Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Catching Up

We have had a fast and busy semester this school year!  There have been a lot of changes to our studio space and schedule, so I thought I would take a moment to write about what's new.  I have been documenting artwork and putting together information for some new posts about our current art units; look for those soon!  I am also working on catching up on posts about units from last school year.  Due to our change in studio spaces last year, it became a challenge to find the time to shoot, edit, write, and blog about the lovely works of art that were created.  I hope you enjoy as I work to "display" samples of all the wonderful work from this year and last!

As you may remember, two weeks into last year we lost our dedicated art classroom due to extra-large enrollment numbers at our school.  My students and I worked out of two open pod areas - one upstairs in the fourth grade pod (for the older grade levels), and one downstairs in the kindergarten pod (for the younger grade levels).  The pod areas are common areas directly open to the hallways and surrounding grade level classrooms.  This meant our spaces, though re-dedicated to art only, were open to all the normal activity of the hallway, and students coming and going to their classrooms. There were challenges to this arrangement - space, noise level, storage - but also many successes and learning opportunities (for me and the students!)  Nothing is as ideal as having your own classroom - especially one that was specially designed for making art, with four sinks, large windows, tons of storage, and a kiln room!  However, we were able to set up classroom-like spaces (as opposed to the very challenging "art on a cart" scenario) and had a pretty great year of art-making.  

This year, the art studios were consolidated to one classroom space again (YAY!)  We are not back in our art room, but do have a dedicated classroom in the t-building.  We are so fortunate to have a sink out here (most t-buildings don't) and, though the space is more limited than our old classroom, we have room for our most needed furniture and equipment and a decent amount of storage.  We hope to someday move back inside the school to the original art room, but we are grateful for our new studio and all the opportunities it provides!

The most exciting change this year (in my opinion) is our change in schedule!  We are now operating on a three-day art block!  I get to see each set of students K-5th for three days in a row, on a six block rotation.  I still see the students for the same total amount of time as I did last year, but instead of meeting once every six class periods (which meant about 8-10 days before seeing each class again) I get to see my classes for a more streamlined, back-to-back unit of time!  I LOVE IT!  I'm pretty sure the students do too.  Our units are moving along faster and showing greater understanding, behavior is more consistent and calm, and on top of that I am having a much easier time remembering new names!  Science follows the same three-day block rotation schedule, while music, technology, and PE cycle through a few single-day class periods during their time in the enrichment schedule.  The schedule is much more complex than last year, and takes 18 class days per cycle, but our team is making it work without skipping a beat!  I am grateful for such a flexible, open-minded team of enrichment teachers and administrators who were willing to try this out this year. 

I will return after the break with our first official "Little Bits of Magic" and new posts from this school year and last.  Have a Great Thanksgiving!  We have so much to be thankful for here in the art studio at Briargrove.  Wishing you all the same.

Take Care,
Mrs. Gonzalez

P.S. I have an exciting piece of personal news to share when we get back!

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