Tacoma Art Museum

Planning field trips over the summer is THE BEST. It’s easy to take care of a few e-mails and phone calls in July, and then POOF LIKE MAGIC suddenly it’s October and you’ve got everything squared away for a rawkin trip.

Today both of Wildwood’s HCP classes headed down to the The Shape of Things tour at the Tacoma Art Museum. It’s awesome going on field trips with Ms. Stock because we get to nerd out with all of our baby nerds. I also love seeing my former students now that they’re all grown up. And our trip was double-great because we had a TON of family members join us.

You know what else was fantastic? Everything and everyone at the Tacoma Art Museum. Their pre-and post-trip curriculum is SOLID. My favorite museum-going tip was to use “game show hands” to gesture toward artwork, rather than pointing. Yesssss.

We had a chance to explore geometric and organic shapes with watercolors, and then we headed into the gallery.

Our first stop was Richard Rhodes’ “stone wave.” It was suuuuuuper mathy. It made me think of Vi Hart’s work with hyperbolic dried fruit. Man, do I love Vi Hart.

My other favorite part of the trip was stepping into a portrait exhibit and BAM seeing a Chuck Close painting (Lucas, 1991). I’m a HUGE fan of last year’s Face Book, and it was amazing to see one of his pieces in person. My third graders kept saying, “He’s the guy whose book we saw in Seattle Public Library last year!”

The education coordinators were able to give us half off for our tickets. We would not have been able to go had they not made this funding possible, so we are VERY grateful for their support.

My only regret is that we weren’t able to time our visit with a children’s book illustrator exhibit. I’ve had the chance to see an Eric Carle show and a David Macaulay exhibit, and they blew my mind. BLEW MY MIND. Maybe next time, though.

Because we will absolutely be coming back.

Burke Museum!

 We went to the Burke Museum today, and it was fantastic! Not only was the lesson really interesting, but everything was perfectly appropriate and well-organized. The kids had a chance to touch First Nation artifacts, and everyone had great feedback. They adored the Carnaval exhibit, too.

Here are a few photos from our visit.

Learning about First Nation artifacts.
Students wearing carnival masks in front of giant puppets (people stand inside the puppets to hoist the giant people up on their shoulders)
RAWR. Red fox.
Listening to different Hawaiian instruments (look at everyone dressed appropriately in uniform!)
Mask and costume from Carnaval exhibit.
Stereotypical Seattle behavior — recycling and garbage separated outside at lunch.
Heading home. The weather held out all day!

A million and a half thanks to EVERYONE at the Burke Museum. Everyone we encountered, including the patient gift shop cashier, treated us with enthusiasm and kindness.

Huzzah! Next up: third grade field trip to Seattle Children’s Theatre’s production of Frog and Toad!

UW Atmospheric Sciences Trip!

Our class had an amazing trip to the University of Washington Atmospheric Sciences center this Thursday!

“They taught us a lot of things — like how to make a cloud. They were good scientists, they were smart but they didn’t act like they know everything.” L said.

“We were able to sit in college seats rather than regular seats, I felt like I was in college,” T.E. said.

“I wanted to say thank you for letting us sit in their classrooms because they taught us what they were learning about and they took us on the roof and that was really fun and kind,” T.S. said.

“I liked it when we were on the roof and they showed us the rain collector and the instrument that measured how much light there was,” K.A. said.

“When were on the roof, it was nice of them to show us how the instruments worked, and the rain catcher, and the satellite dish,” J.C. said.

Several of us thought the roof was going to be flat or go right upto the edge like in the old silent movie “Safety Last.”

“I thought the exploding cloud was really cool and it was nice of them to show it to us and having a volunteer was nice — it was kind of nice to have X help us,” A.B. said.

On our way out, we saw Cliff Mass and two of his TA’s coming out of Weather 101. We recognized Dr. Mass from his YouTube videos and from his NPR podcasts. Many students noted that he seemed older in real life than in the videos, although it was mentioned to them that that might not be the most tactful thing to say.

“My favorite part was when we were on the roof and Chris told us about the little thing that spins and told us about which way the wind was blowing — the wind vane. My second favorite part was when we took the picture and made funny faces,” A.G. said.

The photo A is talking about can’t be posted to this website because this is a non-district website, BUT families, if you e-mail me I will send you a copy. I CAN show you this picture of us walking up the staircase to the

“I was afraid it was going to be flat and we were going to slip, but instead it had a large square around it so we couldn’t fall,” A. V-G. said.

Wildwood Park: The Autumn Edition

We made it today. And what a day it was! Huzzah!

Our scheduled October 12 field trip to Wildwood Park was initially postponed a week because we struggled with appropriate in-class behavior and we were slow to follow directions, but our practice paid off because we had, frankly, a flawless trip this afternoon!

The weather was wonderful, and students worked hard to accomplish everything we needed to in the morning to ensure we could set out for the park on time. A field trip to Wildwood Park is really more of a “field trip” with air quotes because it’s RIGHT next door to our school. But the fact that it’s off campus and requires OFFICIAL field trip paperwork gives it an air of greater importance.

The science gave it an air of greater importance too. Students trekked to the park armed with their clipboards, pencils (there was NO pencil drama — everyone was responsible and made a plan in case their pencils broke/got lost/were stolen by a squirrel), and super-neat FIELD GUIDES.

Clipboards and Field Guides

Once there, students had the option of exploring independently, or perambulating with me in a leisurely manner to ensure they didn’t miss any of the sights. They mapped out deciduous trees, evergreen trees, and ferns. As I’m typing this, I am JUST NOW reminded of The Definitive Central Park Map. I TOTALLY wish I would have thought of that this morning to show students before we left.

Recording observations (including neat orange lichen!)

No matter. We had a blast. I was thoroughly impressed at my students’ ability to let go and have a great time, yet still take care of the Official Science Business they needed to attend to. The sketched and described trees, moss, and ferns, and they were careful to stay in my line of sight (no chaperones today, sadly).

Thermometers read a balmy 56 degrees Fahrenheit!

After Official Science Business was attended to, we used the remaining time to play on the Wildwood Park Big Toy. As someone whose elementary school park boasted a strictly wood-and-bolts play structure, the crazy spider-y rope climbing portion and the see-saw swing things kind of blew my mind.

Then, it was time to head back to school. The entire trip, including the walk to and from the park (which, granted, was right next door), including the “tour” and time to fill out Field Guides, including the play time on the Big Toy, was less than one hour. Students declared the trip a success, and I’d agree.

One of our PTA parents (who doesn’t have a student in my class) asked why more teachers don’t plan trips like I did. Here’s an expanded look at the answer I gave her.

The first reason, the one I imagine is most pressing to our teachers, is because most classrooms at our school have greater than half their class reading a year or two (or more) behind grade level, so it can be difficult to get field trips approved. You’ll notice I was careful to say “it can be difficult,” not “you can’t do it,” because I believe that if your field trip doesn’t align to more than one core subject area, frankly, you’re not planning the trip to maximize its learning potential.

The second reason is that paperwork’s a pain. It’s decidedly less painful to me because I’ve filled out many field trip forms in the past few years (every math team contest counts as a field trip, which means 5-6 permission slips during the competition season), so I can fill out the paperwork pretty quickly. But in addition to filing everything properly, the teacher then needs to collect permission slips, which often aren’t returned. Even on a free field trip somewhere nearby, teachers need chaperones. If we were going anywhere other than next door, I would have needed at least two people to step up and join us. We have a trip to the UW planned for Thursday, and I’m not quite sure what we’ll do because I only have one available parent with Washington Patrol approval.

Speaking of which, want to join us at the UW Department of Atmospheric Sciences on Thursday??? You’d be home by noon. CONTACT ME, because we’d love to have you there. I’ve been listening to Cliff Mass’ KPLU podcasts lately to improve my weather knowledge.

DIA Highlights!

I’m constantly amazed at the quality and sheer volume of work in the Detroit Institute of Art. The highlight of my day was definitely the iPad interactive guide to the Diego Rivera Detroit Industry mural. I’d learned some about the meaning and symbolism in the mural in the past, but the effort and detail that went into this new guide gave me chills. That alone was more than worth the price of admission.

Here are some of my other favorites. I’ve included myself or other visitors to show you the scale of the art, not just because we’re so beautiful.

I’ve had Audubon on the brain because of his connections to Gary Schmidt’s brilliant Okay for Now. **SPOILER** I asked a docent if this print was a plate that was removed from a folio or a book, and he said that’d be something I needed to ask the curator. I don’t know how to contact a curator, but you can bet I’ll find out!

We studied Andy Warhol briefly in class both last year and the year before. This self-portrait is on loan. As you can see, it’s worth pondering deeply.

RIght across from Mr. Warhol was this lovely Claes Oldenburg sculpture. I love that it’s made of wood.

We talked last year both in art and just during literacy about how artists make objects larger to show that they’re supposed to be closer to the viewer. I think this piece makes that point really well, and I love how huge it is.

Another Claes Oldenburg creation, this one featuring a drawing of a car that then has a plastic model laid on top of it.

In one of the hallways of glass cases, they had a bunch of marionettes displayed. These were used in a production of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. They have to switch out the marionettes every six months because they’re fragile and sensitive to light.

Fox! They had a special exhibit of animal prints and drawings, including some of the original illustrations to Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Raven.”

Embroidery on comic book covers!

Close-up of the embroidery.

I couldn’t find any Chihuly glass on display, but I did see this amazing contemporary glass sculpture.

That’s about all I have energy to share with you right now! I hope you enjoyed this little peek into some of the amazing items at the DIA. I miss you, ladies and gentlemen, and I’m so excited to start learning with you again in less than a month!