Saturday, December 21, 2013

A tribute to an art teacher

This is a moving tribute from a student to her beloved art teacher. It's not just art. What is it we art teachers do? FULL TIME art teachers are needed. We need to stay connected to our students. Watch this video.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Here's an article on a study done on how looking at art and discussing it promotes critical thinking.

Art Makes You Smart-New York Times

Friday, November 22, 2013

Dreams, Culture and Music 'n the Hood

On Nov. 15th, Matt visited Paula at Little Village World Languages High School and observed her revisit a Close Read of Faith Ringgold's quilt Dancing at the Louvre (1991). Using worksheets they had completed earlier in the unit, the students reviewed each step of the Close Read. Paula made adaptations from various versions of the Close Read strategies presented in this project and generated these prompts for the students to work through. Paula spaced the prompts out on a two-sided sheet of paper with enough room in each section to allow the students to fully articulate their thoughts.

1. CREDIT LINE INFORMATION. Students copy the credit line information and review that this can be examined for contextual clues. 

2. DESCRIPTION, I SEE... Describe all that you see. Images. Lines. Textures. Color. The elements and principles of art. USE ADJECTIVES. BE DESCRIPTIVE AND DETAILED.

3. CONTEXT, WHAT ARE THE CONNECTIONS. What do you know about the artist or about history at the time the work was done, that helps you understand this artwork?
CITE 2 PIECES OF EVIDENCE FROM THE TEXT HANDOUT (included later in this post).

4. INFERENCE, IT LOOKS LIKE…Guess what the artist’s message is based on the clues you wrote about in the description and what you know about the artist or history at the time the artist worked. What’s going on? What is the mood or the message? Back up your guess with evidence. WHY DO YOU THINK THIS? WHAT HAVE YOU BASED YOUR OPINION ON? 

5. JUDGEMENT, IS IT SUCCESSFUL? Did the artist communicate what she wanted to you? Is she skillful? Do you like the artwork? WHY OR WHY NOT? WHY DO YOU THINK THIS? YOU MUST GIVE A REASON AND BACK UP YOUR THOUGHTS.

You can watch Paula lead this Close Read process at this YouTube link.

Here are the two pieces of text Paula provided the students to facilitate their contextualization of Faith Ringgold. It was great to see this part of the research process given over to the students and to see which sections of text they highlighted or underlined. 

This process of unpacking Faith Ringgold's work is the connected to sewing and quilt-making studio activities. The students came up with different themes they wanted to represent in their quilt, i.e. Dreams, Culture and Music 'n the Hood, and in small groups created individual squares to be sewn together for each theme. The end product will be a quilt close to 3' x 5' that will be displayed in a local cultural center.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Interesting Curating: Art and Appetite

The Art Institute has a new exhibit about food and art.

Since we were talking about curating ideas, this new exhibit looks great. Has anyone seen it? I want to soon. My friend said it was fantastic. I love the connections being made with it, beyond the art world...

Studio Thinking Teacher Exhibition Preparation

On October 28, our learning community came together to collectively imagine, dialogue and envision possibilities for our upcoming Teacher Exhibition. The Exhibition provides the opportunity to tell your stories as art teachers and teachers who use the arts by highlighting the intricacies, the in-between spaces, the essences, and the complexities of your daily practice in and out of the classroom. This is your narrative to tell.

From "Learning to Love You More"
The clip below, "Maxine Greene on Teachers College: Its People and History," served as a spark to our idea generation for the Exhibition. In this clip, Greene discusses the ideas of being "wide awake," imagining possibilities, embracing others and various perspectives, being awake enough to be enraged to resist, and other wonderful ideas. 

These are some of the ideas the group generated. We should continue to revisit these ideas as we move through the year. What else do you want to say? What else should the Exhibition entail? What don't you want the Exhibition to be about? We encourage you to imagine possibilities and share them with the group as they come to you.

As Kate and Matt listened to your thoughts and reviewed the conversation, these are some of the emerging questions we are hearing as a way to tell your story:

What do you wish you were teaching?
What are you not teaching?
What do you think others think of you?
What can't you leave at school? What do you bring home with you?
What do you bring into the classroom from home?
How does your vision of teaching compare to your lived experience?
How do you transcend the times and think of new methodologies?

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Learning to Love You More Workshop

Last week when our Studio Thinking learning community met, we spent time opening ourselves up to imagination and possibilities by responding to several of the assignments from Harrell Fletcher and Miranda July's project "Learning to Love You More."

A couple of days before that, Valerie Xanos, Kate Thomas, and Matt Dealy led a couple of workshops around reading visual texts such as those found in LTLYM at the CTC Young Adult Literature Conference held in St. Charles, IL.

On Friday night, we led a discussion in which we introduced key concepts brought forward by the LTLYM project and facilitated a hands-on experience for teachers to respond to LTLYM prompts. These assignments included:

16. Make a paper replica of your bed.
33. Braid someone’s hair.
38. Act out someone else’s argument.
54. Draw the news.
70. Say goodbye.

Then on Saturday morning, we once again began our workshop with a discussion around the importance of practicing our ability to critically read visual images/texts. Valerie then led a rich presentation aided by this slideshow (click on the link below the Close Read image to see the entire Powerpoint).

Saturday, November 2, 2013


I really think that the stress of paperwork and grading at the end of the quarter has made me physically sick. I am in so much pain from upper back and arm muscle spasms (massage therapist says typical of too much computer and stress) and I feel ill, poisoned, just really awful. Trying to take care all day despite having work to do. Work, rest, work, rest.  The paperwork at school is just overwhelming. I'm working so hard to keep up and NOT let it affect my class and curriculum. Experiential and involved teaching is time consuming. It's the most important part of my job. But to do that and all the crap is killing me.

Our ways of teaching are so thoughtful, active, experiential. How do we do that and all the ridiculous nonsense CPS requires? Constant rewrites of curricular paperwork, evaluations, ABOUT the paperwork, long redundant unit plans on top of lesson plans, on top of other similar stuff, wasting time with long meetings, and then more and more paperwork... DESPITE our contractual protection of no increased paperwork. We are mandated to do so much at Curie.

I just wonder how long we can keep this up and still be good teachers in the classroom. Sorry for venting, but I know you all feel this way and are struggling too. Maybe it helps for us to talk about it.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Curating idea - Painting with Video

I don't know how we could do this, (any of you computer geniuses?) but talk about a super cool way to curate images! I use them as an example of guerrilla art with my students. I would love to be able to do something like this. Don't know how... but "imagine the possibilities!" (quoting Kate there)

Sweatshoppe  is the group that does this. Here is a little write up about them.

I've uploaded their video, and here is their website:

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Teachers After Hours

Did I post about this yet?

I have a blog where I keep track of brainstorming, ideas for art, ideas for curriculum, improving teaching practice etc.  I keep this because
A. I keep losing slips of paper where I'd write "brilliant" ideas (see Seinfeld episode, lost joke)
B. Can access anywhere and want to keep track and develop ideas, flashes of inspiration
C. Documents how much freaking time teachers work outside of the classroom (especially the obsessive ones)

I'd love for feedback. You can feel free to make use of my brainstorming... but I'd love to hear your ideas or inspirations in response...

Does Anyone have a SHoM Intro powerpoint?

Has anyone created a powerpoint that explains SHoM?

Gives definition of each habit?
Photos that are examples of habit?
Student Reflective Writing for each habit?

I want to train students more effectively.  If someone already has it, that would be awesome!

Are we still putting that kind of stuff on Google Drive? Or on blog?

Friday, September 20, 2013

Close Read Experience

Hi, just wanted to share experiences with CR so far.

After I showed them the powerpoint on CR strategy (I taught the steps then we practiced it as a group), I had students practice on their own looking at an image I provided. I included some artist background with the image to help with the context step. Later I have students do their own research regarding the artist.

They looked at an Elizabeth Catlett image and used a form I made (both uploaded to blog).
I had them try this without any help. I was interested to see how they did on their own.
Students who are used to doing critical thinking in other classes did great (as expected). The IB students handled it like pros. They learned the strategy and were able to apply their usual critical thinking skills to analyze the artwork very well. I found their responses to be very enlightening. As soon as I get a chance, I will upload a few examples.

Then there were students who were interested, learned from me, but did not do this often in other classes or on own. They did "ok". They certainly attempted to think deeply and write about their analysis and understanding. I know with a bit of guidance they will easily reach a higher level of thinking. (I'll also upload a couple examples of these)

Lastly, are the students who struggled with the process. They did not read or really answer the prompts given. They wrote the most basic answer they thought I wanted without really thinking about it. Sometimes they didn't answer at all. Perhaps did not listen or understand when I taught the process by example. These students all told me that they have not had experience in other classes doing this type of work and were frustrated at the level of focus I was asking of them. I can see they will need the most help and guidance learning to think and respond critically. Most of them were freshmen and sophomores. (also provide some ex)

So, I now want to think about the best way to facilitate improvement. Obviously repetition. I'm thinking of arranging heterogenous groups, with a student leader (higher level), a couple of mid-level students, and a couple struggling. If they work together on a few CR, perhaps peer teaching will make a difference.

What do you all think?

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Close Read Slide Show

Valerie Xanos' slideshow on her Close Read strategy that she refers to in the earlier post can be viewed in two formats, as either the movie below or at this link to the slideshow (I am unaware of how to put an actual PowerPoint on Blogger). Some quality was lost converting the PowerPoint to a movie file, but the quality of slideshow link is nice. Thank you so much to Valerie for sharing her strategies.

Also, if you are unable to access the Close Read template on Google docs that Valerie mentions, here is what it looks like.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Close Read

I used the Close Read format extensively last year. I really like it and enjoyed the Context aspect of it. Before that I had used a more traditional and complex critiquing format (similar to Art Talk).

I've decided to combine the two.

What I like:

  • Close Read works great for beginning students. It is simplified and it helps them break down the critiquing structure into bits that are easy to do. Gives them the confidence to find "clues" and make inferences. I tell them it's like being a detective.
  • Context step helps them make sure they do research on artist, background and make connections. Love it!
  • Not too intimidating for 1st year art students in HS. They tend to freak out if we ask for formal analysis as they do not yet have enough experience using elements and principles to create. That comes with time, to have the vocabulary and experience making decisions.

What I don't like:

  • The judgment is way too vague, only referring to whether one likes the piece or not. An artistic judgment should include thoughtful responses and analysis of artist's intentions and decisions. Especially to use CR for student work, they need to think about their strengths and weaknesses regarding those decisions in order to make improvements.
  • I've added prompts to make a more thoughtful judgment.
  • Missing a formal analytical step crucial to more advanced students. This step should address the formal qualities of an artwork, decisions artist made about composition, elements, principles, etc. 
  • I would add a step for advanced students.
So, with a little tweaking, I am continuing with CR.  The cool thing is, it's ALL THE RAGE in CPS. Mentioned in connection to CCSS and CPS preferred way for us to do units. CPS Art programs are strongly encouraging us to use CR. So when I include it in my unit/lesson plans, it hits those points and makes evaluators happy. Will help with my own REACH evaluation. 

I made a powerpoint to teach beginning students about CR. Once they get the hang of it, we use this method all year long. I've shared it with Every Art Every Child on Google docs. I don't know how to put a powerpoint on this blog. But maybe EAEC can do that?  Matt? 

Let me know what you guys do for critiques. I'd love to see other methods. Always learning...


Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Installations by Osorio

As I was watching this Art 21 piece on Pepón Osorio, I was struck by some of his comments regarding installations and how they may be relevant to our Studio Thinking project as we prepare for our own exhibition of the artist teacher.

Pepón says, "I feel like I needed to say something that had to be beyond something on the wall. I need to create a space that is overpowering." Our work within the Studio Thinking project and how we consider promoting the artist teacher as connoisseur is definitely going to have to tell a story beyond what we display on the walls in our exhibition.

He is also very interested in provoking change, which is something that came up in our summer workshops and inspired the idea for an exhibition.  According to Pepón, he wants his installations to cause people to ask "who they are in relatinship to what they have just seen and to start a negotiation with not only the artwork, but with the public at large." 

Take a look at this clip and see if you find any connections with your ideas for an exhibition.

Watch Place on PBS. See more from ART:21.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Cynthia Gehrie's "Teacher as Connoisseur" Presentation

During our summer professional development workshops at the end of June, Dr. Cynthia Gehrie presented this slideshow in which she introduced, discussed, and reflected on the concepts of the teacher as connoisseur/researcher and critique/curation as a method to bring forward student feedback.

Take a look at this movie clip to see and hear her presentation.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

EXHIBITION: June 3rd Online Studio Thinking Network Conversation

We hosted a rich session on Adobe Connect last Monday night featuring an introduction to the new Exhibition content in Studio Thinking 2 by Lois Hetland, followed by presentations from Alisa Rodny and John Crowe.

You can watch a live recording of the conversation at this link.
Thanks to all of our presenters and to those that join the conversation! We hope you will join our next session(s).

Stay tuned for upcoming dates and topics.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

A Way to Reflect

So, I've been thinking about what Matt and Kate were saying about getting students to reflect upon their work in ways other than just judging strengths and weaknesses. They've been journaling (I used, I did, I felt, I think, etc) all year and really liked that. They use Close Read for research and Art History. But when it came to class critiques I focused on strengths, weaknesses, and skills. This time I figure I would branch out a bit. So, I borrowed a bit from the Close Read format and wrote some simple prompts to help them along. Let me know what you think. It may be kind of simple, but its a start.

Rate each project according to how much you liked it.  Explain your reasons for the rating, in detail and be honest. Materials? Ideas? Creativity? Process?

Name of Unit
Research of Heroes

Creating Hero Trading Cards

Writing Hero Essays

Nature Sticker Art

Postcard Art

Postcard Writing

Making TC Envelope

Name of Unit
Community Outreach

Pick favorite Unit, one you feel you expressed yourself the best: _______________________

JUDGE: What did you do well? Your strengths? Was it the materials used? Process? Your ideas? Creativity? Images? Skill?

ANALYZE: Why were you engaged with this unit? What were you expressing?

CONTEXT: How did this artwork or idea relate to you personally? Your experiences? Your views of the world?

OUTREACH: What did you want the world to learn from this artwork?

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Guerrilla Art Blogs from Curie HS

Please visit our blogs. We have been posting artwork like crazy! 3 different projects from this last semester have gone up on the blogs in the past couple of weeks.  (2 project posts are late due to the inevitable struggle with CPS technology).

Our big projects for 2nd semester were:

Postcards - postcards written as though experiencing some strange scenario (such as Zombie Apocalypse or Dystopian Society).  The artwork illustrates the scenario. The message is a creative short essay that is written as though postcard is really coming from the scenario.

Hero Trading Cards - A HUGE project. Students made trading card sets from lino-cut prints about today's social justice heroes. Creative writing essays on the back inform us about the hero. Thanks to Polly Mills for a workshop in creative writing.

Sticker Art - Students created sticker art for a community group in the neighborhood that spreads beauty through art and nature.

Please check us out and feel free to comment. Students LOVE hearing from our viewers.

You can also go through the archives on the right side of blog to look at work done throughout the year.

We have 3 blogs (one for each class)

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Guerrilla Art in Archer Heights

Yesterday, in the group about "Sharing", I talked about how students document how they put their art out into the community. The Guerrilla action of making sure art is available in our everyday walk of life is important to how we run this class. The students make the art, we make color copies, and the copies are distributed out into the community. Some just give it away (as can be seen in pictures of happy people receiving art). But, some students are a bit more creative in leaving art for people to find. One student, Julian, did a performance and documented it with video. I'll let you see what he did for yourself. It is very clever...

Here is the link to the blog page with Julian's work.

Here is the link to our current work. We are putting up a lot of new work this week and next week. So stay tuned and keep checking us out.

Valerie Xanos

Friday, March 29, 2013

Student to Student Critique

Ms. Drake at Lincoln Park High School invited Kate and Matt to her class to document her students engaging in one-on-one conversations around their collages. The students were given an extended period of time to look closely at one another's collages and to practice participating in an artistic conversation. When they finished looking at one student's work, they switched to looking at the other student's collage. They used the finished pieces, journal sketches and notations, and Studio Thinking reflection sheets to help guide their discussions. I enjoyed listening to these two students as they probed each other regarding their artistic choices. I was impressed with their ability to maintain a meaningful conversation around their art-making and how they really got up close and into the work. Click on the link below to check it out yourself.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Online ST Network Conversation, March 18th

On Monday, Matt and Kate hosted our monthly Online ST Network conversation on Adobe Connect. Lois Hetland introduced the second edition of Studio Thinking and facilitated a conversation around:

1) The dispositional elements: An articulation of the skill, alertness and inclination dispositions, and

2) The generative tension in clusters: How do SHoM pull on each other?

Click here to review Lois' entire slide presentation
In addition to the dispositional elements and generative tensions, Lois and Shirley Veenema unveiled the "Four Full-Color Story Examples of How Habits Interact" section of the new book, which highlights the artwork of four high school students.

Following the presentation on ST2, we watched Art 21 Artist Exclusives on Doris Salcedo and Yinka Shonibare MBE. Participants were invited to share their responses to the short video clips and to note possible SHoM generative tensions.

by Doris Salcedo
by Yinka Shonibare

We had strong participant involvement in this session, which led to some thought provoking conversations and text chatting around artistic thinking, metacognition and best practice. You can check out the entire live recording by clicking on this link.

Stay tuned for what will be covered in our next Online ST Network conversation.