MLK Day “I have a dream…” T-Shirts and Community Input Artwork

Waconia High School remembers MLK Jr. by having a day of service – a part of Make It Count. Our school worked with Kids Against Hunger over the school day to create meals. In order to offset some of the costs of this service project, we decided to sell t-shirts that promoted MLK Jr. Day of Service. I created the design below.

If you are interested in buying one let me know! We still have some smalls and mediums left over. 🙂

In our classrooms, teachers are encouraged to take part in service projects of our own or remembering MLK Jr. legacy. Inspired by the artist Candy Chang and her community input artwork, I created these small sheets of paper that students could reflect on their own personal goals that they could work towards. Amy Fischer, an art teaching co-worker and department chair, suggested they make them artistic as well – as you can see some students really enjoyed! Here is a selection of their dreams. It is a really simple idea, but I loved getting to know our students better through it.

Water Etching with Mod Podge – A New Obsession

I am always looking for new ideas for ceramics. It is just one of those mediums that inspires experimentation. I have recently signed up for the fantastic newsletter from Ceramics Art Daily and came across this demo on water etching. Since I’m not a big fan of wax or shellack for high school students, I wasn’t so sure if I’d be doing water etching in the near future. But I, was definitely wrong. The folks at Atlanta Clay have done a spectacular job showing off this great technique using Mod Podge. I bought 1 gallon of it at Dick Blick ($30-$40 or so) and I’m pretty sure it will last me all school year too.

Check out this awesome demo. I am incorporating mod podge water etching soon. I’ll for-sure post the results!

-Shalanah Dawson

Elements of Art New Poster Design Zazzle

Elements of Art Poster print
So it is back to school time (almost) and I was visiting with the other art teacher (she is also the department head) this past week. I noticed in my room that several of my Elements of Art posters were ripped and in bad shape from falling and the summer cleaning process. I love the content on the posters; however, they are impossible to read for students from far away except for the titles (line, shape, form, color, texture, space and value). I thought it is about time that I just redesign these for learning and economy. So here it is! I hope other art teachers enjoy and use it as well. My next poster to tackle is the Principles of Art and to put up some throwing on the wheel guides. So stay tuned!

-Shalanah Dawson

New for 2011-2012 – Youtube

Just yesterday, I purchased a screen capture software – iShowU HD – for my Graphic Design and Digital Photography classes next year. I have created two YouTube videos that will be used for students to follow if they are absent or need a refresher on the project or tools. I’m enjoying it so far! More videos to come as the summer continues 🙂 .

– Shalanah Backus

Photoshop Converts Cake

ctrl-z Shalanah Backus Student Cake

Commercial Art is perhaps my favorite class to teach. Students learn about Photoshop, design and Illustrator. It could not be more fun. I also was blessed in having a great group of students, who became huge fans of the computer programs we were using. It was one of their birthdays and another classmate created this AWESOME cake with “Ctrl – Z” on it. It is the “undo” button on Photoshop, Illustrator and many other programs. Love it.

-Shalanah Backus

Tech Summer

It has been a busy summer. Graphic design, web work, wedding photos, AND I’m teaching at iD Tech Camps! I worked as a counselor at iD once when I was in college and have rejoined the team this year at Macalester College. The staff is fun, the campers are awesome and we make some really cool things! At iD I teach students, in one week, how to create a website or video game from scratch (using Photoshop, Flash, Dreamweaver and Fusion). There are also other courses in coding (C++ and C sharp), robotics, and game modding.

-Shalanah Backus

Designing Art Lessons

One of my favorite things about teaching is designing art lessons. I love the problem-solving and research involved in fitting all the pieces together to set students up for awesome outputs. And my major tip for designing any lesson (even if you know generally what you wish to do) is to, “try it yourself“! It is amazing that such a small concept can outline the whole assignment for you. Don’t underrate it!

-Shalanah Backus

Tips for Teachers Rookies and Veterans

I just finished teaching at Crosswinds Middle School in Woodbury, Minnesota and I have learned a lot from this summer. Inspired by how much I have learned I thought I would compile some of the best practices and best pieces of advice I have heard from teachers over the years. I will try to update this as I remember more of them or learn new ones! If you have any to add, please comment.

“Leave school remembering the faces of the sweet students in your classroom.”
Wonderful advice from an art teacher at Crosswinds. I’ve heard for every negative you need 3-5 positive affirmations to cancel it. As teachers, it is easy to focus on the challenges but remembering the vast number of positive influences in your classroom can help you keep a happy attitude. I have even heard one teacher say that she keeps a notebook and writes down one good or funny thing that happened during the day.

“Do not leave school until you are ready for the next day’s lesson.”
Some organizational tips I learned are to have all your supplies ready the day before they are needed so you are not running around and you can be relaxed teaching. I have also learned if you keep your supplies well kept and organized the students will treat the supplies with respect as well. For an art teacher I enjoy being neat.

“Eat lunch with other teachers.”
Teaching is actually a very solo profession. You need to make sure you are connecting with other teachers and lunchtime is a perfect time to relax.

“Be calm and cool.”
It is said often that if a student is having a difficult time it is not personal and this is very true. Students are still growing and learning correct behavior (and we all have our off days) so projecting calm and collected demeanor pays off not only for you but calms other students.

“Be involved.”
If you have any opportunity to chaperon a dance, coach, attend a game, watch a play, attend a recital, put up an exhibit you gives you opportunities to see students excel, connect with parents, and connect with other teachers too. You become a teacher and a part of the community.