Cartwheels for Clay

This week we finally got to re-open the clay center after 3 years. We have been waiting for approval of installation into the new art studio.

The momentum has been building for quite sometime, so a “soft opening” like a restaurant was just right for us and making Artist Chops. Students can use their chops to sign future artworks for the year.

One of my favorite elementary teachers used to do head stands on the quad if we reached a new level of SRA’s in reading. We loved it! The memory of that great momentum and anticipation of a celebratory act inspired the idea for our students to do a few cartwheels for clay before class. So fun…except for one;) and of course mine.  I did do a practice, solo though, on a professional development day. I bent over, legs did rise, but think pivoted sideways, not sure what happened…if trees could talk!


B2School Banners 2015

The tradition of Back to School Banners took on a special meaning this year in our new building. Inspired by place and location of our school, each room has been named after trees in our region and types of natural habitats surrounding our resources of the Potomac River and Anacostia River of the Chesapeake Bay.  The students selected from a list of animals you can find in our region and matched them to a character they highlight of their classroom community. Pictured here are the Courageous Cardinals!

Creating the banners in the art classroom studio gives students a peek of future choices they can make of art materials in a choice based studio. You can find an Optimistic Owl made from Fiber Arts, a Brilliant Blue Jay delightly defined in watercolor pencil from the Drawing Center a Helpful White Tailed Deer layered in colorful papers at the Collage Center and a Courageous Cardinal content in pure graphite pencil from Drawing Center.

Each class presents their banner with a pledge at the Banner Ceremony. This tradition started with the inspiration from Jane Menell, a former first grade teacher, collaborating with art to create large banners made of felt to welcome her students. I loved when Jane arrived to the studio with big rolls of colorful felt! Our principal Liz Whisnant recognizes the unity all classrooms could have in this annual experience. Adding music and dance with performing arts from Sarah Pace connects all Centaurs in our greater community. Thank you teachers for organizing the votes for the creatures and students on this celebratory day!

Pecha Kucha for Boston!

After July 4th in the cute little town of Bristol RI, I’ll be heading up to Boston for the Teaching Artistic Behavior Institute.  While looking at the info of what to bring, they listed preparing a Pecha Kucha…had no clue, but do now (Japanese chit-chat presentation style of 20 slides for 20 seconds) and here is a link to mine for Mann!  Paige Pecha Kucha



Anti-Bullying and Art

anti bullyArt Cats

Centaur Celebration Days engage students by offering choices of activities and events for multi-age groups for a series of Fridays.  Because a stretch of time was getting off-track on how we treat each other on campus, we offered this particular group of students they called “Art Cats” an opportunity to find ways to address this issue on campus.  The art cats came across these message bracelets and made 2 for each homeroom.  Anytime a classmate or teacher witnessed an act of kindness or standing up for a friend, a bracelet was earned and worn for one week.

Studio Habits of Mind

Learning about Studio Habits of Mind and finding these behaviors in our students has been exhilarating! Exhilarating because TAB is working. Our students are making choices that challenge their own capabilities, express their inner voice and tweek their observations. Here is what I’m talking about during the first 2 months in our new space approaching spring 2015!

Developing Craft

Gabriella in 2nd moves from exploring and storing materials from the Fiber Arts center she wants to use  to stitching an apron.


Max in 5th self assesses his work in his object study of old phone in classroom at the Observation Reseach Counter.


Engage and Persist

Chloe in 4th has been admiring a ballerina in the window.  She patiently continued through all-school projects of mandalas and auction stools, by returning each week to this figure in progress at the Sculpture center.


William in 5th expressed he wanted to learn more about painting in his Wow work plan form. After viewing Alma Thomas, an abstract expressionist, William grasps the composition effortlessly with color fields and mark. 


Fourth graders reflect in our art gallery meeting room during a printmaking critique. Two rounds include first, an artist statement and then classmate considerations. 

Stretch and Explore

Lucas in 3rd has moved from very planned compositions in pencil and watercolor for weeks. He freely accepts his marks and where they will take him in his self-portrait. Still with a steady hand, his ruler is taking a break nearby drawer.


Collaboratively Ava and Xavier envision this specialty store and hold an official ribbon cutting at the end of class!  Below, Ravi in 4th envisions one of the most ready to go RV’s ever seen, rigged with equipment and engineered to fly or float. 

Understanding Community

Second graders learn about the textile trade of Mozambique and The Netherlands in this unique opportunity.  A parent fabric donation after a recent trip is received at the same time a request of Teresa Clark our office manager expresses her love of children’s art and commissions their work for the office.  

Our studio often looks like this. They spread out, explore the materials of the center, support each other and here with Normandie, student teacher, articulate their experiences before the visit again.


Place Based Teaching


Place based teaching 


Cyrus observes the shape and scale within this cluster of ground cover.


Observational and expressive imagery surfaces in our on campus field trip!


Noticing several types of plants and flowers prompts this student to organize into a grid.

Tables turning for TAB

Practicing the art ed approach TAB Teaching Artistic Behavior this year has taught me so much more about my students.  They love to sit, they love to stand, they love to work in clusters, they love to be quiet by the window, they love to work for a WOW and they love to experiment.  The work is more intentional, meaningful, collaborative and honest.

Figure Study in Drawing


See how they spread out & have room?!


Tables for Trailer


Recycle sculpture


Fiber Arts exploration