Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Technology in the classroom

Technology is up and coming in the classroom and using Blogs and Wiki's are the newest form of technology.  We are learning about Blogs and Wiki's in this summer course.  I have this Blog and I hope to use it in the classroom for students and parents. 

Check out the Bluebonnet Writing Project website and tell us what you think about it. 


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Baby Owl on the porch

Baby Owl hanging out in the corner of the porch. I think his wing is damaged. I think I will name him Oscar the Owl.

Miller & Doc and the bed

Miller & Doc were left alone for 30 minutes and the dog bed was destroyed! Ha, Ha!

They look so innocent and sweet!

Monday, July 10, 2006


Cushman, D. (2002). From scribbles to stories. Instructor. 111(5), 32(2).
Ehrenworth, M. (2003). Looking to write : Students writing through the visual arts. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.
McKenna, S. (2003). Assignment: Make art, make friends. School Arts, 103(1), 48-9, 75.
Olshansky, B. (2003). Visual tools for visual learners. School Arts, 102(5), 51-53.
Richardson, D. (1990). Descriptive sketches. College Teaching, 38(4), 141.
Short, K. G., Kauffman, G., & Kahn, L. H. (2000). 'I just need to draw': Responding to literature across multiple sign systems. Reading Teacher, 54(2), 160.
Sidelnick, M. A., & Svoboda, M. L. (2000). The bridge between drawing and writing: Hannah's story. Reading Teacher, 54(2), 174.
Silverman, N., O'Regan, B., & Rudinoff, M. (2003). Self-portrait sketchbooks. School Arts, 103(1), 27-29.
Sobel, D. M., & Taylor, S. V. (2006). Blueprint for the responsive classroom. Teaching Exceptional Children, 38(5), 28-35.
Walsh-Piper, K. (2002). Image to word : Art and creative writing. Lanham, Md.: Scarecrow Press.

Lit Review and Methodology

Burning Question: Can art and writing affect overall student performance across cultures?


Art and writing enhances student creativity, creates motivation, and provides ownership for their endeavor. Giving students the freedom to express themselves through art and writing opens new venues to establish different genres. Drawing, sketches, photographs, statues, and other forms of art all attribute to student achievement. Using these multiple forms of artwork in the classroom will create outstanding pieces of literature that have been constructed from these mediums.

In our global society, classrooms are becoming increasingly diverse in terms of students’ cultures, languages, and socio-economic status (David, 2001). The relationship between achievement and cultural, ethnic/racial, and linguistic diversity cannot be ignored. Teachers must affirm students for the dynamic abilities, cultures, languages, and backgrounds they bring to the classroom (Sobel, 2006). By building a classroom community, teachers increase the effectiveness of their teaching and efficient workings of a classroom. Teachers who fail in the attempt to build a classroom community will in turn classify students by their ability and will often negatively influence the achievement of those students (David, 2001). Therefore, teachers need to create a classroom full of options that allow students from diverse backgrounds to develop learning skills. When working with these students from diverse populations, teachers need a variety of ideas to choose from for all learners (David, 2001). Integrating art and writing into the curriculum will provide diversity and choices to students and create this classroom community.


Talk plays a significant role in students’ interpretations of literature; they need many ways of thinking and responding available to them. They talk, and write, but they also sketch, sing, play, solve problems, and dance their way into new insights (Short, 2000). Allowing and encouraging students to write about their own experiences can enhance their reading, writing, communication, and comprehension skills by portraying their personal experiences in their work (David, 2001). For example, literature logs help children respond through writing, but they also need to incorporate sketching and diagramming into their responses (Short, 2000). Using talk gives the students experience to think more broadly and consider the story from different perspectives (Short, 2000). Several weeks after using this response the students felt it allowed them to express their feelings, to try out ideas, to learn more about the book, to understand feelings, to make connections, and to experience emotions of characters from the book (Short, 2000). Integrating talk, reflection, and responding lets the children see or hear the story or literature from another perspective, which increases diversity and builds the classroom community.

In addition, art is another important tool for thinking. Sketch to Stretch (Short & Harste, with Burke, 1996) encourages children to move their responses from language into art by inviting them to sketch what the story means to them (Short, 2000). Creating and talking through their drawings gives them a chance to explore connections to their lives and the world in interpreting the book (Short, 2000). Students can take the meanings they are constructing through reading, writing, or talk and think about them through art, music, drama, or math to create new meanings (Short, 2000). Using authentic responses gives the product a personal vision. Students take ownership and responsibility when the product is their own creation. When students are emotionally stimulated, their desire for technical success is greater because each student has an important object or idea to discuss (McKenna, 2003). By making art, it provides experience for the students and their emotional life is involved (McKenna, 2003). Reflecting and responding allows children to think through feelings, consider other ideas, connect to memories, and think more broadly. This creates ideas and connections from which they can pull in thinking, solving problems, gaining new insights, and responding to literature (Short, 2000). Using the talking, reflection, and art as a means of stimulating writing helps the learner feel safe and comfortable in the classroom community.


Drawing can move children from the visual to the spoken and then to the written word (Sidelnick, 2000). The relationship between seeing, telling, drawing, and writing are an essential and significant aspect of teaching the writing act. Drawing can create a bridge between the ideas in a child’s head and the blank piece of paper on the desk (Sidelnick, 2000). Olshansky (1995) stated that when children’s stories are driven by visual images, their writing is transformed in many powerful ways, enriching the story making and enhancing the finished product. Drawing is one way young children can get ideas for writing (Sidelnick, 2000). Another form of drawing, called sketchbooks, can be used to record new ideas, techniques, visualize vocabulary, and initiate processes for writing (Silverman, 2003). Drawing can be used to help children with disabilities learn to read and write, used for communication purposes, and motivate them to read and write (Sidelnick, 2000). Students can be taught how to interpret literature through drawing (Richardson, 1990). Seeing the drawings reminds the students of things that are missing. The picture can help the students move to the next level of interpretation because they can actually see the answer to the question (Richardson, 1990). Using this technique, the student can refer the drawings back to a text for validating interpretations (Richardson, 1990). Additionally, art projects are intrinsically interesting to students, making learning exciting. With this inclusion of art, academic assignments no longer hold the threat of potential failure. This creates an environment that reaches beyond traditional classroom approaches that only address linguistic and logical-mathematical abilities (Sidelnick, 2000). Using pictures can also ignite the imagination. That picture can lead to story ideas and then to writing pieces (Cushman, 2002). Another form of art, called painting, can be a vehicle for developing empathetic engagement (Ehrenworth, p.23). Painting stimulates children to imagine visual and emotional landscapes. It shows that writing through the visual arts can help children write in evocative ways (Ehrenworth, p.41). Drawing, painting, and incorporating art projects into the classroom are highly motivating, can help interpret literature and stories, and create ideas for writing.


A variety of visual and kinesthetic tools help children process and digest information to express their ideas both in art and writing (Olshansky, 2003). Visual and kinesthetic learners have a concrete visual record of their thoughts in full color by painting and pictures. The reluctant or struggling writer has a construction of ideas, which can mean the difference between success and failure (Olshansky, 2003). Art develops imagination because artists create powerful images, they stimulate us to think about and see things in new ways (Walsh-Piper, p.60). Exposure to visual imagery literally builds the imagination (Walsh-Piper, p.75). Art and writing merge in works of art that contain written language. Written language is a visual symbol system and as such has rich potential for artists (Walsh-Piper, p.84). Using visual and kinesthetic tools helps all learners, including struggling or limited English. The classroom encompasses a variety of students and integrating art and writing across cultures bridges this achievement gap. This study focuses on three issues: talking and reflecting through writing and art, drawing and painting leading to writing, and the use of visual tools and expression. This study examines the question: Can art and writing affect overall student performance across cultures?


This study will be conducted in a large Intermediate School in an urban setting. One classroom of sixth grade students will be observed throughout the year and assessed on the use of art and writing and overall student performance. The class size will be 28 students ranging from different cultural backgrounds. The teacher will collect student products throughout the year on art and writing, including art projects. The student products will be collected and comments written by the students in the class comment folder will be combined for the data collection. The class comment folder will have a section for each student to reflect on their writing and art during the school year.

Four writing benchmarks will be administered during the year for data collection. The writing benchmarks will include an art piece to connect to the writing. The benchmark dates will be in August, December, January, and May.

Lastly, quick surveys of student thinking on art and writing will be administered with open-ended answers and teacher response in the student comment folder for data collection. The teacher will keep a journal research reflection log including descriptions of events and interactions in the classroom, bits of conversations or phrases from students, reflections on what is happening, thoughts and reactions to the research process, and teaching ideas and descriptions that come out of the research.

Critical Incident

The classroom was cold and dark and the light switch in the front corner seemed so far in the distance. Carrie could hear her heartbeat pounding in her chest. This was the first day of school with her sixth grade students. Outside the window, the clouds still touched the horizon and the light was peeking through just barely opening the sky. It was 6:30 in the morning and the school was silent and empty.

“What do I do first, what do I write on the board, will my kids behave?” Carrie mumbled as she opened her book bag and turned on the computer on her desk. “I hope my students like me,” thought Carrie. This day would be pressed in her memory forever.

Six months earlier Carrie walked across the stage at graduation from Tarleton State University. She earned her degree in Teaching. Her class grades came easy to her because education was her passion and relevant to her goals in her own life. Carrie played school when she was in elementary lining up her stuffed animals along her bed and teaching to them out loud. Her big, fluffy green chair in the corner was the “bad chair” for discipline problems, which she rarely had to use because her students were always on task and following directions.

Carrie closed her eyes so tightly she felt like they may pop out of her head. Thoughts ran through her mind about the moment the bell rings and the students come into the classroom and find their seats. Quickly, she opened her eyes and stared at the clock hanging on the wall, the monotone tick-tock was getting louder and louder echoing in her ears. The bell was going to ring in 5 minutes. Carrie rushed around the room making sure the desks were arranged perfectly, grabbed her cards for seating the students and rushed out the door into the hallway.

RING! The bell rang and Carrie began to smile as the students filled the desolate hallway with laughter and footsteps. Students of all colors, sizes, shapes, and ethnicities raced by her giggling and chatting rapidly. As the students grouped outside her classroom #207 she could already see who were friends by the cluster groups forming in circles. In addition, she could tell who was alone or not group oriented. Carrie handed out the number cards and the students quickly found their seats with the matching number. Standing at the front of the room, Carrie called for attention and began speaking loudly and clearly watching the students’ faces. Sweat began poring profusely out of her pores and she could feel her wet armpits sticking to her hot pink v-neck shirt. She stayed up the night before picking out the perfect outfit to compliment her dark hair and light skin. She continued to speak about rules and procedures and noticed some students staring off into space and rolling their eyes. “Oh no, the kids are drifting off and not listening, how do I get them back, snap out of it,” Carrie thought. She decided to have the students get up and move around the room so she handed out the first ice-breaker activity where they fill in the “who done it” list from the students in the classroom. As the students paced around the room trying to get student signatures to fill up the sheet, Carrie glanced at the lesson plan book making sure she was covering all of her list of items on the first day agenda. She looked at the clock on the wall and noticed she still had one hour left of class, but her list was almost checked off for the first class period. “What am I going to do the last hour, how am I going to keep the students on task, should I dig through my files for more activities,” questioned Carrie.

Ten more minutes had passed and Carrie begins to remember her college classes and what she was taught about keeping the students attention and lesson planning. However, she could not recall how she would feel the first day of school and how the students would act or react to her activities. First block ended and the second class entered the same way as the first group of students.

The next two class periods repeated the same schedule. Second block students seemed to be more comfortable and chatted intently as they entered the room in large herds. Carrie began her speech she had recited at least four times in front of her own mirror at home that morning before school started. She was telling the students about the classroom rules when one of the students in the back corner started making noises under his hand that was cupped over his mouth. She stopped abruptly and gazed around the room trying to figure out who was being so rude and disrespectful and her eyes halted on one student sitting in the back corner that was slouched down in his chair. His hair was falling in his dark eyes, mud covered his old, tattered sneakers and his worn shirt had holes ripped along the edges and hung down to his yellow and green, grass-stained jeans. Carrie asked his name and if he had a comment he wanted to make aloud to the class. “Jake is my name and I have nothing to say to you,” he bolted rudely. “Thank you, then I will go back to my class rules,” stated Carrie. About 20 minutes later, Carrie asked the students to draw a picture of the most important thing to them in their own lives or culture on the paper. She handed out the crisp blank paper to each student and a box of crayons. Carrie walked around the room and looked over the shoulders of each student to examine their artwork pieces. She could tell right away who the art students were and who lacked this interest, but tried hard to sketch a picture or object. About 30 minutes later, Carrie collected the pictures and comments from each student. She placed them on her desk in the corner and continued her first day activities.

Carrie looked at the clock and it was five minutes until the end of the day. “Wow, this day flew by and I am still standing and survived my first day of school,” Carrie mumbled under her breath. RING! The bell rang and the students filled the quiet hallways again and raced down the stairs to the long line of yellow buses in the front of the school. Carrie peered out the window and watched the student’s crowd into packs outside the buses. The load roar of the engines filtered off in the distance and the exhaust left black clouds of smoke as the buses pulled out of the gray, concrete parking lot.

Carrie melted into her black, leather chair and let out a huge sigh of relief to finish her first day of her new career. She shuffled through the stack of pictures from her students that day and noticed the variety of artwork and comments made. She could tell this group of students were diverse and came from cultures all around the world. The picture that would stay with Carrie for years to come was by Jake. The student who had nothing to say to her as he was making noises in the back row in second block. His picture was so powerful, yet simple. The woman he drew had long, dark locks of curls hanging to her thin waist. Flowers covered her dress that touched her knees and her bare feet were sinking in the sand along some beautiful beach. Her small, delicate hands wrapped around a bouquet of lilies and her face seemed young and perfect. The only thing missing was a smile on her face. As Carrie looked closer she noticed a tear streaming down her soft, right cheekbone. This single, solid tear seemed to draw her closer into the picture of this woman. Carrie wondered, “Who was this person and why is she so important to Jake?” “What does this tear mean and why is she alone on a beach?” This picture has meaning to Jake and Carrie has to figure out why and how to relate to him. Carrie does not come from the same culture as Jake, but she has to teach all the different cultures of the world to her students this year. The rest of the pictures lay on her desk stacked in a pile of imagination, dreams, experiences, and cultures. It is her job to take all of these pictures and make them reality for her students. This day would be pressed in her memory forever as her first day of school, her first day of her career, and her first day of her dream, to teach children.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Art and writing

I am researching information on reflecting and writing using art in the classroom. I have found a plethora amount of positive articles on using art and writing in the classroom. If you have any links or information on this topic, please attach it here.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Reading in all content areas

So many teachers need ideas to integrate reading into their own content area. I teach social studies and I am always asking for books to use in the classroom. Please share some books specific to your content area for all teachers to use in their own classroom.

Social Studies
Language Arts

Sunday, June 18, 2006

1st year teachers

Hello everyone,

I was wondering how many of you are first year teachers? I have a few questions for you to share with us about your first years thoughts.

How much practice did you get in your undergraduate courses to teach in a classroom setting?

Do you feel prepared to walk in your classroom on the first day of school and teach your students?

What will you do your first day of school?

What questions are you most concerned with your first year of teaching?

What are your goals for your first year with your students?

Please share with all of us!
~ Morgan

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Teacher quotes

Welcome to my Blog!

Share your favorite teacher quotes or thoughts!