Dot Art: An easy and inexpensive art activity

As I returned to work after an extended leave, I found my students were working on an art project that was quite amazing.  My students were exceptionally engaged and they exhibited pride in creating their own masterpieces.  I thank Mr. Anthony Natalino (a fantastic co-worker) for implementing this activity.

Dot art entails creating a design with hole punched paper confetti.  Students are required to hole punch the paper, then apply it carefully to a sketched out design.   Student use a popsicle stick or a blunt pencil to apply the hole punched confetti onto their design.  Some students completed more than one piece of art as they enjoyed it so much.  I will definitely be utilizing Dot Art in the upcoming year!  The only material required is a variety of colored construction paper, a hole puncher, popsicle sticks or blunt pencils, a sheet of paper to sketch and apply the art to, and glue.  Super inexpensive with great results!

Find below pictures of completed projects and I am looking forward to seeing your projects as well!

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Guest Post: Producing Engaging Lesson Plans via Social Media Trends by Albert Roberts

Hello readers! We have a special guest post by Albert Roberts that we thought you might like! Our students are always on social media, so why not use social media in the classroom for educational purposes?  Read on to find out how!

What are some of the ways in which we can make use of social media in the classroom? When used properly, social media can allow us to engage students with topical discussions, while getting a perspective on issues like bias and how to use different sources. One way in which we might try to use social media in productive ways for lesson planning is to look at social media trending tools that allow you to put together a lot of different responses to a subject.

Perhaps the main challenge for using social media with Middle Schoolers and other age ranges is that they’re usually already familiar with social networks, but don’t always know how to use them as part of their assignments; there’s often just too much content to sift through. Which makes social trending sites like so useful, as they provide a search engine where you can bring together all the times that keywords are mentioned on different social networks.

For example, run a search on World War II, and you get Twitter messages linking to recent news stories about memorials and veterans; you can also find Pinterest links to World War II books, and Twitter and other social network links to photographs. You can take a similar approach to searches on Barack Obama, or on controversial debates (although you may want to be careful not to end up with offensive material). What you have, then, is a lot of content that can be filtered and turned into examples that can be shown to students.

Bringing all the content you can find on social media together into something tangible and relevant can engage students. Social network trend searches can make older subjects more relevant, or can put current debates into a real-world context; this kind of access to debates can then be combined with other uses of social media for students, from carrying out Twitter polls to writing blogs and posting class photos.

If you’re putting together lesson plans, selecting sources from a social media trend search can lead to a series of questions and projects for students. Some areas that you might focus on include:

Debating Bias – show students examples of how a topic they’re looking at in class is being debated – what are the key arguments that are coming out, and do they reinforce or contradict what they might already know?

Relevance – discuss with your students why some social media sources are more useful than others: why is a well-researched blog better than someone making their case on Twitter? Similarly, question how far we can trust commentators’ reliability, and what sources they use to back up their arguments.

At the same time, social media trend searches can be discussed more directly with students as a way for them to carry out work in their own time. Look at what results they would receive if they searched on keywords when in class, and why what they find could be seen as useful or not for assignments.

Social media trends can be an excellent way to identify relevant and topical debates beyond your usual sources, and can make students more aware of how they can improve their knowledge online. However, a big part of using these resources should be about instructing students on bias, and how far they can trust different sources.

Author Bio:  Albert Roberts is a teacher in the UK and loves thinking of ways to improve student engagement via social media and technology.  He would love to see more inspirational teachers signing up for English teacher jobs in London and improve engagement with this vital subject. He’s an advocate of sharing information amongst teacher communities.



What Does a Good Mathematician Do? A Seven Poster Set!

After the success of our six poster set “What Does a Good Scientist Do?”, we created a corresponding math poster set!

This bright and colorful seven poster set helps teachers introduce math process skills to their students. The following math process skills are included: problem solving, reasoning and proving, selecting tools and strategies, reflecting, connecting, representing, and communicating. Each poster provides prompts and keywords to help students understand the skill.

We have been doing a lot of research in order to begin working on our TLLP project this upcoming school year.  One of the key components of our project is getting students to think mathematically and communicate their ideas.  Having students learn these seven key mathematical process skills will be instrumental in improving their understanding of math concepts.

An excellent addition to your classroom! Just click on the image below!

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And here’s a link to our science skills posters!

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The Tuesday 12: 12 Essential Resources for Math Teachers to Read

Welcome to another addition of The Tuesday 12! Since Lisa, Elita, and I will be working on a TLLP math project this year, we will be using our blog to review useful resources, the progression of our project, challenges to overcome, and successes we achieve.

The following list of resources is on my summer reading list (haha…it seems to be quite an endeavour, but I hope to check off as many as possible).  If you’ve read any of these resources or if there are others you can recommend, please leave your comments below!

1. Good Questions: Great Ways to Differentiate Mathematics Instruction (K – 8) by Marian Small

2. Turn and Talk: One Powerful Practice, So Many Uses (2011) by Lucy West and Antonia Cameron

3. Communication in the Mathematics Classroom (September 2010) by the Ontario Ministry of Education-Capacity Building Series

4. Writing in Math Class: A Resource for Grades 2-8 (1995) Marilyn Burns

Writing in Math Class: A Resource for Grades 2–8

5. Big Ideas and Understandings as the Foundation for Elementary and Middle School Mathematics (NCTM Journal, Spring-Summer 2005) by Charles Randall

6. Teaching Student-Centred Mathematics (2013) by John A. Van de Walle, Jennifer M. Bay-Williams, LouAnn H. Lovin, and Karen S. Karp.

7. What Great Teachers Do Differently: 17 Things That Matter Most (2011) by Todd Whitaker

8. Math Sense: The Look, Sound, and Feel of Effective Instruction (2012) by Christine Moynihan

9. Small Steps, Big Changes: Eight Essential Practices for Transforming Schools Through Mathematics (2012) by Chris Confer and Marco Ramirez

10. What’s Your Math Problem? Getting to the Heart of Teaching Problem Solving (2011) by Linda Gojak and Laney Sammons

11. Supporting Numeracy (Special Edition #28) by the Ontario Ministry of Education—Capacity Building Series

12. Asking Effective Questions (Special Edition #21) by the Ontario Ministry of Education—Capacity Building Series



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Words to Live by Wednesday: Mother Teresa

Hello everyone! I hope that you’re enjoying your summer break! In preparation for all the classroom redecorating we will all soon be doing (I know I’m already drawing plans and making notes!), here’s a poster for your classroom that has a truly inspirational message.  A colleague of mine always has this quote displayed in her classroom and I wanted to share it here. Our students deal with so many issues both inside and out of the classroom.  It is very easy to react to these challenging situations in a negative or unproductive way; however, we can encourage our students to look within themselves to find the courage and motivation to respond in a positive manner.

As usual, just click on the image below to get your {FREE} classroom poster!

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Abstract Art

Today, with the grade 4’s, we worked on abstract art. Actually, we worked on one of the art activities that Loriana had mentioned in a previous ‘Tuesday 12’. The students really enjoyed working on this activity. What is there not to like? Paint and brushes?! There is just something about it that students really enjoy. I think I had them at abstract –  for some, I think it is a relief when they know that their final picture does not HAVE to look like something.

However, for this particular activity, although the painting part is abstract and can be done in any which way, they were to draw an natural image (ex. a tree) and include it in their painting. Here is what we did step by step.

I gave students two different options so that they can individually choose which option works best for them as we all know that students have various strengths and weaknesses.

Option one allowed students the choice to draw the image on black construction paper, cut it out and then glue it on a piece of white paper. From here, students are to then take a paint brush and water colors and begin painting. They could choose to paint section by section, with each section have a specific color or they could start with one color, leading into another and then another, creating an overall interesting effect. Some students really liked this option.

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The second option gave students the choice to paint the white sheet of paper first, keeping with the same idea as in option one; however, in this option they do not have to paint within lines of an image. Rather they are painting a blank sheet of paper in it’s entirety. Once they have painted the white sheet, they can put this aside to dry and move on to creating their image on a sheet of black construction paper. After doing so, they will complete the same steps – cut it out and then glue it in their painting (which should be dry as they are using water colors). Most of the students chose this option.

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Regardless of the options the students chose, which again, was to help them complete this activity in a way in which they felt comfortable with, the final pieces turned out great! Although somewhat alike in many ways, each piece of artwork was different, interesting, creative and quite unique. From trees to flowers to clouds – they came out great!

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I have included quite a few examples just to show you how these abstract paintings turned out. You can definitely work with this activity in a number of ways. We chose to work with larger sheets of paper, but you can also work with smaller sheets. We chose to work with white and black, but you can also choose to work with different colors of construction paper; however, to create the effect as shown, go for the black construction paper. It stands out amazingly! You can work with specific colors of water paint, or allow them to use all and any. You can have them stick to creating trees, or allow them to create any image they like. Again, so many different ways to work with it!

Overall, it is a great activity to allow student’s creativity to roll! All you need is time and materials and ofcourse, prior knowledge and experience with abstract art, lines and water colors! Definitely a fun, interesting and simple activity!