My name is Camilla Spadafino and I teach kindergarten through fourth grade art at Lockeland Design Center, a MNPS magnet school in East Nashville. I have been teaching in one form or another ever since I was a 14 year old assistant tennis camp instructor in Jackson, Tennessee. I have officially been teaching with a degree for 15 years (with a 5 year break to have 2 children and start a children's center). I have taught ages 3-6 at Abintra Montessori, ages 6-9 Montessori, 1/2 year as a 5th grade teacher, 5 years as a 4th grade teacher, 2 years as a 3rd grade teacher, and 6 years as the art teacher at Lockeland.
Do you make your own artwork?
Do the students know you make your own artwork?
Have you shown it to them before?
Do you think making your own artwork enhances, changes, or helps your teaching?
Does working with young people enhance your personal artwork?
I make my own art work at home in my mini art studio and do often share what I'm making with my students when it fits into what they are learning about at school. I think creating my own artwork and sharing that with my students is an important part of being an art teacher. It enhances my teaching by modeling real world applications to what we are learning about in class and gives me experiences that I can pass on to the students through teaching. Working with children has totally changed me as an artist. I have learned so much by teaching, and also by being inspired by the freedom of expression and brilliance of ideas that the children have. Some children are so prolific in their art creations that they make art daily and stop by each morning to show me the things they have made. I am always humbled by the genius of their ideas and the beauty of their work. #gomakefun #arteducation
Do you host any large events that feature your students' artwork so that the larger community can see what the students are making? What about school-specific events?
Collaboration is essential to being a teacher of any type. Teaching is not something you can close your door and do: it is a community effort. Today, the internet, social media, and blogs make it easier for art teachers to collaborate with one another. In many cases there is only one art teacher in many MNPS schools. Since I am the only art teacher at Lockeland, I have made the community my co-collaborators: tapping into the rich creative community of the parents in my school. The students are also great at collaborating, especially the 3rd and 4th grade students: giving me brilliant ideas that I would have never thought of, often better than the ideas of the adults. It's amazing what 300 young minds can think of when asked!
Do you bring in artists from the community to work with your students?
1. Black Sharpie markers: they make beautiful lines. Children are brave and their first drawings are so fresh and beautiful and the black marker brings this out!! If they work with pencil first, they do not like to go over it later; and if they just use pencil, their drawings are later lost in the paint or coloring.
2. UHU giant purple glue sticks because the white glue bottles are hard for children to use (the tops clog, the tops come off and puddles go everywhere, or you need to pour the glue into something and use sticks). The big UHU glue sticks are quick and less frustrating for everyone involved.
4. Clay: because the children love clay more than anything and their creations are so precious like little Hummel's, things they can keep forever in a display cabinet. I love it when I go to my friends' houses (parents at my school), and they have the little clay things their kids have made with me sitting about in their homes. It seems more permanent to make something out of clay that is both precious and fragile.
5. Crayola construction paper crayons: they look amazing on any type of paper! #crayola
Do you have a favorite lesson plan you could share?
My favorite lesson plan right now is using centers to teach the elements of art.
Center #1: I use modeling clay and change the techniques from coil to slab to pinch pots, challenging the students to create various types of FORMS.
Center #2: I use a container of stencils and put the focus on tracing SHAPES into positive and negative SPACE. The students try to tell which space to make positive or negative by coloring or not coloring it in, and then they tell why.
Center #3: This is an experimental station where there are various types of papers and drawing supplies--wavy rulers, straight edges, etc.--to experiment with drawing as many types of LINE as possible.
Center #4: This is a watercolor table where the students have to create their types of VALUE using one color and various amounts of water.
Center #5: This is where the students can play a modern art memory matching game, sorting out the tiles into various COLOR families: warm, cool, primary, neutral, monochromatic.
Center #6: Inspired by Charley Harper, this is where texture mats are placed under coloring sheets to play with various TEXTURES.
I continue to play with these centers and each few weeks take them to the next level of creativity and choice, hoping to eventually have each center connected to other standards and multiple choices the students can make. I would like to find a way to link them to one another so that as you rotate through the centers, you end up with a little works of art that includes most of the elements of art.
I guess it's my favorite because I'm still working on it. Once I've figured something out, it is not as interesting to me anymore. Something I am always working on is maintaining what I've created and not getting bored. I like centers in my classroom because once you've established some basic rules for the students, you can try out new ideas and constantly change them up. Going back to the tried and true whenever needed.