Artists Develop

My 8th graders will be doing Artistic Habit units this year. After a round of Artistic Habits around the room, we are starting with “Artists Develop” This is fashioned off of one of Ian Sands’ Artistic Habits units. (see the Open Art Room)

Students have selected a specific skill they want to improve on artistically. They did a “before” drawing or task to show their current skills. You can see the start of their progress on our Artsonia. 

Like most middle schoolers there are “friend trends” as I like to call them. A group of girls that like to sit together will all be working on drawing realistic eyes or faces. A pod of sports playing boys will be drawing sports figures in action. A pair of painters will be working on sunsets in a variety of paints. There are a few outliers. One stencil graffiti artist. I am sure one of my students, when he returns from his first fall cold, will pick video game programming.

My 8th grade classes are really small this year, so I will be able to give a lot of one-on-one attention to these projects. Looking forward to seeing how this works. My next two unit ideas are Artists Solve Problems and Artists Communicate. The Open Art Room and the Summer TAB Institute were both so inspiring to take my students beyond my past themes and into these higher level units.

Wish us luck!

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Daily Demos

In the TAB classroom there is always a daily demo… these short bursts of information are to help students understand materials, techniques and the art world. This year I am taking a new approach to my demos. I have never been good about exposing my students to artists. 🙁 I also wanted to make sure I was considering different artist perspectives and experiences (race, gender, place and time) So I made a personal goal to expose them more often and with more variety. We are also rolling out PBIS so building community and relationships is a big focus. With these goals in mind and because I like organization to help me stay on track… each day has a theme! I will usually use videos… because they allow me to take attendance, do any last minute prep, have a quick private conversation with a student… and the kids  just pay attention better and I know all 6 classes get the same info.

  • Museum Monday: will be artists, art styles and periods.
  • Technique Tuesday: will be techniques related to the current around the room game, boot camp or studio needs.
  • Weird Wednesday and Funky Friday: both the same idea… showing those out there things that artists are doing.
  • Thoughtful Thursday: will be related to mindfulness or community building, also an opportunity for critiques.

Here is what we have done so far this year!

NOTE: none of these videos are made by me, although I have made videos in the past. I have other things I need to spend my time on these days, so why reinvent the wheel? I have more fun finding interesting videos and screening them than making my own.

Museum Monday:

Technique Tuesday:

Weird Wednesday: 

Fun Friday: 

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Resources Available

The internet is BLOWING up with teachers new to TAB and CHOICE wanting to jump in with my Around The Room ©2014 games. People keep emailing and messaging me for the printables, worksheets, task cards and more. However, I think it is very important to design YOUR OWN… because each TAB/CHOICE room is a unique animal. TAB/CHOICE is NOT a packaged curriculum, it is a pedagogy and a state of mind in how you approach your chosen lessons and yes, even projects.


  • What do Artists do?
  • The child is the Artist.
  • The Art room is their studio.

With that being said, seeing how I structure my Around The Room ©2014 games can be valuable in order to get started in creating your own. So throughout the next couple months you will see bundles of resources popping up in my Teacher Pay Teacher store.

If you download and use, PLEASE go rate me and comment and share and tell me how you changed the units to make it work for your students! I am working on a book and could include other modifications.

Go check it out Artechtivity on TPT:

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Setting up the TAB classroom

To prepare for our TAB Institute training we were provided with some required reading. The articles below were for the first module about setting up the TAB classroom. After reading two or more we were to formulate a response. My response was titled “After 14 years and starting over again.”

Q2. how has the way you organize and introduce tools, materials, techniques, references and resources changed over time.

I have been in the same room for 14 years honing my centers down to perfection.. or at least workable, satisfying levels of organization and student access. It has changed over the years, mostly what storage tubs and labels I use and where in the classroom they are located… I have written a lot about my centers on my blog.

But I have packed almost everything (we still have 6 days of school.. and only got my password figured out today… so I am behind on all of this reading and discussion stuff.) And all my stuff will get moved by contracted movers sometime in august. hopefully not too close to the beginning of the year I will get to start setting up and figuring out how my centers will look in a gen ed classroom, with no storage and one little hand washing sink. But thankful I will have a sink. I really have no clue how my centers will be set up. I have had them all out on my counters, with the big table closest to that area as the work table for that center. But I won’t have any counters. And my big tables may or may not fit.
I started introducing my centers with around the room games 4-5 years ago. And I continue to use this method to quickly introduce kids to what materials I have in the studio.

Here are a few great TAB resources curated by Kathy Douglas and Diane Jaquith.

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TAB Institute 2018

For years I have wanted to attend the TAB Institute. This summer I finally made it! Run by the founding gurus of TAB (Teaching for Artistic Behavior) Diane and Kathy, the week long training includes lots of discussion and hands on learning. Since it has sold out quickly in the past few years, I jumped on the registration as soon as it opened. I am so glad that I did!

My school year was exhausting and a bit demoralizing. Luckily my personal emotional and physical health were being well maintained by my new(ish) life style changes so it wasn’t the end of my career. But it was bad enough it could have gone that way if I hadn’t created those important changes. Thankfully the TAB institute was ready to give me the reframing boost I needed for my professional practice.

Shortly after registration, I was invited to be a guest presenter at the Institute. Kathy and Diane wanted me to share my Around the Room activities with the institute attendees. Honored and excited, I prepared for that portion of instruction to be part of my learning experience. But a week before the trip, I was called and asked if I could possibly step in to substitute for the middle school level instructor. Nan had a family emergency that would prevent her from attending. Since I had yet to even attend the institute, it seemed a bit daunting to step in as the instructor. But I said yes! Then did what I could to prepare.

This year the institute had over 80 participants, 4 groups by teaching levels and 3 big art studios set up in TAB style. We had a panel presentation from some wonderful diverse artists, small group work time, a student art show, lots of studio time to create and a final teacher art show. We had opportunities to hear from the wise and wonderful Kathy Douglas, we had time to rethink our practice with insightful questions from newbies, museums were visited, and new friends were made. The dorm beds were horrible, but good food and lots of think time thoughtfully interspersed with time to create made the sleepless nights fairly tolerable. (I also supplemented my bed with some low priced but high value Target purchases.)

Being a first time TAB Institute student and the facilitator /instructor was a little tricky to juggle at times, especially with less than a week this prepare. I was worried that people would feel cheated to have me, instead of Nan, to guide them. But overall the feedback I received is that I was an acceptable substitute.  Many loved the opportunity to experience my paint and artistic habits around the room activities. I heard that reading about them and even hearing about them at convention was not as good as experiencing them hands-on.

Needless to say, it was an amazing experience and I have a lot of new information to revamp my practice for new year. There will be quite a few future posts to share in detail my new discoveries.

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