAY for yourself.  Crazy, I know.  How can you possibly do that if you are SO busy!?  Well, it is possible.  It's all about prioritizing, which I know is tough.  But having that one day for yourself, may give you that release you need to come back the next day with full force.  I try my best not to work on the weekends at all.  This is hard at times (especially now), but it really helps me to have those days to focus on the other things that matter to me, other than teaching.  If everything I possibly do is about teaching,  I think I would go crazy and eventually start to not have enjoyment for it anymore.

6. VENT.  We all need to do this at times - don't hold it in!!  It's just not worth it.  The importance of letting it all out is underestimated.

7. Find an outlet...something else to put your focus on to get through your stress.  I am still learning the importance of this and even trying to find out what exactly mine is.  I lean towards cooking, sometimes drawing, or writing (which is why I am writing this blog post.)

8. Drink LOTS of water.  This honestly has helped me so much more than I would have thought.  It perks me up and gives me just a little more energy that I need.  Hate drinking water?  Here is a blog post with some great advice for drinking water that might help you: Tea Time with Bri   I put fruit in my water (otherwise I wouldn't drink it near as much) and this also helps me drink less coffee.  (Which really just gives me an hour boost, and then I am back to feeling low again.)

So this is not rocket science, and I am sure many of you can think of more ways to help while being overwhelmed, but these ideas may get you thinking what you can do for yourself, so that you can continue to do the best possible job set before you.  One last piece of advice that has really kept me going during this entire year...

**  Remind yourself that it is GOD who gave you this job, this calling in your life at this moment.  Your work is being done for HIM, no one else.  It is all about doing the best you can for God's glory.  Therefore, bring your stresses to God, take it one day at a time, and do it all for His name.