I didn’t share much of last school year here. It’s tricky, with privacy concerns; I can’t really show any images of the kids. But it’s also a gigantic part of my life, so I thought I’d at least give a little peak at my new classroom and the artwork we’ve been doing there.

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It’s kind of huge. Super huge, actually. Which is sweet because so are my tables, especially when you see my dinky little fifth graders sitting at them! But I’m loving it because I can set them up as pods, with no one’s back to the white board and still plenty of elbow room.

Speaking of the whiteboard, it’s awesome. I can project directly onto it from my computer or doc cam, draw on the image with expo markers, or use special SmartBoard pens to draw a digital image and save it into my presentation, or use those same pens as a mouse, so kids can interact with it. I had a SmartBoard last  year, but this is way cooler. (Trying to demo intricate drawing with a SmartBoard pen is like trying to pick up paper with mittens on. That’s the only way I can think to explain it. The sensor just isn’t that accurate, so where you ‘draw’ often isn’t quite where the pen actually touched.)

I’ve also been working to brighten up my room a bit. I didn’t have enough money for art posters in this year’s budget, but we’ll accumulate those eventually. In the meanwhile, I made some valences that the custodian is going to help me hang next week, I brought in some plants, and soon we’ll have student artwork hanging. I also built an 8ft long light table I’m pretty excited about; it just needs some white plexi for the top.

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The kids also have way more art this year (every other day all year long, rather than 3 or 4 times a month, like last year). It used to feel like a really big commitment to do a project that would take 3 classes; now it’ll be the norm. I have them doing warm up sketches at the beginning of class everyday, and to make their sketchbooks, they each got a 3-pronged folder that we’ve been adding paper to. For the covers, we drew their names in 3D from observation! This a was a BIG struggle for some kiddos but they were so proud of how they turned out. Can you believe fifth graders made these?

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And right now we’re working on bird sculptures. Next week we’ll start with plaster (bracing myself), but now we’ve just finished the armatures. They had to either choose a species or design a new type of bird; we’ve got everything from goldfinches and mocking jays (thank you Hunger Games) to bald eagles and hawks, and even one boy making a pheonix. The decision has proven excruciating to some kids (a teacher whose daughter is in my class told me she came home sighing, “I was thinking maybe I’d make an oriole, but now I just don’t know!”)

Kids this age are so funny. On the first day of school, one little guy raised his hand and told me, “Mrs. Hutchison, you are really rocking those Vans!” Ha, can you imagine a high schooler ever offering you a compliment like that? Another boy was looking at the photos on my computer and asked, “And that’s your baby? And that’s your husband? And that’s your laundry basket? And that’s your… polar bear?” (referring to Junip’s sheepskin). Yes, TJ. That’s my pet polar bear.

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Anyway, the first three weeks have been really great.

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