Wednesday, September 23, 2015

New Stuff for the New Year

What a busy start to the new year!  It's going great but I feel like it's already blowing by.  I changed up a few things in my room this year, getting it ready to start Choice-Based Art classes with my 3rd, 4th, and 5th grades.  I'm excited about letting the kids loose with the materials as they drive their own learning.  Our STEAM initiative has morphed a bit--rather than having STEAM classes that meet as a separate entity from our other classes, they are now attached to the grade levels' science and social studies classes.  Incorporating PBL (Project Based Learning) into teaching has been a big push at our school, and it's a perfect mix with our STEAM classes.  I feel like I'm living in buzz-word land some days! 

So many students have begged me to do Engineering projects that I am going to give an engineering project to each grade level at some point in the year.  Last year's classes were so much fun and the kids got so much out of it!  We'll tag it "Engineering Design" so that it meets criteria for Art as well as Science.  Gotta love that mix.  I'll take it any day!

The research center has a great mix of books, to use for inspiration
in researching on the iPads and computers.
With the startup of Choice-Based Art in my classroom for my older students, I've tweaked my classroom a bit to handle movement between studios.  Got rid of some extraneous furniture (including a set of shelves under which a boatload of termites were happily munching), and set things up to handle the storage of works in progress.  I've also got a research center now, and students will plan their projects using books, computers, and iPads. 
Drawing stations are set up as we open up the drawing studio in a couple of weeks.

Activities are on the board if you get finished early.

I set my easel up so students can see a painting changing.  When I began,
it was just an underpainting.  Slowly it is morphing.  They love to
see and point out the changes.

 I really love the new stools we just got.  They take up so much less space, are waaaaayyyy quieter than chairs, and allow students some freedom of movement that they did not have before.  Many of my students like to stand while they work, and it's way easier to stick them under the table if they want to stand.

I'm excited about Choice-Based Art.  I'll be posting on that pretty soon. 


  1. Your energy is wonderful!! I l would love to hear what kind of engineering projects you do with each grade level. I've really gotta get the iPads going in my room. Any tips on where/how to start that? I'm scared!

    1. I love using the iPads. I introduced the iPads first with some fun apps, and let them be something to check out when a project was finished. But as the years have gone by, I've moved them from an addition to the classroom; they are now used all the time for research (on search engines that are pre-approved and which have been set to their strictest levels) and for photographing work and activities. We also do paper slide videos on them.

      As far as engineering projects go, I did a lot of research and went to a bunch of conferences, where I got fabulous ideas and a lot of lessons that I have changed up to fit what I do. Now I have specific engineering projects I do with each grade level. I started out slow--just with an Alexander Calder lesson in which we made circus animals/people using simple machines, making things out of wire and corks. After that I added in a gravitram (marble run) with 4th grade, and car design with 5th. It's not hard to start--you just have to make up your mind you're going to do it, and then build a lesson and start. It's only hard the first time you do it. After that, it's all about tweaking your projects. Let me know if I can be of help!