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As stated in the meeting, here is a post in which we as a group can collaborate on our ideas for the final group day on May 18th.  We discussed out ideas of “Balancing Act” as the central theme for our demonstration, and wanted an open forum to be able to discuss our individual ideas for the personal section of the sandbox.  Please leave your comments on what your idea is for the best Utilization of the central focul point.

1.  What item will You use to describe you as a person

2.  what things should be placed in the “YOUR” section.

3.  how many items do we present in each of our individual spots

4. any other ideas which may have sprouted since our discussion.
Please remember to post to this so we can have our ideas put together for the next meeting.  We will then be able to know a little more about where and how we can set up the display which will help us figure out exactly what we need to do and what we need to rethink.   Great meeting today and good to see everyone.

The balancing act will be meeting at Brownsville Area High Schools art room tomorrow March 15th at 4:30. If there is anyone interested in coming to the meeting please feel free to come and show your support. This was the only way I knew I could get ahold of those that are not directly invested in our meetings. So if you would like to see what is going on, please do not hesitate to attend.

Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep ~ Scott Adams

Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up ~ Pablo Picasso

Sometimes you need to spit into the wind and see what comes back to smack ya ~ ME

I have been able to continue working with inquiry and with different things in my school to promote arts to the district and other teachers. The one lesson that I have discussed in small ways before on this blog is the ceiling tiles done by students for different teachers. They were able to personalize paintings for every teacher eithe by their “teachers” personal likes, or by the subject they are teaching.

Well, I knew how it was going from my end of things until i was pleasently surprised today by another teacher. I went into her room knowing that students painted many tiles for her. When I entered the room there were many more done. I asked who had completed more tiles and she stated a student that I had in class the year before. This student didnt have the chance to have my class again, so decided to do art on her own to beautify another room. It was amazing to see her work, which she had to take home to complete since she does not have art class. I just didnt know what to say. I didnt know how to even react other than proud that the arts are still living in the students even during the times where schools are wanting to dismiss the arts as a budget problem.






The life skills class has even been able to expand their classroom by art tiles. 



As stated before, inquiry keeps presenting itself in my classroom. One project opens up another set of questions dealing with so many different things. It is truly amazing to see and watch this process taking place in my student body.

As I was mentioning before, some students did not want to participate in stained glass because it was not something that was interesting to them. This usually is not an issue since art III students usually work on things that they find to be most appealing to them anyway. But the money issue has made it more interesting to other students. The could not believe that you can make money with art. This has opened many discussions of “what do you think art is”, and has created many intetesting ideas from my students as to how to get their artwork into the public eye.

Several students are still working on making ceiling tiles for other teachers in the district. They are painting things based on the subjet of the teacher, and have now branched out to personalize each teachers room with things that the teacher themselves want to have on their tiles. For example: some might be Penn State alumni and wish to have things dealing with that in their rooms. This type of work has made soem very interesting things happn in Brownsville. Since the students are asking for things from teachers, teachers themselves have become more interested in what is going on in the art room. They have brough me materials from their homes and have talked to people in the community. One moment that stuck out in my head was I was approached from a lady i have never met before. She came into my class during a lesson and asked to speak with me. When our conversation started she said she was a local artist and wished to help my class. She then proceeded to be followed by a couple students carrying materials she no longer used in her studios. She said she wanted to keep the arts alive in our district and wanted to help in any way she could. She came back one additional time bringing more supplies she had laying around. It was a small step in gaining materials for the school, but would have never transpired without the talking of people in our community about what was happening in our class.

The students working on stained glass are still pluggin away at making picture frames and different things which they feel can sell. They have now decided to try to sell their things at a local flee market on one of their aunts tables. They have brainstormed about what projects to make to sell, and also have tried to make a business type card for future orders. As the teacher, I am facilitating things to help the students make the best decisions yet am letting them just run with their ideas. I have had to comment on things such has “dont get too big that you can not finish what you start”. This is one concepe I am trying to instill in them since they see it as a money making process, yet also need to be able to meet the orders without failure.

I started this trying to show students that there are ways that art is still important, and that they can use skills that others may not have or just dont want to use to make themselves money for their efforts. It has also been able to turn into a business type class on how to start their own company, how to dictate authority in that business. The students have learned how to manage time, supplies, workload and money all in one lesson. The talk has even got the attention of our principal and superintendant. They say they would like to come to the art room to see the projects and also order things from the class.

Several of the students that did not want to complete stained glass decided that were able to assist anyway. They wanted to do some of the labor in the stained glass creation. As a teacher this involvement is wonderful. The funny thing is that it can also cause conflicts. Those students that are doing simple things such as burnishing the copper foil around the glass also look for a profit share. This made the students have to organize leadership qualities and administrative aspects. They had to decide what was fair for what job. All this was done with little assistance from me as the teacher.  I hope this continues to grow in my class from year to year.

When learning necessary art and music skills, where can the balance between inquiry-based and teacher-directed instruction be found? (or: which instructional strategies work best)

I have found that my inquiry has changed as time changes and needs change in my class. I wanted to do stained glass with students but didn’t have the supplies at first. Becuse of this, I had to become creative in getting materials. I created a “business” for my class. We decided to sell our art to buy supplies for our class, which motivated several students that were not motivated for school in general. We decided that the students would supply thegalas for a project and I would supply everything else. We would then talk in a collaborative way on how we would maout our projects and to whom we would sell our work.

To give a better understanding I will attempt to explmanga few of the many changes that took place from inquiry and collaboration in my room.

One student hated being in school but loved art. He would not do assignments on painting because he didn’t feel he was good enough. He actually approached me about stained glass which opened up this entire thought. He had to buy glass since i didn’t have those supplies. I didn’t fee it was right to have him pay for having class so we decided to sell what he made to Supplement getting more glass for more projects.

We decided to do Christmas ornaments and sell them to the school. This raised several questions, such as what will they look like, what will we sell them for and who will we be marketing our product to. We also had to decide how we were going to inform the school that these items will be for sale. I let the student decide how he was going to get the “word out” to the school, and he came up with at first just word of mouth. Then as that progressed, he started to realize that we had a morning announcement session in our school and he could place our items on that which is shown across the televisions in every room of the school. The ornaments were for sale for 15 dollars each, which he thought was a high price and no one would buy. We ended up selling 27 or so, and even to members of his family which were not at our school. The students and teachers would have to place an order deciding what color they wanted and which ornament they would pick. they could also have them engraved with a special message or the year if they decided. They got to choose from two different things.



These items creqated a flury in my class and this student in particular. He started to see that he could make money creating art, and he was actually getting good at it. His excitement gained momentum as he started to get more people asking for other art projects to be made for them. This once again opened up another inquiry process.

We could not fill the orders required if we did not have more students involved doing the work. This student took it on his own to recruit other students to do jobs that he felt they could handle to fill the orders. We stayed for hours after school to finish the orders and made enough money to pay for what he bought and also to buy more materials for future projects to be sold. We then had to decide what the next thing was we were going to try to market. We came up with the fact that Valentines day was the next holiday we could prepair for. The students went back and fort with many ideas and made prototypes of each piece they thought would be good to sell and how they would market these items.

We as a class ended up agreeing on picture frames with a heart on either corner. Which was in itself a great idea, but caused the students to start to think further into the future rather than just on the completion of the project at hand. They decided that the next project should be a picture fame designed just for seniors in the highschool. Which touched on the subjects we were discussion about target audiences for their crafts. They made a prototype of this frame and began marketing it. I will post a picture to follow and then discuss how they decided they were going to get the word out to the school.


The student that did not like school and felt there was nothing in school that was going to help him started to actually come to school more often. His attitude changed in a dramatic way. He was no longer wishing to miss school, and was actually coming to my class every morning and any free time he had throughout the day. He would ask other teachers if he was caught up with his work if he could come to my room and work on his projects. He also stayed for hours after school on many occasions with me and other students to continue his “new job”.

His new way of reaching students was to utilize facebook. He posted a picture of this picture frame and tagged every senior that he had on his list. He asked that they forward it to friends that he might not have on his list and took comments for what they though of it. Which in its own way once again opened up the need for collaboration and inquiry on his, my and other students parts. He had to come up with how much he was willing to wave as to the colors of the frame, special orders and things of that nature. We talked about how it was not practical to buy every color of glass to be able to fill any type of order we may get. So he limited it to specific c0lors and a black or white tossel cap for boys or girls. The year is made with twisted metal wire we had in the class. He has begun orders and has set a deadline for them to be able to make sure he can fulfill the ruquired orders before the end of the year.

Since that he has also embarked on making different stained glass pieces which are not to be sold at the school but rather to community businesses. His biggest work is that of a chess board. NOW. With that being said. He also has spent hours getting community involvement in these projects. He contacted his aunt who owns a wood salvage business “dealing with drift wood and rare findings wood”. She gave him a very special type of wood that is three hundred years old to complete his chess board. He utilized his father who is a contractor to build the base for his work. He also did research on the internet to find cheaper project materials and the actual chess pieces. He is looking to sell this project to Nemacolin Woodlands marketing to a higher social economic demographic.




AND YET ANOTHER CHANGE IN INQUIRY!!!!  Now other students that are not totally on board with stained glass started wondering how they can make their art known to the school as well.  So they decided to start going out into the school to find what was needed.  Some stuck with the ceiling tile and teachers requests and other started other projects.  more to come in the next blog.  Have a great day and comment please.

During our morning session we were able to share the lessons we were doing with our classes.  Amanda showed an example of stop motion photography and also a video of gumby that she was able to share with her students.  She talked about how her students were taking ownerhip of their work, and using inquiry to discuss their projects with other stuents.  I was inspired to see the passion she was feeling for this lesson.  I took that she had a hard time letting go of the “Power” of being a teacher, but had a wonderful experience because of this.  I believe that this is what AE2.0 is doing for our group.  It is giving us the freedom to explore different ways of reaching our students.

I was able to share a video after lunch with the group that I made with my student teachers. It was a good example of how inquiry was used in drawing faces in my art II class.  It showed how the questioning might be a little different than direct instruction, and was also able to show how the students interactions were different during the lesson.  Carol was able to see what I was talking about rather than just having me tell her and not giving examples.

During the afternoon, we were all able to interact and ask questions specific to technology and anything we may have had an issue with.  IT was a good time for everyone to be able to just relax and gather information regarding the blog and other things we might need help with.

Our group set a date and time for an open skype night where we could all address issues we were having dealing with our inquiry topic. James attended this meeting and added many interesting viewpoints, which we all appreciated greatly.

During our session, we were able to talk about what lessons we were doing in our individual classrooms.  Amanda recorded the session and sent an email to everyone in our group.  Angela typed up a couple pages and also emailed everyone notes from the meeting.

During the discussion, the topics almost created themselves. Amanda was discussing how she was going to do stop motion photography with her class, but didnt know if her lesson was truly inquiry based.  James was able to give great information on a better definition for inquiry vs. direct instruction.  The group was struggling with the idea that an entire lesson should be totally inquiry.  Meaning that you would not give directions or instruction.  He also discussed how “action research” was considered a type of study.

Our job during the time away from the group was to teach a lesson with direct instruction and one more inquiry based. Our group was having the issue that teaching one group was going to be different  since each class has a different dynamic and different students.  James pointed out that this issue was not really an issue, since we were not evaluating how differnet classes interacted, but rather how the information was being processed by students as a whole.

We also decided that during the remining time between our skype meeting and the next meeting at the IU we would bring in documentation or examples of our work with the students and have a sharing moment.  We were able to talk for over an hour, and discussed how to contact each other again if we had questions.

We as a team need to be tagging our posts.  We can title our post as anything we want, but should tag the post for easy look up.  Here is a list that we will be using for the futute.  Please use these tags in accordance to what your posts are. 

1.  First required reading =             reading 1

2. Second required reading=         reading 2

3.  Post for 12/18=                           group inquiry 1

4.  post for 4/12=                             group inquiry 2

5. Post for 5/17=                               group inquiry 3

6.  also have 2 posts for our cig meetings   =       cig meeting 1 and cig meeting 2

You are able to add multiple tags to any post.  So feel free to tag it with any other information that may be needed.  For example, if you use an iPad you can tag iPad as well. 

Please make sure you are up to date on the times and dates these posts need to be completed.  Hope you all have a great holiday and happy new year.  Be safe.

  I decided to read three modes of dialogue about works of art by Olga M. Hubard.  The reason I picked this was very simple in my head.  Students walk through the hallways and say “i love that, I wish I could make that”, yet when you ask anything deeper they look at you with a blank look.  I have tried to have open dialouge in my room about all the works of art created by students and by masters alike. I have found that they are very limited in their ability to have a conversation about artworks, even their own. 

  Trying to get a student to critique their own artwork is where I am going to begin with teaching art dialogue.  I will be asking questions of both predetermined and interpretive natures. This should be a setting in which the student will be able to describe colors, movement, balance and theme in their artworks.  I want to help the students understand they are not just creating a picture without meaning.  This should be a way to help the students take ownership of their pieces.  If they are comfortable and able to talk about their works, they are more likely to respect the processes they are going through to create them.  Then they will not create a project and say, “please dont hang that up”!!!

One example i am working with now is dialogue about color.  We worked on a project dealing with color, and i gave the students simple directions to pick three of their favorite colors and use them in the project.  I gave  no further instruction on what colors to use or why.  They used the colors to create a pattern and glue to a white sheet of paper.  Once they are done, I place the pictures on the wall and they students gather around for our conversation.  I begin by asking what they see on the wall. Of course the first couple answers are OUR PROJECTS.  I then ask, ” look at the wall for 30 seconds.  I believe I will be able to pick out what most of you will chose as your answer to :what is the one or two projects that stick out the most to you?”.  Usually there is one or two projects that really stand out because of the color choice.  And usually they are similar in colors, making this set of questions very important.  We start to talk about how they use of complimentary colors in those projects mamkes them brighter.  How they work beside one another to create a more impressive work.  We then show an example of what it is like to mix those two colors together and get a darker color.  The Dialogue continutes with the students deciding why this happens and how other colors will work with one antoher. 

  I as the teacher ask, how does color influence you in your every day life, what is it in that you come into contact with every day.  They again start with small answers and move to more creative dialogue.  We discuss why fast food places have yellow and red as main colors.  Why Olive Garden is purples, blues and greens.  Why is the bad guy dressed in black and the hero dressed in white in many movies.  The great thing is they never really think about color in its use in every day life.  So when we start this conversation they are quiet.  Yet once we get into asking questions, they perk up and begin to give answers that are relevant to their lives and how they see the world.  It becomes a really amazing process.  This dialogue also leads us to our next process in making tie dyed shirts.   How if they put yellow and purple next to one another it will cause their shirts to be brown and probably not the best looking colors.  You can see the processes in their eyees when they are thinking about why this would happen. 

There are times when you have to redirect the conversation.  I will always have those students that like to see what they can answer with and get away with.  Usually a teacher will yell and make a big scene about that.  I find that in dialogue, i can simply ask another quesiton that is pertinent to our discussion.  I call on those students that answer in an appropriate way, and sooner or later that student decides to answer a questoin correctly. Once this happens I jump on giving them praise for their efforts.  They seem to be happy for the attention and then start to give more appropriate answers wanting me to call on them again.  This also solves behavioral problems, because they know i will not answer or even address them if they are not giving solid helpful information to the class.

I have also found that this type of teaching dialogue is better retained by the students.  They remember more information longer when they are an active part in the creation of the discussion.  They remember what other students said concerning any issue.   They are even able to point out what is wrong with projects that they are looking at, which is very impressive when they discuss why something is not correct.  This impresses me because I alwyas get the same answers when i ask who is an artist.  “I can not draw Mr. Nick.  I can not do art”.  I follow that by saying, you already can point out what is wrong with things and what is correct.  Artisticness is already in every one of you.  Your hands are not the reason you can not create art works.  Your eyes are your problem, and once you can see what you are missing your artwork will come alive.  They begin to see exactly what I mean with this when the dialogue is from them and not from me alone.  They can see that they are coming up with the solutions to problems which shows they are not completely blind to the arts.  Once this connection is made, even in a simple way their projects become more creative and expressive.

I am sure I am not the only teacher that works like this, and do not expect to be the last.  I am learning new and better ways to have these discussions with my students, and find it ever changing with the different types of students that enter my classroom every year. As long as society changes I believe that the conversations will also evolve.  They will give me new answerws that I have not heard before, and I will have to come up with new ways to reach them in their lives.  I can just say I believe using the three modes of dialogue together create a well rounded lesson, and give me the tools to improve on lessons i have done for years.

Problems show up in all different forms, and change from year to year.  This year it is the lack of materials which the students have access to.  This causes us all to have to think outside the box and find new and exciting ways to create art.  It gives the students a challenge, (which is not always good, cuase they deserve materials for art) to explore alternative means of creating art pieces.  We share this process in art lessons and art creation.  It is a way that kind of joins us together in our fight to keep the arts alive in my school.  The students are taking ownership of the classroom because they do not want it to go away.  They kept hearing there would be no art class and really didnt like that answer from the administration.

With that being said, my group is touching on topics relating to when is it ok to use inquiry and when do you give a more defined answer to your students.  It is a question of when is a student sitting long enough to realize you need to give a little extra guidance.  It is a balancing act between active teaching and active inquiry, which i dont believe is just easily defined.  Inquiry seems to be an on going process which is ever changing in itself.  We strive to give more freedom to students creative processes, yet also need to realize that without the specific skills, they may fall short of their true levels of ability.  As for resources, i believe that the AE2.0 group is one that shows support to each of its members and even intermingles between groups itself.  It is a common denominator which binds us together, in which we all have a purpose in creating an environment which our students strive to be better and more creative.

As a teacher, our goal is to access when the proper time is to let the student “fail” in order to find their own solutions.  There is a grey area where if you let them struggle too long, they just become frustrated and give up.  But if you dont let them struggle at all with their decisions you are actually doing the work for them.  It balances between inquiry and instruction.  I have had many times where I know i have a good answer, but have to take a back seat to see what the student can come up with on their own.  And usually they are proud of what they come up with, and you can see the light “click” in their eyes when they realize they were able to find a solution that works.  Many people do not understand this process when looking from the outside.  They see it as the teacher not doing their job.  As someone not wanting to help their students the way a traditional teacher would.  This causes both a problem and a solution for me as a teacher.  It gives me the chance to explain my methods to others, causing them to be involved in my classroom indirectly . They have questions aned this makes them join in discussions with myself and my students which otherwise would probably not even interest them.  A problem is that at times the artwork might look unfinished or incomplete and what is viewed is what is percieved.  People think “wow, this is not the best stuff yet” becuase they do not see there is more at work than just the art.  The hit the room in short intervals and do not see the entire picture.

I can not say what i feel most knowledgeable about, because i feel it is an ongoing experience for me as well.  I feel I am ever changing in my understanding and process of inquiry, yet enjoy the freedom it gives me and my students in knowing there is not a wrong answer.  We all know that if something doesnt work, it is just another reason to keep trying new ways.  It gives both myself and my students the power to make or break the class at any given time from day to day.  So I believe that without the AE2.0 experience, i would have done the inquiry as i did before, but I would not have had the resources of other teachers, ability to bounce ideas off others in my situation, and the kind leadership of all the group leaders.  Which are there non-stop for our growth.

September 2020

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