SchoolArts Room

Visiting the (Way Cool) Donald Art Room

By Nancy Walkup, posted on Apr 26, 2014

This past week I had the chance to spend some quality time in Leslie McReynolds’ art room at Donald Elementary School in Flower Mound, Texas.


Concentration!
 
I met Leslie through the Internet and was there to start planning some professional development offerings (such as design thinking, STEAM) for her district.  I knew I was in for a treat when I walked into the school and saw the halls and display cases filled with student art work.
 
Check out Leslie’s blog, the (Way Cool) Donald Art Room. The bulleted points below are condensed from Leslie's teaching philosophy online. These ideas should be helpful to every art teacher.
 
· If you teach Art, then you must be a Master. You must be a stronger artist than your students. Yes, I
said must. If you have not mastered an art form, find time to work on something creative that brings you 
joy.
 
· Everything you touch should have the mark of a trained specialist.
 
· Teach the child, not art. Art is what you use.
 
· Believe that Art is very valuable. Your program and your lessons must have a purpose. 
 
 
· Integrate Art History and other subject areas into your lessons. Back up your subject and concept. Layer
 the knowledge and make connections. 
 
· Ask good questions and listen
 
· Allow students to make choices: subject, materials, standing or sitting, etc. Modify your lessons so all 
your students are successful. Clearly define your expectations.

· Display, display, display. Turn your school walls into an art gallery. Take the time to mount and label. I       
am at a point where my students grades 2-5 mount student art work and my Art Helpers hang the work.
 
· Beware of becoming a pack rat. Organize your room/closet/drawer and toss the nasty or what you haven't
 used in 6 years. Buried and lost art supplies cost you time and money.
 
· Create good examples, and ask yourself, “Is this something I would want to do?” 

· Recess, P.E., dismissal - These are the times for yelling, running and jumping around. These behaviors 
are not appropriate for an art room. How can you paint when someone is yelling in your ear? Yes, there 
is a lot of creative energy, but that needs to be channeled through the brain and hands, not the mouth. 
 
· Command respect because you give it. Yep.

· Monitor behaviors so you can stop problems before they start. Avoid sitting with one little group of 
students. Your job is to facilitate and assist all your students equally. Doing this will alleviate many negative 
behaviors.· On the other hand, work with small groups for really messy, one on one processes (printmaking, 
dyeing, etc). Have a relevant project ready for those not in the small group, but make sure you have your 
eyes on all kids.
 
· Facilitate, but don’t hover. Give occasional technical advice to the entire class, instead of zeroing in on 
one student. Unless you have to.

· Allow plenty of time for clean-up. I am not their mommy, I do not clean up after my students. Assign jobs,  
kids LOVE to help, and monitor, monitor, monitor. 
 
· Embrace technology, but it must make sense. Come on, this is where our kids are already! The computer
 is a tool, just like the hammer and chisel. It will never give you ideas or experiences. But it is a great tool 
that our kids have already mastered. I do not believe technology will replace the paintbrush, piano or lump
of clay.  Ever.  Humans need to create or Pinterest would have died out by now. iPads, digital cameras
and laptops have revolutionized my program. Creating digital art, online digital portfolios, QR codes for 
research, it's all good.  I love using my laptop, document camera and projector to introduce and demo 
projects, but honestly, there are times getting my hands dirty with the kids is far more engaging. Technology
integration needs to flow seamlessly, not be forced.     
 
· Assess. End of class wrap ups, rubrics, peer interviews, class critiques, portfolio comments…whatever 
works for you…get the kids talking about their art and their classmate’s art. Teach them how to comment 
responsibly with manners. Teach them how to delve deeper with follow-up questions. Allow them to take 
ownership for their own learning.
 
· Use the assessment to check for understanding and mastery. Because that is the point. 
 
· Have fun, pick your battles and remain flexible. Teaching Art is a joy!
 
This class was taking and transforming selfless after an introduction about Andy Warhol.
 
Leslie's school is piloting the use of iPads at the elementary level in her district, Lewisville ISD. Every student in the school has an iPad to use. It was great to see her seamlessly use the iPads and her technology resources (digital projector, laptop, etc.) in her lessons. I knew she was a teacher after my own heart when I saw her constantly taking photos with her iPhone of students as they worked.
 
Leslie also used a personal microphone to speak to her class. What a great idea! I'm going to have to get one of those as my voice doesn't carry well and I don't like being tied to a lectern.
 
Would you like to share your art room and blog online? Just let me know!
 
Collaboration was happening!
 
QR codes lead to more content.
 
Leslie said she got this idea from Mr. E!
 
Student artwork is everywhere!
 
Who wouldn't want to be in this class?