July 31, 2012

art room leaders

I feel like every year I have to try out a new or slightly altered version for giving each class leadership jobs.
After messing with "numbers" the last two years I am finally embracing "colors".

First, I gave every table a color.
I made the fringe garland using a tutorial I found here.
I broke the rules and added two neutral colors instead of completing a secondary color scheme.

I printed out leader jobs that will correspond with each table color.
These were laminated. I attached magnetic tape to the back. Now the colors can be shuffled each week.

Sketchbook Leaders.
They pass out the classes' sketchbooks at the beginning of class --- and they collect them after 5 minutes.
Each grade level has a corresponding color and a different front design that involves their name. 
(This is the first day of class project)

Table Tub Leaders.
They get the tub organized at the end of class --- plus they monitor it during the class period to make sure no one is playing with the stuff inside it without permission.
I obviously haven't filled them up with supplies yet.

Supply Leaders (new to me this year).
They will get the supplies and return them at the beginning and end of class.
They will need to bring trays to the correct table using the water cup color as an indicator.
(If you've never passed out stuff on a tray, consider it, it make passing out supplies a breeze!)

Floor Leaders (new to me this year).
They will sweep up the floor at the end of class. They will also mobilize the trash cans to help with the process.

Clean-up Leaders.
They wipe up the table tops after I spray them off (I never let them spray). Keeps the tables clean and germ free after every class! Hallelujah!

Table Folder Leaders.
For the unfinished projects that don't need a drying rack.
They put all the artwork in the corresponding folder. There are 3 folders per class and every grade level has their own color. They are laminated for continuous use.
We shall see how the new color leader jobs turn out!

July 28, 2012

aurora & columbine

After my daily postings a week ago it was rather cruel of me to neglect my blog this past week.
All for good reason though.
I've mentioned before that I am a youth leader at my church.
It is something I've been doing for three years now.
People always comment how we (my leadership team) are having a great impact on these kid's lives, to which I reply that these kids are having a huge impact on my own life. 
I think any teacher can relate.
We get a short amount of time with each student (slightly longer if you are a specialist) and in that time we are responsible for molding these children.
Sure, parents play a key role in that responsibility. 
Once again though, I think that any teacher will agree we spend a great deal of time teaching, loving, and caring for our students.
This concept came full circle for me this past week.

Our annual youth camp happened the last seven days.
We've being going to these camps in different states where you work in the community and try to make a difference.
We decided we were going to Colorado last fall.

The day before we left tragedy struck Aurora, Colorado.
I, like so many of you, was glued to the TV on Friday when I should have been packing.
I was incredibly torn up inside.
I love going to Midnight premieres and so many of the people I love go to these fun outings too.
What if?
What if that happened to me? Or someone I cared about? 
That night I even went to see The Dark Knight Rises with my family. I've never been more on edge in a theater before. Security officers were roaming the premises, standing in the theater, checking the emergency exit doors. I spent more time watching the people in the theater with me than watching the movie.

We left for Colorado on Saturday but didn't arrive till Sunday afternoon.
My leadership team decided that it would be a good experience to take the kids to the Aurora theater area and Columbine High School to have them pray over each location. We didn't tell the kids, but it didn't take long for them to figure it out once we got into Aurora.
I've never experienced anything like that before.
We all experience tragedy when we watch something on television, but it is always from a distance.
To stand in the parking lot of the theater that I had been staring at on a television screen the day before was surreal. Camera crews, news stations vans, and satellites lined the parking lot.
We circled up and let the kids start praying. It was emotional to say the least.

We didn't stay long but the seriousness of the situation followed us in the van ride to Columbine.
I took out my phone and found a story on all the victims on a news website.
I started reading out loud the victim's names and what their ambitions were.
I about lost it myself when reading that one of the men killed was aspiring to be an art teacher one day.

We talked to the girls in my van about why a loving God would allow something like this to happen.
I referenced this blog post that my mother had read to me.

On we drove to a high school that has forever changed the way we do our jobs and the way our kids experience school. 
Our purpose behind visiting these two locations was not to have our youth overwhelmed with grief, it was really about reaching out to a community, and sometimes the only thing you can do is pray.

Columbine High School was quiet.
School is out for the summer and the parking lot was void of traffic as compared to our first stop.
We got out of the van again and this time listened to our youth pastor talk to the kids about what had happened there over a decade ago. I myself was only a seventh grader when the massacre happened. I believe our oldest youth would have only been five.
We prayed.
Then we walked to the Memorial that was established.
The Memorial was beautiful. It was situated on a hill nearby the school. Each victim's family got to leave a message about their loved one for the world to read. Most of the youth group was crying by this point.
It was a whole different experience as a teacher.
Because your students are like your kids.
You start thinking about what you would do if you ever faced a situation like that.
We spent a good part of the whole week serving the community through different outreach programs...
but this day turned out to be the best day of the whole trip because it really struck a cord in all our hearts.

It reminded me that our time here is very short.
Things can happen in an instant.
In the end, I want to be so certain of one thing. 
That I lived my life in such a way that God gets all the glory.

July 20, 2012

why I became an art teacher (pt. 5 the conclusion)

When I said I was on the precipice of student teaching I meant it.
It only took one push and I soon found myself dangling from that cliff.
But I held on.

student teaching
Let's be honest. Student teaching is beyond horrifying. You spent four five years preparing and suddenly you are thrown into a room full of kids and you must prove you know what you are doing. The first few days at any placement are enough to send your stomach into full on queasiness. But let's be honest again, it feels that way still when school starts now and I'm not even being watched like a hawk. Newness is scary, but it is also an adventure. I student taught for a full year at all the different grade levels. I learned more about myself that year than any of the previous five. 
I learned I can teach.
I learned I love to teach art.
I learned how to deal with unexpected challenges.
I learned that I didn't need a nine page lesson plan to teach.
I learned what it feels like to see a student click and understand something you teach.
I learned how hard it is to leave students you love.
I learned I look like a high school student.
I learn how to deal with difficult people.
I learned how truly amazing some people are.
I learned how to stand my ground.
I learned how to change.
I learned I loved teaching middle school students.
I learned that God knew what He was doing all along.
I learned.

the job
When student teaching was over the economic crisis was in full swing. I had been told by professors and friends that I should not expect to actually have a job once college was over. It was sooo wonderfully encouraging. But God did something big. Something that only proved to me again that He knew what He was up to long before I got a clue. Just a few weeks after student teaching had concluded in May I got a call from someone I did not know. They told me in a voicemail they had gotten my name from someone else I didn't know. I was being called in for an interview. After the initial interview I was sent to three different elementary schools to interview again. After my interview at the second elementary school it became clear to me and my future Principal that if any moves were to be made they needed to be made fast. The district called me for another interview  thirty minutes after I left what would become my future school. I still went to the third school and interviewed before heading to the district offices. 
Five interviews later I was given the job. 
The one they said I couldn't get. 
God had opened a door in a district where I had not student taught and where I knew no one. Humbled for sure.

to answer the question
All this to answer why I became an art teacher. I became what I had originally said I wanted to be. I think somewhere in my six-year-old heart when I sat in the car tracing my Garfield comic book a desire was placed in my heart. Sure, it was unrealized at the time. But that is how the Lord likes to work. He doesn't show us the whole plan because we would become overwhelmed and impatient. If I had known the journey I would have to face in order to be where I am now I think my fears would have won out. I wouldn't take back all the majors and challenges because without them I would never have know the blessing of  being an art teacher. I became what had been placed as a desire in my heart so long ago. Every challenge I've faced getting here only makes it that much more worth it.  We've all been called to something.
I believe I am called to lead, to create, to teach.

July 19, 2012

why I became an art teacher (pt. 4)

As I let the door slam behind me I had never been more certain of any decision in my life.

If you are a believer you will find that sometimes when the Lord calls you to do something, it is not always butterflies and rainbows. I have found though that hard roads are the most rewarding. My meeting with the art education adviser did not go well. Skepticism stared at me from across the desk. I wasn't prepared for an interrogation but that is exactly what I got. I suppose she was simply concerned that if I had quit one major what did that say about my character. She thought I was a quitter. I saw myself as being brave though. Daring to do something that involved a lot of risk, especially for a junior in college. She begrudgingly reviewed my coursework and set up a plan for the next semester before she sent me to the office to officially declare my major.

something to prove
As I walked down the hall to the office I felt relief. At least I had passed the test, but I had not done it with flying colors. I think that is when I set it in my heart to prove to her and the other art ed professors that I would leave my mark on the program. I would not let her regret letting me in. Although the degree program was not without its challenges it was a breath of fresh air when compared to where I had been. I actually enjoyed getting up in the morning to go to class. As time passed,  me and some of my fellow classmates began to impress the advisers. Who knew that simply showing up and turning in homework on time could impress a professor? My adviser stopped being skeptical of me the day I showed up in her office for advising with a color-coded excel spreadsheet documenting my coursework for the next three years. So apparently I like being organized and maybe a perfectionist. 

the reward
I got called into a meeting with my adviser about two months before I was to graduate. Three years had somehow flown by and suddenly I was a second-year senior on the precipice of my student teaching year. I had no clue what she wanted to talk to me about but it didn't take long for my once-biggest-skeptic to spill the news. She along with the other art ed professors had been asked to recommend one student to speak at convocation and they had chosen me. 
The newly appointed speaker-- me--sat speechless on the other side. 
The girl who had been invisible? 
The girl whom her last adviser had not known her name? 
The girl who was originally eyed as being a quitter?

the speech
I sat across from the Dean of my school and laughed at how I got here. Their intention was to schedule several meetings with the Dean in order to help me figure out what to say in my speech. The thing I took away from all those meetings was that I simply needed to write from my heart. 

"The great thing about my major is it gave me, and my fellow classmates, the chance not only to meet so many of you but it also gave us the opportunity to witness the passion you all have for your respective majors. This passion was due, at least in part, to our professors who provided guidance and support. Whether we are aware of it or not, it is the teachers in our lives who have brought us to this place. It was through their insight and challenges that our creative sides were nurtured and strengthened. Personally, my future years as a teacher will be based significantly on the experiences I have shared with my professors."

Graduation was the A+ for my five-year journey. Student teaching though was exam.

July 18, 2012

why I became an art teacher (pt. 3)

Course correction.
Had I not been an interior design major I'm not sure you'd be reading this blog.

being invisible
I didn't thrive when I finally made it to my Alma mater. In fact, I barely survived. I followed my sister's footsteps when I joined her university as a sophomore. Same university. Same living residence. She had graduated but left her mark in such a way that I found myself competing her once again. I wanted to be me but everyone else wanted me to be her. Facing that was a challenge that I finally won in time. Classes provided me with a new challenge. My degree was different at this different school. Bad different. I was suddenly invisible in my hall and in my classes. My advisers and thus professors were harsh and cold. Two traits that I don't tend to mix well with. I woke up every morning and had to drag myself to class. Was this what my life would feel like once I graduated? 

a conversation
I let the dragging of my feet continue for far too long. I was a junior and feeling more trapped than I knew how to handle. Once you hit upperclassmen years, you begin to realize that you made your choices and now you have to live with them. Because I was a transfer student I still had three years left before I would ultimately graduate and go work at an architecture firm. Far too long to feel that way and yet I was far too scared to tell anyone. At the beginning of that fall semester I felt a call on my heart to fast for a week. Although it isn't something I would normally share, it is vital to how my life changed. I started the fast without knowing why God was burdening my heart with that call and by the end of the week it still wasn't clear. On the last day of the fast I went to my History of Architecture class. The class was mildly entertaining mostly because I had some friends in it with me. One of them was a girl from my church who happened to be studying Interior Design too. She was older than me and a great asset when it came to knowing what was ahead of me. She said something to me that day which changed my life. We were discussing what my future years would look like and she looked me and bluntly stated that if she could go back to where I was she would get out of the major and do something else. I left the class shaking because I finally understood what had been burdening my heart all week. Maybe even my whole life.

the day my life changed
By the time I got back to my Hall, I knew what I needed to do. I called my parents and told them I felt like I was being called to change my major. My parents being the graciously understanding people that they are gave me the green light. Secretly, I had been scoping out the art education degree program for some time when I was alone in my room. I got back on it that day and realized it would take me just as long to graduate with a BAE as it would have with Interior Design. I set up a meeting to talk to my interior design advisers and the art education advisers.

what's your name?
When I told my Interior Design adviser I was dropping his class and the major he told me I was making a huge mistake. He said that he knew I would be back even when I assured him I would not. He told me that I was one of his most talented students and I showed so much promise. I thanked him but deterred the conversation to whether I could have my first project back so I could take it home. With resignation in his voice he asked me what my name was so he could go get it. I thought in my head, 'are you serious'?! You tell me I'm a promising student but don't know my name? I walked past him, grabbed my project, turned my head and told him my name is Jennifer, and walked out the door. Never to return.

July 17, 2012

why I became an art teacher (pt. 2)

Maybe it wasn't that I denied my heart.
Maybe instead it was that I wanted to make sure of my heart.

junior college
You spend thirteen years of your life watching teachers teach before you get sent off to college in order to pursue a degree. Besides your parents (unless they are educators) we really have no clue what other professions look like. I found myself at that crossroad. I knew what I had said I wanted to be, but I didn't know if it was because it was all I had ever seen. Little did I know I was on my way to joining 50% of American students who change their major once during college--although I am still wondering what the percentage is for changing your major four times.

major one
Culinary Arts
This was the shortest lived of all my majors. I dropped it before I even set foot onto campus. But it is what my high school graduation program reads, so it is worth a mention because it was part of the journey. What better major to choose that involved my two loves --art and eating food. I had spent the last few years interning under a caterer so I was no stranger to preparing and cooking food. When I went on a college visit this is what I was told, "Are you prepared to have no life?" That's a pretty loaded question to ask an eighteen-year-old. "Uhhhh...I don't know," was my intelligent reply. "Well, if this is what you really want to do just be aware it will be hard to have a family, hard to have a life, be prepared to work most if not all holidays." I was in the student center changing my major before she had finished.

major two
Hospitality Management
I started out my first semester of college as a hospitality management major. You need to understand that another one of my dreams was being in the restaurant business. I figured if I couldn't be a chef in the my restaurant I could at least run it. It only took one semester before I was back in that student center. Don't get me wrong, I loved everything I learned, but I couldn't stand the lack of creativity. I needed art.

major three
Interior Design
By second semester I was a full-fledged interior design student. I had my first taste for what it costs to be an art major. Holy cow! But I was in love. It was perfect, I could design my own restaurant. By the end of the spring I was confident this was where I needed to be. I had enrolled in a four year college with plans to finish this degree. Funny thing though, I have found that the Lord has the power to course correct us onto paths that He wants us on by using the paths we think we are supposed to be on. Had I not been in this major, I'm not sure I'd be an art teacher today.

July 16, 2012

why I became an art teacher (pt. 1)

We all have our own stories.
How we got where we are. 
How we became who we are.
This is mine.
I remember the day I knew I wanted to be an artist.

I was riding in the backseat of our family car tracing pictures out of a Garfield comic book. Tracing. Certainly not an original move, but for the six-year-old that I was it might as well have been the Mona Lisa. My dad thought so too. I remember him telling me what a good artist I was. That is my first memory where I remember being acknowledged for being creative...that was all it took...and I knew.

the competition
If you have a sibling you can attest to the fact that everything is a competition. That is beyond true for my sister and me. Rebekah is two years my senior and the mirror image of myself. I wanted to beat her in everything, but mostly, I just wanted to be her. As the younger sister I grew up with the reality that she got to do everything first. In some cases, this was amazing. I learned what not to do to get by. In most cases, this was a cruel reality. I had to wait for prom dress shopping, driving a car, getting a cell phone, going to college, etc. Rebekah knew this too. And as a big sister, she used that to her advantage when we were in elementary. Elementary school is where I first declared I wanted to be an art teacher. Rebekah retorted that since she would get a job first, she was going to be the art teacher. She would take any job that I wanted. This was the war that ultimately led me to tears, knowing that she was right, and led mom to say, "She is just trying to get your goat." It worked. 

the substitute
We've all had good and bad teachers. The good ones make you want to become a teacher just so you can be like them. The bad ones make you want to become a teacher just so you can do it better than them. Because elementary school seems like a foggy picture when I try to remember it in my head I can't tell you whether the following was actually my art teacher or a long term substitute, but I am going to go with the latter. Despite not being able to remember who she was, I do remember what she did. And to my young little mind, it was not art. It was a worksheet with geometric shapes on it. All we did the whole art class was trace around them. I left frustrated. I had seemingly graduated from my tracing days and wanted art class to be spent creating something, not copying something. I can reflect back now and bestow her some grace. But my thought after that day was, "I can do this better."

the teacher
Like I said, some teachers make you want to become a teacher just so you can be like them. That was the case by the time I reached junior high. I loved art so much by that point I did anything to be in that classroom with her. I somehow convinced the Vice-Principal to allow me to take art in 7th and 8th grade although you were technically only allowed to take that elective once. Certainly I must have sang to him or played an instrument to prove that my strengths were clearly in the art room. By the time I was in high school it was my favorite hour of the day. I even elected to bypass trigonometry (imagine that!) just so I could continue my education in the art room via yearbook staff. This teacher made me want to be an art teacher--made me want to do art. When graduation came though, I denied my heart and went a different direction.

Stay tuned this week for the 5-part story.

July 13, 2012

pinterest and lesson planning

** New // blog post // on how to print pins with the new Pinterest layout as of 7-8-13 **

I think it is safe to say that almost all art teachers are using Pinterest or at the very least they have heard of it.
I admit, I was reluctant to join.
I was a StumbleUpon fan and couldn't bare to think of leaving them.
My Pinterest account is now in full swing while I deactivated StumbleUpon after months of neglect.

There are serious benefits to using Pinterest.
Lesson plan ideas.
Creativity at your fingertips.
But if you aren't watching your bank account decrease by doing the multitudes of crafts you've pinned...like I am...how might an art teacher utilize this resource other than the obvious ways?

I came up with one idea.
Nothing genius or anything, but it sure helps get the internet into your hands.

It is only a matter of time before my district or yours shuts down access to Pinterest in our classrooms.
Maybe you have found yourself --like me-- hopping on there during a plan period to make sure you are making your teacher sample correctly.
Don't get me wrong, I don't pin while I am work, but I do get on there occasionally to help me plan.

This year though I decided to take a preemptive strike at my lesson planning.
I printed off all 10 pages of art lesson pins from my art board. (see printing instructions below!)
Grabbed some scissors, baggies, a sharpie, and my new lesson plan book.
I wrote out a label on each baggie for all the grade levels that I teach.
Then I started to cut out all the pins.
I wasn't too worried about organizing the pins while I was cutting them out.
It was nice to reflect on all the pins and get excited for the coming year.
I did my best to keep blog names attached to the pins in case I need to look something up.
Then I took my rather large stack of pins and started to sort them into grade levels.
I didn't put all pins where their original blogger had noted the age level. 
Instead I followed my own scope and sequence to make sure each grade was doing related subject-matter.
I realize not all pins will get used this year, but it was a perfect way to get the pins into my hands.
Get some double-sided tape and start organizing your lesson plan book.
The tape makes it easy to move the projects around.
Obviously I haven't written much yet anything, but that is to come.
I can never plan too far in advance because something will always throw my schedule off.
Keep all your pins clipped to your lesson plan book.
Super easy to browse through them and add whatever you wish to your lesson plan schedule.
Check out this updated blog post on printing pins with the new Pinterest layout. (7-8-13)
// click here //

I've heard that quite a few of you ran into problems with printing. So here is a step-by-step photo tutorial.
I use Google Chrome--if you don't..you should...it is a million times better than any other browser.
First go to the board you want to print.
You MUST scroll to the bottom of that board or your printer won't recognize all the pages you want to print.
Right-click on your mouse and some options should pop-up. Click Print.
This dialog box should pop-up.
Change your printer settings so you get color prints.
Also make sure you put it on LANDSCAPE.
I realized after the fact that when you use portrait it will cut off the projects on the far right.
 I believe using landscape will solve that issue.
That's it! Hope it works for you!!

July 12, 2012


I love this website.
Jordan just has the most beautiful posts that I could (and have) spent hours perusing.
I found this picture on her blog and pinned it because I loved the ombre table cloth.
I am in the process and making my future more aesthetically enjoyable --what art teacher isn't?--
So I decided I needed to make myself an ombre table cloth.
Ensue crafting adventure:
First you need to buy fabric.
I bought white ultra silky fabric because I liked the way it felt on my skin and more importantly my mom said it would sew well and stains would not be a huge issue.
Ollie liked the way it felt too.
I cut my fabric to allow for four napkins and the table cloth itself.
Let me advise you on a location for this craft.
If it happens to be winter when you attempt than choose the garage or basement. 
Pour boiling water into a tub.
I chose my favorite color and poured a bit of RIT dye into the water.
I mixed it up with a plastic spoon.
You don't want to use a lot of dye to start because you will continually add more throughout the process.
I decided not to dye the corners because I liked them white.
I dipped them in about three quarters of the way and immediately pulled them out.
Then I let half of the napkin rest in the tub and added a bit more dye to the mix.
Patience is the key here --which I had little to none--
I hung the napkins on a clothesline.
Throughout the table cloth dyeing I would occasionally dip the corners of the napkins back into the dye.
Soak the table cloth in water first.
Repeat the same process you did with the napkins here.
You will need to get creative on how to hang your fabric while it is dyeing.
This shows how I continued to dip the corners of the napkins into the dye while the table cloth was dyeing.
I let it dry in the garage overnight to let the dye soak in.
The napkins had faded to a pinkish-purple by morning.
I had to get creative in order to keep the white part of the table cloth out of the washer.
To my annoyance the table cloth lost a lot of the purple after its bath.
I still like the color it turned to, but I do plan to give it a little more dye at some point to return some of that purple richness. I will add black RIT dye because that tends to turn purple anyway.

After they are dyed, sew away!!
One day when I actually have it in use I will take a picture and share it with you.

I used 2.5 yards of fabric.
I had a 40% coupon to JoAnn Fabrics.
Total cost: $16.30

July 11, 2012


So I've been glued to the laptop for the last few days.
Obviously I have been lagging in my posting though.
So what have I been doing?
Editing a photo shoot I had with my best friend on Monday night.
I would post more, but gosh, wouldn't you know I didn't pose backwards in most of them.
That's me on the left and Lauren on the right.
Only one of us actually plays the guitar.
And no --- it isn't the art teacher.

July 6, 2012

free is good

I bought a dining room table about two months ago which has become the inspiration for the next couple of crafts.

Found these and decided I could not throw good glass away.
Soaked the bottles in water to get the labels off.

I know he hasn't shown up in a crafting sessions for awhile, but don't panic. 
Ollie is alive and well annoying.
He is not suppose to be on the counter, but when I turned around from the sink I realized I wasn't the only one who wanted to make a craft.

Wrap some rubber bands around the bottles.

I had wanted to use black spray paint, but I was almost out.
Silver it is.

I bought tapered candles to go in these, but you could easily make them into vases too!

This project was free because I had all the supplies.
I love free!

July 4, 2012

jewelry giveaway

Hopefully you've spared enough time on this holiday to go read some blogs.
If so you are in for a treat!

Some of my jewelry is being featured in a giveaway today.

If you follow my blogroll then you will notice, I don't just follow art teacher blogs.
I like to branch out and explore all facets of this creative world.
Fashion being one of them.

is featuring some of my recent jewelry adventures.
This is Molly and Mac.
I love these sweet girls.
Molly and I got to creatively collaborate on crafty stuff for her brother's wedding last summer. 
Needless to say it was like meeting a kindred spirit.

Mac dazzled me and many others with her nightly country concerts during the wedding week.
She has a beautiful voice and an uncanny talent for writing the most heart-felt lyrics.

I wished we lived in the same state, but regardless, it only took a few hours of that week for me to see how special they are.
Besides all those wonderful talents they also have a killer wardrobe and the special ability to stylize their clothing into some knockout combinations.
Thank goodness they started
So if you have enjoyed my
then click on over to
for your chance to win something I made.
And while your at it, follow their blog, you won't be disappointed.
After all, fashion is a huge part of the art world.

Happy 4th!