Thursday, November 16, 2017

November, 2017

Some of our Discovering Puerto Rico projects. A totem pole inspired by the one in San Juan, created by the second graders. 

A kindergarten author study on an author from New York and an author from Puerto Rico led to a discovery on the animals who dwell in each location. Students wrote fiction and non-fiction pieces to accompany the artwork. 

Monday, September 11, 2017

September, 2017

It's good to be back! We have so much planned for the students this year!

We always start the school year off with an exploration of identity. The first project I work on with the groups is the creation of self-portraits. We use different materials for the different grade levels, scaffolding depending on ability or need.

When the current first graders were in kindergarten last year, they learned to mix paint to resemble their own skin color. To create their portraits, we decided to have them experience this again. They did a tremendous job. They painted the entire sheet of paper which we will use when they create self-portrait collages out of cut paper.

The second graders are doing traditional portraits exploring the provocation, "What is the same?" I wanted to use this introductory exploration to not only explore identity, but as an introduction to the theme for the year, "Making Connections." The following documentation is the beginning of the exploration, as you can see they are focused on identifying their own features. They were able to point out that they're all kids, they all have the same features (eyes, nose, mouth, etc.) They all wear the same uniform. And they are all friends. 

The pre-k kids are going to create collage portraits as well, except they will be using loose parts. We will identify the parts of the face and use buttons, jewels, feathers, pom poms and other materials to create these facial features.

Friday, June 23, 2017

June, 2017

We were fortunate enough to receive a grant which provided funding to send our students in grades pre-k through six to the Burchfield Penney Art Center for one or two visits per grade level. The students enjoyed their time at the Art Center, viewing the exhibitions and having studio experiences in some cases.

Here is a snippet of the verbal language students used when reading this painting by Charles Burchfield:

Zoeliz- The flowers look like angry faces.
Jadai- And this one has sharp teeth!
Nitza- The trees have zigzags. 
Jadai- I see a dinosaur's face.
Zoeliz- I think that part is where a dinosaur stomped. The trees look like the entryway to a castle. 
Valentino- That looks like a haunted house. 
Zoeliz- One thing I like about art is other people can see other things and you can talk about it. 

You can see how the children are influenced by story workshop. They are creative and imaginative. This painting is a painting of flowers, of a scene in nature. But our students turn it into a story with rich details. They feel the mood of the painting, an impending storm, but they interpret it through their own drama, in this case, dinosaurs, spooky castles and haunted houses.

The following are some of the pieces they viewed while touring the museum. 

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

May, 2016

In May, I had the honor of hearing Amelia Gambetti and Lella Gandini speak at the Lesley University Annual Reggio Conference. Through Donors' Choose, a website designed to fund teachers' projects and professional development, two teachers and I were able to get our conference fees covered and traveled to Boston, Massachusetts to learn from these experts, who helped create and mold the Reggio Approach in Reggio Emilia, Italy. We attended materials workshops and learned new ways to use materials and new ways to document our student work.

In May, we also held our Exhibition of Learning. This year, the exhibition was entitled, Embracing Our Diversity. The exhibit featured cross-curricular projects from all of our grade levels.

Here is a link with photographs of the panels from the exhibition:

As an opening to the exhibition, we had students travel throughout the school to tour the exhibit. Each classroom provided student docents to explain the projects and answer questions about their learning. This was the best part of the show, in my opinion. Watching children explain their learning to other children while having the viewing children ask questions and compliment the docents- this was an invaluable educational experience for the children.

Monday, March 27, 2017

March, 2017

It is always busy at Bilingual Center, which is one of the great things about working here for teachers and going to school here for students. There is never a dull moment. 

Pre-K have been continuing the theme of things in the ocean by studying an artist who creates underwater sculptures. For the pre-k art exhibition, teachers tied the student artwork to an artist. In our case, we chose Jason deCaires Taylor because his artwork is hauntingly beautiful, combines the sea theme we've been studying with nature and full body sculpture, so the students were able to see what our bodies look like and get past the primary technique of having arms and legs grow out of heads. 

The students started by creating the sculptures of people.

I love that this one seems to be doing a hair flip:

They created a background scene with fish and water.

They added "coral" and other sealife "growing" on their sculptures with loose parts. 


102 has been creating habitats for their hibernating creatures and writing stories about the animals waking up in the Springtime. They have been thinking about resources and what animals need. We used a variety of loose parts, natural items and recyclable materials for the habitats.

104 and 106 are learning about working together. How our bodies work, with the parts of our body working together, is a theme we are investigating in the atelier. We are making skeletons, then adding "muscles" and "skin" to create dolls that will be used in play to show how children can work together. The kids will play and create stories with the dolls.

Skeleton with wire

Tape muscles.

Plaster skin.

First Grade:

First grade is working on a massive project about transportation and travel. This project is tying in natural resources, passports (brigance information, like their full name and address,) stamp-making, landscape drawing, writing, books, research and so much more including 3D printed models of modes of transportation!

In the atelier, students created stamps showing a resource, geographic feature or economic draw to a place they wish they could go. The stamps will be used to stamp the other kids' passports once the student presents on the location and teaches their classmates about it. They will collect passport stamps as they learn about the places.

Second grade:

The Rain Barrel is complete. Wish us luck as it is judged in a contest next month. :)

February, 2017


We read the story The Rainbow Fish to continue with our big theme of marine animals. The students drew a large fish and we used tape as scales. Each student made their own fish, as well. Then we used fancy tape as the rainbow fish's special scales and each student received a fancy scale.


The students are continuing their arctic animals.

Weather prints continue. The children love printmaking. I will be ordering more printing materials.

The rain barrel is almost finished.

Monday, February 6, 2017

January, 2017

Happy New Year!

I enjoy teaching at this time of year because it feels like the children come back older and more mature from the holiday break. We have our established routines and everyone is ready for action. I enjoy the second semester so much.

Pre-K has been studying animals. We reviewed line drawing and created observational drawing of animals. We do this every year because I think it is important for the students to realize the lines we learned about at the beginning of the year can be used to draw realistic images of anything they desire. This helps them in all of their project work for the rest of their years here.

After the line drawings, we worked with model magic clay to create marine animals. The students in this group seem to gravitate toward the language of clay. I have had success with both 3D projects I've done so far.

Kindergarten has been studying winter, and animals as well, but the focus is now on arctic animals and animals who hibernate. We are creating clay figures of animals from either the arctic (104, 106) or animals who hibernate (102.) We also created a snowman in 102. There was no snow, so we had to use plaster of paris! This was the messiest project I've ever engaged in with students (and we have done some messy, crazy things before) and, of course, the students LOVED it. The snowman and animals will be used as writing prompts.

The messiest, most fun project ever.

Our finished snowman.

A snowy owl, before firing and painting.

A happy polar bear.

First grade is studying weather. I wanted to use the studio to have them associate their senses (a previous lesson) with weather, so I kept asking them about how weather conditions feel. I want you to use lines to show how the weather feels, not how it looks.  This was a challenge, but after a few drafts the students were able to reduce weather conditions down to a few lines.We used printmaking as the language for this. I thought it would be a good technique to teach them, so they can have a printing center when they start doing story workshop. The children were fascinated with the process and I'm sure they're going to have some amazing prints as illustrations in the upcoming months.

2nd grade is doing one of my favorite projects thus far. We are painting a rain barrel for a contest. After the contest, we are donating it to the Red Jacket Park, where we take the students for hikes so often. This is a project that combines community involvement with the major themes of the first semester. The students looked up the word "water" in the languages spoken in Buffalo. We found the word in English, Spanish, Karen, Bengali, Nepali, French, Burmese, Somali, Swahili, Arabic, Korean, Urdu and Ukrainian. The border will feature the words of the rain barrel theme, "Harvest a Resource, Recycle the Rain," and the phrase, "We need water." The students will use the word water in many languages on the vertical borders and top of the barrel. The drawings show images of weather, the water cycle and uses of water- big themes the second grade studied so far. What I love about this project, besides how well it looks, is that we are using it as an assessment of learning. We've made visible the information they've retained from the first semester of study in a beautiful way that will be shared with the community.

During Open Studio for the second grade, I took a small group to work on a special art project. There is an upcoming art show at El Museo that the district is sponsoring. It's called Look Up/Down/All Around. The show is for art teachers and their students to create pieces that are companion pieces. I wanted to show how we use photography, hikes and art media, creating an art statement that shows what Reggio-inspired investigation looks like. 

For my artwork, I used a photo I'd taken on a hike. I cropped it and used filters to make it more dramatic. 

The parts and the places get old and rusty

when they’re abandoned. It makes me sad 
because the place needs help.
Bits and Pieces of Time: A teacher-student
art statement on abandoned places.
Second Grade and Mrs. Rose, 2017                                                                                             


The pieces are rusty, from real trains and tracks. Maybe somebody didn't want those tracks anymore. 

It makes me feel sad for the place because maybe people worked there and now it's collapsed. Maybe they don't have jobs anymore. 


The art show will be held at El Museo, 91 Allen Street. The opening is March 3, from 5-7, and the show runs through March 25th.