January 6, 2012

I am not an art teacher. . .

Sometimes I feel like I'm not an art teacher; I'm a logistics expert.
LOGISTICS: The detailed coordination of a complex operation involving many people, 
facilities, or supplies.

Okay, EXPERT is definitely pushing it. But as art teachers, we have to have a plan for getting 25 first graders to put on smocks, paint, wash their hands, clean up oh yeah and learn about color theory (or whatever the lesson du jour is.) So here are some tips on how I do it. Feel free to share your best tips in the comments!

This is the beginning of an Eric Carle lesson that I will share later. We are painting paper to later make a collage out of. I do messy projects all day long! I have come up with my own systems for most mediums. Here is I do tempera painting with the little guys.

I don't have $ for disposable paint trays, or paper plates.
SO, I cut shiny posters
that were donated and pour paint on them.

Check out my nifty water containers, they don't spill,
hold plenty of water, and cost 27.99 each!
Price includes the baby formula.

This is what I did on my lunch break!
Some classes set up for themselves if I have
no lunch break or plan before their class.
I have most things set up on the back counter before hand though.

And here we are finally painting.
It's their ticket to getting a paper (along with their head down.)
Another smooth transition (this is the easy part though, wait till we have to wash 25 hands!)
Our color mixing/Eric Carle style paper is complete!

Some students still working.
This is a good thing.
When everyone finishes at their own pace I have room at the sink!

Beautiful! Proud student using some techniques he picked up from watching
Eric Carle make papers on the video.

I love this one!
She used BOTH sides of the brush.
I told students "all these years we've used one side of our brush and
missed out on the whole other side." I showed them how to use the handle
side to scratch and make texture in their paint.

Another one FINISHED!
Put it on the drying rack, wash your hands, and go play on the carpet.


Now stand in line nicely at the sink!
I should mention my sink has a line on the floor made of tape to show them
where to line up when I'm not there.
At this point in the class I AM GLUED to the sink area.
I find it can take forever and be a "hot spot" if not monitored.

Early finishers doing a search and find book.

Another group of friends choose a rhyming puzzle.
This is my favorite part of class!
I love to see how nicely they take out the games and
work together! I only allow A FEW students to do clean up.
The rest play on the carpet for the last 10 minutes.
The students who want to help usually start helping with out much prompting.
The majority would rather play on the carpet.
Even my most difficult students are engaged during this
hectic clean up time. Discipline problems are almost eliminated with this new method of cleanup,
Blocks are the favorite activity end of class activity.
Yes! Kids are still washing their hands. I've got 25 very messy kids!
One usable sink.
I have more but they are trough style and create a muddy splashy mess on the floor!
This takes about 15 minutes from start to finish.

First graders are washing the tables.
WISH I had the before shot.
The place was a paint disaster.
First grade helpers cleaned up everything!

This is a picture of what a painting a student
brought to me the next day.
She made a painting "Eric Carle" style
at her home!
I am so happy this lesson
INSPIRED her to keep painting!
I am more happy her parents promote her
artistic endeavors at home!


Christie - Fine Lines said...

You are SO right about the need to be organized. With classes coming back-to-back or close to it, imagine the chaos if you hadn't already prepared everything!! Your kids did a great clean up job. I'm afraid one of my downfalls is often not leaving enough time for them to clean up properly (and then it falls to me!). One thing I can do (living where the weather is generally pleasant) is put out large hand-washing buckets out on my patio. With 4 or 5 water tubs, we don't spend too much time on that part of clean-up. I am impressed that your kids have time to paint AND have activities afterwards. We are usually just barely finished by the time class is ending!!

Phyl said...

Logistic experts, YES! I call myself a choreographer - same idea. Get the paints/Q-tips/etc for the 2nd grade, plus brushes and pencils for the kids who missed their prior art class, and while they are washing tables and hands, take out the beads/scissors/string/needles for the 4th grade wampums, and while they are weaving mix up paint for the sheet rock cartouches that the 6th graders are finishing, and oh, take the 3rd grade paintings from the drying rack to make room for the 2nd grade paintings, and so on and so on..., and of course in the middle of all that, give some yarn to the high school kids who popped into my room for something for a project, get yellow contact paper out for the 2nd grade teacher who sent a kid up who didn't know what she was supposed to get, and put away the bags of water bottles, toilet paper rolls, and cereal boxes I found at my classroom door. Choreography for sure. Or maybe juggling. I don't think any teacher in any other discipline or even an art teacher in a high school has the kind of logistics planning that our job requires. Gotta love it!!

I don't have a carpeted area, but I have old printer paper (the perforated attached sheets with the holes down the sides) and I put a batch of that out with Fiddlesticks markers (the skinny, colorful ones that smell like fruit) for 'free choice' or drawing starters or sometimes anti-coloring book sheets.

Katie Morris said...

I was painting with 1st grade today. The first class has major talking problems (I got a horrible report from a sub when I took a day off in December) and was so persistent with it that I finally said we weren't going to start painting the 2nd paper of the day. They had to clean up early and sit and think. :(

The next class was doing a good job but we were really pushing it to get a lot done when, what do we hear? The fire alarm! I just looooove having to get outside for a fire drill with 20 1st graders with paint all over their hands! I half expected to find smeared paint on the hallway walls when we came back in. At least we had time to clean up but we'll have to add an extra class to finish.

I've been using big plastic coffee cans for water this year and it is so much easier than the little cups I used in the past. I ordered some paint trays with probably 1/2 cup sized wells and try to strategically squirt the paint out so I can flip one tray over the other and the leftover paint stays moist enough for the next class.

My clean up process for painting is really similar to yours. Only my students argue over clean up- Mrs.Morris, ______ is cleaning my spot!

Phyl said...

As if I haven't already said enough - I had to comment on the other comments! Christie, I love you, but your California patio is a far cry from my "it's 12 degrees outside" window.

But Katie, a fire drill?!! If the fire alarm goes off in my building this time of year, grab your car keys because it must be a real fire! Nobody in his right mind would hold a fire drill and send the kids outside in this kind of cold without jackets or boots on! So our fire drills are early in the fall, and late in the spring. None for a while now!!

Paintedpaper said...

I do the clean up the same way. I line them up to but count to 3 making sure they are rubbing their hands under the water. I hand them a paper towel and move onto the next kid. I have my clean down to about 5 minutes. Oh by the way I look like I am bring in an airplane with the paper towels in my hands. Maybe my next job could be working for TSA.

HA HA Phyl, We did have a fire alarm but they tend to do it in between classes and when the weather is over 40!

Katie Morris said...

We've had record high temps in Kansas this week. 70 on Thursday and in the 60s yesterday! It's probably why they did it then because we're supposed to have one a month.

Anonymous said...

Great post, I think very few "Get" what we do. Materials management experts should be added to my resume. I have 7, 30 min. classes before lunch. then 3 after. I grab each classes portfolio and set it on a cart, then try and stack all the materials close by. My kryptonite is still semi organized clean up and the student who was absent. I try and have prior class materials close at hand but then it feels like prepping for 14 classes! I thought about getting those tub decals for each stool to prevent student's bottoms from slipping off AND to assign a number or design to each seat so the clean up crew could vary week to week.

Phyl said...

I'm LOVING Jody's idea about using tub decals!!! I have metal stools, and before I became a teacher I never would have believed how often kids would slip OFF the stools and land on the floor, whacking their head on the edge of the table on the way down. And not just the kindergartners! Friday it was a lovely 3rd grade girl who had broken her glasses, so I guess her equilibrium was off. But usually, I swear someone is greasing their tushies... What other explanation can there possibly be?

(By the way I'm back here writing more nonsense because I'm SUPPOSED to be doing some boring proofreading for a non-school project and needed a break. S0 blog-commenting is work avoidance.)

Unknown said...

Christie: A patio sounds so lovely!!! I hope Stella goes to school where there is a patio for art! I used to have one at a Montessori school I taught at. We'd bring tables out hang clotheslines with the artists we were studying hanging from the trees it was amazing!
I really kick myself too when I mess up the timing for clean up. Luckily I have all the classes at least one full hour a week. Two have an extra half hour of art with me. It really depends on which class though for how I do clean up and how long it takes. Some classes can all do their part and it works out wonderfully, while others need explicit instructions and routines rehearsed and explained. Fortunately as art teachers we've had these kids for years (most at least) so we know the exact personalities in the class. There is still one girl in fifth grade that I have to go over to her before the end of class and say "we're going to be cleaning up in a minute promise me you are not going to put your hands in the paint." It is irresistable to her without the reminder that I'm watching. Then there are just a few who have extreme anxiety when class is over, I equate it to having to leave Disney World. I have to make a plan with them before I give clean up directions. If they aren't finished I have to promise them we will do it next class or arrange another time (unless I want to see a break down extreme tantrum!) Oh and the list goes on. But I love them all including all their quirks! If you haven't known the kids a few years there's certainly a lot to learn, including all the names! I don't envy first year art teachers! I remember thinking how does everyone know 500 names? It's because you have a lot of them from Kindergarten then their brothers and sisters and aunties/tete after a bunch of years you know the whole family dynamic!

Phyl, I love all the materials you use for your projects and know you must have a system pretty well established to make it work so well. The kids popping in the room! Oh yes, gotta love it! I can't say no because they are my students too and I appreciate that the teachers wants to do art with them but really sometimes it's just too much. I am very honest and tell them to come back later a lot of times. I love all the recyclables that get left at more door too! I have a secret dream of creating a permanent recyclables art closet labeled and full of wonderful materials all teachers can contribute to and take! It's always hard to gather 30 of anything yourself. Wouldn't that be amazing!
Many of my classes free draw (I got a ton of drawing books on ebay, cases full!) or write in their journal. I choose to show what works with my most needy class though. This is a bilingual first grade with special needs and a high number of students in the class. They are sweethearts but need total structure. We had to model how to play the games, how to take them out, how to share, how to put them away. Finally they are doing it independently but it took until now! I love when I hear them using the words we talked about "can I please play with you?" instead of just snatching pieces from the other students. Their classroom teacher works a lot on this I'm sure because believe me it doesn't happen in just one hour a week. I give the classroom teachers LOTS of credit!

Unknown said...

Katie: If you haven't tried blocks, it saved my life this year with kinders and first. I never did it before but after our first observational drawing project where we built a structure with blocks and drew it they were hooked. They are very engaged so I don't have to have 30 kids cleaning or fighting over cleaning!
That is my worst nightmare, A FIRE DRILL WHEN WE ARE SUPER MESSY! It's happened before but everytime we get to the part of class where we are really into it and messy, I pray there is no fire drill!
Jody: Oh I know what you mean about absent students. Unless they were really sick, we usually know who they are, I don't bend over backwards to have them do the same thing as the other kids. Especially if they are a person who was on vacation, I tell them to free draw while the other kids finish their pottery or other fun project. I refuse to bend over backwards for stuff like that. Is that terrible? I did do the number thing which worked great! I wrote it with sharpie on the edge of the tables (not on the top) then I had the kids tell me what number they were after I told them where to sit. I just wrote the number in my book and had an instant seating chart. I'm embarrassed that I changed the arrangement of my tables and haven't written down their seats. Funny thing is they all gravitate to the same ones! I only had to reassign a few kids and I remember who they are. So what's the need? I guess for a sub?
Painted Paper: 5 MINUTES! Come help me please! I start thinking about cleanup about 45 minutes into class. We have an hour class. . . Some kids work up to the last minute others help with getting things looking "better then when they came in." With 10 minutes left in class I always feel like it's really crunch time to wash up all the paint splatters put things away etc. The last 5 minutes ideally, I try to have calm so we can talk about what we made, learned or even look at somebodies work who did something wonderful! I love having a whole hour!

Unknown said...

This is the wordiest thing I've ever written!

Phyl said...

This post has me coming back -

best fire drill story - I was teaching 7th graders and our annual thing was making plaster bandage masks - direct casts of their faces (best project ever. Imagine for 3 consecutive classes having 1/3 of your students UNABLE TO SPEAK for an entire class because they are lying on a table with their faces covered in plaster. Yee ha!! But we did have a fire drill once, and we stood the kids up, and guided them to the door while they kept a hand on their face to keep the mask from sliding off,and brought them outside with plaster on their faces. Too funny. I'm lucky I wasn't fired I guess. That was when I taught in a different building, where my room was on the 1st floor close to the door. It wouldn't work now - we have a really long walk for our fire drills - very inconvenient. My 6th graders make plaster casts of their fingers for little puppets, and I had to tell them if there was a fire drill they HAD to slide off the cast, dry or not. I won't let them go outside with their fingers plastered.

Done blathering; hopefully pizza is ready to pick up.

Unknown said...

that is an awesome picture! I'm sure you are remembered for it! Wish I could share with you I made plenty:)

Katie Morris said...

I found a big box of blocks that was left behind in my classroom and while the students enjoy them, it doesn't always go as smoothly as I picture. I hadn't thought to model how to play with them before. That's something I need to do! That would hopefully eliminate the tattling that so and so won't share or knocked over someone else's blocks.

Anonymous said...

I just have to leave a comment about being organized. I am a silent blogger. What I mean by that is that I follow a ton of art blogs, but, I have never commented or participated in one at all. I just don't have the time or energy. I am a K-5 art teacher in Texas although I'm not a native Texan (I'm from Pennsylvania) Well, everything in Texas is bigger. In my district art, music and PE are considered 'Large Group' classes which means I teach double or sometimes 2 and a half classes at a time. The school I work at has over 1,000 students. A few years ago there were almost 1,600. So when I hear about coordinating for 20 or 25 students I'm actually envious. I manage 40 to 48 Kinders at a time. And we paint, do basic printmaking, texture collages, all the typical things in a good kinder curriculum. I do have a paraprofessional assigned to assist me (only during kinder however it's not uncommon to have her pulled to assist in testing or other duties so I am frequently by myself.) I have a fifth grade class with 54 students on the roster.
Procedure is king in my room. No one goes to the sinks even though I have 3. I have a system of rags that get distributed and collected. Everyone wipes their hands and tables with the rags. In the younger grades, they go by seat number and take turns.
Water buckets, brushes, paint all get paseed out and collected by seat number and they are color coordinated to tables. The drying rack gets wheeled to the tables in the younger grades so the students don't get up. It may sound crazy, but I can do shaving cream marbeling and other extra messy types of processes with my classes by having them work on a 'table' project and then calling them to the messy one at a separate counter where I supervise. I sometimes have to laugh that I am teaching my kids that artists don't wash their hands, or get out of their seats but it is the only way to function with the numbers I deal with.

Unknown said...

Anonymous, I am so so glad you commented! I know you must be exhausted. I think it's important that art educators know the "state of the union" when it comes to art teachers. This is a public school I assume? I am appalled that regular classroom teachers content areas are respected while the arts are yet again "thrown under the school bus." We should all be aware that this is going on so we can watch for signs and rise against it before this becomes "normal" and accepted practice. We are continually told we are preparing our students for jobs that don't yet exist yet we are cutting the class that teaches how to think "new" and how to create things that do not yet exist.

I have only taught 50 bilingual 4 th and5th graders for 1/2 a yer until it was broken up into smaller classes and 45 first grade bilingual ( with too many severely special education students to count). Notice a trend here? I am not at liberty to spell it out here but you get the drift. Both these situations were rectified eventually but definitely I see socio economic factors at play. I wonder if his is happening in all of Texas?

You are giving the students all you have and I hope we can all be your cheerleaders and five give you strength and a few ideas. I'm sure you could give us many more. I am totally impressed with what you do everyday and I hope that the children in Texas as well as California from what I'm hearing, are afforded the equal opportunity to art education with equitable class size. This to me is another social injustice that our kids and teachers bear the weight of in the present but eventually what society will see the backlash of. I realize this may sound dramatic and have many rolling their eyes, but before you do, please think of YOUR child. Would this be good enough for your child? If its not we need to change it.

Unknown said...

Holy Mother of the Mona Lisa! How did I miss out on this conversation? I am stunned by the post from Anonymous in Texas. I simply cannot believe that an educated society, filled with administrators who I assume have advanced degrees, would inflict that kind of a classload on an art teacher or any other subject for that matter. Anonymous, you are a saint in my book. Either that or you're nuts to take on that load. Do all of the art teachers in your district carry class sizes that big?
Erica, you started a great topic of conversation. I am fortunate to have a beautiful new room to work in and I am trying to keep it looking nice so I do a lot of the cleanup myself. My sink for the kids is situated in a poor location (congested area), so I send them across the hall and threaten their lives if they scream, throw soap or water, etc. Because the bathrooms are DIRECTLY across from my door, I can monitor things pretty well. I am ashamed to say I use a lot of styrofoam plates for painting, but am going to switch to magazine and catalog pages because I just recently saw that on the blogs. I use 5 gallon buckets of water to refill water dishes quickly (another one next to it called the dump bucket)so there is no line at the sink. I buy cheap baby wipes at Costco or Big Lots when I can afford them for hand cleaning when using chalk or oil pastels and they are also good for cleaning tables. If I know I'm going to have a really messy project, I put down flannel backed vinyl tables clothes for easy cleanup between classes. I always buy the tablecloths after holidays when they are 75% off and keep a bunch in my closet. At one school I have 5min. between classes and the other I don't so it's always necessary to start cleanup at least 5-7 minutes early. With 45 minute classes, that really bites! Sorry I went off on a toot, but I felt the need to add to the conversation. And Texas, I don't know how you do it, but you are a credit to art teachers everywhere!

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