Inside, Outside, Upside Down

This is a new theme I tried with my 7th and 8th graders this year. I was inspired by “Stranger Things” and the upside down world there. We looked at Surrealistic artwork and how those artist created unique worlds that included these concepts. (students were not required to use surrealism.) We started with brainstorm and planning/research phases, then rough draft and final drafts. I got a lot of basic landscapes, and 1-point perspective rooms. But some of the other work was very interesting and deep. Here are a few of my favorites. (Click on the images to see a larger version)

“Reality is Different” Watercolor and Pencil

My artwork shows the them of outside and upside-down. This is because she is pretending to be someone she’s not personality wise, and is looking at the real her in the reflection. In my piece of art you can see that the real reflection of her is upside down, and showing off the her outside personality is fake. You can also see that her real self is melting away the more that she thinks that this fabulous fantasy is real. These are the type of things show how we all sometimes have expectations of ourselves, but somethings are better if we leave them alone. Therefore, this evidence shows my theme on outside and upside-down. J.C. 7th gr

Bubble Boy Watercolor

My artwork shows the theme of outside because it shows a boy in a bubble floating over buildings. In my art you can see a billboard on top of one of the buildings. This evidence shows my theme of outside because billboards are sometimes on the rooftops of some buildings. You can also see that he’s in a bubble preventing him from falling to the ground. These are the type of things that help people understand that the theme is outside because bubbles float in the air and if the bubbles are big enough to hold someone then the bubble takes them wherever the wind goes. O.B. 7th gr

On the Inside Mixed Media Collage/  Shadow Box

My artwork, shows the theme of Inside. This is a colorless boy with a red heart. In my art you can see a boy in a box with no color except his heart. You can also see the box has color on the outside, showing the boy is being neglected from the colorful world outside the box. This evidence shows my theme of Inside because the boy is inside the box, away from society, with his heart the only color left in the box, inside him. T.C. 7th gr

Upside Down Mixed Media/ Collage/ Watercolor/ Ink

This piece of art shows the theme of upside down. I believe this fits the theme because of how you can interpret many ways. Like what way is the right side up, or which way is the water flowing in the art? In the piece you can see water flowing and splashing in different ways, as well as color pallet that compliments each other color. These are types of things that causes you to see it on different ways, or whatever way you want to interpret it. All in all, this shows the theme of upside down. S. H. 7th Gr

Inside and Outside are Upside Down /Digital

My artworks hows the theme of inside and outside being destroyed. This is the inside and outside of an office. In my art you can see a man being pulled into a black hole with the carpet. You can also see a black hole outside. These are the type of things that show the inside and outside of an office being destroyed. This evidence shows my theme of the inside and outside of an office being destroyed. S.B. 8th gr

Mermaid/ Pencil

My artwork shows the theme of inside & outside. For example in my art you can see a mermaid, with long hair; who is sitting all alone on the moon. You can also see she is slowly decaying and flowers are growing on her dying body(i thought about how people put flowers on a grave). She is disappearing in the universe looking at earth wishing to swim in the ocean waters again as well. This evidence shows how i displayed the theme of inside & outside. R.D. 8th gr

You can see more of this theme on our Artsonia.

Posted in Featured, Student Work, Studio Thinking, TAB | Comments Off on Inside, Outside, Upside Down

Lesson Plans

This post is a bit of a confessional…

For 15+ years I have been operating without the added task and pressure of submitting weekly lesson plans to admin. But this year they have decided to implement a district-wide lesson plan format and requirements.

My previous planning has been substantial. I am a planner. I am an organizer. And I love technology, planners and forms. In fact, if you ask me to design a form, you will set my heart on fire. But if you ask me for unnecessary paperwork, and give me a clunky form to do it on…. I will get a little passive aggressive!  I will redesign your lame forms and  I will bury you in paperwork!

Luckily I do have a great relationship with my building admin. So I could joke with her about redesigning her form. We also negotiated that the power points that I make for each unit and my weekly calendar satisfy the intended purpose of the lesson plan form. The purpose of which is to ensure that teachers are doing backward planning, preparing engaging activities that will successfully lead students to the desired learning outcomes. But since I fixed their form, and I know that a lot of other teachers out there in TAB art world struggle with their required lesson plans, I thought I would go ahead and do them for all of my current around the room units.

Click on the links below to download a PDF of my Around the Room Lesson Plans using my district format. (I will add here as I go along)

BLANK Unit Plan Click for a BLANK word document that YOU can use for your lesson planning

Draw exploration Unit Plan

Collage exploration Unit Plan


Posted in Featured, TAB, Teacher Resources | Tagged , , | 6 Comments

My TAB Centers

I have been doing different levels of T.A.B. Modified- Choice since I found TAB in 2004. So my centers have gone thru some different phases. In the next two years there will be more changes as I move into a temporary classroom during our remodel and eventually into my new classroom. This post will provide some links to different posts about my center set up.






Computer/ Technology




Posted in Featured | Comments Off on My TAB Centers

Organic Collaboration

Originally Posted May 2014

My absolute favorite thing about choice is the organic collaboration that occurs. Today the best thing happened.

Friday is the wrap up of this round of the Studio Choice Challenge (already extended by 2 weeks) and student need to have finished enough projects to earn 150 points. While I think that overall my points system need some recalibration, I told the classes that if less than 80% have a passing grade (over 100 points) then they will have shown me that they aren’t ready to be self-directed learners and we will need to go back to some more teacher-directed assignments. With a quick show of hands it was determined that only 50% or less in each class have over 100 points.

This announcement lit a fire under some butts. The kids that have been thriving, earning lots of points and enjoying the great freedom to do their own thing, decided they needed to help/push some of the other kids. Suddenly I had one student make a loudly whispered announcement, “anyone that wanted to earn 50 points really quick, come over to printmaking.”

Sidebar: I added printmaking center this week. My 5 challenges in printmaking are pretty fast and easy. Mono-prints, Styrofoam relief, rubber stamping and collograph working towards soft-cut relief print. As kids started doing the print challenges this week I realized I needed to recalibrate the points, but decided to let it go for now and fix it next time.

Printmaking Peer Mentoring

So clearly this kid had discovered my error… And is gaming my system a little. But I didn’t care! In fact I was excited by the development. Here was one kid getting 5 others excited about trying something new and then teaching them how to do it. And motivated enough to keep choices that he was willing to push, motivate and help others.

Another collaboration this week was a drawing. Three boys were using my sketchbook challenge lists (some great drawing prompts that I found on Pinterest and printed for the drawing center) to draw things and they each drew an animal with a super power in their sketch books. I walked by and they asked for my feedback. I said, “I want to know which one of them would win if they had a super fight. That would be a cool drawing. I’ll give you 15 points each if you draw that Epic Battle.” So began the epic battle drawing.

Drawing Collaboration

They still needed a lot of redirection, since they thought collaboration meant one person drawing and the other two talking and watching. I gave them several suggestions on good collaboration. Taking turns, while the others worked on something else, but were near-by for consultation. OR sitting close enough to be drawing on different parts of the paper at the same time. It took them a while to “get” the collaboration thing, but they got it eventually and the results were great. They also renegotiated the points with me up to 20 points each, plus the boost points of 5 points each for collaborating.

The Battle of the Creatures

Honestly the points are only because I have to figure out how to put something in the grade book for this unit. So if kids are learning, growing, experimenting and creating, I am ok with fudging the points a bit.

I have some more great collaboration stories, but I will save those for another post.


What is your favorite part about using choice in your classroom? How do you keep them motivated and have something to put in the grade book?

Posted in Featured, Student Work, TAB | Tagged , , , , , | Comments Off on Organic Collaboration

Around the Room Overview Published

Thanks to Editor Nan Hathaway (and amazing TAB guru) I am gracing the pages of September 2017 “Arts and Activities”

Check it out!

Posted in Around the Room Games, Centers, TAB, Teacher Resources | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on Around the Room Overview Published