Trash (don’tpickitup)



You would not believe the amount of garbage I got rid of today. I’ve overflowed my huge trash can about 4 or 5 times over already with just… stuff. Lots of old holiday decorations and ripped posters and old projects. All of it just taking up space. I’m being pretty ruthless.

I don't know why this keeps getting warped, but here it is.

I don’t know why this keeps getting warped, but here it is.

I didn’t get to show you the sink yesterday either, so I made a point of photographing it today. A lot of the boxes of new supplies are just sitting in this area because I want to organize the rest of the room before I make homes for the new stuff. It’s frustrating, though, not being able to open them.

full of stuff

Here’s the sink area I neglected to photograph yesterday

A lot of my energy today was focused on attacking the poster storage area. I realized that I just needed to start working on it and stop thinking about it. I broke a lot of them down into piles, and am now going through the existing folders seeing what I can get rid of, and what folders I can repurpose to hold the posters I’m keeping. I still have to go through everything on top of those counters. I’m hoping to use that space for supplies that the kids can grab when they head to their tables. We’ll have to see how the rest of the furniture fits in the room, though.

Posters cleared out!

Tomorrow I’m picking up some flat files that will hopefully fit in that space under the counter.

I snapped a better shot of the Graphic Design Studio because it’s the cleanest part of the room. When I need to calm down from all of the chaos of the room, I just stand in this area for a little bit.

So fresh and so clean, clean

So fresh and so clean, clean.

That’s about all of the progress today. I’m picking up two flat files to put under the counter by the windows, so hopefully that works out well. More photos to come!




My Room!

Heck yes, prepare yourself for a photo spam sandwich! Now, just a disclaimer, the room is an absolute wreck. Judy, from whom I inherited the room, is an amazingly creative person, and one of the best art teachers my district has seen. She is my mentor, and I love her dearly. That being said… there’s a TON of stuff in this room for me to go through. After the janitors waxed the floor, they were unsure where to put the furniture. Since I haven’t gone through a lot of the stuff that’s in there, it’s sort of still all over the place. So, here we go!

So big. So full of stuff.

A janitor came in while I was taking this. He was probably pretty confused.

So here’s my gigantic room! It looks way bigger in this panorama, which is kinda cool, but you can see all of the stuff that’s just everywhere. I have two doors off to the left of the image, on either side of what I’ll probably end up calling the Graphic Design Studio.

I spent a little bit of time today working on this space.

I spent a little bit of time today working on this space. Not pictured is my laptop playing Law & Order while I clean.

To the right of that is a little nook where my new Smart Board is going to be. It was in a really awkward spot last year, and because I was getting a new projector anyway I asked if they could move it entirely. Surprisingly, they said yes! Here’s a close up of what it looks like right now.

Note the painting my brother made for me on the wall to the right. He's 30. :)

Right now, I’m using this area to store all of the garbage i’m getting rid of.

The bookshelves to the right of this are what I’ve been able to focus most of my energy on so far. The rest is so overwhelming, I decided to start with one or two projects to slowly eat away at the stuff piled everywhere. The bookshelf to the right is basically mine… lots of books on specific artists and periods. The flap at the top hides some of my own artwork, and teaching texts. The sorter bookcase on the left is full of “inspiration” books (images of animals, calendars, etc), and How To Draw books. I’ll probably keep a bunch of paper over there, too, and it’ll be the free drawing center.

Mostly organized... ish.

Mostly organized… ish.

I forgot to take a picture of the sink area, but if we keep continuing around the room, we come to my supply closet. I haven’t touched anything in there yet, so it’s a HUGE mess. She has all sorts of stuff in there, sort of all willy-nilly (do you hyphenate willy nilly?). I’m kind of scared to get rid of things in there because you never know what you’ll need, right? But EVERY shelf is packed full, and most of the floor is covered. She even has a shoe organizer on the back of the door that’s full of… things… This will probably be the last bit that I do.

it's a little scary in there right now.

It’s a little scary in there right now.

Check out all of the stuff on the tables… all of that needs to find a home. Or a place in the trash. Those windows will be great once I clear off the radiator, too!

This is the space in between the closets.

This is the space in between the closets.

Directly across from the supply closet is the kiln room. I have only a little experience with a kiln, but I’m super thankful to have regular access to one. I think I might be one of only two elementary art rooms in my district with a kiln.

I should've turned the lights on.

Slightly less terrifying, but could still use some love.

To the right of the kiln room, I have a lovely bank of windows that is 100% completely and totally inaccessible due to the piles and piles of posters and prints of artwork she has amassed. Honestly, this is the area that scares me the most. The sheer number of physical objects in that small space gets me a little panicky to be honest, and I hope that I have the strength emotionally to pare it down to what I need. I have to keep reminding myself that at this point, for this room, space is more important than stuff. I can always get new stuff.

so. much

So. Much. Full. Storage.

Because of the previous placement of the Smart Board (directly in front of the other door), this was the primary door for the studio in years past. I always hated  that because it’s pretty much dead space, and when the kids are asked to line up there, they line up out of sight from the rest of the room. I’m pretty much planning on only using this door if we’re heading outside. That’s what the clipboards and stools are on the left… for any artmaking we do outdoors.

The second entrance to my room leads to the end of the hallway, right next to an exterior door.

The second entrance to my room leads to the end of the hallway, right next to an exterior door.

Finally, the last part of the school that I’m in charge of… the garden! I’m pretty worried about this space. It’s WAY bigger than I was able to capture here, and I don’t really have much of a green thumb. It’s my understanding that I’m in charge of the artwork and that parent volunteers will take care of the gardening part, which I am TOTALLY cool with. I’m hoping to do some moss graffiti in the spring with the 4th or 5th graders, but I have to see if my principal and/or janitor are cool with us “defacing” the building in the name of art and ecology!

All of the artwork out there is student-generated

All of the artwork out there is student-generated!

So that’s pretty much it. Hopefully I’ll be able to update as different sections of the room get cleared out. I have a few friends and my mom that I’ve roped into helping me out, which is greatly appreciated and desperately needed, and I have three weeks (minus 4 days for orientation) to get it student-ready. I suspect it’ll be down to the last few days before it looks respectable, but I’m excited to see how it all turns out.

Any suggestions for letting things go? Or even general cleaning/organizing tips? I’ll take whatever I can get!


A long time coming…

So it’s been a while since I’ve posted, and a lot has happened. I’m not even sure if anyone is even listening anymore, but oh well! Good news is good news, so I don’t care if I’m shouting into the void, I’m still going to shout!

Since I last posted, my maternity leave position ended. It was sort of an odd experience, getting to start off a school year and then leaving at the end of October. I truly appreciated the experience, not just my time spent with the students, but also the chance I got to set up a room and sort through supplies — my first experience like that. It’s the kind of thing that I talked about in my graduate classes, but never got a chance to try myself. And I’m so glad I did, because it’s CRAZY trying to sort through everything, especially coming into someone else’s room where you don’t really know the supplies at all. 

Once that ended, I spent a few months subbing. In January, I interviewed for and accepted a position as a 4th grade classroom aide (the aide that was in the room took a maternity leave), which turned out to be a one-on-one aide position in disguise. My student ended up transferring schools, so I moved with her, and we had a challenging time together. I had never pictured myself working exclusively with Special Needs students, and I know my student was jarred by the fact that she had a new aide. 

Partway through that endeavor, I got a phone call from the head of the arts in that same district, alerting me to an art injury leave position at one of the middle schools. I leapt on that, and ended up over there. The art teacher had slipped on some ice, and broken her ankle. She was expected to be out for the remainder of the year. I was super excited to be working with an older population, and she and I worked closely to keep the year as seamless as possible. 

HOWEVER, life has a way of being a jerk sometimes, and after about two months of doing that, I fell and broke my own ankle. It was a huge bummer, because I had to step down from that position, and was essentially an invalid for a few months. My boyfriend was super supportive and helpful, and my mom got really good at washing my hair in the sink, and somehow we all made it through with our relationships and sanity intact. … and that takes care of the 2012-2013 school year.

When did I become a robocop?

The source of my lame mutant power… I can totally tell when it’s about to rain.

This past year, I worked as the Technology Associate at a K-5 elementary school in that same district. I covered teaching typing to the 1st through 5th graders, and even Spanish (I asked the kids to call me “Senorita” when they were in the lab for Spanish). It was awesome – a lot of fun, and I got to work with EVERYONE in the building. AND (best of all), while I was there, I found out that Judy, the art teacher of 18 years, decided to retire. I interviewed for, and actually GOT THE POSITION!

That means that I’ll be teaching, full-time, tenure track starting in September! Which is super exciting and super terrifying. The room was PACKED with stuff at the beginning of the summer, and I’ve actually gotten rid of a lot already. I’ve working at the elementary summer school program for the past six weeks, though, and haven’t had much of a chance to get into the room and clean/organize. I’m hoping to get over there later today, so I may put some photos of the room up. It’s just sort of overwhelming. I’m hoping that once the year starts, I’ll settle into it, but for now I’m just anxious and excited. 

Ok, enough text. I’ll take some photos the next time I’m in the room, and hopefully the next post will be more interesting. See ya!


Second Grade Complementary Camouflage

My second grade students, in studying the color wheel, are focusing on complementary colors (across from eachother on the color wheel). So we decided to make some camouflage. However, rather than trying to blend in, we talked about how complementary colors tend to really stand out and vibrate visually. Then, we went outside in small groups and traced some shadows that we saw being made by trees on the ground and on the side of the building. I spoke to each group about organic shapes vs. geometric shapes, so that they would know what it was I was looking for in terms of traced shapes… we didn’t want any parts of the fence in our paintings, since that would make our cammo pattern not quite fit in to wooded surroundings.

The kids picked their color combinations, and painted in their tracings as neatly as possible. I think we even spent one day just cleaning up our edges, making sure that the lines were nice and crisp. When they’re all up on the wall together, the effect is really neat. I think they’ll probably come down this week to make room for other things, but they really do look cool.


First Grade Warm/Cool Weaving

Our first grade color theory project revolved around warm and cool colors. Day one, we talked about the color wheel, and what warm and cool colors are. I handed out all of my dry-erase markers, and had the kids make marks on the board under the words “WARM” or “COOL,” based on what they thought the color was. We then talked about the choices they made, and whether or not they were correct. We talked about how warm colors are the colors in fire, colors that we may associate with summer, and they may make us feel energized and happy, and how cool colors are the colors in water, colors that we may associate with winter or the ocean, and they may make us feel calm or sad.

After we were sure that everyone understood the difference between warm and cool colors, the kids started to draw. Using markers, they made two versions of the same picture – one warm, one cool.


After their paper was (mostly) all full, I would cut the cool one into strips for the warp, and make the warm one the weft. We talked about what weft and warp mean, with visuals to help them remember which is which. For weft, I extended the cross of the T pretty far in both directions to show that weft goes horizontally. For warp, I extended the tail of the P down a ways to show that the warp goes vertically.


(Not sure what happened to this image, but I apparently lost the original in creating this monstrosity.)

After talking about how to weave (over/under/over/under, and alternating ever strip), the kids started to weave their own. I made the rounds, making sure that everyone had the right idea, but I also let the students help their friends at their tables. A lot of the time, kids can explain things to one another better than I can explain things to them. And the results were great!


The kids glued down the end tabs, and when that was dry I trimmed the edges, and mounted them on colorful paper. They really loved them, and were excited to take them home!


Kindergarten Mouse Paint

It’s been a bit, but we’re just about finished with our color theory unit (and my time at this school), so I wanted to cover the projects that each grade completed for the unit before moving on to Halloween projects.

The Kindergarteners did a project based on the book Mouse Paint, by Ellen Stoll Walsh.


It tells the story of three mice who discover pots of paint, and see what happens when they mix some colors. Leading up to the project, we did some paint mixing. I wanted to do something tactile, but I also wanted to try and keep their clothing intact. Even though the paint we used is washable, I decided to put it inside plastic bags so the kids could squish and mix the paint themselves, which they really seemed to enjoy.


There were two bags for each four-person table, so the two students who weren’t squishing bags were my “leak lookers,” making sure that the bags didn’t leak out any paint. The results were great!


The kids really loved the tactile nature of the project, and got a really clear sense of how primary colors mix to make secondary colors. We then moved on to the book-based project.


We made six mice, one for each of the colors we dealt with (three primary, three secondary). We talked about what features mice have (ears, eyes, nose, whiskers, tails). I let one class cut out their own mice, but they were cutting them really really tiny, so I cut out the mice for the other two classes. They glued them to pre-cut palettes, and added the extra features before they took them home. Unfortunately, I didn’t think to take a photo of the bulletin board before I took it down, but they really looked great. Some of the mice had such personality!

Next post, first grade!

Unit 2: Color Theory

Since the whole school participated in the first project together, I decided to try and keep everyone on the same page with the next unit, as well. Each grade has a different aspect of the color wheel that they are studying now. Before I get into the specifics of each grade, I wanted to show the bulletin board display that I put up in the hall.

I thought the colors would really pop on black paper, as opposed to white paper, and I love the way this looks! It’s almost like a chalkboard to me. In the center is a color wheel, each color labeled with silver sharpie.

On the left, descriptions and examples of primary, secondary, and tertiary colors (which the Kindergarten students are studying).

On the right, warm & cool colors (1st grade), and complementary colors (2nd grade). The 3rd and 4th graders are working on value studies, and I’m still planning for 5th grade.

So that’s what to keep an eye out for in the coming weeks!