Thursday, June 22, 2017

Best Books for Art Teachers!

Summertime is my favorite time to reflect on the past school year. I often find myself uprooting all of my favorite art teacherin' books during this time. Sometimes, I'll just flip through them, look over my cryptic notes (I really gotta become a better note keeper!) and rethink my life choices, er, strategies in the art room. Other times, I'll dig deep into a book, really opening my mind up to new possibilities for the new year. I love this part of teaching: that we get the chance to hit the reset button every school year, throw out the old and bring in the new. I feel like Bill Murray in Ground Hog Day every August! 

In case you missed, during our last Facebook LIVE art teacherin' chat, we were talking about our favorite art teacher books. You can find that chat archived on my page. Be sure to peruse the comments to see what other folks are reading. We agreed that a book club would be super fun so, during the month of July during FB LIVE, that's what we'll be up to! 
How to join the book club? First, get you a copy of the book. We won't be starting until Wednesday, July 5th so plenty of time to get a copy and start flipping through it. Our chats our held here. In order for you to view the chat, you'll need to like my page. At 8pm CST on Wednesday, July 5th, I'll pop up in your feed! We usually chat for about an hour...but you can come and go any time. 
I'm very excited about sharing ideas with one another on how we can infuse art education and growth mindsets in our art room! Until then, I thought I'd share with you some of my very favorite books as an art teacher. Some of these books, I've had since my first year teaching and they truly helped me so much. One book I discovered during my first years teaching was Drawing with Children by Mona Brooks
 Wow, did this book teach me more than I learned in college about working with children! It's such a comprehensive book that explains child development; showcases lessons and examples; recommends supplies and teaching strategies. I followed this book to a T when first started out and it was like having a friend guide me. It is very heavy on the side of guided drawing which I know some folks feel very much against. But, for me, I believe that there is a place for guided drawing in the art room as long as it is balanced with open-ended projects. You would never expect a music teacher to teach a student how to play an instrument without first showing them how to do it. Why is art thought to be different? I also have Mona's book on teaching older children which is also very helpful. She dives into teaching more from observational drawing in that book. 
Ah, a classic, right? Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain is currently in either it's fourth or fifth addition. I love the concepts in the book...but it is hard to use with children because it is so dry. Trust me, I know, I've tried. As an elementary art teacher, I really do want to use the concepts from this book, but change it up and make it more geared toward my fun and funny little audience. This is something I'm thinking about this summer. 
What I really like about Hooked on Drawing is that the author, Sandy Brooke, does a great job of sharing lessons that go beyond pencil and paper. She has her students work with chalk, charcoal, kneaded erasers; all that stuff I never used until college. My kids LOVE working with those supplies. Observational Drawing with Children is a great read. What I like about it is that it really explains the developmental stages of drawing. It also provides conversations between student and teacher to give you a peak into an art teacher's classroom. Open-ended lessons and ideas are provided in this small book. 
It's hard to teach what you don't know...and I definitely did not know color when walking into the art room. I used this book as a crash course for myself to become a better teacher. If you are a teacher of older students, you could use the concepts from this book with your kiddos. 
My first year was also helped out greatly by Cathy Topal's book Children and Painting. This book is beautiful with full color photos and great lessons that scaffold. Another beautiful book is You Can Weave! I was so fearful of introducing weaving to my students...this book was a game changer. Again, lots of full color photos and easy to follow steps. 
 I love art history. LOVE it! But how to teach it all? One of my favorite ways to teach is by telling a story. Another teacher who is gifted at this is Marianne Saccardi. Her book Art in Story provides inspiring, well-researched and fascinating stories of artists or art history. You can read them aloud to your students or memorize them and add sound effects, lighting, music and amateur acting skills as I like to do. My very favorite art history book is The Annotated Mona Lisa. Y'all, this is one of my top five. I use this when creating my Hot Minute of History lessons for my kids. It's snippets of art history are short, concise and to the point. 
 A fun and inspirational read is Educating Esme. This is the diary of a first year fifth grade teacher in an inner city school. She struggles with the kiddos, her administration and just finding herself as a teacher. It's a quick read that will leave you inspired. Speaking of inspire, Ron Clark, anyone?! Holy mary, the Godfather of Teacher, can I get an amen? I love all of his books. 
 Need more inspo? Teach like a Pirate is beyond awesome. Dave Burgess is the teacher we all wanna be. But Meena Srinivasan shows us that teaching isn't just about being as wild, crazy and energetic as you can. In Teach, Breathe, Learn, she shares her methods of inspiring mindfulness in her students both in and out of the classroom. 

The key is to discover who YOU are in your art room...reading these books should inspire you, not make you feel the need to conform to any one else's methods or styles of teaching. Your passion is what is going to drive you as an educator and make you  your very best. Just keep that in mind as you flip through the pages of these books and happy reading! 



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2 comments:

  1. Dang, I needed this list last year on my maternity leave. It's so helpful...looks like I have a busy summer of reading! Thank you!!

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  2. I sooo depended on those first few books when I began teaching! Good to see some new ideas!

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