Friday, September 20, 2013

Best Pencil Sharpener I Have Ever Used!!! ( And A Better Week! )

A while back I pinned some info on what was described as the best and last pencil sharpener you will ever want to use....  As an art teacher to elementary age children it sounded good so I checked it out...

I went to the Classroom Friendly Supplies page to check out this pencil sharpener that teachers were raving about.  The sharpeners are attractive and look just like a regular sharpener with one major difference...  IT TRUELY IS THE BEST SHARPENER I HAVE EVER USED!!!

How many of you have buckets of pencils that never sharpen right or the pencil lead constantly falls out right after you have sharpened it?  I know I had a bucket filled with pencils that I wouldn't throw out even though they would not sharpen in my electric sharpener!  Up till now, I thought electric sharpeners were the busy teachers friend, not anymore!  After using the Classroom Friendly Sharpener for the past couple of weeks at school it is now the ONLY sharpener I will be using in my art room!   Sorry electric sharpener, you have done your time and served us in the art room to the best of your ability but we are parting ways...

Troy from Classroom Friendly Supplies was very generous and sent me my very own sharpener to try out in my classroom and review for all of you.  I even got to pick my own color!  (Blue, of course )

Let me tell you this seemingly simple and ordinary sharpener is nothing short of genius!

I had sooo many of these poor pencils that still had a lot of life left to them but they would never sharpen right.  The pencil points constantly fell out, they sharpened sideways so all we had was a pointy piece of wood, etc... 

I think the secret is in the grip those little teeth have on the pencil so it doesn't wiggle around inside when sharpening.

So I set up my nice blue Classroom Friendly Sharpener and decided to try it out....

My pathetic pencils went from this...

To this!!!

I was floored!!!  I sharpened the pencils on Monday and we used them all day Monday and Wednesday before I needed to re-sharpen them.  There was the occasional pencil break but that was due to student error, not pencil malfunction! 

The kids even like to watch me sharpen them!  I can carry the sharpener right to their table and sharpen it in a flash! 


Just watch this video clip to see how easy this sharpener is to use.  I can sharpen all my pencils for the day in no time!  I have gotten quite quick at it.  Once they are sharpened the first time it takes seconds to re-sharpen them.  I have two art rooms... The electric sharpener at my 3d-5th grade school has been ticking me off the past few weeks...  I bought good (expensive) pencils this year because I thought that was the problem...  My electric pencil sharpener has been going on a murderous rampage on my good, expensive pencils!

So my bloggy friends if you are beside yourself with anxiety because your pencils just won't sharpen correctly I HIGHLY recommend you go to Classroom Friendly Supplies and get yourself one of these sharpeners!  I am buying a second one for my other art room before my electric pencil sharpener wastes away all my good pencils!

Again, I want to thank Troy for sending me one of his amazing sharpeners!  So RUN, don't walk and go over to Classroom Friendly Supplies and get yourself one of these sharpeners for your classroom/home!

My pre-assessments are done (YEAH!!!) It was like a hallelujah chorus went off in my head Wednesday afternoon when my last class finished!  Now I just have to finish my spread sheets this weekend and fill in the base line data.  We are FINALLY doing art work in the art room!!!m  Third grade is creating their version of Klimt's the Tree of Life, fourth grade is working on shape and intermediate colors and fifth grade is working on form and value.  Kindergarten and first grade are working with shape and line and second grade is designing architecture in the style of Klee with simple shapes. 

I bought Crayola oil pastels this year instead of my tried and true Cray-Pas.  The kids really like the Crayola...  The Crayola is fatter so they are getting a better grip on them and they are easier for them to work with.  The Crayola seems a little more solid than the Cray-pas and don't break as easy but are still smooth and easy to blend.

Yeah!!!  The drying racks are filled with paintings!  My supply table is loaded with materials for the day!  I could't find the personal size color wheels I made last year  (of course I put them away at the end of last year so I wouldn't lose them!  Do you think I could find/remember where I put  them today!?!)  So I quick printed out more and double laminated them for Tuesday.  Just need to cut them out.

Just a quick peek at a shawl/scarf I made the end of this summer with some of my yarn stash thats been sitting around for a long time.  I found and purchased the perfect pattern at Creative Designs 

by Sheila Zachariae. It is her easy Triangle Scarf pattern that I purchased from her Etsy shop.  I ended up crocheting up two more!  One in a variegated, purple-pink and one in variegated Fall colors.  Both are sock yarns.  I love how the granny stitch works up so tiny with the sock yarn!  I ran out of the blue/yellow yarn before I was done and couldn't get any more at the store (I could purchase it on-line but I was impatient to finish it in August) so I found some brown which in the end looked a little bit too "in my face" when finished.  I crocheted the little flowers with the little blue I had left and added them to the brown border. They were the perfect solution for balancing out the colors! 

I am off to have a well deserved rest this weekend! Hope you all have the same!
Mrs.C  :)

(I just realized that this is my 100th post!!!  WOW!  Thanks everybody out there who stops by to read and comment! And thanks to all of you in blogland who share your ideas/inspiration with all of every day!  Yeah you! )

Saturday, September 14, 2013

My First Full Week Back...

OK... So this is how I felt by the end of Wednesday...  This week was my first full week of school.  All in all the week started out well...  The kids have been good...  Then Wednesday hit...

It was a HOT and VERY HUMID day here in NJ on Wednesday...  My art room is on the second floor over the cafeteria kitchen (nice and hot upstairs, always).  My fan was rotating on high, not that it mattered.  I have been doing my pre-assessments all week for my SGO's.  No, we have not gotten to do any actual art yet...  All my pre-assessments need to be done and on Excel spread sheets by September 30th.

We also have a new evaluation system that was passed into law and being used this year. Instead of being observed one time a year for a full lesson as a tenured staff member, I will be observed three times this year for 20 minutes each. The observations are being described a "Snapshots" of the time the administrator is in my room.  It may be the first 20 minutes of a lesson, the middle, the end or even part of two classes back to back..

We have all decided we don't want to be our principal this year because of the amount of observations that need to be done.  Well, Day five into school, my principal walks into my room on that hot, sweaty afternoon with laptop in hand and I said out loud: "Nooo..."  My principal replied:  "Yes, sorry..."  My first 20 minute observation...

I was waiting for my first afternoon class to arrive.  Went outside my door to wait for them... They arrived fresh from recess and they were a hot, sweaty, whiny mess of 2nd graders!  The class was coming to art for the first time this year..  They didn't even have table assignments yet!  I kept thinking I'm going to be getting the kids settled in to their tables and the room...  I'm not doing a full blown lesson...  This is going to be a disaster...  I told myself, "It is what it is!"  Make the best of it!

I gave my instructions at the door and led the kids in, gave them their table assignments and explained to them that we were going to be decorating and putting together their Art Passports that we were going to be using this year to keep our art history info in this year. The kids set to work decorating their passports and drawing their self-portraits for the inside cover.  Everything that could go wrong did..  Hot, cranky children, one began to misbehave and his parants had to remove him from the room, kids were annoying each other, one melted down because the other kids at the table said he was annoying them...  I kept doing my thing and continued on...  No way did I try to pull the kids one at a time for some pre-assessments! I kept moving around the room with a smile on my face even though on the  inside I was cringing thinking that all of this was my first observation!

Friday the 13th:   Picture day at school, I forgot..  This years pic on my ID is going to be just lovely...  I'll just hide it with little pictures my Kinders make me!  I have some from last year in my ID case still...

My first paycheck of the year, even more being taken out of my check for my health insurance benefits (new law passed 3 years ago, thank you Gov).  Mind you, I don't have a problem paying for my benefits but when the percentage goes up and takes up the first real raise I was going to get in 3 years and some extra it's really depressing (oh and my car insurance went up).  All I kept thinking was, the way the day was going I was going to get my observation back too.  All my colleagues on my floor knew I was observed and kept asking me, "Did you get it back yet?"  At least the weather broke the night before and it was pleasantly warm with no humidity.  So the day ended and I went home.  Got an ice coffee at the deli, I deserved it.

I checked my school e-mail when I got home and found one that said my observation was ready for me to view on line (it's Friday the 13th, do I really want to open it?) One other colleague had gotten their first one back and was really disappointed with their scores so I was nervous...  We get a score for each of 16 different things on a rubric. The scores run from 1-4 with one being the worst and four the best.  We were told that 4 was "A place that we would visit from time to time but we were not going to live there".  I opened my observation and a smile began to break on my face for the first time all day!!!  Fifteen of the sixteen items I was being scored on were ALL 3's!!!!  I got one 2 for Questioning and Discussion but who cares!!!  As I read all the documentation that went along with the reasons for the scores, I realized that ALL the hard work and time I had put into my classroom organization and management and everything that I do daily as a teacher no matter what the situation really did get noticed and does count!  One down, two to go...  :)

Saturday, September 7, 2013


Students and adults will always say to me: "How did you know to put those colors together?" or "I would never had thought to put those colors together but they are perfect for each other!  How did you know?"  

Honestly, silently in my head I'm thinking, "I just do..."  (but I don't say that out loud).  This is where I throw in some color theory lessons!  I know how to look at colors and pull together hues, values, color families, etc...  Others may not.  I always refer back to the color wheel in class with the kids and talk about the many different ways they can choose colors to go with each other.

I found this wonderful site, Design Seeds.  They take a photo and then proceed to pull out all the colors in the photo and line them up so you can see their beauty together!  It is one of my new favorite sites to visit!  I will certainly be referring to this site for images when I am doing color theory this year!  I like the idea of showing the kids an image and having them be color detectives to pull the different colors out of the image.  We could then look at them together and I could have the kids figure out what relationship the colors have with each other (primary, warm/cool, complimentary, etc...)  OHHH!!  I just had a great idea for a color game as I'm writing this! :)

So check out the site and enjoy the colors!  Have a great weekend!  I have a ton of work to do for school but I'm going to try to squeeze some me time in there also!  Looks like it's going to be a beautiful sunny day!  The weather is a crisp high 50's this morning!  I love it!
                                                           Mrs.C  :)

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

I'm Feeling the Same Way Kid!

After a morning filled with analyzing and trying to comprehend our new teacher evaluation system, Teachscape and then spending the afternoon going over the SGO's I developed last Spring and trying to now recreate assessments for them (because what I thought I was going to use is not going to work.  So, it's back to the drawing board this weekend.  I have to start my pre-assessments next Friday and have them done by the end of the month) and then stopping (for what I thought was going to be a couple of minutes) at my 3d-5th grade school just to make sure everything was in place for the first day of school tomorrow.  A few minutes turned into two hours!  One thing led to another and after that another came up! They were locking the doors behind myself and a few of my colleagues!  I am mentally EXHAUSTED!!!

Picked up pizza on the way home for supper, (because I am so not cooking supper tonight) sitting down for a couple of minutes to decompress and then it is time to start creating seating charts for my eight classes tomorrow...  Not going to bed until I'm done!  I am looking forward to seeing all my old students and meeting my new ones as well!  :)

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Back to the Art Room!

My rooms are ready!  Visuals up, lesson plans written, furniture re-arranged, everything is clean and shiny...  We all know that won't last real long!  The photo above made me laugh! Although it's an exaggeration of what one of my art rooms look like after a day of painting with the kids, it is definitely how I feel it looks!

I go back Tuesday for two days of in-service and meetings.  Day one is general meetings in the morning and class room prep in the afternoon.  Day two is an all day in-service to train us on Teachscape which is the new teacher evaluation system our district is implementing this year.  A handful of my colleagues were trained in Teachscape this summer and now they are going to train us in small groups.  Curious to see how it compares to the elements of our old system and what our administrators are going to be looking for when they come in to observe.  It has never bothered me to have someone come in to observe a lesson before, but I think it is going to make me very conscious of how I am teaching a lesson this year! (More so now than ever before) More to come on this topic when I learn more about it!

Doesn't the above photo make you want to dive in and start making painted paper!?!?

Hung this in my 3d-5th grade art room. 
Waiting to see which kid tells me they are breaking the rules like an artist
(classroom rules!  LOL)

I hate when the kids say "I can't..."  Makes me crazy!!!

Love the Hey Girl memes!  Love Robert Downey, Jr.!

This is my new favorite saying for  "Those Days"  (you know what I mean...)
Hung one up by both of my desks. :)

Here's to everyone having a creative, imaginative year! 

Mrs.C  :)