Room Decorations from Marvin Bartel

Room Decorations from Marvin Bartel

Organize me!

From Melissa Speelman:

The cupboards are my pride and joy! Our school built an addition about 2 years ago. Our principal, a huge supporter of our program, gave us and INCREDIBLE space for our art rooms. He also let us work with the architects to design the space. In our old rooms, which were pretty pathetic, we painted on everything. Well, we knew that would change with brand new rooms so we came up with the idea to have design cupboards with removable Masonite panels. The Masonite easily slips out the top of the door. I gave my 8th graders a list of artists that I wanted represented on the cupboards (the idea is that they would be used as teaching tools).

The students chose a painting to replicate and cropped it to fit panel. I can flip the Masonite and have a different group of students paint the other side or even gesso over the existing paintings. I've totally fallen in love with the original doors I can't bring myself to change them. But, I'm sure eventually I will.

Room Decorations from Marvin Bartel


Some fire inspectors are picky about placing paper near the ceiling. Construction contractors generally have some left over ceiling tile. I am guessing they would be happy to donate these. The reverse side of all tile is flat, smooth, and unpainted. It can be painted with flat white interior paint as a base for liquid tempera used directly on the tile. This should be as fire resistant as the original ceiling. Artist acrylics and oils are probably not as fire retardant as tempera. The original tile can be stored directly above the art tile.


The Sistine Chapel is great because it educates, it is beautiful, it leaves an imprint on the mind, it is imaginative (not copy work), and it was innovative. It inspires and instructs. A decorated ceiling is a wonderful way to give identity and character to an art room. What would an educational ceiling look like in an art room if it is invented and designed by art students for art students? What does it tell about values? Is it based copy work of art or is it art? What does this teach about art?

How is imagination motivated? In addition to imagination, creating art and thinking/behaving artistically requires knowledge, skills, keen awareness, and so on. Would an educational ceiling inform and inspire any of the requisites needed to be artistic? A classroom setting, creatively designed and decorated, like The Sistine Chapel, inspires and instructs. I would not use a public school room to instruct in politics, nationalism, or religion, but as the art edifice, it should instruct and inspire art.


An advantage of a dropped tile ceiling is the ability to upgrade. My Photoshop - release 8 is far superior to Photoshop 4. An artist often reworks a painting several times before it works. What if the most advanced students who use the art room are challenged to upgrade the ceiling every year?

Marvin Bartel Copyright © 2004 - Post from Getty TeacherArtExchange October 23, 2004.

More on Art Classroom Design from Marvin Bartel Things to consider when designing an art room

Planning Your Art Rooms .....DREAM BIG

From a Getty list member: If I were designing it (art space for 2D work and another room for 3D work) - I would have at least three sinks in EACH room (all with clay traps - even on 2-D design side) - with one being a deep laundry tub design. Between the two rooms.... I would have a kiln room (with two kilns and vents) with shelf storage and cupboards. An office room with shelving for books and desk with phone - plus how ever many file cabinets you need. Big Window in office walls joining the classrooms. I would have another room for paper and paint storage and such - lots of shelving and storage. In the classrooms.... Storage space for each kid - cupboards with individual tote trays....a unit with individual shelves for larger drawings (pull out Masonite shelf for each kid).... a Cupboard for storing visual resources (deep enough for 22 x 28 prints.) Counter top and cupboards along one wall with full length bulletin boards above..... Plenty of shelving in ceramics and sculpture room (shelf height adjustable)..... Vented spray booth in both rooms.... I could go on...but without knowing your curriculum it is difficult. Just plan your DREAM classrooms then scale it down from there. What I would do is visit as many art classrooms as you can in your area. Write down what you like about their classrooms - and make notes what you would do differently. Do you want individual work tables - or long rectangular tables? I personally like the longer tables (6 foot long tables - or at least 5 ft long) - six for each classroom....and what about potters' wheels? Do you want a computer center? I would want at least one computer (with Internet) in each room for student research. You could keep it covered in the sculpture/3-D art room when not in use. Your own computer could be in the office (or out in the drawing room as an additional computer for students to use)

Classroom Organization Tips

ID Cards for distributing supplies - from Laurie Reber

I start off the first day with introductions, expectations, etc. Then, I have the students make I.D. cards for checking out art supplies from me (supplies that I really need to keep a close watch on - Xacto, copper tooling tools, etc). The students design a 4 x 6 index card by drawing, coloring on one side. Then they can use glitter glue, sharpies, etc to write info like one would find on a driver's license - name, address, height, eye color, hair color. Then I have the tables numbered, so they write the table number they are sitting at on their card, then something interesting about themselves, then their favorite band/singer/music, their favorite candy/food. n the reverse side, I get pertinent info like parent/step-parent/guardian info, siblings, phone numbers where parents (or other guardian) can be reached (cell, work, etc.). Then their homework is to bring in a small picture of themselves to be placed on their ID cards the next class period. This is a great way for me to remember who my 240 students per semester are since I have a name to connect to the face, and it really helps me to manage my supplies. When a table needs to check out supplies for a particular lesson, one student per table is
responsible for checking those supplies out. They need to find their ID card (which are now placed in a file box by class period), remove it from the file box, and then place it in a tray on my desk. When clean-up time comes, I know who from each table checked out what supplies and can call them up to return supplies (they are responsible for checking to see that all they checked out is returned) so if anything is missing, I know right away where the problem is. I have also decided to do the Starry Night matrix for back to school night. Note: You might want to make a template card with all of the pertinent information you need and get them printed on colored card stock. Student will do their art on the back side and fill out the information on the printed side.

Establish a seating chart - from Jayna Huffines

On the first day of class I very kindly explain to them that alphabetical seating works best for my class and makes it easier for me to learn their names. I also tell them that I sometimes switch seats around to mix things up a bit, so things aren't too predictable. Maybe they know I do it for discipline reasons, but I try not to be too obvious so they won't resent me. I just don't feel like it works very often to let them sit wherever they want.

Providing Choices - from Denise Pannell

For my older students (grades 3-5), I give them a choice of two projects which cover the same basic principles, elements, artists, etc. I have sign up sheets and only let half sign up for each. It seems to be working - they love having a choice and I end up with double the choices for the art show. More work for me, but worth it because I don't have many kids resisting the project. After all, it was THEIR choice.

Classroom Management Tips for Elementary - from Andrea Dunmire

I have discovered lots of little tricks in my years of teaching elementary visual art. With 24 back-to-back classes and 600+ kids, these come in handy.

Here are some of them:

I choose 1 table a week to be the helper table. It is the same table in every class. They are responsible for passing out, collecting supplies and work, clean-up of common areas, and whatever else I need help with. For tempera painting, I have 7 old cafeteria trays (one for each table) which I cover with a piece of newspaper, and set up paint (the primaries and black & white in small plastic containers with lids like the restaurants use of condiments), a large plastic container of water in the middle, 4 "standup" paper mixing cups, and 4 popsicle stirring sticks. After tables are covered with newspaper, which the students do, I bring them a tray. They mix a color and go to the shelf where I have brushes set out in covered and labeled coffee cans, to choose the size brush they need. When done with a color, they toss out the paper mixing cup and get another one. When the class is over, I instruct them to drop their brushes into the water container on the tray, snap the lids back on the paint cups, throw away their trash, and put their paintings on the drying rack. I collect the paint trays and take them to a sink where I dump out the water containers, wash and refill the water container, wash the brushes and have a helper resort them into the proper can. Then the paint trays are ready for the next class. This goes very fast after awhile and the closed plastic containers keep the paint from drying out. When they do get cruddy, I toss out the newspaper from the tray and pour the remaining contents of the plastic paint containers into new ones and the entire setup is fresh again. I do the same with watercolors with 7 other trays. I keep both of these sets of trays set up and ready to go for as long as I need them. I do the same for other media that is in use. Those finished early have several choices. I have a stock of art games that I have either made or collected. Students may play a game with a friend. I also have cards labeled "art starts" which I keep in a box. Each card gives an idea for a drawing. Students go to the box and pick 2 without looking. After taking these to their seat, they read both of them and choose the one they would like to do. They are all different and they seem to like them. There are also art books they can look at- both about artists and drawing techniques. I also keep a large box of scrap papers that can be used for paper sculpture or whatever.

On Organizing Sample Projects for Elementary - from Linda Woods

As per how I handle all of my notes, examples, etc. when switching grade levels back to back.... I had a long counter and cabinets that stretched the width of my room in the back. I asked the school to build me another shelf that is 18 inches deep, and place it 9 inches over the previous countertop. Now, on what used to be the old countertop (under the shelf) I have cardboard boxes that 18x24 inch ream paper came in to keep lesson ideas for each grade. I just cut away the front of each box so that I can just bend over and see the labels of each project from the front of the boxes where the projects are stacked up on each other. Each grade has two boxes full of samples and plans in storage under the new counter/shelf.

I bought a small drying rack (18x24, only about 20 shelves if even that many) and put it at one end of this counter. That drying rack is for my in process demo materials to be stored in during any given lesson. I keep each lesson inside of a folded in half piece of 18x24 labeled piece of paper. Yes, the work sticks out way beyond the edges of the folded label paper, but it holds it together enough to make it easy for me to just gather up the materials with one of the largest pieces on the bottom, slide the label around the edge of it, and plop it into the rack. While there, I just grab the next classes lesson. I also sometimes stick odd things of student work in there that don't somehow make it back to the class cabinet at the end of the class with the other student work. (maybe the only kid in the class to watercolor something that day, for example.) That way, I don't leave it in the big drying rack and forget to put it back with the rest of the class's work at the end of the day...thereby preventing the work from being forgotten in the big rack and mixed up with another class later.) This new countertop sticks out about 6 more inches than the last one, so it is also a good place for kids to work at a computer on my high stool. Now that I have an LCD projector, PowerPoint is my life. I have photographed all of the visual examples in those files under the countertop. They are now all on CD, so I can access examples either way. I have also photographed many of our posters to CD so that I don't have to keep dragging them to the table. I do put them up on the wall, but It's great to not have to wrestle with them as a class comes in/leaves. And now kids can ALL see what we are talking about easily as it is in your face HUGE on the projector screen. My next goal is to figure out how I want to demonstrate drawing on a screen for them easily. I've seen a science teacher using one of those little cameras on an adjustable coil holder mounted to a projects on the TV clear as a bell. I had no trouble reading small print out of a text book when he placed that under the camera. I was thinking what a great way to demo drawing techniques.

Paint Palettes for Middle School/High School from Michal Austin

I purchase paint palettes with lids, which I number with Sharpie. I check these out to the kids with the understanding that they are responsible for them. I also give them 2 paint brushes. If they do not return the brushes and palettes (with the correct number) then it is a $5 charge. I was so tired of the laziness and ruined brushes cause we all know how much easier it is to just toss the stuff in the sink! Students cannot check out or receive their grade reports until all books are returned and fees paid. I also have a block of wood with holes drilled in it for X-Acto knives. I use red electrical tape to wrap around the bottom part and I write numbers on these as well. Students sign out knives when they need one and I must see them return it before they can cross off their name. No one leaves until all knives are returned (with blades).

Individual Storage Space for Each Student from Michal Austin

I have an area for the students to store their flatwork items (artworks in progress, sketchbook, pencil) as well as a shelf for 3-D items. My problem is that my immature freshmen like to break their pencils, and then when they need one they steal from another classmate's folder. So, I make them responsible for bringing stuff to class and make it part of their daily points. My dream would be to have locking cabinets with 2 students per cabinet so I could narrow down the culprits (actually, this is my reality dream - my fantasy dream is to have class sizes under 20!)

The Arrangement of Space and Materials for Choice Classroom from Kathy Douglas

[In response to the post on "subliminal learning"] Below is a selection from the Best Practice in Education web site: this is a research summary on effective art classroom arrangement. For further information, as well as the bibliography which accompanies the summary visit and click on classroom context. Space The arrangement of space is of great importance in the choice-based classroom (Cyert; Szekely, 1988; Ediger, 2001; Baker, 1999, Johnson et al, 1990). As New (1993) states, "The environment informs and engages the viewer." Saphier & Gower (1997) discuss observations made in effective classrooms, where every inch of space is used productively and the design encourages positive student activity, organized traffic patterns, and a comfortable noise level. An orderly environment helps students to achieve more optimally. The teacher needs to evaluate the learning environment continually and make any changes necessary to motivate student learning (Ediger, 1999). New (1993) writes, "Other supportive elements of the environment include ample space for supplies, frequently arranged to draw attention to their aesthetic features...clearly designated spaces for large- and small-group activities...designed to encourage playful encounters. It is no wonder that Reggio Emilia teachers refer to the environment as OUR THIRD TEACHER." Materials The organization of materials is a key component of the choice-based classroom (Szekely, 1988; Douglas, 1993; Perrone, 1989; Ediger, 1999). Perrone (1989) explains, "Children know what learning materials--paint, brushes, wood ...--are available and where they are stored as well as understand that they have virtually complete access to them. If children must ask permission to use the items, which usually involves waiting, or do not know what is available, they may well lose interest or have limited opportunities for exploring new areas. It should be noted, too, that the children do things for themselves--mix paints, clean brushes. ... These simple chores are part of the process of earning self-reliance and responsibility." Materials that the students use should be visibly stored and accessible to facilitate efficient getting and putting away (Saphier & Gower, 1997). "Concrete materials stimulate and motivate pupil learning" (Ediger, 1999). "Students who are given the responsibility to select their own materials and tools are more resourceful as they develop competence and skill through exploration of the materials" (Linderman, 1974). All materials should be usable independently after minimal introduction (Lowenfeld, 1987; Smith, 1995; Douglas, 1993). The classroom is organized around various learning centers (Douglas, 1993; Baker, 2000; Ediger, 1999). Learning center experiences also help children develop a sense of responsibility, as well as problem-solving and decision-making skills. The multiple techniques and methods used in centers accommodate different learning styles. At centers, children have a chance to collaborate with others and to work with a variety of materials and activities. Children plan, select, and assess their learning (Baker, 2000). "Semi-concrete materials (illustrations, slides, videotapes, filmstrips, CDs, computer software and personal computers) as well as films should also be located at each station" (Ediger, 1999). Centers contain menus, adult exemplars, and student exemplars (Saphier & Gower, 1997; Douglas, 1993; Ediger, 1999). Ideas for Organizing the Classroom - from Amy Ziploc bags...they are my saviors. I have to move from room to room a lot, and other teachers borrow my supplies, too. Ii put all the glue sticks in one bag, all the mask molds in another, etc. then when I need to move, I grab the bag, all closed up so nothing spills out, easy to carry. When I get a new box of crayons, they all go in a Ziploc bag. who needs a broken box? and its cheaper than plastic boxes. submitted by amy in kc Ideas for Organizing the Classroom - from Theresa in El Paso