Monthly Mentor

Shanna Dunlap (April)
Hi, my name is Shanna Dunlap and I am a senior at Southern High School in Harwood, Maryland. I am a photographer who specializes in people, mainly childrens portraits. I started with photography when I was in sixth grade and haven’t stopped since. I plan on going to college for art and majoring in photography. It’s my passion. I have a GPA of 4.06 and I’m ranked 23 out of 250 in my state. I also dance for Southern High School’s Repertory dance company and have been a part of many companies my whole life. I have accomplished many things through art including many Scholastic Art awards, auctioning off work, and as this year’s 2015 NAEA National Rising Star Award Recipient. I hope you enjoy reading my blog for the month of April!



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Wednesday 04. 8.15

The National Convention Experience from the Rising Star

From: Shanna Dunlap

Last weekend I attended the NAEA National Convention in New Orleans, LA. I arrived in New Orleans on Wednesday, March 25 and stayed through Saturday, March 28.

Although the Convention was mostly teacher-based (I was one of the only students there), it was very beneficial. There were tons of workshops you could attend that offered "how to" lessons. I learned a lot and got to experience many different teaching styles and new inspirations.

I am so lucky to have received the opportunity to attend this event. All the master classes I attended were very well crafted and I learned a lot from them even being a student not a teacher. It’s great to have the opportunity to share ideas upon other educators. Another awesome opportunity was the product booths. There was an entire room filled with new products to try out in your classroom. I was able to experience hands-on activities with companies such as Blick Art Materials.

My main reason for attending the Convention was the award ceremony, although attending workshops was very beneficial. It was so amazing to be recognized as this year’s NAEA Rising Star and I was rewarded with a certificate and a beautifully crafted necklace. I also met many people that were interested in my art and it was a great opportunity to get my work "out there”. It was an experience I will never forget.

Thursday 04. 2.15

From a Students' Perspective

From: Shanna Dunlap

While contemplating on what to make my first blog about I figured why not talk about my Rising Star award, my process and how hard work pays off.

I started photographing when I was in 6th grade. I had always loved taking pictures of people, mostly my friends. Then when I got to high school I took my first photo class. We have a huge art department at my school, art is a big influence. Every year we have a huge community art show called Art Quest. I had always dreamt of becoming the Best of Show at Art Quest and follow in the footsteps of past Rising Star award winners from Southern. So I made it my goal to push myself and always work hard. I never settle for second-best. If I don’t feel as though one of my pictures meets my standard I’ll go reshoot until I get what I need. I think that’s what sets apart someone who produces great work.

1I am blessed to be able to share what I create with the world. My subject matter within the past year has differed slightly from what I used to produce. I focus mostly in black and white and use kids as my subjects. I enjoy putting kids in situations you wouldn’t normally put kids in. I also like to leave the interpretation of the story up to the viewer. I think you connect more with an image when you make up your own story and engage in its re-enactment.

1 2
The process is also very important. When taking pictures it’s hard to not make events look staged. That’s why I try not to stage anything. I ask my subjects questions and tell them to imagine they’re in certain situations. For my picture with the girl in the dress and shoes I took my little sister to an empty house my dad was building and told her just to “dance as if no one was watching” and that’s exactly what she did. It’s much easier to create photos a viewer can relate to when the subject matter in genuine.


Tuesday 03.17.15

Learning Outside the Classroom with my Junior Tribe (i.e. Art Club!)

From: Drew Brown

Binder with her "Munter" pot. Translated from Danish, munter means cheerful, a fitting word for the day

Recently, the Sweet Apple Art Club and I ventured to the Cowgirl Studio in downtown Roswell, Georgia tomeet clay artist Jette Binder. My philosophy is that art students need to experience the world around them by learning outside the classroom. Engaging in experiential learning together also provides us with common experiences sparking interesting conversations and opportunity for reflection. Jette Binder happens to be the mom one of my third graders, and she welcomed us with warm hospitality.

The students were absolutely engaged with Jette’s explanation of her hand-building and glazing methods. They listened and watched intently while she showed various tools and items she uses for molds and slumping. She explained how she rubs and layers her glazes to create “weathered” surface designs. The students had just finished clay pieces at school where they melted glass pebbles into heart shapes, so they were thrilled to see that Jette also uses the same technique. Not only were the students exposed to Jette’s workspace, they were able to peruse her retail space and meet a metalsmith who shares the studio.

Artist Jette Binder showing techniques

Jette invited each child to create a clay piece and take home a bit of clay to use later. (That was really special!) Jette provided skewers for students who wanted to create a piece to embellish a garden or potted pot. With an open-ended invitation and no formulaic directions, my fifth graders made a variety of personal creations. It was wonderful to see the kids meld prior experience with inspiration from Jette, while they played and created in new ways.

Hands on at the Studio

I love to introduce my students to real artists at work. Seeing an artist in their workspace helps us make connections about how artwork is created, where it is made, how artists manage their tools and materials, and where artists get their inspiration.

Immersed in conversation

At our upcoming art club meeting, I will ask the students to reflect and share their thoughts, memories and impressions of the day. Perhaps John Dewey said it best: “There is an intimate and necessary relation between the processes of actual experience and education.”   How do your students engage in experience-based learning? I’ve seen so many great ideas over the years….Feel free to share!

SAE Art Club 2015


Dewey, J. (1938/1997) Experience and education. New York: Macmillan Co., p. 7

Friday 03.13.15

The Raisin, the Almond and the Raspberry (and what they have to do with art)

From: Drew Brown

Going to yoga is a great stress reliever for me. I always feel rejuvenated after a yoga class. Even after a long day of teaching, I enjoy focusing on my yoga practice a few days per week. I have been trying out a new meditation class at my local yoga studio, and I recently gained a great new idea that connected with a recent lesson.

Our instructor, Gretchen, guided the participants through observing a raisin’s texture, form and color. We examined the highlights and asymmetry of the form. I inhaled the soft, sweet, earthy fragrance. I noticed the subtle flavors of the tiny food. We repeated the process with an almond and a raspberry, noticing similarities and differences in each aesthetic experience. In the closing segment, Gretchen asked us to pair with someone we didn’t know and talk about any thoughts or impressions that had risen to the surface during the exercise. My partner said that she had never tasted anything so good. A lesson in mindfulness--slowing down to focus, observe, discover and learn through sight, touch, smell, hearing, and taste.

The raisin, the almond and the raspberry

The education world is abuzz with words like differentiation and rigor. Teachers have long known about the advantages of teaching to different learning styles such as visual, auditory, kinesthetic and tactile. Through sensorial education, we can help restore “play” into the classroom and turn an ordinary lesson into an extraordinary experience.

In the guided meditation, I was reminded of the rewards of close observation and mindfulness. Recently, my students sketched and sculpted foods of their choice in clay with emphasis on form, color and texture while studying food as subject matter in the works of Oldenburg, Warhol, Thiebaud and more. The lesson was challenging, and my students struggled to figure out the subtle colors of foods and create implied texture on their 3D forms. How could I inspire each and every student to observe more closely, internalize more deeply, and consider more thoughtfully the task-at-hand?

5th grade clay sculpture 1
5th grade clay sculpture 2


5th grade clay sculpture 3
5th grade clay sculpture 4

Next year, I plan try the lesson again and kick off with an exercise in careful and attentive observation using the five senses. Asking my students to observe, touch, taste, and smell simple foods will be a great hook for my lesson. When my students have time to observe more closely and more fully, I hope they will create the mental space in which to consider the world around them, to push the boundaries of their creativity and to exhibit their learning more fully.

Art by Jackson Dunlap, 5th grade Art Club student


Roswell Yoga Life owner Gretchen Griffin, the blogger, and yoga instructor, Jackie Kaminer

Monday 03. 2.15

Happy Youth Art Month Everybody!

From: Drew Brown

As I sit here on a Snow Day in Roswell, Georgia, I can see HUGE snowflakes outside through my dining room window. These big fat snowflakes remind me of the white circles that children often draw in their art when they fill the backgrounds of a snowy scene. This snowfall isn’t exactly composed of big dots falling from the sky, but the white stuff falling now is certainly some of the biggest, fluffiest snow I’ve ever seen! What a great day to stay inside and write for NAEA.

In honor of March-Youth Art Month 2015, let’s talk about art advocacy and how we celebrate children’s art and art education across our nation. I recently attended our Capitol Art Exhibit reception in Atlanta with my two student artists and their families. We met with our state legislators, Representative Jan Jones and Senator John Albers. As the kick-off event for Youth Art Month in Georgia, the Capitol Art Exhibit reception is one of my favorite events all year because I love the way the state legislators honor our students and their art. They take time to talk to each student about his/her artwork, and they make the children feel special. Years ago, I was the chairperson of this exhibit, and I know how much work goes into pulling off Georgia’s largest student art exhibit and reception. Big thanks go to our state chairs, Sondra Palmer and Florence Barnett. Year and year, the Georgia Art Education Association receives positive feedback from the state employees and various attendees who view the art. One viewer summed it up: “Your exhibit spotlights the necessity of maintaining arts education in the school curriculum."

Balde family with Re. Jan Jones
Balde Family with Rep. Jan Jones
Kyla and Rep. Jan Jones
Valerie and Rep. Jones
Valerie and Rep. Jan Jones

I am currently thinking about new ways to celebrate YAM in my local school community. Social media, the good old-fashioned newspaper, and school media are great vehicles for advertising our programs and highlighting student learning in visual arts.  In so many ways, I believe that getting children’s art up on the walls is a huge part of advocacy. As the old saying goes….a picture is worth a thousand words! How do you celebrate YAM?

Saturday 02.28.15

Curriculum Slam! New Orleans 2015
Friday, March 27, 11 am to 12:50 pm

From: Olivia Gude

I’ve enjoyed being the February Monthly Mentor for NAEA. Please feel free to post follow up comments. I value interacting with teachers as we together re-invent the practices of contemporary art education.

I hope that you will join me at the NOLA Curriculum Slam! for more great curriculum ideas.

Assembling Comprehensive Contemporary
Art, Media & Design Curriculum
organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago and Olivia Gude
Teachers from across the continent will again share exciting visual art and design curriculum in the fast, functional and fun format of the Curriculum Slam!, a 21st century curriculum-sharing format that re-invents the old-style curriculum fair.

Here’s a first peek at the great line up of presenters.

Principles of Possibility: Comprehensive Curriculum for Contemporary Art Education
Olivia Gude

Hip to Be Square: Creating 8-Bit Art Games with Scratch
Steve Ciampaglia

Beyond the Wall: Bringing Artworks to Life Through Augmented Reality
Nick Hostert

ACTING OUT: Expanding Design Literacy, Connecting Students to Translation & Practice      
Catherine Muller, with Raja Schaar and Ann Gerondis

Getting Good At Being Bad
Jake Myers

The Lunch Party: Collaborative Performance in Elementary Art
Madeleine Stern

From Abramovic to the Classroom: Teaching with Performance Art
Kate Thomas

Big Data Visualizations In Education: Social Commentary And Making Sense Of Numbers
Ron Wigglesworth

UN-Rules: Breaking Rules in Art to Make Better Art
Rachel Valsing

Olivia Gude at Curriculum Slam!
Olivia Gude at the Museum of Contemporary Art Curriculum Slam! Chicago 2014


Image 2 Curriculum Slam! presenters San Diego 2014
Curriculum Slam! presenters NAEA San Diego 2014


Thursday 02.26.15

Color Curriculum on Twitter

From: Olivia Gude

I’ve been reflecting on how color is typically taught in K-12 curriculum so I decided to devote my Twitter school year 2014-2015 posts to re-thinking conventions of teaching color.

You’ll find provocative questions, new methods for inspiring students’ color awareness, thought provoking quotes, projects, color teaching resources and more...

Follow me @OGudeArtTeacher.
Before making students do yet another COLOR WHEEL this year, ask them "How many times have you done this?" What can you do that is new?
  1 Color Twitter
If students haven't retained color mixing info by painting a color wheel making yet ANOTHER color wheel won't help.

2 Color Twitter
Begin a color unit by asking each student to bring in 30 colored objects. Specify that the objects should not be precious or biodegradable. 

3 Color Twitter
Roll out black paper. Arrange objects by color, begin with orange moving towards yellow. Rough sort, fine tune.

4 Color Twitter
Let students explore color harmonies without the mess of mixing. Student makes many color schemes in minutes.

5 Color Twitter
Teacher can easily and quickly assess whether each student is in command of color vocabulary and concepts.

6 Color Twitter
Colors can be described with 3 qualities: HUE, VALUE, CHROMA. Why do most students never hear of CHROMA until college?

7 Color Twitter
Art Teachers, you won't develop "out of the box" creative thinkers if you make students paint in boxes!!

8 Color Twitter
Challenge students to work out the value/chroma relations of a single hue with Munsell color charts used as puzzles.

9 Color Twitter
Interactions of Color app for iPad--$13.99. Complete text with beautiful color illustrations that are interactive and...

Students were mesmerized to see the shifts in color perception happen right before their eyes.

11 Color Twitter
Value of Free Form Color Investigation–exercise morphs into an abstract painting students care about.

12 Color Twitter
Many more color curriculum ideas, coming up starting March 1, 2015.

Follow me at @OGudeArtTeacher

Wednesday 02.25.15

Secrets & Lies
Social Practice Art in Art Education

From: Olivia Gude

One of the greatest challenges to the field of art education is continually adapting the practices and curriculum of our field to incorporate significant contemporary methods of making art and making meaning. Whether known as relational aesthetics, social practice art, or socially engaged art practices many contemporary artworks focus on art as lived interactive experience, rather than as an object (or performance) completed by the artist and consumed by an audience.

It can be difficult to imagine learning about social practice art in the typical school art curriculum. “You had to be there to get it.” is often literally true about such work. Telling students about social practice art and showing them some documentation in photographs or video often doesn’t convey the energy of the experience or the subtle shifts in awareness or ways of being in relationship with others that are generated in such exchanges.

It’s important to recognize that current practices of visual art education are modeled on earlier art teaching, usually focusing solely on an individual artist making something in a studio setting. Consider that the identified 21st Century Skills—Communication, Collaboration, Critical Thinking, and Creativity—are ideal for exploring social practice art in art education today.

Over the years, I’ve seen many art projects about secrets. Usually, these involve each student identifying a secret, writing it down and then sealing the secret permanently within some sort of vessel. In the Spiral Workshop group Silence: Image & Language, we discussed that the energy and tension of having a secret is in part about who you are keeping the secret from, why and whether someone might discover your secret.

1 Framed Secret, Spiral Workshop 2013
Framed Secret, Spiral Workshop 2013

The Silence group devised two “art experiments” to investigate secrets and what students considered to be an often related phenomenon, lies. In the first experiment students wrote a secret and then framed it so the writing was mostly obscured. The Framed Secrets were hung as a collective installation at the Spiral Workshop Exhibition, an event attended parents, extended family, teachers, and friends. It was clear that many visitors were intensely scrutinizing the little frames, trying to identify handwriting and uncover the secrets of their children, students, or friends.

2 Framed Secret, Spiral Workshop 2013
Framed Secret, Spiral Workshop, 2013

When we began the Lies project it quickly became clear that most of us had never considered or discussed lies cross generationally, except in discipline situations where one person’s truth telling was being questioned. We began a collective investigation with a series of propositions in which students placed themselves along a continuum from 100% agree to 100% disagree. Statements included, “Sometimes it’s kinder to tell someone a lie. Lying is always wrong. Little lies don’t matter. Society couldn’t work if people didn’t tell lies.” Students were fascinated to see the range of opinions that were held about what they might have thought of as simple statements about lies. Students often stepped forward to explain their positions or to ask questions about the position held by another student.

3 Lies Human Meter, Spiral Workshop 2013
Human Lies Meter, Spiral Workshop, 2013

We decided that we’d conduct a social experiment on lying at the Spiral Exhibition. We’d ask people to contribute and categorize lies. In return for contributing lies to the investigation, each participant could take and read someone else’s lie.

4 Lies Investigation Form
Lies Investigation Form


5 Table of Lies Installation, Spiral Workshop 2013
Table of Lies Installation, Spiral Workshop 2013

The students began by designing a Lie Investigation Form. To get the installation started the students were to each contribute some filled-in Lie Forms. The teachers assumed that each student would write 2 or 3 lies. Instead the students got more and more excited about the activity as they wrote out and sometimes “confessed” their lies to fellow students. These discussions led to classifying types of lies, which led them to remembering other prevarications. Soon the concept of truth became increasingly unclear as interpretations and minor deviations from the strict truth were introduced as categories. Perhaps the most mysterious type of lie was “Lies told for no good reason.” Almost everyone agreed that they had done this at one time or another and couldn’t quite understand why they had.

Some students wondered whether lying could be a form of experimentation—imagining being another self by creating another life narrative. Other students maintained that lying was never acceptable—“My Dad told me there’s no such thing as a white lie. All lies lead to dark places.”

Categories of Lies, Spiral Workshop 2013


Categories of Lies, Spiral Workshop 2013

Some lie categories identified in the Secrets & Lies Investigation:

Lies of Self Aggrandizement

Lies of Omission

Lies for No Good Reason

Lies in a Relationship

Lies to Cover Up

Lies You Told for Your Own Benefit

Lies a Family Member Told You

Lies That Are Miscellaneous

We were surprised at the popularity of this activity. Some visitors spent many minutes recalling and writing their lies, categorizing them, and reading the lies of others—even asking fellow visitors to share lies so that they could continue to write contributions and retrieve more lies to read.

Tuesday 02.24.15

Share Curriculum & Student Art with Digication e-Portfolios

From: Olivia Gude

I greatly value the Digication e-Portfolio system. It’s the perfect structure for DIY curriculum sharing and building the professional learning community of NAEA.

I use the ePortfolio system to share my articles, presentations, public art projects and curriculum developed at Spiral Workshop. I recommend that teachers make use of it to share their best curriculum and their own artwork with others.


Truly this is not a paid commercial advertisement!
Nor is it a National Art Education Association promo.

I like the Digication e-Portfolio system because it allows for more than sharing decontextualized images. The site is designed so that teachers can include introductory texts, galleries of images, and captions for each image as well as pdfs of presentations and other resources. The uncluttered design of the site foregrounds student work. The clear and consistent structure makes it easy to locate resources.


Consider that part of your contribution to the field of art education is taking the time to write up and share your best curriculum ideas. A number of NAEA teachers have created complex e-Portfolios with lots of curriculum ideas, including Debi West and Kris Fontes.


The Caucus of Social Theory is building an NAEA Digication e-Portfolio to disseminate lesson plans, unit plans and syllabi that emphasize critical social justice consciousness. Go to the site for instructions on submitting your work for inclusion. 

Monday 02.23.15

Identifying Core Values in the New Visual Art Standards

From: Olivia Gude

I like to think of the new standards as generating a space in which wonderful things can happen rather than as a grid that blocks teachers and students into preconceived ways of thinking and doing.

Most people think of the standards only as diachronic, developing discrete knowledge and skills in each grade. But one can also think of the standards in aggregate as synchronic, with the skills and knowledge always happening “all at once.” I know—this sounds like a space/time paradox from Star Trek, but stay with me for a few moments and I think you’ll see what I mean by this—and why it’s significant.

Each Enduring Understanding suggests an important aspect of engaging the arts as a maker or responder. Good teachers always begin with “the end in mind,” not just teaching the isolated knowledge or skill to be learned at this time. An understanding of how ways of experiencing, processing, making, investigating, and interpreting are part of a lifelong engagement with the arts suggests that while we may focus on developing a particular aspect of these abilities at each grade level, these abilities are learned and used within the context of immersion in actual artistic practice. Knowledge, skills, habits, and artistic dispositions developed in earlier grades continue to be used in later years. Equally, abilities that are first developed early in a child’s art education foreshadow the depth and complexity of later development of this disposition.

From the beginning of the writing process, the Visual Arts writers knew that they wanted to include an Enduring Understanding and related standards dealing with safety. As that conversation unfolded, we recognized that standards related to safe and careful use of tools, equipment and materials should not suggest that there was only one right way to do things. The final EU acknowledges this—“Artists and designers balance experimentation and safety, freedom and responsibility while developing and creating artworks.” When Kindergarteners learn to meet the standard “Identify safe and nontoxic art materials, tools, and equipment.” (in part by learning to recognize the non-toxic symbol even before learning to read), they are being introduced to the complexities of making aesthetic and ethical choices as stated in the Advanced High School standard “Demonstrate understanding of the importance of balancing freedom and responsibility in the use of images, materials, tools, and equipment in the making and circulation of creative work.”

Try this exercise: in your office or classroom, tape up a big grid of all the standards. Read one or two standards a day in the grade levels in which you teach. Highlight those standards that inspire you, that encode some of your core values as an artist teacher. Use these “highlights” as a basis for choosing and elaborating on key themes in your curriculum. In a different color, mark standards that suggest ways of approaching the content of art teaching that you haven’t often focused on. Consider how curriculum plans might be expanded to include such ideas.

Here are some of the ideas and values in the new standards that particularly resonate with me:

Art as a form of research

Including a wide range of artmaking approaches

Experimenting with art and “non-art” materials

Necessity of including contemporary art in the curriculum

Expanding students’ abilities to identify relevant criteria for understanding and valuing various sorts of artworks

Becoming aware of the role of design in our environments

Making art about personally meaningful themes