Monday, October 31, 2016

Making Images for Visual Schedules

An example of images created to use with students when working with clay.

In working with students that need visual schedules and information supported by pictures, I find the images I need are often not available. So, I've started creating my own. I work on my iPad Pro using the Apple pencil. I could create them on paper and then scan them, but I find this to be easier due to the quantity I need.

I use Adobe Draw to create the image. I use Adobe Comp to put the image into a pec format with the words.
I make the images 2"x2" in Microsoft Word and print them by the sheet, cut them out, laminate them, cut them out again and then put velcro on the back of each. I like to print them 4x4 for when I introduce them to students and talk about them. I also use them for my assistive devices and checking vocabulary. I think it's so much more effective to have images that really are specific to the content/learning.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Bloglovin is a great place to be!

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

I am just getting this blog off the ground, but I am excited to share what I am learning as I work with my students. Helping my students to find ways to express themselves through art is pretty amazing. I welcome your feedback and I look forward to sharing with others.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Slump Fish Dish

I am working with students that have very limited fine motor and gross motor skills. As I experiment with different materials, I try to find materials and projects that the students can use to express themselves, but also have the added joy of being able to share something they can be proud of making. Sometimes this means looking at what I know they can do and finding a project that will highlight their special creative skills,  mark making or painting in a way that is not only fun and creative, but also something that is aesthetically pleasing to their family. It is so important to have their families support what they are creating and to understand the importance of art. I want them to be able to enjoy art after I no longer have them as students.

Working with ceramics is really a good solution. My students do not all have the dexterity or hand strength to create ceramics with pinching or pulling the clay, but they do well working with a slab of clay.

My students are currently working on a couple of clay projects, in different stages. I'd like to share one project I feel is going pretty well. This project is the slump fish dish and I think it is really going to be awesome! I made templates for my students out of tag board and laminated them and then cut them out. Students worked to wedge their clay and then roll a slab. Once they had a nice even slab (thanks to 2 rulers), they laid the template on their clay slab and traced around it. Some of my students need assistance with rolling the clay, some students need assistance with tracing the template.

Once the excess clay was cut away, students used found objects to create lines and patterns on their clay fish. When the fish design was complete, students carefully laid the fish (design side down) over the bottom of a small styrofoam bowl. I had two approaches for the bottom due to different ability levels. Some students just wrote their name on the bottom and they were finished. Other students rolled a small diameter coil of clay and used "score, slip, smooth" to add a foot to the bottom of the dish before signing their name.

Even with a wide range of abilities, the project has been successful so far. Right now, the slump fish dishes have been bisque fired and are waiting to be glazed. I can't wait to see how they do with the painting! I will be sure to post our finished project.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Re-thinking My Teaching for Very Special Students

Line Study in Paint
I'm entering my 23rd year of teaching in a large urban school district, and I am reminded of the excitement and wonder of those first few years of teaching as a new teacher in the district. I'm in a new school this year, but it is a very special school. The students have a variety of needs that are beyond what can be addressed in a typical school. They are a part of a school that takes extra care to give them the real life experiences they will need in order to be contributing citizens in the community. Students learn how to interact with others and how to take care of themselves. They learn how to get to work by various modes of transportation and then they get to work (volunteer) at businesses such as Shoppers and Old Navy. This experience is invaluable for the students and their families.

My students have multiple disabilities ranging from physical, intellectual, cognitive, and social to emotional. Many students have autism and/or asperger syndrome. These challenges are at the forefront of everything I plan for my students. Everything from how you lay a pencil or marker on a table to accommodate a student's grip, to your voice quality and how you state a direction or phrase a question. How do you plan art activities for students who do not have well-developed gross or fine motor skills? Students who are non-verbal, deaf or hard or hearing, or legally blind? Differentiation is  not a negotiable with this group. Each student must be part of the planning for every lesson. 

Teaching art to this group of students is making me re-think methods of doing things, how I set-up my room, how I prep materials, how I state objectives, how I need to  modify tools, materials, or desktops to make every project accessible to every student. I think it is making me a better teacher. I know it is making me a happy teacher! I can feel the creativity and passion when I work with these students, and it is amazing.