When your students are working on messy projects that leave tons of paper scraps on the floor consider using the Magic Garbage technique to motivate a super fast clean-up. I learned this tip from my colleagues in my masters cohort and it works beautifully with my elementary students.
When it’s time to clean up, explain to the class that you picked one piece of garbage on the floor to be the “Magic Garbage”. Who ever picks it up while cleaning will earn a prize!
A prize can be anything that’s motivating to your students such as candy, stickers, stamps, free time, computers or line leader. In my room we use a ticket system where students earn a ticket. Each ticket is placed in a box and after a few art classes several tickets are randomly drawn from the box like a raffle. The students with winning tickets drawn from the ticket box get to select a price from the prize box.
Now here is were the magic comes in. You really don’t have to mark a particular piece of garbage with a sticker or anything else. You simply watch the class as they busily clean and then award the ticket to the student you think worked the hardest at cleaning. Sometimes I award the ticket to a student who worked really hard on their art for the entire class period. Of course, if you want, you can mark a particular piece of garbage with a sticker. The risk with doing that is if a student immediately finds the sticker there’s no extra motivation for the whole class to keep cleaning.
This is a great system for those situations where there is a time crunch. It also works in any setting where cleaning will be a big job. Magic Garbage is a simple technique that encourages a fast and through clean-up anytime you need it.
(Side note: Some of my cohort colleagues had different names for this technique like lucky trash, secret garbage or prize piece of trash. If you have used this technique or start using it soon, leave a comment and let us know what you named it!)
The following is a guest post written by Katie Jarvis. She has been teaching art for nine years and currently teaches at Cameron Elementary in Alexandria, Virginia.
At the beginning of every year, art teacher’s everywhere make up a “rules poster” to review with students on the first day of classes. Throughout the year I would find that the students would claim to forget or not know the rules. While researching art room rules last year I came across a teacher on Youtube, Chris Biffle, a college professor who taught what he called Whole Brain Teaching.
How does it work? At the beginning of every class the students and I recite the art room rules. The rules have hand motions and each week we change the style in which we say them- squeaky voice, deep voice, sad, happy, fast, cowboy, etc. The kids love it! In fact if I try to skip over doing the rules even my 6th graders complain.
I created a video to illustrate how I teach these rules on the first day of art. Trouble viewing video below? Click here.
There is also a scoreboard to help with classroom management. I mark “smiley faces” and ”sad faces” on the board as the class earns them (see monkeys in image on left). When the class earns a smile they get to cheer. When the class earns a sad face everyone groans. The points are tallied at the end of each class and a gold paintbrush is awarded for more smiles than frowns, a silver paintbrush for an equal number of smiles and frowns, or no brush for more frowns than smiles. Four paintbrushes earn the class a free art day. Each silver brush is worth 1/2 a gold brush (2 silvers = 1 gold)
The most effective tool I’ve learned from Whole Brain Teaching is getting the students attention. When I say “Class” they say “Yes!” I vary the way I say class to keep them on their toes. For example if I say “Classsity, Class” they respond “Yessity, yes!”
Whole Brain Teaching involves lots of hand gestures and verbal responses from students to keep them engaged and entertained. Using WBT creates a “peaceful classroom full of orderly fun”. Students have more fun following my rules, since I switched to Whole Brain Teaching, rather than ignoring them.
The first week of school typically involves going over classroom rules and procedures. However, making these rules “stick” is a year-long challenge. The SlideShare PowerPoint below, created by an art teacher from Michigan, outlines her art classroom expectations and management solutions. This presentation could be useful to play periodically throughout the school year, during quiet work times, or even as students enter the room and get settled. Download for your classroom or use as inspiration for your own expectation presentation appropriate for your students’ grade levels. Click the green play button at the bottom of the screen to watch the presentation and hear the audio track.
It’s that time of the year again. Over the next couple weeks, most of our readers will be preparing their art classrooms for the new school year. Wouldn’t it be great to see the creative spaces of other art teachers around the country… or around the world for that matter? Well this is your chance to share your art space… and see others.
By September 15, send a photo of your decked-out art classroom to email@example.com. We’ll compile all the art classroom photos into one showcase post. Think HGTV for the art classroom. We’ll also feature one or two lucky photos on our home page as the new “cover art” for The Teaching Palette.
Regardless of what level you teach, we want to see what you have done with the space you were given, even if it is on a cart or in the corner of a gym. In the end, we hope to receive enough photos to make a healthy online gallery so art teachers around the globe can be inspired for their own spaces. Now go snap some photos!
There are 10 minutes remaining in art class and everyone is working hard on their latest art project except for your two chronic early finishers. It never fails that some students work faster then others. When students have extra unfocused time this leaves an opportunity for behavior problems to develop. What can you do with students who finish early?
Since you never know how many students will finish early or how much time will be left in the class you might consider utilizing an “Odd Art Jobs” chart.
What are odd art jobs?
They are all those little things that eat up a lot of time and energy, which could be focused on creating great lessons, grading or helping other students. The art room wouldn’t function if these tasks weren’t completed but really anyone could get them done. An odd job could be anything from sorting scrap boxes to labeling artwork. Another added benefit is that your students take ownership and pride over the art room, its equipment and school displays.
The type of odd art jobs that you let your students do is totally dependent on how your classroom is structured. You should also take into account the characteristics of your student population. One year you may have a amazingly independent group of fifth graders that are responsible enough to look at a check list, pick a job, and complete it without explanation. The next year it might work better to keep the list as a reference tool for yourself then have kids ask you what jobs are available to help. The key is to create a system that works for your art room. In my experience, a one-size-fits all approach never works for education. In my classroom the odd art jobs chart works best for small pockets of early finishers. It’s not a good solution for when an entire class completes a project early. Check out the list of odd art jobs I’ve had students do in my classroom located below.
Odd Art Jobs
- Wash paint containers with special sponges (Usually I let them use a fun scrubbing tool I pick up at the dollar store.)
- Sort scrap boxes (I have my paper scraps sorted by color so that it’s easy to access what I need for certain projects or for classroom teachers to borrow.)
- Count out paper I need for certain grade level projects (For example, if I need 65 sheets of three different kinds of paper for my next kindergarten project I will have a student help count it out for me. This way all I need to do is cut it to size and I have exactly what I need!)
- Sort marker bins and throw out dry markers (I have the student helpers take a scrap piece of paper and make test marks on it. If a marker is dry it goes to the trash. I might even have them save the marker caps for when students lose theirs during projects. This is a great job for any age level!)
- Make signs to label different areas of the art room. (I make a list of things I would like labels for as I work around the classroom. You could spend hours labeling your supplies and cabinets. Sometimes I will pre-print the signs and the student helpers will color, cut and attach them. Some examples of signs students have made for me are how to draw book categories, warm colors, in-box, watercolor paint brush sizes and newspaper.)
- Take down bulletin boards (All of my hallway displays are at student height so I don’t have to worry about step stools. The bulletin boards are also visible from the art room or the office for teacher monitoring. I usually send students out in teams of two or three but no more. And I make sure that they know exactly what to do.)
- Glue project paragraphs to the back of artwork (I attach a short paragraph describing the art process and what students learned to the back of each project for Kindergarten, 1st and 2nd grades. I try to give them as much hands on time as possible so we don’t always get time to glue the project paragraphs to the framed art. This is a great job for early finishers to help with.)
- Have older kids glue or staple frames to younger kids completed art projects (I usually write the student names on the projects ahead of time. Then all my student helpers need to do is glue or staple the artwork on to the pre-cut frames.)
- Sharpen pencils (To save time while my classes are drawing I like to have my pencil bucket ready for action. Instead of kids sharpening pencils while I’m talking they simply exchange their pencil for an already sharpened one in the pencil bucket. It cuts down on interruptions and lost work time. So periodically the bucket needs to be sorted and the pencils sharpened.)
- Make Tracers for other grade level projects (I will make two or three tracers and then have student helpers trace them onto heavy cardboard. Then, I put the cardboard in our parent volunteer bin for the adults to cut out. Takes a little forethought but saves me a lot of time and energy.)
- Sort classes artwork and stuff portfolios to send home (At our schools we use portfolios to transport art work home about three to four times a year. If I have a larger group of student helpers I will have them sort a particular classes art projects into plies for each kid. Then they simply slip each students art work into the pre-labeled portfolios to send home at a later date.)
- Set up supplies for the next art class. (I often have little time in between classes to set up new supplies. So I might switch from 3rd grade to 1st grade to 5th grade. Well that’s a large amount of supplies to have out at one time and I don’t have enough counter space. So I will have early helpers take out the materials for the next class and set it up on one counter. Then when the class is over they clean up their art supplies and put them totally away. Now I have a new counter free for that class to set up supplies for the next class following them.)
- Cleaning tasks (i.e., sweep the floor, erase the board, wipe tables, clean clay tools)
- Refill art product containers (I will have students that I know can do a good job refill glue bottles, switch watercolor refills or any other job of that type.)
- Hang bulletin-boards (I usually reserve this job for older students and it is a huge treat for them. Remember, all of my hallway displays are at student height and visible from the art room or the office for teacher monitoring. I usually send students out in teams of two or three but no more. And I make sure that they know exactly what to do. Sometimes I even hang the first three or four pictures so that the student helpers can see what I expect them to do.)
- Cut out items that have been laminated (I have parent helpers laminate papers for me then I have a cut laminate box located in my room where student helpers can grab some laminate and cut it out.)
- Empty the drying rack (This is fairly self explanatory but, student helpers will take art work off the drying rack and put it into the proper classes box.)
One of the most common times in the art room for students to become off task or lose their focus is during clean-up and transitions. Learn key strategies to keep your class on task such as creating a clean-up map to help students know what to do next (Example). Or how to handle students who have trouble moving from one location to another. Keep your students productive and gain more instructional time in the process with our “Transitions and Clean-Up” tip sheet.
One of the most challenging areas of classroom management for many art specialists is the last five minutes – clean up. I was frustrated with students who “got lost” on their way to wash their hands (aka socializing with friends), so I developed a “Clean Up Map” to help students find their way.
I started by creating and laminating a large (about 3′ x 3′) map (like a treasure map) with a line leading to “X” marks the spot. It was so large that my school laminator couldn’t handle it so I had to go to Office Max (50% off lamination for teachers in August).
Next, Photo and laminate examples of clean up tasks. (Photo children sitting at a clean table, washing hands, turning in artwork to drying rack, etc.).
Add Velcro to back side of picture and tabs along the Clean Up Map route.
Add numbers with additional Velcro to front side of clean up tasks to show sequential steps If time allows, I set up the map sequence before class, otherwise, I set it up with the children watching and go over it at the same time reinforcing the clean-up routine for the day.
I also use giant laminated X’s (one for each table) to hand to one student (or assign older students to retrieve) when all students at their have completed the clean up map. I allow X marks the spot tables to get in line first as positive reinforcement. Getting the X for each table seems to be the best part of the clean up routine for the students. The best part of the map for me is a far more orderly end to class – the only drawback is keeping the kids from running to finish their clean up faster=:)