You are currently browsing the monthly archive for April 2012.

Yesterday I met with the Assistant to the Superintendent of my district and together we applied for the Target Arts Grant. I first found about this from AE 2.0. The amount of the grant is $2000.00 dollars. If we do get the grant my plan is to continue the project we started with the STEAM grant. The original project was a collaborative effort between ceramic artists Jim and Linda Winegar, and the ART ONE students of Burgettstown, The plan is to use the grant money to have the Winegars’ return to do a 2 Day residency at Burgettstown High School with the focus on various ceramic techniques. The Art One students will be introduced to the basics of wheel throwing, hand building and press mold techniques. The students will be able to benefit from the perspectives of these artists and it will be helpful in developing their own artistic voice. Ceramics students at Burgettstown will be able to benefit from this residency by improving their centering, throwing, trimming, hand building, and glazing techniques. I also plan to take what I have learned this year about INQUIRY in AE 2.0 and apply it to this ceramic project. The possibilities of this coming to fruition are exciting. We will know if we were accepted this coming August, wish us luck!

Artist Website

Check out the 3 videos Marlynn and I filmed at their pottery

Last week at our CIG meeting we shared where we are with the development of our projects. It was really helpful to hear how things have progressed for each member and to consider how we will present on May 18th. It seems that we all had a vision at the beginning of our project, but there have been some necessary course corrections along the way. The April meeting was definitely one of the most productive, yet.

Our April 16th CIG meeting at the IU was much more relaxed and everyone feels very comfortable about our meetings, our inquiry question and what is going on in our classrooms regarding motivation and effort by our students. We had a skype meeting earlier in the second semester and a few members of the group met at the IU on March 2 (I was attending the NAEA  in New York that weekend- what a great conference!) , so now it is time for everything to come together! We all updated our wikispace, which became the script for our movie presenting our findings in working on getting students motivated to practice music and art outside of the classroom. We also discussed other options for our presentation time (handouts/ question and answer/ visuals, etc)

Our January  13th CIG meeting at the IU was in my opinion, a little stressful. We had designed our survey in November and I distributed it to all my classes in early December. I shared the results with the group at the December meeting. At that January meeting, I felt that we were still unsure of what we were trying to do with our classes regarding motivation and effort in regarding student’s practicing outside of the classroom to improve their music and art. It is just frustrating sometimes to get the students to get the required work done for class, especially sketchbooks in Drawing class and definitiely grades are not a motivating factor! Students that have incredible drawing skills will fail drawing 1 because they refuse to do a sketchbook which is part of the course requirement. We spent the meeting talking about the survey, putting it into our wikipages and discussing our final project.


How can inquiry strategies be incorporated into music and arts classes to improve motivation and effort toward students’ practice habits?

I realized that trying to work with all of  my art classes regarding our group’s inquiry question was overwhelming, so I began to narrow it down to which group(s) I thought would best benefit by increasing their motivation and drive to create exceptional works of art both inside and outside the classroom. My Independent Art class, which consists of nine young ladies, 6 seniors and 3 juniors, are higher end art students, but have been procrastinating about production and seem to be “looking for their style”. Their lack of motivation was disheartening, as these girls opted to be in a year  long, high level skill and motivation art course. I began by scheduling an “interview” with each of the girls to have them talk about what they had been doing with their concentration and what they thought they could visualize by stepping outside of their comfort zone and pushing their art with different materials and ideas. I have worked with these girls in other art classes over the years and knew that they were creative and could break “out of the box” in trying new and exciting ideas. Individual interviews grew into small group interactive discussions with a few directed questions or comments and then into question and answer sessions with little or no direction from me. The classes went from “I don’t know what to do” or “what you think that I should work on next”to“what do you think of this idea?” As new ideas emerged from students who originally kept falling back on traditional drawing and painting skills, my comments to them were “where were all these ideas and concepts hiding?” I started pushing more “research” into new techniques- mixed media using found objects, altering books not as a journal, but as a sculptural forms, trying materials that were not normally considered art materials and encouraged the girls to find other artists that were also experimenting or working with similar concepts so they would realize that they were not alone. The group went from “what should I do now?” to “look what I was working on last night” or “I found this out in the parking lot of the mall and I am going to incorporate it into this piece of art”. Direction and inquiry was no longer teacher based, but student driven and the level of motivation was off the scale! I forced the students to talk about what they were doing and how “boring” their ideas were to really exciting works of art! They stated to think about their process and began to listen to one another regarding the production of their art. The more personal the artwork became, the more motivation and effort were visible. The girls were asking one another to be critical in viewing their progress and listened carefully to suggestions and questioned reasons for the comments. They became more critical in their own thought and creative process and more motivated, spending study halls, lunch and after school time in the art room. Now I am seeing the artwork that they are working on at home! The more they explore, the more they have been motivated to create!

Right now thinking and planning for the future seems almost impossible.

During the last 9 weeks I almost always am experimenting and trying new lessons to add to my repertoire for the upcoming school year, but because of the economic environment in education it is very difficult to imagine what next year will look like for me and the other arts educators in Pennsylvania.

I want to teach Music to kids.  Our students deserve a comprehensive education.  But in the face of waning budgets and financial constraints, I am aware that I may need to provide other options.

I am usually full of ideas, conversation and other options, but I have allowed politics and the anxiety of what is ahead consume my fervor.

So, here I am deciding on and accepting ideas.  Aware and concerned, but making a decision to be revitalized in this moment.  I guess I am wondering – what are my other options?  Do those options involved taking a test?  Taking some classes?  Stepping outside of my comfort zone?  Maybe all of these?  But I am going to look for them because this morning I felt empowered when I logged in and YAHOO reminded me that I do have them 🙂

Today we finalized the set up for our CIG spotlight through a lot of collaboration. We discussed logistics and Angie did some sketches of our set up and individual tables. We decided to make our area full of interaction using techniques from our own classrooms inquiry projects. Our mascot has become the Cat in the Hat Balancing with an umbrella, which  Dave is creating. The cat in the hat  reflects our inquiry question in which we are finding the balance between student based inquiry and direct instruction. I am bringing in clips for hanging out props from the ceiling, and Amanda has recorded our voices and taken our pictures so that  she can make an animation intro video. As a group we are bringing in artifacts as well as materials for our interactive collaborative projects. We feel prepared and are planning a short Skype meeting to make sure all our ducks are in a row. All and all a very productive day! 


Inquiring Hearts left a work day early to view a presentation held by Invisible Children roadies at the Uniontown High School.  Becky has an after school program where a group of students work to help raise money for the cause and gain more knowledge about the war in Africa.  I’m getting deeply involved this year and helping to plan a Music and Arts Festival this June with Becky and our friend and Invisible Children advocate, Kate Webster.  I’m also getting my school involved.  Kate presented a documentary about Invisible Children and we are making artwork to sell at the event.

The high school presentation was so moving.  A team of five roadies, three Americans, a New Zealander, and a woman from Uganda who escaped the LRA, came to speak to the high school.  They introduced the school to the Invisible Children cause and the video that went viral the next week.  The students seemed very receptive and we received a lot more interest for the after school program.

Today we are making sure we are all caught up on blog posts.  I personally will need to do one more post – Group Inquiry 3.  we are the balancing act,  we have different ways of doing things.  Within that we all encompass an umbrella, under that umbrella are our personal things that we juggle.  I used inquiry in …. way and this is what my students did.

We are working on our Material List for our set up of our Spotlight on Day 4.

We are each bringing in objects to show/represent inquiry done with our students.  My possible objects are as follows:

1. Story boards that the students used to plan their portion of the class animation.

2. Example on computer of student animation example using an inquiry approach.

3. Ipad with pictures of student working. On this ipad, I may also need to show the animation so that I can use my computer for the interactive piece.

4. For audience interaction- Clay and possibly a station set up for people to do stop motion.  I would need my lap top, a video camera, all cords and the clay.  I would need to make a sign explaining how to do it.  ” please contribute to this collaborative inquiry animated project.”  Have student create a video on ipod explaining how to do it.  Need lots of tripods!  Need a large piece of paper to put under clay so that we don’t get the table dirty.  Bring blank cd’s to burn a finished collaborative inquiry piece.

5.  Our personal Umbrella- words which encompass what we are as a teacher- words such as role model, therapist, etc..  Rain drop photos

Peter Max  was inspired by a variety of people in many cultures.   The fifth graders read the Scholastic Arts Magazine celebrating his life and work.  There were truly excited to see what he did and how colorful his work was.The assignment for the next class was to use the style of Peter Max  to create their own piece of work.  Usually I would have lots of questions like “Can I do…….?.”.   My answer was , it is your piece off work, you are in charge.  This year I have tried to generate s’more lessons that increase the student’s own production of new ideas.  This has always been the area where my students are the weakest.   As I walked around the room, the children embraced the creative side of Peter Max.  Stay tuned to see the final outcomes of this lesson.

April 2012
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