A Space to Inspire: Carli’s Classroom

There are several things that make guest teaching a positive experience.  I have the opportunity, in this role, to get out there and teach in a whole number of locations kindergarten to grade twelve.  Every day is filled with discovery.  I’ve thought recently that it’s too bad teachers don’t have the opportunity to experience one another’s classrooms the way that I do.

Every physical space has its own magic and I enjoy them all!  I thought I might start featuring some of the ‘coolness’ that is out there, with the permission of the beautiful teachers that call these places home during their work weeks. Recently, I came upon a room with a very special feeling.  Not only does it carry with it a peaceful aesthetic, but it also functions well.  Carli’s class is a grade two class.  The students love and respect their space and the function of each area appears to serve them well.

To begin with, I read “Pieces of My Pedagogy” posted on the wall at the counter where I located my day’s plan.  Good stuff.

??????????To these three canvases…words are added that represent ‘What Makes My World Amazing.”  These caused me to remember the pieces of magic I hoped my grade sevens would collect over the year, much to their frustration at times.DSC_1920 Simple displays of beautiful objects and framed photographs.  Things and places to wonder about.  DSC_1923 DSC_1924 ?????????? A mirror at the sink.  Paint brushes!DSC_1926 Under a cupboard…a little nook to feel safe and peaceful.DSC_1927 The Solar System built out of papier mache…the teacher chair for sharing stories. DSC_1929When we shared, I heard all about the way that Sirius is larger than our sun…and what a supernova is…and a black hole…and how we might stretch and then shrink very fast in a black hole.  I was amazed by our conversation.  The students had a good idea about scale based on their construction and study of the planets and the stars.  That day, I selected as my story book, Stars Beneath Your Bed: The Surprising Story of Dust by April Pulley SayreGreat book!  Read it!  Very interesting conversations came up as we read this one!

DSC_1930 DSC_1932I love it when art comes from art…artists can inspire so much in us!

?????????? ?????????? DSC_1935The little clip boards are available if the students want to sit somewhere other than their  desks…sometimes they just want to get away from the traditional seating plan.

??????????At the children’s heights…birthdays…a calendar…some supplies they might need while being at their writing workshop.

??????????A message box…pencil crayons sorted by colour.

DSC_1938 The peaceful corner…?????????? ?????????? DSC_1941The tee pee… see through fabric…no more than two at a time.  Rotate through your class list.?????????? DSC_1944 DSC_1945 DSC_1946 DSC_1947 DSC_1948 DSC_1949 ?????????? DSC_1951 DSC_1952I just thought some of you would enjoy a few of these ideas.  I felt really happy in this space.  And this is where the grade twos created their images for the sentence, “A fiery shooting star flew across the midnight sky.”

DSC_1960Thank you, Carli Molnar, for giving me permission to share your space with us.

I Speak to Grade Fours about Klimt and Quatrains

I enter the class in the morning quiet, and clip my laminated image of Gustav Klimt’s Tree of Life under two clips at the front board.  We greet, sing O’ Canada, say our morning prayer, take attendance and then practice the letter O in cursive handwriting, upper and lower case.

The Tree of Life by Gustav Klimt

The Tree of Life by Gustav Klimt

First…let’s learn about Quatrains!!!

Quad, Quatrain, Quartet, Quadrant, FOUR!!!  A quatrain has four lines! FOUR LINES RHYMING!

Rhyme Schemes?  Let’s just look at the last words of each line…for now, let’s just forget about the rest!!


YES! ABAB rhyme scheme!  Now, let’s play a game…do lots of them…let’s do it until we get it!  Name the rhyme scheme!

P1150028Today it’s some where around -25 degrees, so you may stay in for your recess break!

This painting, The Tree of Life, was created by an artist named Gustav Klimt…tell me everything that you see in this painting.  Anything you see is alright with me!  And…for everything you see…try to find a rhyming word!  This will be our wall of words to choose from.  Will you write a poem for your own Tree of Life today?  A rhyming quatrain?

First…decide on a title.  Mine is The Blessing Tree!  Ideas? Whispering Tree!  Dancing Tree! Golden Tree!  All good ideas!  Now, write your title down in your notebook so that you don’t forget. This is the title for your own tree poem.  Next, choose a rhyme scheme…whatever one you want!  Print it down the right hand side. (ABAB or AABB or ABCA…whatever you like)  Pick words from your rhyming word lists and place them in the order you want, remembering always that the last word of the very first line of a quatrain will always be named ‘A’.  Now…the final challenge is to add words that come before each of your four ‘last words’.  Let’s edit…let’s look for other words…let’s look for better words.  Now, LET’S GO ENJOY LUNCH!

Buckets of white paint to be shared with a partner…two tbsps. of white tempera should do for this!  Let’s look again at Gustav Klimt’s.  Look at the trunk of the tree.  It is pretty short compared to a lot of other trees.  Look at the limbs and the branches of the tree.  Describe the sort of lines needed to paint these. Let’s look at the word wall….and take some of our own rhyming words…COIL, SWIRL, SPRING.  This is how you dip and wipe your brush and this is how you care for the bristles of the brush.  Now, begin…touching three of your paper edges with long branches of the tree.   Gustav Klimt filled his space with the branches of his tree.

P1140994 P1140993 P1140992 P1140991 P1140990 P1140989 P1140995While you’re exchanging your books in the library, I’ll clean the brushes!

Now, let’s look at some of the repeating patterns used by Klimt. Triangles, eyes, there’s a bird!  There is a station over here with gold paint if you’d like to add some while you work.  Here are some oil pastels.  You can also use your pencil crayons.  Let’s think of a colour family though…colours that repeat some of the paper colours…pink, turquoise, blue, white, red…time to create!

P1150012 P1150011 P1150014 P1150013 P1150006 P1150007 P1150008 P1150005 P1150009 P1150004 P1150003 P1150002 P1150001 P1140999 P1140998 P1140997 P1140996And finally, in pencil first, and then traced again with a fine marker or pencil crayon, your title and rhyming quatrains!  Voila!

P1150015 P1150016 P1150017 P1150018 P1150019 P1150020 P1150024 P1150023 P1150022 P1150021 P1150025 P1150027 P1150031 P1150032 P1150033I was blessed by you today, grade four students!  What wisdom!  What engagement!

Demolition Art House

Demolition Art House.


It’s an awesome thing when projects such as this take place in the City of Calgary.  I was pleased when this led me to an exploration of this blog.  It doesn’t matter the distance that separates us, artists share a common vision of the world; reactions to space/place, response to a vast number and combination of media,  and the making of individual or collective meaning.  I think all art is narrative.

Stuff That Inspires