The End of September in #ALC1O #ENG2D #AVI3O

It’s already (almost) the end of September. There are about 18 weeks in a semester and we’re wrapping up the fourth week. Time continues to move incredibly fast. My job is to ensure that despite this rapid pacing, students have opportunities to be successful. I’ve been actively conferencing, reminding, opening up doors for, and working with students to help them get to where they should be — but students need to be accountable for their work, too. As we approach the first Progress Report I’m already seeing some work habits that need attention. In the next two weeks I will be endeavouring to touch base with parents and guardians to help me help the students.

In the meantime, here’s an update of where we are and where we are going in each class:

ALC1O – Grade 9 Visual Art: This class has been absolutely amazing. We completed the introductory designs, (which turned out really, really well!) and then moved on to plaster mask-making. I’ll let these pictures speak for the work being done:

A variety of painting styles makes each mask unique
Some students, like Aysia N., went above-and-beyond with their masks, producing creative sculptures
I can’t wait to share images of more masks from this group of creative artists. The masks will soon be displayed in GCHS.

Next, we’ll be working with some colour theory and then we move on to watercolour painting!

ENG2D – Grade 10 Academic English: Students have been taking time really working to develop critical writing skills with argumentative essays. We have all spent time conferencing and discussing various parts of essays and how to explain/support/connect points. In some cases this process has been pretty stressful, (where I imagined many students to be is not where many of them are, so the planning and tempo had to change) but the rough copy is due tomorrow and this will allow me to produce very descriptive and specific feedback for students.

We are transitioning into the To Kill a Mockingbird unit. To begin, we began discussing a critical question related to the novel:

We connected the idea of influence with current events, including the current debate of athletes not standing for the national anthem. We talked about respect, unity, pressure to do what others do, injustices, and the world around us — ultimately linked back to how the novel approaches similar themes. Tomorrow we will have some discussions about themes in the novel by using Anticipation Guide statements. I will be evaluating the participation of each student, but also their ability to make and support points.

Finally, AVI3O – Grade 11 Visual Art: Students are currently working on three drawing styles: gesture, contour, and blind contour. Each style involves practicing in sketchbooks and collaborating with others, (we needed body and face models. The students delivered.) Students will receive an assignment today that focuses on demonstrated knowledge and understanding of both the three drawing types and the artist’s ability to reflect on the steps involved in producing art, (called the Creative Process.) There are some skilled artists in the room. Here’s a sample portrait, drawn using the blind contour style:

Again, with the first progress report rapidly approaching, it will be my job to continuously connect with students to try and keep them on track. If you’re a parent/guardian, it would be helpful to have a conversation about what’s happening in class with your child. Otherwise, look for a progress report soon.

Thanks again and enjoy the rest of this SHORT! week.


Expressing Ideas: This Week in #ALC1O #ENG2D #AVI3O


We’re already into the second half of September. The first few weeks of the semester are behind us and the period of “get-to-know-you” has transformed into “let’s-see-what-you-can-do.” In both art classes and the English class, I feel lucky in the sense that my students (for the most part) are enthusiastic about showing me what they can do – as well as showing a willingness to learn more. For those who aren’t quite at that stage, it’s my job to try and engage, motivate, and push. So far, so good. My goal is to allow students to express who they are, both through art and writing.

In ALC1O – Grade 9 Visual Art students pushed their thinking to complete two designs in the past two weeks. The first had them create a design that used the elements of art as a way to express their emotions. I also wanted students to get accustomed to their art studio surroundings and show me that they could be responsible with materials. The mission was successful.

This week, we’re going to continue the idea of self-expression by creating plaster masks. To make this a successful project, students have to work with a partner, get a bit messy, do some planning, and then some designing. We started the process today with one person being the “model” and the second person being the “artist.” The roles will switch and then, with base masks ready, students will go into the design stage.

Check out the engagement, the smiles, the teamwork, and the awesome results:

Stay tuned for updates. I love this project!

In ENG2D – Grade 10 Academic English, we are focusing our efforts on essay skills – with a focus on argumentative essays. I want to ensure students have a clear understanding of expectations, success criteria, exemplars, and the writing process so that they will struggle (hopefully!) less with essays for the rest of their time in high school. To date, students have:

  • Developed an understanding of topic and thesis
  • Been able to conference and discuss topics and thesis statements under the framework of an essay outline
  • Been given the first major essay assignment

This process will take the rest of the week, because I want to give sufficient time for conferencing and feedback. Then, these folks will be on their own.

Finally, in AVI3O – Grade 11 Visual Arts, we finished an introductory acrylic painting assignment. Like the grade 9 class, the plan was to familiarize students with art studio expectations, some basic painting techniques, and the beginning of the creative process. This week, we’ll focus on some more technical aspects, starting with drawing techniques:

Download (PDF, 582KB)

So there you have it… a busy third(1!) week. Enjoy it!


Great First Week! #ALC1O #ENG2D #AVI3O

There’s always a bit of anticipation and anxiety that comes with the beginning of a new school year. As a teacher, I begin each year wondering how I can step up my game, do a better job of reaching my students, and of course maintain my sanity. This year, I am also contending with a return to the art classroom after a two year absence. I’m pretty excited to be back teaching art, especially after participating in a Leadership Program with colleagues Colleen Rose and Lindsay Costa. I can put ideas to practice!

I decided to jump right into things with my classes this week. In ALC1O – Grade 9 Visual Art students have been working on an Introductory Design assignment.

I really want to applaud the new Grade 9s who jumped right in. The first week is always important for me to gauge work habits, risk-taking, and use of materials. This group is awesome. I’m looking forward to seeing things come together as we finish the activity. We will also be exploring the Elements and Principles of Art.

In ENG2D – Grade 10 English, we spent the first few days with some introductory writing assignments. We will continue that this week as well as introduce essay writing. My intention is to ensure that these students are experts in academic writing. Students are also reading To Kill A Mockingbird in advance of our next unit.

Finally, in AVI3O – Grade 11 Art I started the semester by asking my students the following question:

What is an emotion, character trait, or interest that you feel defines you? What does that LOOK like? How could you communicate your answer in art?

Students jumped to brainstorming. Some used lines and colours to represent their idea. Otherwise went with emojis. Still others decided to work on self portraits or outdoor scenes. I’m interested in seeing the creative processes of these students and I’ll be excited to share their final products. Most students are using acrylics on canvas paper for this assignment. The majority of the class has not been in visual art since the Grade 9 half-credit course so I have unlimited options to help build an appreciation for art with these folks!

Week #2 is going to be a great week!