Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Notes, Cards, Pictures...

Is there anything more delightful than notes, cards or creative art work from students?  I'm sure each primary teacher receives oodles of them throughout their career.  High school teachers have my sympathy as they likely don't get gifts like this from their students.  Throughout the year I've received more than my fair share.  Some of it is in my portfolio, some tucked away in a drawer, some of it...


This year I've decided to devote the bulletin board above my desk to my students' contributions.  At the moment they cover about a square metre of my board.  Their messages, both in written (misspellings and all) and pictorial each give me a glimpse of the students artistic and written ability, their personalities, not to mention their thoughtfulness in spending time creating something for me. 

The latest master piece from my students was a joint effort from all of them: a 60 cm X 80 cm Christmas card, made by creating a collage using drafts and leftovers from previous art class as well as drawings made specifically for this project.  
They started working on this after we tidied up the school the day after our Christmas concert.  As I was busy with the last of clean up when I heard snippets of their conversation:
"Elma, you can't look, we're making a surprise for you!" 
 "I found this bit of tinsel form the angel garland, we can decorate the angels and the wise men with it."
"This tells the Christmas story, just like our concert did."

Has anyone ever received a more thoughtful Christmas card?!

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Stained Glass Angels for Sand Bags

In the spring of 2011 our young people spent quite a bit of time volunteering their time to help with flood relief.  Often they would just pile into a vehicle and cruise around our neighbourhood to see who needed help and pitch in.  One day some of our Diene drove around with Joe, our field boss,  They happened upon a small farm just five miles west of us.  You would think since Elm River has been in existence for almost 80 years we would know everyone in our area.  Well... perhaps we do know most of our neighbours, but sometimes we just don't know where they live.  That was the case in this incident.  When the girls and Joe walked up to the farm owners and asked if they needed assistance,  "Yes!  How did you know I need help?"  the lady exclaimed.  They proceeded to tell her that they didn't know, they were merely offering their services to anyone in the area.  Sonia, my sister, felt the lady looked familiar and the way she spoke also  gave her the impression that she knew our people.  As they piled sand bags alongside her, Sonia discovered that the "lady" was former Brennan School art teacher, Leta Owens.

Since that spring day two years ago I've spoken with Leta several times and at each visit she mentioned that she'd like to do something for our community to show her appreciation.  I kept assuring her that payment wasn't necessary, that our people were just pleased to help out.  Leta was not to be dissuaded.  During our last visit, Leta offered to do a workshop with our student, to teach them how to make stained glass angels.  Not only did she volunteer her time, but also all of the materials, equipment and supplies needed for the project! 

This past Wednesday she spent the day here at Brennan School.  All of our kindergarten to grade seven students had a session with her.  Some of the older students learned how to solder, others wrapped lead around individual pieces of glass, still others manned the grinder, to smoothed away rough edges.  Our youngest students pitched in by lovingly washing and polishing each angels as it was completed.  Together we created almost three dozen angels!

The following day my grades 1 & 3 class slipped each stained glass angel into a zip-lock bag together with an angel gift tag and suction cup for hanging it in a special window. As we packed the angels, my students discussed the colours of the angels, admiring them as they held they held them up to the light.
This then lead into a math class.  We sorted the angels according to their colours and graphed the results.

The data told us that:
  • Red was the most popular angel colour.
  • Light green was the least popular colour.
  • We have 2 each of light blue, dark purple, orange, dark green and purple angels.
  • We have fewer light blue angels than pink ones.
  • We have more dark blue angels than clear ones.
  • All the angels are beautiful!
On the last day of school we will bundle up and hand deliver an angel to each family on our colony.  A Christmas gift not only from the students and staff at Brennan School, but from our stained glass angel instructor, Leta Owens.

Transforming sand into glass is a long, intricate process that takes time, skill and technology.  Who knew that in the span of two years sand bags could turn into stained glass angels!

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Nativity Scenes

My grades 1 & 3 class have enjoyed creating nativity scenes these past few weeks.  Both came to me via Pinterest.  The first one is a paper version...
These are a simple cut and paste activity...

This summer we've enjoyed various types of ice cream and families saved their popsicle sticks for us.   Mostly, we've used them for counting and place value.  But when I saw this idea, I decided to expand our horizons :) !  We decided to add googly eyes to make them "come alive."  Fortunately we also had Haagen-Dazs ice cream, as sticks from these icy treats were ideal for the people and the manger.

The link for this project is as follows:

While these took just a bit more creativity.

Tomorrow we'll add a few words to the roof and take them home.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Family Trees

In my grades 1 - 3 social studies class we've been working on groups we belong to.  Our first group of course is our family.  We delved a bit into our families past by creating family trees which include self, parents, siblings grandparents, aunts and uncles.  Colour-coded leaves were used for each group within the family.  Upon completion, each student scored (self-assessed)  his/her project.  Each scoring rubric is posted above the tree.

What I found interesting about Isaiah's tree is that 2 of his paternal aunts married  2 of his maternal uncles and one of his paternal uncles married on of Isaiah's maternal aunt.  I pointed it out to the students and considered having him colour code those couples, but it seemed to go above their heads.

On Monday, October 28, 2013 when my niece Annette Shirley was born, we were working on our family trees.  One of my students was quick to inform me that I need to add her to my family tree.  Here's a picture of our newest "leaflet" as well as my tree.

Notice the purple leaves - my brother's offspring.

More leaf Projects

My grades 4 - 7 art class also created leaf critters.  Well, not all of the weren't actually critters...
As promised, here are some of them!
Swinging Free

Prowling at Night

Vicious Stripes

Glorious and Free

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Stained Glass Projects

For the past umpteen years I've attended literacy related SAG/SAGE sessions.  This year Catherine Wurtz and I made a switch  and chose instead to attend  a session offered by Manitoba Association for Art Education (MAAE): Simple Stained Glass Window Hangings.

We actually learned how to plan a project, cut glass and then solder all the components together!  We also assembled original glass pieces using beveled glass, wire and beads. 
Since it was an all-day session, most of us managed to complete at least 3 or 4 projects.

"You have more experience with glass cutting and soldering," Catherine commented as we ate our lunch at noon.  That wasn't actually the case, but throughout the day, as I was working on my projects, two themes kept rolling through my mind: previous glass art projects we've offered at my school and projects my dad was involved.  Although I didn't work on the latter projects, I must have picked up on a few hints and techniques. 

Over the years at Brennan School  via ArtsSmarts grants, our students, have been introduced to glass mosaics where they created Hutterite history murals...

and glass fusing where each student designed a plate or dish. 

 Perhaps stained glass will be next on our art agenda.

My dad enjoyed creating or fixing thing; paschklen, we might say.  years ago, when I created macrame plant hangers, my dad would cut circulars pieces of glass for them on which the plant would sit.  As I made my first attempt at cutting curves, I remembered from watching him that that was much more difficult than cutting a straight line.  
Although I don't recall a specific item that he created or fixed using his soldering iron, I do recall watching him during winter evenings, a spool of lead in his left hand and his soldering iron in his right.  Drops of shiny, silvery lead dropping onto his project, the odd one dropping to his work surface...  
Perhaps with a bit more experience, my ability will equal that of my dad's.



Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Thanksgiving Poems with Leafy Borders

In writing class my grades 4 - 7 students wrote poems of things they are thankful for.  They followed a simple format and were instructed to experiment with including descriptive adjectives in their pieces.  They especially enjoyed decorating their poems with colourful,  leafy borders,  We laminated their work to preserve the leaves. 

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Fall Foliage - Leaf Critters

Our yard all decked out it its finest fall foliage.  Believe it or, it actually is connected to a school project!

On a lovely warm afternoon last week we walked around the colony to search for lots of different leaves.  One of the first places we stopped was our yard as this is the best place on our Huf for red leaves. We pressed them in seldom used encyclopedias :)!  
Today in art art class, my primary class created these leaf critters. We added details with permanent markers and coloured chalk.  What critter can you see in each project?
Who-o-os there?

Floating by...

This is the purr-fect spot.

Penned in.
Looks fishy.

Hopping past the posies.

Wonder what my intermediate class will come up with??? I'll keep you posted.

Monday, 14 October 2013

Self Portraits

As part of my MI lessons we created self portraits in art class.  They took three class to complete, but I'm rather pleased with the results and the artists are very proud too!  There are actually some resemblances!  Since I know who made each portrait, my observations don't count.  However, when different community members commented on this I knew the likenesses were quite apparent.
Grades 1 & 3 students wrote about their MIs and students grade 4 and up also compiled a list of self-describing adjectives.
The self portrait and grades 1 - 3 write up ideas are from Pinterest


My Schuel Blog

I've been thinking about sharing some school projects on Facebook, but after discussing it with a colleague, I decided, with her input, to start a blog instead.    I'd like to post something once a week or perhaps every other week.  Since we're already in the second month of school, I'll have to begin by playing catch-up.  Let's see how it goes...

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Back-to-School Quilt

Each student was given an 8 1/2 x 11 sheet of paper with a quarter circle inside a square printed on it.  They were instructed to illustrate it based on what it reminded them of.  Their creative juices started flowing and our quilt squares resulted in illustrations from a piece of fruit to outer space to many things in between.


This summer I took a course on Universal Design for Learning (UDL) at U of M.  In this course, we learned the importance of determining our students' multiple intelligences (MIs) and then planning lessons pertaining to them.  Therefore, some of my back-to-school activities were lead-ins to this topic.

The following  posters provide an at-a-glance view of student interests.  Each student was given some smiley stickers and a sticky note (for favourite food).  They circulated to each poster and added it to the spot that best describes them.  Later, as I introduced my MI lessons, the posters served as a launch pad.