So, I'm having a baby...

In case you haven't heard, I'm about 7 months pregnant right now.  It doesn't have a lot to do with school at first glance... but in reality, it's a pretty major impact to our everyday lives here in the art room.

First of all, I guess I never really TRULY realized what a physically demanding job it is to be an art teacher!  I'm on my feet a LOT.  I crawl on the floor.  I lean over and use muscles while working on the pottery wheel, or just helping others to use it.  I climb on tables.  I climb under tables.  I climb ladders and step stools to put up displays and bulletin boards and fill the display cases.  I haul 50 pound boxes of clay.  I lug around gallons of paint from table to counter, sink to overhead shelves... I pour and clean out large buckets of water and clay sludge.  I lean over the kiln, loading and unloading - as my feet dangle over the edge! 

...But not now.  Even bending down to pick up a single piece of stray newspaper garbage or dropped pencil is a huge painful chore!  I am feeling utterly useless in this room on a daily basis.  The worst part is my sudden severe onset of carpal tunnel in my right hand (uh, yeah, I'm right handed).  I can hold a pencil for about 10-15 minutes before the grip becomes so painful and tingly that I have to stop.

I'm an art teacher!!!  I want to draw with my students!!!  I have to grade papers!!!

This kind of stinks.

Ok, done whining.  I know I'll forget it all when I look into my gorgeous little baby boy's face in late January (when I'm due).  I hope that whoever takes over for me in the meantime does the art program justice and keeps my room in relatively organized shape so that when I come back it's not "too" bad...

In the meantime, students ask me all kinds of questions about the baby: 
  • Will I come and visit?  - Yes, sure I will.  
  • Do I know if it's a boy or girl?  - Yes, it's a boy.
  • What am I going to name him?  - It's a secret.
  • If I guess the name, will you tell me?  - No.
  • Is it going to be a weird name?  - I hope not.
  • You should name him ______ (fill in the blank with your name here). - Um, thanks.  I'll keep that in mind.
  • Is he going to be an artist like you and Mr. Leban?  - Well, I sure hope so, but he's entitled to his own interests and free will...

Earlier this week, Lauren, an 8th grader, decided to submit to me her list of baby name ideas:

I like that she thought I might name the baby Jean Baptiste or Guillome, especially seeing as neither Mr. Leban or I are French - but perhaps we might like those anyways?  How culturally open-minded of her!  I also enjoyed her suggestions for alternate spellings.

Things like this make coming to school and waddling down the hallways not so bad.  My students are awesome.


Milwaukee Art Museum

Disclaimer: I'm totally ripping off Mr. Leban's post about our family field trip to the Milwaukee art museum.  Want proof?  Visit his page at www.mrleban.com or the original post here.

Here's a collection of 12 photos Mr. Leban put together from the trip that he and I made to the Milwuakee Art Museum several weeks back. The architecture of the building is amazing. We even had the opportunity to see the building "open" while we were there. If you're ever up north, I suggest you stop in.

1. The lobby of the museum.

2. A pencil bag I bought at the gift shop.

3. Me on the bridge. The "sails" of the
building are open in the background.

4. A view of the courtyard from the bridge.

5. Chinese Contemporary Warriors
by artist Yue Minjun.
6. I'm scolding a Cy Twombly.

7. Andy Warhol

8. Roy Lichtenstein

9. "St. Dionysus" by Kehinde Wiley

10. Shadow box by Martha Glowacki

11. A cool sculpture but I forget the artist.

12. "Refrigerator Pies" by Wayne Thiebaud

We had a lot of fun on this trip.  We even took our dog with us!  He wasn't allowed into the museum, of course.  He had to hang out at the hotel.  I don't think he minded, though - he had an entire full sized bed to himself!

Have you been to any art museums lately?


Functional Glazed Mugs by Eighth Grade

mugs 1

In Eighth grade this year, we made mugs - functional mugs that can be used to actually drink out of here at school!  The idea is that students can use them in their Language Arts classes during SSR (sustained silent reading) in the library while they drink hot chocolate.  This is a tradition that's gone on in our school for several years now, but typically with styrofoam cups or store-bought mugs brought in from home.

mugs 2

I thought to myself, "How fun would it be to promote reading, visual arts, and being environmentally-friendly all in one project?!"  And the mug project was born.  This is our first glaze firing of the year, and my first glaze firing with students, EVER.  I used Teacher's Palette glazes from Amaco.  I think the final projects turned out really cute!

mugs 3

The theme of the mug design is your favorite book or book genre.  We built these mugs by hand, from slab construction.  We rolled a cylinder, gave it a bottom, and added a handle.  The decorating was entirely up to the students!

mugs 4

I used my Hipstamatic iPhone app to take these photos, which give them a bit of a vintage feel.  I started using my iPhone more frequently for photography since last weekend, when Mr. Leban and I went on a family vacation to the Milwaukee Art Museum.  But more about that soon...

mugs 5

mugs 6


FREE Mask-Making Workshop for students!

Mrs. Leban is looking for talented artists interested in creating decorative masks out of plaster after school. These masks will be donated to the District 205 Foundation and used as decorations for their Midnight Masquerade fundraiser on October 22nd.

The Sandburg art room has benefitted from several District Foundation grants – the most recent being this year’s new SMARTboard and set of 3 iPads! We’d like to thank the Foundation for their generosity by making as many masks as possible to help decorate at their event.

This opportunity is open to ALL Sandburg Middle School students, grades six through eight, regardless of whether you’ve had art this year or not.

You must be able to attend all of the dates listed below, in order to finish your mask on time for our deadline, which is October 19th. IT WILL GET MESSY, SO BE PREPARED!

Here’s when we’ll be meeting:
  • · Wednesday, October 5th from 3:20 to 4:20 in the art room
  • · Wednesday, October 12th from 3:20 to 4:20 in the art room
  • · Friday, October 14th from 3:20 to 4:20 in the art room
  • · Monday, October 17th from 3:20 to 4:20 in the art room (optional, if time is needed)

All you need to bring is yourself! A 4:20 bus is available to take home for $1 each day, if needed. Otherwise, you must plan for your own transportation home.

Any questions? Please email or talk to Mrs. Leban in the art room (room 027 in the basement).


Masterpiece Me!

Masterpiece Me 1

Last week, I gave the art room iPads to a few eighth grade students who finished their work early.  One of the apps we had a ton of fun playing with is called "Masterpiece Me!" and you get to put your photo into a famous work of art!  Here's a little gallery of some of the photos that were made:

Masterpiece Me 2

Can you spot Mr. Leban as the Mona Lisa in the photos above?


Fun with Manga

Leban Manga

My brother's girlfriend drew a portrait of me Manga-style.  I think it makes me look much younger and prettier than in real life!  I wonder if I could convince the yearbook staff to make it my yearbook picture this year... ?!!! Ha ha!


PTA Reflections Program

Hello!  It's that time of year again - the PTA Reflections Program is in full swing!  Time to show off YOUR talent in the arts.  This year's theme is "Diversity Means."

There are a variety of ways to show off your skills!
  • Visual Arts
  • Photography
  • Literature
  • Musical Composition
  • Film Production
  • Dance Choreography
Entries are due in the main office at Sandburg by October 21st.  You may obtain additional information from the Sandburg website.

Informational sheet #1
Informational sheet #2

If you decide to enter the Reflections contest, and show me your entry before turning it in, I will gladly give you extra credit points in art class (assuming you're in art at the time).  Just be sure to stop by the art room with your project and talk to me about it!


Art Makes Any Classroom Nicer!

IT Room 1

Mr. Burgett, our Industrial Technology teacher, hung up some Pop Art prints made by art students a few years ago.  We studied hand tools, and drew them up close before making foam printing plates and printing our images in bright colors.  One of each print was saved and given to Mr. Burgett (you know, since they work with hand tools in that class and all...).

IT Room 2

IT Room 3

I love how the images make a bright and cheerful border around the CAD lab!  When I came in to photograph the final display, he told me that he was going to LEAVE them up, since they make his room look so nice!

Yayy!  I say there should be art for every classroom!


The first firing of the school year.

clay cupcakes



Seventh and eighth grade students are nearing the completion of their first clay constructions of the year, which means it's time for the first firing of the year!

Seventh grade is working on tiny clay cupcake sculptures that double as keepsake boxes.  This is a project we did in seventh grade last year, too.

Eighth grade is completing an entirely NEW project.  They're making functional mugs that will be glazed (and food safe for drinking), so that they can use their mugs in the library for hot chocolate during silent reading classes!  To keep with the "reading" theme, mugs have been decorated with designs and symbols relating to a favorite book or book genre.


Art Room 2011-2012!

For my first full "official" post this year, I thought I'd do a little photo update of the art room to show you how it's laid out, and what's new...

art room wide shot

Above is an overview/wider shot from the back of the room (by my desk) to the front.  My screen (which is now a SMARTboard!) has been relocated to an actual wall where we can walk up to it.  Last year, the screen was in front of the windows on the opposite wall.

art room drafting table

In this shot, you can actually see part of the old roll-up screen hanging above the windows.  I relocated the big drafting desk to this wall, along with my favorite tall filing cabinet covered in my sticker collection.  The wall with the clock used to house all the AV equipment that now is over by the SMARTboard, so I'm right now int he process of patching and painting the wall.  I think I'll pick something really fun, color-wise.  Stay tuned.

art room desk

Here's a shot of my relocated desk.  I put it in front of the kiln, which is nice because it's extra-safe away from students' hands (we've never had issues in the past, but still!) and also keeps clay projects farther from passer-bys.  Clay projects are stored on the tall black wire shelves you see on the right side of the photo.  You can also see part of the rolling bulletin/chalk board in this photo.  That changes location ALL the time!

art room toy case

The toy cabinet!  I collect lots of things, which actually can come in quite handy when you have a case of artist's block, or need inspiration for still-life objects.  I put a lock on it to discourage "borrowing" of my favorite things, like tiny skeleton mariachis and my robot pencil sharpener.  Wouldn't want those to get lost anywhere!  But the glass makes viewing for sketching purposes very very easy.

art room smart board

Last but not least... the SMARTboard!  I'm so excited about using it this year, I even took a class on how to use it over the summer.  Sixth graders are already familiar with the technology because some of them had one in their fifth grade classroom - how lucky!

I'm just now getting it set up "just right."  I have a desktop PC connected to the board, along with my iPevo document camera/webcam.  I also recently purchased a wireless tablet which will be connected to the PC, and will allow me to control the screen from far away, while students can walk up and use the touch screen.  I LOVE being able to teach "on the fly" with so much information and easy-to-use technology at our fingertips - literally!

Have a great long Labor Day weekend everyone - I hope to start posting more regularly now that the room is 95% done, and classes are getting into the swing of things!


Welcome Back!

It's a new school year!  I usually take a break from the blog over the summer, so don't worry that I haven't posted since last June.

I have about a zillion new ideas for this school year, plus I'm trying to do it all while being pregnant!  Mr. Leban and I are expecting our first baby this January, so this year will be an EXTRA adventure!

This year, we have a SMARTboard in our classroom.  We'll also have use of three iPads in the classroom, thanks to an Elmhurst Education Foundation Thiems Grant!  I can't wait to see how much fun we can have using this new technology.

Check back on the art blog often, as I'll usually post some photos from the classroom and interesting art-related news from both in and out of the classroom.  If you're in art class with me, you can leave comments and start a discussion in order to earn extra credit in art!  Woo hoo!


Super Cool Mouse

The other day I was walking out of school and spotted this awesome little mouse running around in the wood chips.  He wasn't even afraid of me!  I was actually able to get close enough to snap this picture, and take this short video, in which you can see him helping us out by eating up the dandelions!


Sandburg at 60!

I'd like to thank everyone involved with this year's end-of-year art exhibition and birthday celebration for Sandburg's 60th!  Special thanks to everyone (students, families, friends, faculty, staff, and community members) who attended the event!

Unfortunately, my photographer never showed up, so all I had was my camera phone to snap a few quick shots. If you have any photos from the event, please please please email me with them!

Above, students work on decorating cardboard pieces of a "universal" puzzle that will become a mural, which will be installed on the walls of Sandburg Middle School next year!  I can't wait to see how huge it ends up becoming!

The crew at Blick Art Materials in Wheaton ran a demonstration table all about fish printing!  It was super fun to paint these squishy fish shapes with bright colors and press paper onto them.  After peeling away to reveal the results, we added eyes and other fun details.  My brother made me a fish print, and it is currently hanging up outside the art room.  Have you spotted it yet?

Mrs. Draganowski does face painting and body art.  All night she made incredible designs on the faces of students and visitors!  I had fun with the stencils she had out for us to try.  I made a pink and blue unicorn on my arm, and added glitter!

Did you come to the show?  What fun things did you see and do?


Graduation Program Design Contest

Congratulations to Maria, the winner of our 8th grade Graduation Program Cover Design contest!  All 8th grade students are welcome to submit designs, and I choose the finalists.  The winner is chosen by vote from the 8th grade teachers.  This year, there were eight finalists.  You can see all of the finalists' designs on our Artsonia gallery.



Please come to our art show!

"Sandburg at 60" is this year's culminating fine arts event, with dual purposes: 
  1. To celebrate the 60th birthday of Sandburg Middle School
  2. To showcase student achievement and talent in the fine arts

Please come if you can!  Students, families, community members, and alumni are all welcome!  There will be refreshments, art demonstrations, face painting, a community mural that you can participate in, and more!  Festivities will begin at 6:30 pm and continue until 8:30 pm. 

There will be a special performance of the choir, band, and orchestra in the auditorium.  There will also be art exhibits in the cafeteria, library, and hallways.  The crochet coral reef club will be working on their crochet projects in the library, and tours of the building will be available that evening.

Fun for all!


"Art of the Surreal" Contest

Mrs. Bensfield forwarded me this contest opportunity, and it sounded really fun.  Unfortunately, it's for ages 13 and up, so if you're under the age minimum, maybe you could pass this on to a friend or sibling!  I'd love to win a cool contest like this!

Vogue "Art of the Surreal" Contest

You must upload a photo of an original t-shirt graphic, using the surrealistic art style as inspiration (no specific surrealistic artwork may be copied) for your individual fashion design.  The judge will score entries based on the following criteria: creativity (25%), originality (50%), and relation to theme (25%).

There will be one grand prize winner and four runners up. The grand prize is two coach airfare tickets from the major commercial airport nearest winner's primary residence in the US to New York, a two-night hotel stay, a custom screen-printed t-shirt of the winning design, and two VIP tickets to the School of Fashion's Student Fashion Show in Lincoln Center in early September 2011, including backstage access and opportunity to meet student designers!  The runners-up prize is one custom screen-printed t-shirt of each runner-up winner's design/image.


iPod Evolution


Mr. Leban had an idea the other day to line up our iPods, all in a row, and to photograph them.  It's so interesting to see how the iPod has evolved, and to remember when we owned them, and why they were replaced...

iPod names

When I use my iPod mini (yes, it still works and I still use it!) in my classroom, the students laugh at it and call it an antique!  The black and white screen, the heavy metal wrapper... how I loved this when it was new!  I bought it for myself as a birthday present.  Not too long after, the first iPod nano came out, Mr. Leban bought it for me the following birthday.

iPods 1

The original iPod and iPod video are both Mr. Leban's.  I remember how impressed I was when I first saw how the iPod video worked.  Amazing how fast the technology progresses... it was only a little over five years ago!

iPods 2

When our house finally decided to make the transition from PCs to Macs, we encountered (what we considered to be) a fantastic deal: a free iPod touch with the purchase of my new Mac book!  We bought an additional iPod touch (so we each had one), but they were the first generation models. Once the second generation touches came out, it was near impossible to find a new case for the old ones, which was pretty frustrating.

Another fun fact is that the iPod touch did not originally come with the ability to download apps, and it was a system update that you had to purchase for $9.99 when the app store first opened up!

iPods 3

Mr. Leban won an iPod shuffle at a tech conference we went to a few months back.  The most fun part about this model is a button you can press, and a little computer voice tells you the name of the song and the band.  We like to try to pick obscure band names to see if it works right, but so far, it has!  The best we've gotten are some mispronunciations, which are still pretty funny.

And just a few weeks ago, Mr. Leban decided to upgrade his old first gen iPod touch to a current model.  Now, the question is, what do we do with all of these old ones?  What do you do with your old technology?


Clay Days!

This week and last week, we had pottery wheel days in 8th grade.  We had to work in shifts, since we only have 8 wheels total, but each student gets to have a whole class period to work on the wheel. 

Working on the pottery wheel is hard!  I tell students that it's okay to NOT end up with a finished pot!  If they end up making a little something, that's fine, but it's not a requirement.  I am not a trained ceramicist, so I had a bit of a struggle to learn how to properly use the wheel.  In fact, it took me the whole school year to get the hang of it!  I made sure to share this fact with students, so they would not feel bad if they struggled, too.

Once you DO get the hang of it, it's really fun.  Mr. Gail and Ms. Read even joined us last Friday to try to throw some clay!  It was pretty cool to see them get their hands dirty with us!


A Present!

Maria, one of my 6th graders, surprised me last week with a belated birthday present.  A Where The Wild Things Are tote bag!  How awesome!  I told her that I'd have to use it when I wear my t-shirt that has a picture of Max on it that says "I have a WILD imagination!"

It's so sweet that students remember my birthday, and that someone found such a cute little gift to match the theme of our 6th grade art project!


Technology Updates

I'd like to share a few quick updates with all of you.  The first is that I changed (updated?) my Twitter name from "msmillerleban" to "mrsleban."  I've been married almost two years now, so I figure most of my students are probably more familiar with me as Mrs. Leban instead of Ms. Miller.  So if you already follow me and noticed this, that's why.  On the flip side, maybe you're looking for me on Twitter and can't find me.  This might also be why!

Secondly, the art blog is now optimized for viewing on your mobile phone!  Here's a screen shot of it from my iPhone (above).  When you use Blogger in draft, you have the option to make your site mobile-phone friendly.  I thought I'd try it out.  Let me know what you think!


Elementary Art Visit

Yesterday morning, I visited Mr. Wesseler's art room at Hawthorne Elementary in Elmhurst.  He uses a lot of technology in his classroom (like an iPad, which I'm getting soon!), so I wanted to see how he does it.

Here's his room.  Actually, it's only the main part!  There's a special room just for clay off of the main room.  Then, off to the left in this photo (above) is a doorway to an outdoor courtyard.  Yes, you heard me correctly.  An OUTDOOR COURTYARD.  For students to make art.  No, I couldn't believe it either, and I was way jealous.

So, besides a swanky courtyard and a clay room, he also has a whole separate store room that's definitely bigger than my storage closet (I feel so inferior now!), and another room for the kiln that had even more storage.  Ugh, storage envy!

I love these painted brick walls and windows.

I was able to watch a fifth grade and a fourth grade art class before having to travel back to Sandburg for my own classes.  Fifth grade was painting monochromatic compositions, and fourth grade was drawing still life arrangements in oil pastel.

Mr. Wesseler uses his iPad on the digital presenter to draw on it, but he also connects it to an external monitor that students gather around when reading digital books.  He uses his MacBook Pro for projecting art examples via iPhoto.

One of the most fun tips I saw in action was a repeated alarm set on his iPod to alert classes when there was 5 minutes left of class and it was time to clean up!  It was a cute little twinkle sound that students had been coached to listen for to begin cleanup before the next (back-to-back) elementary art class began.  Smart!


Need washing advice...

Here's a photo of my backyard fence on Sunday afternoon.  I spent the warm-ish weather (on Easter Sunday, mind you!) out on the driveway, hosing down old towels from the pottery wheels that were caked in clay.  I was too worried to put them in the washing machine as-is, for fear that I'd clog up the plumbing.

Are there any art teachers (or expert clothes-washers) out there with good ideas or suggestions on how to clean towels (we put these on our laps while using the pottery wheels in an attempt to keep ourselves clean) without clogging my home plumbing, but also not reverting to old-school "washing-in-the-river-and-beating-against-a-rock" techniques?  I felt so goofy, spraying them out on the concrete and hanging them on the fence... and that was BEFORE I then brought them in and washed them via machine! 

Thankfully, my neighbors are nice... and kind of used to me being weird.

I should probably also give a big shout-out THANK YOU to my mother-in-law for donating a huge pile of old towels for us to use in the art room for this.  When we got our pottery wheels, we had no idea how many other odds-and-ends (such as spare towels) we'd need to use them efficiently.

That being said, 8th grade classes will start the 4th quarter round of pottery wheel usage this week!  Get ready, because it'll be messy!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...