Thursday, December 27, 2007

Day after Christmas

Today the weather was great. About 70 degrees and sunny, a good day for a bike ride. I have been trying to ride every day this break and decided to take a long ride today. All the way out to the Davis Island seaplane basin. I had my phone along and took this picture at the dingy dock. I spent some time resting there watching the sailboats bobbing in the slight breeze. It was a perfect ride.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007


OK I'm all for kids safety but I'm thinking that someone in Milwaukee is getting cabin fever. In the above picture police from Waukesha put radar guns on kids sledding down a snow covered hill. ( see story) Is this creating a problem where none exist? I mean in the snow you are, well I am, bundled up in about ten layers and a couple of knit caps. With all that padding you are just gonna bounce around. I guess in Florida surfboards will soon come equipped with life jackets and helmets.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

First Up on Christmas

I hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas.
I am sitting up with the dog waiting for everyone to get up and I'm looking at the tree. On the tree is a history of our children written in ornaments. I see ornaments made by little hands and remember the great joy in their eyes when we put them on the tree. Some of the ornaments we made at home, some were made at school, some at church, and some they made themselves just because my children felt that something was missing from the tree. I don't think at the time I realized how these simple objects would so soon become treasures.

Merry Christmas to all.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Student Web Pages

My students have been working on their web pages for about 3 weeks now. I began by training about 5 students (that is the number of laptops that I have set up in my classroom) on the use of PBWiki. Then these 5 were responsible for training the next 5. This way I could continue with the regular instruction of the class and students were responsible themselves for learning to create their web pages ans for catching up on what I had been teaching in class.
So far most students are accepting the added responsibility.
I have even had reports of students working on and teaching about web page creation during their computer lab time. I am especially pleased about this development because from my observation most time spent in the computer lab is spent playing "educational" games.
I'm hoping that from this other teachers will encourage students to use their time in the computer lab for the creation of more original works.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

last week or so

The last few weeks have been really something. Austins football team lost to Armwood knocking them out of a chance to go the the State football championship but he still has a ring from last year. The next day Austin passed the final step toward achieving the rank of Eagle in the Boy Scouts. For that I am proud, he has worked very hard to make that rank. We will be planning his Eagle ceremony for sometime in February. Then a few days later he was accepted to the University of Central Florida. He seems excited and scared at the same time. It is a big step.
Now Jessica not to be outdone came to Tampa this weekend to see Austin in his final Madrigal Dinner performance at Plant High School. Both of our children have grown so much because of the Chorus program at Plant and Mr. Yost. But a few hours before the final show the mail came and in was a letter from a hospice in Tallahassee. Jessica had applied for an internship there and the letter was offering her one of 4 that they award each year. And it comes with a stipend, even better!
I am very proud of both of my children and all that they have done.
Oh and I put up our Christmas tree this afternoon:)

Monday, November 26, 2007

Art and The Test

From the
a story about standardized testing and the arts. In the article one paragraph caught my eye,
"From the while both the Department of Education and the federal government identify the arts as vital to a good education, the grades -- and the standardized testing approach -- fail to acknowledge the central role subjects beyond reading and math play in a child's education. Arts education may very well be the "incomplete" in these report cards."
In Florida the State Art Education is in the process of developing a standardized test for the visual arts.
Now is this a good use of our time? I'm sure that politically it is a good idea. A test will add legitimacy to the arts in the eyes of the ones that hold the purse strings. But will the students learn because of it? Yes, in the areas that are tested, but with 100 or so questions how large an area of art could that be? (Wow that sounds like what is said about the other test)
Unless the art test is perceived as only a part of assessing what a child has learned in art. In visiting other art teachers and their classes each class is as different as the style of art that each teacher prefers to work in. How can that variety be assessed in a single standardized test?

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Shift Happens

On my other blog I am hosting a discussion of Dan Pinks book "A Whole New Mind". This is a project to not only get the art and music teachers to read the book but to also introduce them to blogging as an instructional tool. In my research for the blog I came across this video. It is very powerful.
It is on teacher tube and I hope that it will not be locked-out by the district.
I am currently trying to incorporated 21st century skills into my classroom instruction. Students are beginning to create their own web pages of their art work. Next week I will be teaching them about internet safety using NetSmartz. Then after introducing how to use PBWiki I will have small groups work together and create their own art web page. When my students get some of the pages done I'll post the URL and you can take a look. It's small but it's a start!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Student Web Pages

For the past few months I have been reading and studying about using web 2.0 in the classroom. I am now in the process of involving students in the creation of authentic writing about their art on their own web page. They are very excited about the prospect of reaching a very wide audience with their art and writing. I am using a wiki space called PBWiki and it is very easy to use. I have created a site for each class I teach and each student in that class will have their own page to work on.
This week I gave them all a very brief overview if the project. I started by explaining that we would be using a piece if art that we have been working on from the beginning of the school year. I photographed the art and the students wrote about their art. I showed the students how I use paper and pencil to plan out my web pages and that was what they would be doing.
I have always had a difficult time getting students to write about their art in my class but with the prospect of writing to the web most students took off. Many wrote on both the front and back of their papers. Whoa what a hook!
Another feature on PBWiki is the comment section. This allows students and others to make comments about a page and the content of that page. I think that this will also be a powerful tool in getting the kids reading, thinking and writing.
Next week I will be showing the students and interactive net safety presentation. The district is asking that we do this and I think that it is a good idea to explain to the students what to look out for while working on the web.
This should be fun.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

This is funny

Ok sometimes I just gotta laugh:) Especially at politics.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Trying Something New

Last Thursday at our monthly art teacher meeting I suggested that we create a book study group. At professional day last month our supervisor Margaret Griffin handed out Daniel Pinks book "A Whole New Mind" to all the art teachers and to the music teachers.
For those of you who have not read Dan Pinks book it is a very interesting take on what lies in our future.
Well I thought that this would be as good a time as any to introduce the concept of blogging as a form of cooperative learning. So I created a blog for that purpose and sent out a call to all the elementary Art and Music teachers in Hillisborough county to participate.
Its been two days and I have only had one comment posted.
I know people read the bolgs, or at least they have told me that they do but getting them to leave posts...
I figured out how to have more that one moderator on a blog so I may ask for volunteers to help. That may spark some interest.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

School Bell

I just finished reading an article by S. Paul Reville in Education Week titled “Stop the Narrowing of the Curriculum by ‘Right-Sizing’ School Time”. This article speaks to one of the issues that I have thought long about in an interesting way: the time that school is in session. From as near as I can figure school sessions are determined by a hold-over from when we were an agrarian society and the travel/vacation industry. School days are determined by bus schedules and teacher contracts. The one thing that seems to be left out of the equation is what is best for a child’s education.

Paul’s article speaks to yet more issues affecting the scheduling of schools, No Child Left Behind Act, and standards-based reform. These two issues also seek to control school time by forcing teachers and administrators choose between time for achieving proficiency in the core subjects and other untested subjects like art, music, social studies and foreign languages.

With the advent of web 2.0 classes are no longer bound by the walls of the school or the time of the bell. Students will be able to attend classes on their schedule and when they are ready to learn. Collaboration can happen between students in the same class but other schools. Teachers from other areas could tutor long distance.

I think that we need to rethink the way that school time is scheduled. Schools should be look at round the year calendars. Evening and weekend classes should be offered through out the grade levels, students should not think of learning only happening between 8:00 and 2:15.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Rain Rain Rain

Oh my what a deluge today. It started raining today on the way to work then got harder when the buses started arriving. Students were coming in late because of power going out. I had to delay my art assessment today by 15 minutes because of late students. I was so flustered that I decided to make an announcement about the delay in the test and I made it right in the middle of my principals talk on the morning show, boy it just gets better and better The test went well in spite of the rain and late students. All the kids behaved well and took the art test serious.

Monday, October 22, 2007

2007 FAEA Conference Review

Wow what a great 4 days! I came back to school today excited and renewed. Ok I did go to bed early last night but I woke up early this morning ready to get to school and see the kids and show them some of the things that I did/learned.
Carol Norman and the teachers of Orange County Public Schools did a great job preparing for the conference.
The speakers were very interesting and presented their vision of a very exciting and creative future.
If you went to the conference send me your comments about the conference and the workshops you attended.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Jive Foil Puppets

Presenter: July Davis

This fun workshop involved designing and producing a marionette-like puppet out of heavy foil, various paints and markers, beads and wire. Although the initials impression was that it would be an easy project. This was not in fact true.

The project used heavy foil that we used to cut out parts of our marionette. After the parts were cut out we connected them with wire and beads. After they were together we painted them and some also embossed the foil with designs. The end product was very cool but it is not something that I would do with my kids with out major modifications.

Drawing from the Students Perspective.

Presenters: Gena Brodie-Robbins, Amy Taylor

This was one of my favorite workshops. The pair started the class by explaining in a humors and entertaining way their way of approaching the art of teaching drawing. Gena and Amy added to this explanation research from many books.

The hand on part of the workshop was very interesting and covered four different approaches to teaching drawing.

If Gena and Amy offer this workshop next year I would recommend taking it, I know I will.

a recommended link: Click Here

Friday, October 19, 2007

How to Create Large Public Artworks for Children.

Presented by Paula Allen and Raquel Ache Leonard

This was a very cool workshop that combined individual works of art with a collaborative background. The diversity of media allowed for everyone’s strength to shine.

We started by making a doll using a muslin blank doll with bendable arms. For this we used many different materials, Sharpie markers, acrylic paints, fabric, beads, yarn, wire, and other things from a grab box of found objects.

For the background of the mural we used a 5x15 foot bolt of muslin. For creating the picture large sheets for hand made paper were provided. We tore and cut the shapes to form a scene of the natural environment of Florida.

FAEA State Conference day 2

Yesterday was very interesting. After the meeting in the morning I attended a workshop given by Karen Harris. the title was "The 'Upwardly Mobile': Sculpture in Motion. This was a very interesting workshop and the presenter gave us many good ideas on teaching children about the art of mobiles. during the workshop I recorded a podcast of the beginning of the workshop. you can find that with my other podcast at my podcast page. I also have some handouts that I will post at t later date (when I can get to a scanner). Later last evening I attended the gallery hop in downtown Orlando. There I met an glass artist by the name of Isriah. Isriah ia a glass blower and is also seven years old. It was very interesting learning about the art of glass blowing from a very knowledgable seven year old. After a little haggling we agreed on a price and I am now the proud owner of an Iariah original.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

FAEA State Art Conference

I leave tomorrow morning for the State Art Conference in Orlando. I am going to try bloging, podcasting, and streaming video from the conference. I would like to try and do real time streaming video but that depends on the connectivity at the hotel. Stay tune on this blog for more.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Vision of Students Today

I have been thinking a lot lately about how "technology" will affect teaching. I watch my son study and he does multi task during his studies. He will be reading out of a text book and also has on online component, he uses his cell phone to compare notes and thoughts about the lesson with friends. Oh, and he also has his i-pod on .
This is how he studies at home but at school I'm sure he is sitting at a desk with a teacher at the front of the room writing on a white board or maybe using an LCD projector to show a powerpoint.
I'm not sure where this is all going. I'm not sure what the answer is or even what the question is. But I do know that things have changed.
I am just an immigrant to this new way of working. Right now while writing this blog I just received two Twitters on my group from the K12 Online Conference. I check them when they pop up and see where the conversation is heading. Often I discover something new.
Just read the Twitters back about 45 minutes and discovered that the Wiki of David Warlick's Pre Conference Keynote Speech Chat Transcript. This is the conversation that went on between the "attendees" that listened to his speech. The conversation went on long after the speech was over and because the speech was recorded attendees could re-watch the speech and refine their thoughts.
Imagine this happening in a classroom. Students able to compare thoughts of the class during class, review a video of the class in the evening and revise their thoughts. A wiki could be set up for each class for students to post, revise, and collaborate on notes from the class. The teacher would be able to view the wiki and then collaborate with the students and guide their thoughts after class. The walls and time of classes begin to break down.

Thursday, October 11, 2007


While browsing members web pages on a Twitter session I came across this fun Widget. Voki lets you create an animated figure that speaks with your voice.

Get a Voki now!

Saturday, October 6, 2007

K12 Online

Participate in the free K12 Online Conference
In one of the many blogs I read I came across a reference to an online conference for educators interested in emerging technologies. Wow this seems to speak directly to me and the focus of my interest of lately. Right now if you access the web site you can find "teasers" videos of the scheduled events. My understanding is that you can view the workshops live online and interact with the presenters. That should be pretty cool. I'm going to try and catch some of the presenters.

Monday, October 1, 2007

OhOh found something new. this is called and its pretty cool. With it I can send a live video of my living room 24/7. Ok I'm not sure what good that is but just being able to to that is preaty neat! If there is no picture I'm not on the computer. I'll try and record some video of Bo that you can watch while I'm away.

Here's Bo!

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Social Bookmarking

Social bookmarking is the latest of web 2.0 that I have discovered. OK it’s probably a discovery that has already been found by many before me. But I still find it exciting. This is yet another way that information can be saved, stored, organized, and shared with others. is a website that allows users to create editable pages of links. This could be a great tool for teachers. Now we can easily save and share web sites with other teachers and students. Here is a link to my page. here you will find a link to a video that explains social bookmarking.

As I play with this I’m sure that I will find more things that can be done with this “technology”. I guess on a basic level it allows you to carry your favorites with you.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Learn, teach, learn, teach

I’ve been reading other blogs about using web 2.0 in an educational setting. I guess as with any emerging theories there are many different opinions of how web 2.0 should be used in the classroom.

Some see the use of the web, blogs, podcasts, wikis, MySpace, Flicker and other collaborative web based tools to be liberating and empowering. Others cannot understand allowing that much unscripted, unsupervised activity in a classroom or any learning environment.

Being a classroom teacher I understand the need for control. Conversely as an artist I understand the need for freedom in a creative environment. The challenge now is to balance the two needs.

Of course mistakes will be made but those mistakes should not be a signal to return to the old ways of teaching. With the speed of change happening teachers must learn to teach as they learn. Learn, teach, learn, teach… It is a brave new world that is recreating itself faster than we can get use to the old one.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Painting the Tampa Museum of Art

This week I have been having my students create visual reports of their visit to the Tampa Museum of Art. It has been very interesting seeing what they found interesting.
Of course most of the boys really liked "American Detritus"by Andrew Junge.

The hardest part of recreating this artwork was that it was white. I had put out on the table tempera paint, crayons and colored pencils. With all those colors available many of the HUMVEES became very colorful. Well so much for realism.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Question to my students

I'm not sure how many of my students or parents of my students read this blog. But if you do and you or your child went on the field trip to the Tampa Museum of Art last week I have a question for you.
Tell me a fact about a work of art you saw at the Tampa Museum of Art.
Oh and I am planning another field trip for the classes that missed this one.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Shanghai, China

I am listening to a podcast by Wesley Fryer from a workshop he attended in Shanghai, China given by Alan November. He posed an assignment in his workshop that I found fascinating. Give a class the assignment of creating an entry in Wikipedia. This sounds fascinating. Grade school students creating an entry in the worlds largest encyclopedia. Then connect the recent changes to an RSS feed. That way they would see when changes are made to their article and what the changes are.
This would be really cool. I just looked on Wikipedia and there is no entry on Andrew Junge the artist that created the Styrofoam HUMVEE American Detritus. I am going to have my students create that entry.

Saturday, September 15, 2007


That's it 415 students to the Tampa Museum of Art in 4 days. 23 different classes grades 2 through 5. Some of my teachers have already had their students do some writing about their museum experience and they had a great time. The boys favorite piece was the American Detritus by Andrew Junge. Well the girls liked it too. I happened to be passing by when Mrs. Mallons second grade class was at this exhibit and they were all around it on their hands and knees looking under the sculpture. I imagine that kids are the few that have viewed American Detritus from that angle.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Over the hump

OK three down, one to go. We had the smallest group go to the museum today and for the first time all three buses that we ordered showed up, go figure.
Mrs. Halls TMH class came today. They are so much fun. We were in the gallery with the display from the National Sculpture Society and spotted the piece by Richard MacDonald called "Leap of Faith". Bobby began by trying to imitate the pose. Then the other six got into the act, I was very surprised when Ishmael got into the act. He twisted up into a pose I didn't think was humanly possible.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Day two at the museum

Day two of the art museum marathon and 117 more of my students have visited the Tampa Museum of Art. They all seemed to enjoy the trip in spite of the heat. The boys really liked the Styrofoam Humvee. But I think the hit of the trip was at the end. When we went out the get on the buses one bus and both drivers were missing. I figured that they had gone to lunch and would eventually return. The kids all sat along the curb and began pumping their arms up and down at the cars. Then it happened... a car honked. Oh what joy! They all cheered and began pumping their arms at every car that passed. By the time the missing bus and drivers arrived all the kids were focused on getting cars to honk and were hesitant to leave.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Visit to the Tampa Museum of Art

Today began the first day of a 4 day marathon field trip to the Tampa Museum of Art. Today I brought 6 classes of about 110 students and 16 parent/chaperons. Other that it being a little warm during lunch the students and adults had a great time. The docents at the museum told me that all the children were very behaved and interested in the art that they were seeing.
the students took advantage of any shady spot they could find.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Budget Cuts?

And we thought this couldn't happen.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

My First Podcast

I did it, I created a podcast in my class today. I was doing Art of the Day with a third grade class and they were have a good discussion about a work of art by the artist Mark Di Suvero. This summer I visited the Denver Art Museum and one of Marks works, Lao-Tzu is outside the museum. I took a picture of the work and showed it to the class. They came up with some really great impressions of the work.
This is a link to my podcast page. It's pretty cool how easy it is to do and the kids love it.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

First week of school

The first week of school is over. I've seen all my classes and given the kids the rules and regulations of my class. Basically don't but me I won't bug you. My version of the golden rule.
The students were all very excited to be in school and happy to be in my class. They always light up at the potential of what is to come in my class and I hope not to disappoint them.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

No time for art

180 days of school to go. Not that I'm counting but that translates into 36 classes of art each year for an elementary student. 27 hours a year, a little more that a day of art each year or one week of art in their elementary school career. Not much time when you think about it.
Especially now that in Florida art is no longer required in middle school. Oh yes there is a requirement in high school that a student take a minimum of 1 credit Fine Art, but of course this has been watered down to read: 1 credit in practical arts career and technical education or performing fine arts; or .5 credit each in practical arts career and technical education and performing fine arts.
So it could be that my art class is the only art exposure that a child may receive in their entire education. I take this responsibility very seriously and understand the effect on a child's future that I hold.
Now when I say 180 days to go you understand that I see that as not too many but not enough.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

The first day of school is almost here, only a few more days and hours. My room is as ready as it ever will be. I have changed my first day plans 3 times in the last week and I think I have settled on a plan that will grab the kids attention. I have gone over bus numbers and have wrist bands for all the bus riders so that they can get on the right bus in the afternoon. I know that on Monday I'll probably be up at 4am and ready to go by 5. So I guess I'll beat the traffic and get a good parking place. I'm guessing that the parents will be arriving with their kids by 7 or 7:15. At open house it looked like they had a long summer and were ready for school to start(parents and kids).

Oh also our school is going under a major renovation, so we will also have "Bob the Builder" to contend with.
It should be a great year and I can't wait for it to start!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

I had a very interesting time today while presenting a workshop on incorporating technology in the elementary art and music classroom. Everyone was very interested and asked some great questions. I can't wait to see how others take the ideas and make them their own. Here is a link to the outline of the workshop.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Social networking in schools

From a report by the National School Boards Association the internet isn't as dangerous as people think, and teachers should let students use social networks at school.

From this article it appears that the dangers of the internet are created more by the media and political fear mongers that reality.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

I'm trying to think of ways to use Voice Thread in the classroom. Students could use this to create reports on artists and their work. Adding their own comments and observations to the images.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Sorta like a Podcast

I've been reading Will Richardson Weblogg-ed and came across this really cool audio & image site called Voice Thread.
I have added one that I made to this blog. It took me about 15 minutes to figure it out and create this.
Now all I have to do is figure what to do with this, and thoughts?

Monday, August 6, 2007


I've taken the district workshop on podcasting and it is very cool and easier to do that I thought it would be. Bradley Smrstick the area 6 Tech trainer did a great job presenting the workshop.
Like with most things on a computer we learned many ways to create the audio files used to make podcasts.
I think that by using a small hand held digital recorder it will be very easy to create podcasts with the kids in my classroom. I am going to share this with the faculty at Mary Bryant.
So far the only problem I've had is that the podcast files quickly fill my allotted server space on the IDEAS server.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Books I'm reading

Only a few more days till we are back at school. I've been reading a few books for inspiration for my class. The first is a book by Anastiasia Goocstein "Totally Wired, What teens and tweens are really doing online" This is a good book to help get inside the heads of our students and how the relate and interact with the technology around them. One interesting anecdote was the story told about the web site MySpace. Frances Harris a librarian at University Laboratoy High School in Urbana, Illinois recounts how a student wrote a paper on the poet Mary Wollstonecraft and then created a profile for her on MySpace. Soon "Mary" had friends like T. S. Eliot. Students were responding and making comments to "Mary" with blogs of poetry.
This book gives examples of how students are using technology in many interesting, unique, and collaborative ways. I enjoined the read and feel challenged to incorporate some of the ideas in my classroom this year.
I am also reading the book "Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts and other powerful web tools" by Will Richardson. In this book I came across this question Will posed in the first few pages "What needs to change about our curriculum when our students have the ability to reach audiences far beyond our classroom walls? What changes must we make in our teaching as it becomes easier to bring primary sources to our students?
Both of these books are making me rethink my curriculum and the way information will be presented in my classroom. I'm hoping that I can include some or even one of the ideas presented in these books and the blogs I have been reading. But being an immigrant to this digital world and not a native growing up with computers in the home and music on Ipods. I still
have to "translate" to the concept of a classroom that is not bound by the walls of the classroom or a specific period..... time and space.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Hi all,

I was doing some reading on the web in regard to tech in the classroom and found this interesting. There is a link below to the rest of the article.

Tell me what you think.


Techlearning blog

Psychology, not technology,

If you're wary of technology, that sounds suspiciously like a coded message:

"You're not doing as good a job as you could be doing, but don't worry, I can help."

If you happen to be younger than the teacher concerned, the message is likely to be even less warmly received. So what is the answer?

Firstly, forget about doing the same stuff better. What is really interesting is doing stuff that you simply can't do in the normal classroom.


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