Wisconsin Art Ed Conference Day 1

I love connecting with my art teacher colleagues but I can’t always afford to go to the conference every year. This year, my school generously covered it. I was so excited! I didn’t get to go last year but I went the year before. I had forgotten how much I really got out of this conference every year!

My first session was Digital Storytelling with Tracey Hunter-Doniger who also teachers at UW-Madison. I already understand the value of digital storytelling (mostly because of Tricia Fuglestad) but now I know more about how to do digital storytelling with my students! Last year, Randall earned 10 digital cameras thanks to donors from DonorsChoose.org. I am so excited to start digital storytelling with my students but I don’t have memory cards for the cameras yet. Hoping to remedy that situation soon!

I’d also like to make a quick note about my friend, Ms. Granzow, who recently moved from Wisconsin to Alabama to embark on her first full time high school art position. The program doesn’t have much. Read here to find out more and how you can help.

My second session as Mural Making in a School Setting with Cyndee  Kaiser. She is an artist who presented her methods for working with a large number of students to create a mural. She gave me some out of the box ideas. I would love to create banners that hang in the library showing different genres of books or our favorite books. Her banner example was fruits and vegetables in the lunch room. A mural would also go well in the blank wall in the library. Our principal asked me to paint a raccoon (because we are the Randall Raccoons) on a wall last year and I never got that off the ground either. Too many ideas, so little time!

My next session, Recycled T-shirt Fashion, was led by a high school freshman who is passionate about creating her own fashion and upcycling. We made our own bags from t-shirts. This would be a great fundraiser for Student Council!

Super simple. Cut off the sleeves and the neck. Cut an inch off the bottom. Cut slits across the bottom and tie. Done! For more ideas check out Generation T: Beyond Fashion and Generation T: 108 Ways to Transform a Shirt by Megan Nicolay.

My next session was called Pop Art Portraits with Julie Davis from Blick Art Materials. It was a little weird to see her demo in person after watching her demo videos online for so long. We transferred an image to clay using a printed photograph and water soluble marker.

Then we painted directly onto the wet (air-dry) clay using acrylic paint.

The last session was Easy Mosaic Tile with Carol Rokicki. I have always wanted to learn how to do mosaics and it’s so much more simple than I ever thought.

Glue on the pieces..

smoosh the grout in the cracks and clean it off! Now I’m addicted.

We had a little time between the last session and the keynote and went to explore the sculpture walk in downtown Eau Claire. Here are some of my favorites!

After an amazing meal at Obsession Chocolates, it was time for our keynote speaker. Barbara Lawton was Wisconsin’s lieutenant governor from 2003 to 2011. (Side note: I miss her and wish her luck in coming back after we recall Kleefisch when we start recalling Walker on Nov 15). She is known as a strong arts advocate. I enjoyed much of her presentation such as her call to action for art educators to get involved with local politics. School Board (FYI: One position opening on the MMSD BOE soon. Any community members interested in running?) elections as well as County Board elections are VERY important in our new political climate in Wisconsin. We (art teachers) always complain how ‘they’ are taking funding from art education. While it’s a very valid complaint, when do WE step up and take charge? When do WE start to run for office and change things for ourselves? Are we going to resist change or accept change? I was very nervous when she talked about measuring creativity in schools. She argued that measuring creativity would hold the arts on the same level as math and literacy. I’m wondering how much we give up to try to gain the same notoriety as math and literacy. I believe there is way too much testing as it is. Why add more? Last month, my students participated in MAP testing. This took weeks. Now they are starting with WKCE testing, which will take another couple weeks. When do kids learn anymore? When do they create? When do they play? When do they daydream? When do they get the chance to be kids?

“If we aren’t prepared to be wrong, we will never come up with something original.” -Sir Ken Robinson

And I’ll end on that note.

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