Tried & True Tips for Art Teachers is a monthly roundup of advice and wisdom
from fellow art teachers, put together by the intrepid Glenda Lubiner.
Wrapping Up the Year
“My talent is such that no undertaking, however vast in size … has ever surpassed my courage.” — Peter Paul Rubens
We made it through another school year and I’m sure many of you are already thinking about projects for next year. But before you get ahead of yourself, let’s finish off the year with a bang. Here are some great tips to get organized, clean up your room, and use up all of the “stuff” you have been hoarding all year.
Don’t Panic! “Don’t panic,” are words of wisdom from Laura Benitez who teaches at Franklin Academy in Pembroke Pines, Fla. She admits that the end of the year is sometimes a bit stressful—trying to finish projects, clean up, get organized for next year, AND get grades in. But reflecting on the year’s successes and failures gives her a good outlook as to how to prepare for the following year. She keeps a mental log of what her K–5 students were capable of doing and is able to watch them grow throughout their elementary career.
Write on! Cheryl Maney, Visual Arts and Dance Curriculum Specialist from Concord, N.C., has had her middle-school and high-school teachers have students write a letter to future students. They would describe what they learned in art that year, some tips for surviving the year, their favorite project, and so on. The teachers used these letters as assessment of the current students and as introductions to the class in August for new students.
Make It and Take It! White or black mat board scraps cut into 4″ x 4″ or 5″ x 5″ pieces make great “mini” canvases. Thelma Halloran’s students from Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School in Old Lyme, Conn., who finish their work early can use these for painting, colored pencil or oil pastels. Students love knowing they can “make it and take it” home the same day!
A Time to Remember A great way to advocate for the arts and your art program is to have an end-of-the-year art show. One piece of artwork from every student can be hung, which can show a variety of media, themes, and techniques. Along with the artwork, I also hang lesson plans to show cross-curricular lessons that have rigor and meet the state standards. At my art show I have interactive make-and-take activities, which families can work on together. Tickets are sold for each activity, which in turn buys supplies for my program. At my school we make it a true family night by adding a multicultural event and food trucks!
Scraps are not only for the dog! Here are some great ideas to do at the end of the year to use up all your scrap pieces of paper that have been in your recycle bin all yearlong. Torn paper collages are a great way to use up the scraps by layering the pieces to create a picture. Some themes I have used in the past are the beach, outer space and the city.
Place your tissue paper scraps on a white paper and spray with water. The ink from the paper will bleed onto the white paper (a great color-theory project, too). When the paper is dry, the tissue paper will flake off and leave a great abstract deign on the white paper. Using black permanent markers, the students can then enhance the design.
And for all the large pieces of bulletin-board paper and other scrap material … “Project Runway” is a must, especially for middle- and high-school students. A theme can be given and when the designs are complete, you can have a runway show of all the new fashions. This is a great project for cooperative learning, brainstorming, and just a lot of fun.
Keep it Simple We all have so many art samples at the end of the year and we all hate to store or toss them. A great idea is to take a photo of the pieces you want to keep and create a digital library for when you need it in the future.
Happy birthday to Raul Duffy (June 3, 1877) , Diego Velazquez (June 5, 1599), Paul Gauguin (June 7, 1848), Christo and Jeanne Claude (June 13, 1935), Jim Dine (June 16, 1935), M.C. Escher (June 17, 1898), Antonio Gaudi (June 25, 1852) and Peter Paul Rubens (June 28, 1577).
Thank you Laura, Cheryl and Thelma for your tips.
Arts & Activities Contributing Editor Glenda Lubiner (NBCT) teaches art at Franklin Academy Charter School in Pembroke Pines, Fla. She is also an adjunct professor at Broward College.
If you would like to share some of your teaching tips, email them to: