2015-16: A Year of Change (Part 4)

Using classroom displays to enhance instruction is essential for student success!

In my last post, I reviewed my district’s change regarding character education and how my Putting the ‘A’ in Art system ties that in with my goals for my young artists.

My Room

I am blessed to now have my own art room (after a couple years of cart usage). Situated in the basement, I’m thankfully away from the hubbub that can add stress to any teachers day. But, the three Kindergarten classrooms that surround me always seem to keep things interesting. I was able to purchase two new cabinets and another full-sized table to match my others. Now, I have a full set!

I do not like going overboard decorating my room. I have tried to open up some spaces for hanging student artwork in my room, but 2015 Art Showcase garnered the attention of my administration and they have requested I keep up, year-round, student artwork so the school always looks like it did during the Art Showcase. I won’t’ be doing that, of course, because:

  • You ruin the unique, special quality of an art show when the school always looks the same
  • I can’t maintain that amount of artwork in the hallways; switching out 480 pieces of artwork  always hung up—YIKES!
  • I only see my students every 6-8 days and it takes all year to create the volume for a successful show

My principal understands that and I will be creating spaces for showcasing student work but on a smaller, more manageable scale. I also want to get students to help me with hanging the work. I haven’t quite figured out how to accomplish that, but I’ll do some research and do a post on it! If you have ideas on how to make that happen, please let me know!

For Classroom Management

“Principle 1” & “Principle 2”

These are overarching principles that I use so students know the parameters for classroom behavior. I like these because they are broad, foster discussion, and are easily to refer back to when students act out:

Josie, you are preventing me from teaching by talking. Please remember Principle 1 and make a change.

What I like about Principle 1 is that it links teacher and student together in a symbiotic relationship. The language encourages behavior that enhances the Art Studio experience for everyone in it. Principle 2 reinforces this with the foundational concept of respect for self, others, and school. Respect, it’s a simple message, but an important reminder for students.

Principle 1: Do things that will not prevent me from teaching OR prevent you or others from learning.

Principle 2: Respect yourself, others and your school.

“Did You Know?”

Distraction & Talking Cost Us Days: Less days means less learning and less art!I created this poster as a way to visually communicate to my students what having a 6-day schedule looks like: 50 days vs. 8 days. My charter school has a 200-day charter, thus the 50-day quarter. This poster did the trick!

When I initially introduced this display, I got stunned silence. You can chalk this up to the difference between hearing about a statistic and seeing it visually presented. This also served as a great conversation-starter!

Just as a reminder, I will continue to go over this and a few other displays during the first five minutes of class until the beginning of December.

“Raise Your Hand for Everything”

Raise Your Hand for EverythingCalling out during class is nothing new for students. It’s an aspect of classroom management that you can’t avoid when dealing with groups of any size; more so when dealing with kids! That said, I it is a problem that I planned on tackling aggressively this year.

I am going to use this display to accomplish my goal. During our classroom discussion about this topic, the kids got the picture really well. I told them I loved their enthusiasm during my class, but it is important to know the goals for the day, to stay focused, and be engaged in their artwork. Respecting boundaries like this one during class time helps that happen.

For Art Making

“Putting the ‘A’ in Art”

These are the ‘goals’ or guiding principles that I started last year. I was looking for something I could integrate on some level with the character education component that our school used. Well, this year they changed what we were using to The 7 Habits of Happy Kids. I specifically focused on two or three (depending on the grade level) since it was the first year I introduce these principles to my students and I didn’t want to overload them. I’ll be developing this ‘system’ more this year as I integrate all of the components into my lessons more overtly with the hope of making their practice the cornerstone of my art program. I think this quote is a helpful step towards understanding the direction I am moving:

The real product of art education is not the works of art, but the child. We have to keep that firmly in mind–though it goes against several grains. If you are an artist and you want to make good art, I urge you to go into your studio and make good art. What you need to do as a teacher of art is create kids who make good art, create kids who think well as artists, who have an artistic mind. —Lois Hetland

Lois Hetland popularized the studio habits of mind in her research.

My "Putting the 'A' in Art" display helps students understand ways to think about their work and reflect upon their practice.

“Set Up for Success!”

In an effort to help my students become more independent at a younger age, I tried to use a couple of displays for common activities I always want them doing. One of them is arranging their supplies in a way that keeps their space orderly. We talk about this setup and why it is a good thing. Most students grow the appreciate having their tools readily accessible once we get to working regularly. My students, probably like yours too, are very possessive of their supplies. Keeping them in a set place helps them focus on their artwork instead of fumbling around on the ground trying to find supplies that have dropped. 

Set Up for Success in the Art Studio when you have these materials.

“What’s in a Name?”

Where to put your name and class section is easy for students to remember with a simple visual reminder.Classroom teachers have different pieces of information they want students to put at the top of their papers for their classes. I have become disenchanted trying to sift through it all so I made up my own for my class. To help facilitate my kids knowing what to write and where, I created my “What’s in a Name?” poster. I use this for every paper, whether it is for artwork or a written assessment.

For my Kinders, I am still going to create stickers for each student because it can take us almost the entire period to legibly put Name/Section on the back once paper is handed out. If you do not teach Kindergarten, many times students do not know how to write their names legibly or they write them backwards. Either way, it becomes time consuming. I know, I know … “They need that practice, Jeff!” I agree, but when you only see students eight days in a quarter using a whole class for practicing name-writing is a lot. Especially since I will lose other days to behavior issues or assemblies.

What Are Your Favorites?

Do you have favorite displays to help your students succeed in your class? Most of mine are new this year. I’m sure I’ll tweak them along the way or for next year as I see through experience what works best. Already I can see the benefits which is a good thing!

Up Next

In my final post in this series, you can expect to read up on:

  • A few curricular updates

So, stay tuned and please contribute to the conversation.


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