Monday, December 19, 2011

Friday, December 16, 2011


I am so excited to be part of this blog. I am hoping to blog often and have student input. As of now, I am without a computer at home, which is really putting me behind on my work load. However, I will prevail. Happy to be here!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Documentation from last week's workshop

At our last workshop on December 7th, several project teachers brought samples of their Studio Thinking tools and templates to share. Having student work samples to review generated great conversation. Thanks for sharing!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Follow Up December 7th meeting

I want to publicly thank the Elementary group, Nancy, Stephanie and Liz S. for sharing their practice, student work and assessments with me. I thought it was a valuable experience.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Diwali Bowls- Incorporating Studio Habits

I am now focusing my lesson plans and my own thinking to reflect using the vocabulary and practice we are adapting through this project. After we completed the line lessons we moved to a Social Sciences-based lesson which incorporated Understanding the Art World by showing the students video clips about the Indian celebration of Diwali along with a power point slide show highlighting Diwali art, artists and designs. The students Envisioned their designs using pencil sketches in small sketchbooks and Persisted by transferring designs into small pinch-pot bowls they had made in week 1 of the project. They Developed their Craft using clay (model magic), pencils/paper, sharpie marker and water-based marker. We shared our bowls and are working on critiquing skills for a Reflection piece of Studio Habits of Mind.

Lines- Culminating Projects

Last month I posted the introduction to the Lines project which encouraged students to explore art elements, lines- in particular. They Developed their Craft by exploring lines with different media including markers and pencils culminating in printmaking using ballpoint pen styluses and drawing into styrofoam master plates. The students ranging in grade level from Kindergarten to Third Grade used their Science topics: K-birds, 1-trees, 2- clouds and 3- moon as the themes of their drawings/prints. They Observed nature and Understood the Art World by looking at the artworks of other artists. They also Envisioned by sketching their ideas first and Persisted through to printing and hanging their finished products for a public display of artwork for Report Card Pick Up day.

Studio Habits of Mind -- Incorporating All 8 Habits

Beginning Print Making for my first graders was their first look into developing a craft they may want to focus on during the school year or in other art classes.

First, I had the students come up with their own design for a tree. Once they came up with their idea, we worked for a week on contour drawings and ways they can use contrast to emphasize the depths of their prints.

Next, students drew their images onto foam sheets and cut them out to create the stencil. The stencil (or shapes they created) were adhered to the front of a paper plate. Students next choose the color they wanted for their tree and rolled the brayer through the ink. They then transferred the ink onto the paper plate using the brayer. After inking the stencil, the students place a piece of paper over the stencil and press down with a leaf press to make sure ink fully saturates the paper.

After leaf pressing, the students pull off the paper which now contains the image from the stencil they created.

Through this art project, which encompassed two studio classes I was able to incorporate the 8 SHOM into this lesson plan:

Develop Craft : learning new tools such as a Brayer, foam sheets, and ink.

Engage and Persist: to create a tree that fit the space of the paper plate, understanding size and composition.

Envision: understand the placement of the shapes.

Express: every tree was unique and they all conveyed different forms of movement.

Observing: looking at the roundness of the paper plate, and incorporating the environment of nature in the art piece.

Reflect: discussion and critiques after the art work was complete, having the student interact with their piece and others around them.

Stretch and Explore: created an ice breaker and had students move around the class like tree,moving their arms back and fourth over their head.

Understanding the Art World: students were introduced to Vincent van Gogh and Ansel Adams.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Studio Structures - Students at Work

Students at Work is one of the studio structures within the Studio Thinking Framework.We've been visiting your classrooms to observe the physical studio space in your building, see students at work and witness your practice. We feel very lucky to be invited in. Thank you for opening your doors and thank you to your students for letting us ask questions and take pictures.

Catherine Tanner: "Everyone needs a white piece of paper. This is going
to be your little sketch book. You can look out the window at the trees"

Intense observation. This kindergarten boy in Catherine Tanner's class
stared intently at this butterfly for a very long time. He was enthralled.

There is remarkable concentration and focus going on at Lincoln Park
H.S. in both Beth's and Didi's classrooms. Students are disciplined
and honest as they provide feedback to each other in an informal way.

Beth walks around the room and talks to students about their work. Beth says,

"Remember you want to have your ink bottles up in front of you. I know it’s
hard so practice as much as you can. By tomorrow we’re going to phase 2.
You’ve got time to experiment. If you need to spread out, you can. Like I said,
practice as much as possible."

A student says to another student at their table

Student: "Your hair is not like that. You’re more smiley than that.
It’s looking less and less like you. Your eyebrows don’t go like
this." (she points downward)
Beth: "Take time to look at your distinguishing features."

Didi leans in to examine an image.
Didi: "I need a bit more information. What is it that you
want to show?"
Didi: "A sky scrapper?"
Student: "Oh, I can go up."
Didi: "You might have to glue this on to make it stronger."

Students at work in Didi's Studio Drawing class. Students are
creating 20 different cards based on a theme.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Navigating a Learning Community

Hi Everyone,
As we approach our next PD we thought a review of some factors set forth by Lois for creative learning, innovative practice and sustainable models was worth revisiting. This is a time when you might be questioning what are my next steps, what do I need to do? We'll reference these guidelines throughout our PD. We find them really helpful for guiding our process.
Drawing by Gail Geltner,
Professional Learning Community: Stay in regular touch, virtually and f2f, with explicit intentions (make your goals public) and with actions linked directly to those intentions (focus) and with regular checks to see what you’re learning and how, by comparing what you’re doing and learning to your intentions!
Professional development focused on student learning: Research is clear that PD that builds community and is focused on student learning is what is effective.
Assignments/Accountability: Agree to stay with it; understand that others depend on you; participate; make explicit commitments to regular meetings, experiences; conversations, and explorations/investigations/inquiry. 
Seek a question of importance to you and pursue it: Teacher action research is a powerful source of teacher learning and satisfaction, and a powerful counter-force to the despair and exhaustion that’s permeating the atmosphere of schools.

Make Learning Visible: share your successes, failures, and process; use video documentation in the classroom and as a way to reflect; visit each other and talk about what you see; look together at student work to see student minds as they develop; make “thinking walls” and post your understanding goals to make your purpose visible to all in the learning community (students, teachers, parents, colleagues, administrators, visitors) and keep it in the front of all your minds.

Drawing by Gail Geltner,

Exposure/Contact with Contemporary Artists and Art: Familiarize yourselves with and use Art21 and other videos of artists and artworks; read blogs and periodicals and websites; go to museums and galleries and artist talks – with and without kids – and talk about art; invite artists to visit your class; go to visit artists in their studios and on the street; make your own art regularly; watch TED talks on arts.
Keep Making at the Center: Dedicate 60 - 75% of learning time to students actively making work; link all non-making learning and activity tightly and directly to making; do mid-process critiques often, keep them short, do more early in the process when ideas are still flexible; offer mini-DLs on new processes; Give students choice and make assignments roomy so students have to/get to make lots of decisions (thinking!).
Track uses of the Studio Habits: Use Studio Habits to analyze your students’ work and working, your lessons, your courses, your own art-making, your viewing of work of professional artists, your viewing of videos and texts of artists talking about their working and work; and your students’ uses of Studio Habits to do all these things.
Use the habits yourself to see how they benefit you: Teachers need to take the time they need to become fluent in thinking with the habits. Use them to reflect on many different contexts (what you and others see, what you and others do, what you and others make, how and what you and others teach) and share your observations and questions and tentative conclusions.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

purposeful instructions

One comment that Lois made during her presentation in Chicago that's been on my mind was "to give purposeful instructions, but not too much information that you can't do what you want." At the time, my students were starting a "Teen still life" and had just brought in objects that are symbolic of their lives at this moment. Typically, we review composition basics again and then they are focused on how to arrange things to meet those guidelines. After the presentation, I decided to do a little experiment with this project and only give students enough information to continue working with the purpose of developing their idea. Some students opted to combine their objects together, and we focused more on the concepts of using color and shading techniques to visually expand on the symbolic nature of the selected objects for observation. The focus became more about what they were trying to say rather than on direct observation of objects. Students could select colored paper and used soft pastel pencils. Although I have given feedback regularly, I've been mindful to approach the conversation so students continue to work based on their own decisions.

I haven't introduced the Studio Habits of Mind yet, but students have already been practicing some of them. Last week students completed their 1st written reflection to answer the questions of "what happened?" and "how did you do it?" Here are a few examples of their thoughts:

Monday, November 21, 2011

Spiral Workshop Exhibition

Spiral Workshop is having an exhibition of their most recent work. The opening reception was on Saturday. I saw Deborah Ryder from Kennedy and many other wonderful art educators at the exhibition. As some of you already know the Art Education program at UIC will come to a close next year. There will be one more Spiral Workshop next fall.

Olivia Gude has been leading this program for over 15 years. We are so grateful to her for mentoring and leading teachers towards such thoughtful and inspiring art education practice. I am now regretful that I didn't study under her at UIC but she will continue to teach in the Art and Design department. Perhaps Olivia can come and talk to our group. Olivia and Lois have presented together on many occasions.

Go see the show. It always expands my thinking!!

Monday, November 14, 2011

December 7th Assignment: Studio Thinking Test Tools

The Assignment is for each teacher to develop a Reflective Assessment tool for two of the Studio Habits which asks the students to respond to two questions - 1) What just happened?, and 2) Why or how did this happen? So, for Envision, we may want to ask, "What do you envision your next steps are for making this artwork?" and "Why are you making these choices for your next steps?" "How are these choices going to effect your artwork?" The tool should also allow for you to respond to each student through teacher narration (i.e. "This is what I noticed about your ability to envision...").

Please tailor the "What just happened" and "Why or how did this happen" questions to suit your projects, learners' needs, goals, etc. We're looking for reflection around the thinking that happens when students are making work.

The goal is that by the time we meet on December 7th, you have had your students from one class respond to two Studio Habits, and you have responded through a written narration to each student. You can find more sample tools in the Studio Thinking and American Art Google docs. At our next workshop, we will be reviewing and critiquing each others' tools. Please be prepared to share your tool and samples of student responses.

Friday, November 11, 2011

From Door Number Three...Why Did the Authors Write This Book?

I thought I'd post a few of the things that came up in our productive discussion about why the writers wrote the book Studio Thinking.  These are just the things I recorded in my book, so I hope others who were with me can add more that I missed.

1. The Studio Habits are a new language for things we are already doing, or aiming to do, as art teachers.  However, they may be more than a language. They can be a focus or an awareness for teachers around how to ENSURE the product of art education is the child and not the artwork.  If an arts teacher is actively and consciously teaching all of the habits, then the product is definitely the child. SHOM makes teachers more reflective about their practice.

2.  The Habits may be a new way to look at grades or to grade student work, or even to enter grades. If we grade based on the habits and not only on skills the students have grasped, then we may have a truthful way to enter more grades for students, as CPS is requiring at the high school level.

3. The Studio Habits may be a good way to bring the arts to other subject areas by empowering non-arts teachers to look at teaching the arts in a new way, with a new set of criteria.  For instance, many content area teachers seem to always say that they can't teach art because "they can't draw". Well, SHOM would be a way for them to understand how they could teach art or creative concepts, without knowing everything about the craft.  More like understanding... art is communication.

4.  SHOM would be a good way to frame/think through a lesson or unit, by focusing on certain habits.

5. The SHOM have the potential to help (arts) teachers build a common vocabulary around things that are meaningful and things that we want to assess.  This common language will make discussions and collaborations among us easier, and will also be a way for us to market and share what we do.

6.  If shared with students, SHOM will be a way for those art students to understand that even though they may not be good at the develop craft portion of the habits, that they have gifts in other areas that are of EQUAL importance to the creative mind and to artistic endeavors.

What did I miss!??

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Teaching the Language

Even though I teach at the grammar school level, I fought for many years to get "block schedule" for my middle-schoolers. I would get one homeroom, for example 2 x's a week instead of one, every other marking period. Next week I will see many students for the first time, so it will be a great opportunity to introduce the studio habits to my upper graders.

I am one that learns by example. As art teachers we are often isolated and unable to share "best practices" with other art teachers. I appreciate everyone who has shared their ideas of how we can translate this knowledge to our students. At first when I was introduced to SHOM, the content of the habits were familiar to me, yet I wasn't sure where to start with this new vocabulary. It wasn't until Lois showed us examples of how teachers of various levels have used SHOM in their rooms, did I realize that there is a lot of flexibility to make this our own.
I like the simplicity of the bell ringer/ exit ticket approach as a form of reflection mentioned in a previous post. I have done this in my classes before and we do it often at teacher in service days. I too plan on creating a "Studio Habits" wall. In the past I would label each shade in my room with art terms, changing periodically, similar to a word wall. Students periodically would be given post-its to identify which term, was visited or identified and placed on the appropriate shade. I feel that having a bulletin board could change its purpose over time as more ideas come to mind. I am looking forward to this ongoing dialogue!

Monday, November 7, 2011


I work at a Math and Science Academy. In some schools that are coined with the same term, it doesn't really mean much but at our school we are leaning toward becoming completely inquiry based. It fits pretty well with the "import paradigm." I'm on the lucky side of things because my school is completely embracing the idea of dispositions of learners.

So in my attempt at inquiry, I offered up a simple task for the 2nd graders. I dumped an entire box of 96 crayons onto their desk and said, "How can we organize these?" The questions, strategies, and creative groupings they created blew my mind. They were so insightful, they were talking about how there's no 'right' answer to where some colors go, that they can sometimes be in more than one category. My biggest successes revolve around the students knowing that in art (and in life) there is often more than one right answer.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Demonstrating/Describing the Studio Habits to Parents and Families

In about a week I am going to hang up some art work and in-process photos of students' process in honor of report card pick up.  I am thinking about creating labels for each lesson/process that would highlight a specific Studio Habit.  What I mean is that I would make a label/sign for each studio habit and place it with an arrow next to a specific picture.  This might be a good way to introduce families at my school to the language of SHOM. I might also need to write up a description of why this particular project/piece exemplifies a habit of mind.

For instance, this "Silhouette Shape Challenge" would be filed under Stretching and Exploring. On my blog,  I am also trying to label/file lessons and processes under a studio habit.  My students as of yet, have not been introduced to the language of SHOM, except for imagining their ideas.  I am looking forward to Wednesday so that I can try and incorporate the language into the students' everyday experiences and self evaluations.

Also, I am thinking about how within each unit of study that I am facilitating, the students should ideally be experiencing close to every habit of mind as they go through the process of creating their work.  This might be another way to frame curriculum and unit planning- to make sure to touch on all of the habits at least once. 

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Coonley Art Studio: Contour Line Drawing

Catherine Tanner's K-2nd grade students have recently been working on line drawings (see her earlier post). This made us think of a post we saw on Liz Chisholm's Coonley School Art Studio blog...

Coonley Art Studio: Contour Line Drawing: In preparation for an autobiographical comic strip project, 5th-8th graders at Coonley spent two weeks learning about and practicing the tec...

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


These works of art were done by K, 1 & 2 students. I introduced the element of line to show students that most art incorporates line and to take away their fear of drawing. The work started with using a story from their lives to making a composition inspired by another's work of art to creating line drawings. I will use voice recorders to capture student comments, have them talk about their choices and have them discuss finished products to aid me in reflecting and critiquing phases of projects.

Lesson 1: Take a walk with a line- Using only lines draw a walk you took.

Lesson 2: Miro inspired: Using Joan Miro's work of art as an inspiration, how can you make a balanced composition with only lines and color?

Lesson 3: Birds- draw birds using lines and color.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Professional Photographer in your classroom?

Hi STAA Teachers,

A friend and wonderful photographer Orin Zyvan is available to photograph your student artists at work. He just documented my friend Steve Musgrave in his studio and created beautiful shots of the artist at work.

I asked him if he would photograph students in the public schools at work and he said yes (it's free). He would like to keep some photos for his portfolio so families and students have to be o.k. with that. Otherwise the beautiful photos will be for you and your students to look at to better understand the artistic process.

Let me know if you're interested. He's leaving town in about a month so time is of the essence.


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Studio Spaces

The above images are from Kitty Conde's classroom studio at Ravenswood Elementary.

Colorado Arts Education Association Presentation

Here is some photo documentation of a piece I performed for the Advocacy luncheon at the Colorado Arts Education Association two weeks ago. The conversation at the luncheon involved a presentation of the new Colorado State Standards for art by the creators of the standards. Interestingly enough, the authors of the new standards contacted Lois and asked if they could write Studio Thinking into their standards and, of course, Lois said yes. We'll see how ST will be used across the state in the next few years.

Art teachers seemed to feel disheartened by some of the new teacher assessment protocols being rolled out across the state. Our audience embraced our cantastoria (story song recitation) performance which questions the nature of teacher performance based assessments. For this performance we created 7 hand-stenciled panels and attached them to wooden poles. We sing the panels, telling the story of teachers, principals, students, parents and the Obama administration's response to the "Race to the Top" competition.

At the conference, Olivia Gude came up with a new phrase for reflection: "attentive reflectiveness." We really like that description for the process of looking at our students' work and our own teaching practice.


Saturday, October 15, 2011

Boston Academy Arts v. CPS Arts

I understand that Lois and her colleagues were using schools/teachers in the Boston area to generate optimal results with relationship the SHOM-the schools that took arts "seriously" as noted on page 9-although I wonder how the study will develop while in CPS schools? Each school has a different vision and mission for education in general as well as arts education. Visual arts (unfortunately) are often not a priority in the curriculum and many art teachers and departments have to fight to stay alive within a testing culture while budgets are being cut extensively. It is hard at times to read about the Boston schools because these are optimal art education environments and the number of CPS (secondary) schools that mirror these environments are few and far between. Within our overall school and department program I am often frustrated because we cannot provide the same types of "authentic" art experiences that the Boston schools or some of our CPS magnet Visual and/or Fine Arts counterparts can. We do not have the physical studio spaces nor do we have the space in our school's over all program. For example we are running 21 sections of Art I this year (an average of 650 students), concurrently we have four art elective course options for our students (approximately 124 students) and we currently have 13 advanced AP Art and IB Art Portfolio students split with other courses. Our students are consistently recognized locally and earn scholarships for art to many schools, etc. but there are some experiences that we simply cannot provide due to the nature and size of our program within the context of the larger school environment. I realize that the SHOM are about more than just physical space, but this is a major component that we struggle with at LPHS.

Friday, October 14, 2011

A visit from Lois

I had a wonderful visit from Lois, Matt and Kate last Friday and wanted to share some of my thoughts. When they arrived, my 4th grade students were in the middle of a Gallery Walk of their first Showcase Pieces for the quarter. After silently viewing all the artwork, they chose 2 pieces that they were drawn to and wrote a reflection (comment, compliment, question, connection) to the artist on a post-it note and stuck it on their art work. We then transitioned into open studio time. Lois was interested in how I was incorporating the Studio Habits into my art studio. She was able to give me some great feedback looking at my classroom space and what I do through the lens of Studio Habits of Mind. What I found so enlightening was how many of them I was covering without even realizing it. Everything from how I organized and labeled my supplies (understand art world) to the artist statements (reflect). She walked through my space and shared with me what she was seeing.
Although I have the Studio Habits posted and they write about them on their artist statements, I realize how important it is for me to be more explicit with the students and make the connections for them. This will help them to internalize the vocabulary and see real-world applications of the SHOM. This inspired me to use my bulletin board space to highlight the SHOM with student work as examples of the Habits in practice. The audience is the students, the teachers and the parents. The photo shows this month's SHOM, Develop Craft. I am curious what ways you are making these habits visible in your environment.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Your impressions of Lois' Visit

We wanted to hear from you about Lois' presentation.
As per Lois' recommendation for Professional Learning Community she says:

"Stay in regular touch, virtually and f2f, with explicit intentions (make your goals public) and with actions linked directly to those intentions (focus) and with regular checks to see what you’re learning and how, by comparing what you’re doing and learning to your intentions!"

Here are some questions to guide your thoughts. Feel free to add other thoughts.
  1. What were your impressions of her presentation?
  2. Did you have an inclination to try anything in your classroom based on the presentation?
  3. What are you still curious about?