Fine Tuning – STEAM Lesson Inspired by Nathalie Miebach


So last year, I was lucky enough to attend the MAEA conference in Boston, where Nathalie Miebach was the keynote speaker.  I learned about her work a bit earlier in the year while taking a Contemporary Art class with Lois Hetland at the EDCO Collaborative in Bedford, MA.

After the keynote, it was obvious I needed to develop a unit inspired by the woven sculptures she creates using a variety of scientific data.  If you are not familiar with her work, I suggest you check out her Ted Talk! I actually use this video in my introduction to this unit with my fourth graders.

So, this unit has required lots of trouble-shooting along the way….I don’t think it’s quite ready to be shared out, as I still need to fine tune how I manage my students data collection, but I think I’m getting there.  I’ll be teaching it again soon when my next group of fourth graders come to extra art at the end of this month, so I’m thinking some time in January I will be able to share the steps, tips, and finished photographs!

For now, check out how hard my students have been working by viewing the in-process photographs below. They are using weather data stored on our class iPads, and weaving their pouch based on the color they’ve assigned for a particular data range (typically temperature related).


Conferences & Presentations Galore! – MassCUE & MAEA2015


I guess I was really into submitting proposals last winter/spring, because I ended up having two conferences to present at this fall – MassCUE at Gillette Stadium, and MAEA2015 in North Adams, MA.

At MassCue I presented about all the ways I am integrating technology into my elementary art classroom, using the SAMR model of technology integration. You can check out the full Prezi here and access all of my resources (which include links to all of the apps I use, and any digital materials I have to share)


Some of the projects and technology I shared:

  • Using Chrome bookmarks to make it possible to access weather data on all of my iPads easily for a weaving
  • Using Chatterpix app to creating talking drawings in connection to a biography portrait unit & self portrait unit
  • Using Explain Everything app to explore artwork in grades 1, 2, and 3 like a mini interactive whiteboard
  • Using iMovie to create interview videos that reflect on art practice
  • Using Explain Everything to create informative videos that share how to do a particular art technique

At the MAEA conference I presented in more detail how I create stop motion animations with my grade 6 students, and as a collaborative project with some of my grade 3 & 4 students. My attendees were even able to do some animating! You can check out the full Prezi here and access all of my resources (which include all of the videos and worksheets I use when teaching stop motion animation)


When teaching stop motion animation I use two videos from PBS Learning Media, which are linked in the resource document above.  If you haven’t checked out PBS Learning Media they have many really great art video resources, I definitely love this free resource. I also use a collection of tutorial videos and ‘secret recipe sheets’ from Animation Chefs (also linked above).

Check out some of the animations that were made in the short time we had to animate.

NAEA15 @ NOLA – Convention Review


I think things are finally back to normal here in MA, though I’d be lying if I said that everything has been put away after my trip to New Orleans! I still have a few things to take care of, one being a review of my trip, so here goes….

This was my first time traveling to New Orleans, and it was everything I thought it would be and more. The weather was great, the food delicious, and the connections I made with art teachers really made it an amazing convention.


A view of Decatur St – Praline Beignets – Eileen & Myself celebrating our ‘Presenter’ status!

There were so many great sessions, perhaps too many, since I couldn’t get to them all. I’m only going to highlight a few.  If you weren’t able to go, I highly recommend you get to Chicago next year!

How to Design a Foolproof Kindergarten Class Period – presented by Amanda Heyn & Jessica Balsley of the Art of Ed 

This was a great session, with lots of useful information.  I didn’t really think I’d get too much out of it, but really everything they shared was either a well needed reminder OR it was just so helpful.  My biggest take away was the need for consistency in Kindergarten.  I do a relatively good job with this, but I needed the reminder that this is really important.

Write? Right! Publishing to Advocate Your Art Program – presented by Cassie Stephens, Nancy Walkup, Nicole Brisco, & Pam Stephens

If you are thinking about publishing, whether on a blog, website, or publication this session was the one you should have attended!  I’ve been in contact with Nancy Walkup, the editor for School Arts magazine, so I knew I couldn’t miss this session.  Besides sharing tips and tricks about writing, they also shared reasons why it’s so important to publish.  One reason that stuck out in particular was how Cassie’s principal will make the budget work when she needs something above and beyond what she typically requests.

Design Your Art Program to Say Yes to the Mess – presented by Phyllis Brown

Phyllis & I rocking our perfect art teacher hair!

Phyllis & I rocking our perfect art teacher hair!

Phyllis of There’s a Dragon in my Art Room fame shared lots of tips and tricks about ways to manage mess in the art room, so that you aren’t afraid to say yes to it!  I learned about many things that I immediately started using in my classroom.  One was the benefits of a painting sponge, which students use to dry off their brush while painting.  Another tip she shared was adding a border to messy artwork, so paint or oil pastels don’t end up all over the table.  It also prevents wet paper from curling.  I haven’t tried this yet, but I am very excited to!

Be sure to check out her posts on the convention!

An Innovative Use of the Outdoor Environment for Creative Art – presented by Deb McLean, Eileen Barnett, & Catherine Grosskopf,

Taken from Deb McLean’s blog linked above

This presentation came from my home state and actually my school district!  Deb McLean is a preschool teacher & Eileen Barnett is another elementary school teacher.  Catherine Grosskopf is a retired art teacher, who was a visiting atelier.  They shared how they worked together to get the preschool class outside weaving, going on nature walks, and making sculptures.  All of their work was documented via the iPad app Book Creator, and you can find more information on the blog I linked above!

Debunking the Digital Divide – Presented by Alicia Fine & Peter Curran


Another group of presenters that come from my home state! I know Alicia & Peter because they are on the MAEA board with me.  I wanted to go to their session to support my peeps, and ended up walking away with a ton of great resources.  They shared what they are doing in their middle school & high school classes, to bridge the technology gap.  They even created a whole website dedicate to this session, so you can access all of their great resources by clinking the link above. One resource that I don’t use enough is padlet, and they shared some really great ways to use with students. 

Art21 Educators: Collaboration and Contemporary Art Education – Presented by Jack Watson, Jess Hamlin, Jethro Gillespie, Jocelyn Salaz, Julia Mack, & Rebecca Belleville

Rebecca Belleville & Jethro Gillespie inspiring me to do more

Rebecca Belleville & Jethro Gillespie inspiring me to do more

I knew I couldn’t miss this session, because I’ve been trying to incorporate more contemporary art into my elementary art classroom. This session did not disappoint. I was super inspired by what all the educators shared, and I was particularly moved by what Rebecca Belleville shared about what her and Hannah Brancato are doing in Baltimore, MD.   They’ve empowered students to become activists about things they feel strongly about.  Be sure to find out more about what they are doing by visiting and

Of course, I can’t end this post with just a list of some of the sessions that really stood out to me! Tim Gunn’s General Session on day 1 was a the best way to start my few days in NOLA. He shared many inspiring stories, but what I liked the best was his acronym for things to remember while being a teacher “TEACH: Truth telling, Empathy, Asking, Cheerleading, and Hope for the best” 

Sorry for the terrible pic....I was a bit in the back. :(

Sorry for the terrible pic….I was a bit in the back. 😦

It was great getting to meet Sandy Rabinowitz from Twisteez Wire. Just before heading to the convention, my 6th graders wrote Sandy a persuasive letter.  The goal of their letter was to convince her to package Twisteez wire in neutral colors, since we were running out while working on our wire sculpture figures.  She responded, and besides the lovely letter she also sent us a bag of free wire, with a bunch of black, white, and beige!

I met Sandy Rabinowitz from Twisteez Wire

Sandy Rabinowitz from Twisteez Wire

I learned about #FreeArtFridays from Hope Knight who runs the blog Smartest Artists and is the artist behind Check the Box (follow her on twitter @_checkthebox_ and @MKSAfaf). I found artwork from Holly Bess Kincaid’s students (she can be found at the Capitol of Creativity – twitter: @artladyhbk), and from Kathi Arinduque’s students (she can be found at Shine Brite Zamorano – twitter: @shinebrite71). I also made some art of my own, inspired by Rina Vintez’s iPad photography session (she can be found at K-6 art – twitter: @k6art)

I found some art courtesy of #FreeArtFriday AND I made some of my own

L to R: Shine Brite Zamorano, Check The Box, Capitol of Creativity & my piece inspired by Rina.

The Massachusetts YAM work looked great!

The Massachusetts YAM work looked great!

On Thursday night I enjoyed a meet up I organized for the Art Teacher Facebook group at The Rusty Nail. Unfortunately I didn’t get any pics, but if I track down ones that some other art teachers took, I will certainly update. On Friday night, I joined what I think was four tables worth of art teachers for dinner at the Palace Cafe on Canal Street. Nic Hahn of Mini Matisse fame (twitter: @minimatisse) was only there for a bit so I didn’t get to chat with her, but I did have a super fan moment on Saturday. I was heading down the escalator as she was heading up….since I hadn’t even seen her yet, I couldn’t help myself and yelled out something like “Nic Hahn, I’ve wanted to say hi….”. Unfortunately the escalator moved us further and further apart, so I didn’t get to say much more.  BUT, she turned around and came back down the escalator and caught up with me to say hi!   I hope I get to chat with her more in Chicago!


Enjoyed delicious food and great art teacher company at Palace Cafe on Canal Street

Besides all that fun, I did have some time after the convention ended to enjoy the beautiful weather and city of NOLA.  I took my bike for a spin around the Garden District and the French Quarter, and got to see some of the cemeteries, and some street art by Banksy and an unknown artist who created the Mona Lisa sticker.


I enjoyed some NOLA architecture

I enjoyed some NOLA architecture

I took some selfies and found some street art.

Took some selfies and found some street art.

I also got some permanent art on my arm solidifying my maker status courtesy of Hell or High Water Tattoo on Magazine Street


Can’t wait for NAEA16 in Chicago next year!

National Art Education Association Convention – NOLA Edition

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Click to Access my Prezi

This year the NAEA convention is in New Orleans, and I am so excited to get a break from the snow we still have in the North East.  If you are here, and are interested in learning how I use my iPads beyond digital drawing, check out my session Got iPads? Going Beyond Digital Drawing – Friday 4:30-5:20pm Convention Center Meeting Room 208 (Second Level). I hope to see you there!

Read Across America – Celebrating Dr. Seuss’ Birthday

Read Across America

Each year my school participates in Read Across America, a celebration of Dr. Seuss’ Birthday.  When I first started teaching here, the school librarian approached me about doing some activity with the students in art for Read Across America.  She brought me a number of books, and the one that caught my eye was On Beyond Zebra! 

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I don’t do this lesson with all of my classes, just the ones that fall close to March 2 AND it makes sense to do it.  I don’t like to interrupt my other units too much.

Last year I had the students spend 2 classes on this.  On the second class they finished up and shared their work via AudioBoom.  This year I will be doing this activity with 4 classes, 2 the Friday before RAA and 2 the day of, and it is just a one day activity.  Things have been so choppy with all of the snow days, so we’re just taking 1 class for these.

This project is totally flexible.  I’m thinking about reaching out to classroom teachers for next year and see if they want to collaborate and start this in art and use it as a writing activity back in the classroom.

That way everyone could start it the week before RAA, and in their classroom they would work on it the day of RAA.

I hope you all had a great time if you were able to celebrate Dr. Seuss’ Birthday!

Youth Art Month – How to create a school wide display on one bulletin board


YAM (Youth Art Month) is just around the corner and for those of us in Massachusetts or New Hampshire, it’s going to come even quicker due to February vacation!

Each year my district participates in a YAM exhibition outside of our schools.  Last year I decided to take the celebration back into the building, but I didn’t have the space or time to put up a school wide art show….so I decided to create a collaborative bulletin board display.

Youth Art Month Collaborative Display

Youth Art Month Collaborative Display

Check out below for specific details as to how I created the display. Continue reading

Professional Development Day – Literacy Celebration at ABRSD


This year, my district had an additional professional development day. The theme was literacy, and I presented with a fellow art teacher. Our focus was Visual Thinking Protocols. We shared about the MUSE QUESTS from Project Zero and Token Response. The best was we had time to have our participants practice using both of these protocols.

Check out our short presentation here, and access all of our resources here.

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Stop Motion Animation via iPads – MAEA 2014 recap


I was fortunate enough to be chosen to present at the Massachusetts Art Education Association 2014 conference this year.  It was hosted by Mass Art in Boston, MA on November 8 & 9.

Besides presenting I also helped organize a bit of the event, which included the hospitality bags (I like to call them swag bags) and the door prizes.

For my presentation, I shared what I have learned this past year while teaching my six graders how to create stop motion animation with ipads.  The process has changed a significant amount since last year when I presented on it at the National Art Education Conference in San Diego.d

Here’s a bulleted list of what I learned:

  1. It’s easier to animate things that are laying flat on the table.  Work with gravity, not against it (Check out my prezi to see my current FREE set up)
  2. There are lots of resources online.  I like PBS Learning Media & Animation Chefs. (Check out this Drive folder for all the resources I use.  And check back often, because I continually add to it as I find things)
  3. Give the students plenty of time to play around and understand how many photos are needed for a smooth animation.
  4. Stop Motion Studio Pro is a great all in one app.  You have access to all the basics needed for animation (onion skin & adjusting the FPS being the major 2), as well as sound effects, music, and the ability to record.  Check out the free version to get a taste for the app.

Check out the resource page I shared with participants to get all the details, AND look below to see the awesome videos that were made in my hands-on session!

The Dream Rocket Project – Room 10


Our finished piece is on display at the Boot Mills in Lowell, now through November 15 November 30!

Conant Elementary Art

Some time last year, I was notified about the option to participate in a collaborative art project with my students, and I jumped at the chance.  I asked our new 3rd grade teacher Mrs. Antonuccio, because I knew she loved creating many things out of fiber, just like I do.

The International Fiber Collaborative has been organizing these amazing collaborative fiber art installations for years, and are currently working on one that will use 8,000 pieces of art to wrap a replica Saturn V rocket at the US Space & Rocket Center in the spring of 2015.

Third graders in room 10 learned about their heritage before school started, and this information was the jumping off point for a radial design embroidery project.  Students explored the skill of embroidery for the first time while working on this project. Using colors from the flags of ones heritage, a radial design was created…

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The Dream Rocket Collaborative Fiber Art


Last spring I received an email, about participating in The Dream Rocket project, which is a project organized by The International Fiber Collaborative (IFC).

The IFC “was formed to create deeper learning experiences through art, collaboration, and cross-curricular themed programming for individuals and their communities. IFC’s current initiative, The Dream Rocket Project (DRP) launched in 2009, is collecting 8,000 works of art that will be stitched together to wrap a Saturn V Moon Rocket replica at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama for a temporary public art exhibition. So far, we have received submissions from individuals residing in 17 countries, 46 states and 363 communities.”

I decided to work with a new teacher to my school, because she has a love of all things fiber, just like I do. In the few classes we’ve had since school has started, we’ve had students research, with their parents help, their heritage.  With that information students searched for the flags that correspond to their heritage, which served as our color inspiration.  Students then created a 4″ radial symmetrical mandala type embroidery.  These 4″ circles will be attached to create our 2’x2′ ‘flag’

Dream Rocket 1 Our collaborative artwork will be on display locally at the Lowell National Historical Museum from Oct 1 – Nov 30.  After the exhibit it will be returned to the IFC to keep safe until it installed on the Saturn V Moon Rocket replica in Alabama and displayed through May 1 – June 30, 2015.

If you are interested in participating, I believe they are still seeking submissions for the MAY 2015 Dream Rocket Installation, U.S. Space & Rocket Center, Huntsville, AL May 1 – Jun 30, 2015. The art deadline is March 15, 2015.  Check the website for more detailed information.