Monday, March 16, 2015

Working with an Artist-in-Residence

When my principal first approached me about having an artist-in-residence work with me and my students, I was a little skeptical. I wasn't sure if I would like turning over my classroom to another person.

But I have really enjoyed having her work with me. She's been a great resource for my students and for me too! I went to her studio for several hours one Friday afternoon to help her roll out and cut all of the clay tiles we needed for my students. I felt like an apprentice learning from a master artist! 

My kids have really loved having her teach them. They're learning a lot from her about sculpture, clay, firing ceramics, and glazing. Here are a couple of pics of their pieces in process.
I assigned my students to find an animal the first week we were back in January. It could be a real animal, a mythical animal, or a new animal from their imagination (ps, this is a great resource of you want to teach your kids about silly made up animals). They had to research or make up facts about their animal, sketch it, draw it, and color it. Then, when the artist came to work with them, they had to sculpt it. It was a really cool project and I will definitely be doing something similar again. 

Have you worked with an artist-in-residence before? What did you like or dislike about the experience? Does anyone have an artist in residence come on a regular basis? 


Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Impromptu art critique

Impromptu Art Critique - Blog post by Kelsey Fortune: Art Teacher |
I have an artist-in-residence currently working with my fourth graders to make clay sculptures (more on that later). While she's here, my third grade class has to clean up early to get out of her way since my third grade class is over at 10:50 and my fourth grade class starts at 10:50 (which is miserable, by the way). 

So while the artist is setting up, I've had to find something to do with twenty something third graders in the hallway. Luckily, I have a lot of third grade artwork hanging up right now from the kids whose artwork didn't make it in the Have a HeART for Art contest that is held in our county.
Impromptu Art Critique - Blog post by Kelsey Fortune: Art Teacher |
Impromptu Art Critique - Blog post by Kelsey Fortune: Art Teacher |
Impromptu Art Critique - Blog post by Kelsey Fortune: Art Teacher |
So I decided at the last minute while walking my third graders down the hallway to have an impromptu art critique.

I started off my asking students to raise their hands and then tell the rest of the class which of the heart artworks was their favorite and, more importantly, why it was their favorite.

Then, I asked questions like "which artist has the best use of shape in their artwork?" or "which artwork shows the best use of color?" And I would have students walk to their answer and point to it without touching. It was really cool to see differing opinions and preferences from all the different students. Overall, one of my favorite things I've ever made up on the spot.

Do you have hallway art critiques? What else do you do when you have a few minutes to burn at the end of a class?


Thursday, March 5, 2015


Oh examples. Kids love them, I hate them. It seems like every time I make an example, I end up with a bunch of copycats and a bunch more meltdowns because their artwork doesn't look just like mine.

It's a struggle for me. On the one hand, I like the kids to have a visual to refer back to so I'm not bombarded with a million questions about what I've already explained. On the other hand, I'm not the kind of art teacher who likes a bunch of carbon copy artworks and the "mine's not perfect" fits are the bane of my existence.

So I decide based on the project. If my fourth graders are making collages about different kind of weather, they don't really need an example for that. But if my kindergarteners are drawing pigs for the first time, they need some sort of visual to rely on beyond just my verbal directions. (ps, here are my kindergartener pig drawings. I think they are freaking adorable.)

My first graders have been learning about Ben Franklin in their classroom. So I've taken advantage of that to teach about another famous inventor, Leonardo da Vinci. We've talked about both inventors and then about the process of inventing; first, you have to have a problem, next, you decide how to solve it, last, you draw the invention. I wanted my kids to include several things in their drawings that are better explained by visuals, rather than me just telling them, like notes and descriptions, the idea of motion, backgrounds, etc. So I made an example.

But instead of drawing a really nice drawing of an invention, I drew something that was just a little bit above most of their skill levels. That way, they still have something to strive for but it's not a constant comparison.

This project also works well for an example because each kid had to come up with his or her problem before I showed my example. And I was very clear from the beginning that no one could do the same invention as I did.

Every year, they blow me away with this project. I've never had kid not like this project. They all have problems they want to solve. This project really brings out their creativity. I'm constantly amazed by their crazy, creative inventions. When we're done with this project, I'm definitely going to post the finished products.

What about you? Do you make examples for your students? Or does it depend on the grade level and project? Do you have something that works better than an example of the finished product?