top of page

Perfecting Our Practice

Today I attended an Elementary Art Liaison meeting near my school. I always look forward to these professional development opportunities because I get to see fellow colleagues, learn new strategies, and share ideas/information. Many of us are solo art teachers at our schools. Our Visual Arts Program is going through some transitions, since our supervisor recently retired and our coordinator will be retiring in a few months. At the meeting we expressed our thoughts on various topics such as curriculum, professional development, support, and other items of interest. We shared what we think is currently working in our system, and we gave feedback on what we would like to see improve.  Although new leaders will be coming into the Art Office soon, I know that our opinions as art teachers are valued.

Some fun stuff from today’s meeting:


Blind contour drawings

One of our first exercises for the day was to do a blind contour drawing (drawing without looking at the paper) of the person sitting across from us. We each had to share a ‘fun fact’ about ourselves, then introduce each other to the rest of the group. Since we were all art teachers, we were familiar with the concept of blind contour. It forces you to slow the movement of your drawing utensil to match with how fast your eyes are moving. It’s a great exercise for teaching observational drawing.

(Side note: I think it would be a lot of fun to try this out with staff members at my school! It would probably bring many people out of their comfort zone. As educators, we should be mindful of our own comfort zones, growth, and willingness to learn new things. We should be open to new learning experiences if we expect it from our students.)

We learned two different techniques for creating journals. The one on the left is referred to as an ‘infinite journal’, where more and more pages can be added in an accordion fold, then tied around the front and back cover. The one on the right is called a ‘Zine, as in, a mini magazine. The step-by-step guide illustrates how to create an eight-paged ‘zine using just one sheet of paper. I am familiar with this process, and I plan to share the information with other teachers at my school. We have an upcoming event where ‘zines will come in handy, and we will save a lot of paper in making pamphlets this way.


Marbelized paper

Representatives from School Specialty (Sax), one of the art material vendors, came to present during the afternoon session. Apparently there are certain types of chalk pastels that have a small amount of animal fat in the contents, which causes the chalk dust to float on top of water. One of the representatives demonstrated how to use a popsicle stick to shave flecks of the chalk pastels over a plate of water, then transfer the coloring onto paper. The effects were beautiful! This art method could be used to teach color mixing or it could be purely experimental.


Below is a reflection on Chapter 2 from Amplify! Although I am doing a weekly Video Blog with our S.T.A.T. teacher, I also enjoy creating my own notes and reflections to refer back to. It helps me with my speaking points during the video. The reflection is from January 26th, the week of our ‘Snowcation’. Bolded, italicized type identifies topics from the book.

January 26, 2016 Chapter 2

To excel in our fields, we must continue to perfect our practice.

Choose a tool to learn and explore in order to implement it effectively in the classroom. I have recently joined several digital communities including Twitter & Edmodo, and I am a member of different teacher groups on Facebook. I’ve found several art education blogs created by fellow elementary art educators. Through the use of technology, I feel more connected than ever! It certainly helps since I am the only art teacher in my school. My opportunities to collaborate face-to-face with other teachers is limited during the school day. However, I seek out opportunities to learn from other art educators who have more experience in using technology with their art classes.

When we first began to explore technology, we were overwhelmed, to be honest. There are so many tools and products out there; how can a classroom teacher determine which ones are best for her students? I feel similarly when it comes to finding the best digital resources for what will work in my art classroom. I also consider how my students may feel in the process of learning new technologies.

Start with what you have/focus on what you can do and enlist help. I am exploring more digital resources and becoming more familiar with them. Earlier this year I participated in a class entitled Utilizing Technology in the Art Room. The instructor is a fellow BCPS art educator who teaches at a neighboring elementary school. They are a ‘lighthouse’ school, meaning they have 1-to-1 devices for all students. In the course, we were introduced to numerous websites. We were also given time during each session to explore various resources.

With all the different sites, I have a few questions:

  1. Is it possible to easily set up accounts for students for various sites?

  2. How can I best utilize technology in the art classroom, with respect to balancing time constraints and possible interruptions?

  3. How do I monitor using time wisely with the use of devices?

  4. How do I expand my network through my blog and through student blogs?

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page