Friday, October 06, 2017

#MyFavoriteThings - Field Notes


Objects shape the way we create. 

Some of my favorite objects in the world are my Field Notes made by Draplin Design Company. Their motto of, “I’m not writing it down to remember it later, I’m writing it down to remember it now", is so true for me. I often never look back at my notes like a to-do list. I use them as a creative outlet for my thoughts, the days events, places I've been, and even as a sticker book.

The first book I began writing in is pictured below, and in the graphic up above. This is the Chicago edition, in trademark colors and stars. It is quite worn and bent at this point from countless trips in and out of my back pocket. The inside consists of 48 pages printed with a 3/16" square grid, perfect for planning out ideas, doodling, graphing, and making lists.

Give the slider a shot to see my book inside and out.


As an artist and a parent I can't help but share my interests with my son. This is his book in Red, his favorite color. His book is the Illinois County Fair edition. Like mine, it is 48 pages and printed with a 3/16" grid. It is filled with various stickers, carnival tickets, and scribbles where he pretended to be writing.
For my last birthday my wife, Mrs. Leban:) gifted me a quarterly subscription to Field Notes. They send two packs of the newest edition, and usually throw in a few bonus goodies like pencils, patches, and pins. Needless to say I'll have plenty of new books ready to go in the future. If you're in class, see me writing in one, and are interested in learning more, or making a little scribble, please ask. 

What are some of your favorite things? Comment, blog, photograph, and share with us. 


-Mr. Leban

Thursday, October 05, 2017

Chromebook Keyboard Shortcuts


My district has shifted to using 1:1 chromebooks this year and I'm really enjoying the Google apps for Education connectivity and convenience. In addition to the way information, materials, and assignments are shared, there are some accessibility features that are worth a second look.

If you're stricken with curiosity and like to play, or if you're feeling in the dark and frustrated when one of your students descends upon another's device to flip the screen or shut it down, I've created something that may help.


Click the image below to view my Chromebook Keyboard Shortcuts quick reference online. This is a live document that I will update periodically with new items. 


Click me to view on the web

I post this list in Google Classroom for my students, and hang it up around my room. They can choose for themselves what features help them make the most of their learning on the chromebook. In addition, you can empower them to take the power away from those that use these features to frustrate others. If everyone knows the shortcut, it no longer becomes a tool of bother.

-Mr. Leban

Thursday, March 09, 2017

Museum Hack Tour - Art Institute Chicago

My wife Jen and I had the pleasure of participating in a tour of the Art Institute Chicago lead by a company called Museum Hack. Museum Hack leads "renegade" museum tours (currently in NYC, DC, San Francisco, and Chicago) that are engaging, interactive, and entertaining! As a visual arts teacher, married to a former visual arts teacher, I was intrigued by how Museum Hack would take the Art Institute and "hack" it for our tour group.

Our tour guide's name was Elise, and she was very friendly and welcoming. We met our group in the museum's main stairway entrance (after buying our tickets and checking our coats), and were given name tags. There was a group of eight adults, not counting our tour guide. This was awesome for me because it was easy to remember who was in my group, and to follow the group through the museum.

The Art Institute is HUGE. Our two-hour tour was a whirlwind sample buffet of artworks throughout time and cultures. Elise delighted in telling us all about the "saucy" details of Rococo art, and the epic "comic book" panels of St John the Baptist, including a ridiculous and gratuitously bloody beheading scene:

Mrs. Leban & I chose this painting as our favorite in the series.
Elise called them the worlds first comic book.
A good half of the tour is finding out interesting facts and little-known/fun trivia bits about different pieces in the museum, and the other half was interactive - we participated in a variety of games and fun discussions about the artworks.

Of course, our tour included Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte by Georges Seurat, where we all had our Ferris Bueller moment staring at the various subjects within the landscape, and selecting our favorites:


Elise pointed out this little figure shaped like a keyhole. I was fascinated with all of the dots that have fallen off over the years.
One of our interactive moments included a game in a smaller gallery where we selected furniture and decorative items for Elise's fictional "housewarming" party for rich people. We got to select an item from the gallery that we would bring for her new house. Then we hilariously tried to connect them together ("Ohh that bowl would look great on the table Jen picked! And we could hang Todd's creepy painting above it!").

Another fun game was had in the sculpture gallery where we were tasked with choosing a sculpture that represented our "spirit animal." My wife and I chose one for each other. She suggested I have an epic beard-off with this guy:

Elise took polaroids of us with our sculptures, and we got to take them home as souvenirs. We also wrote postcards about our experience that would be sent later on.

We went over to the modern wing, and it was no surprise to me that we stopped at every kid's, and my favorite sculpture in the entire museum:

This piece is called Untitled (Portrait of Ross in L.A.) by Félix González-Torres. Yes, you get to actually participate in the piece by taking and eating candy. In the museum. It's always funny because people are so trained to NOT touch the artwork, or to get too close, that it feels taboo to actually take and eat candy! I found a fun article here all about where the candy comes from and how it gets refilled.

To finish the tour, we ended up in the reconstructed interior of the Chicago Stock Exchange Trading Room, where we learned about the laborious practice of one dedicated man who rescued and preserved the architectural elements of this room, originally designed by Louis Sullivan and Dankmar Adler. We were also asked to share a picture of one item from the museum that we would bring to a party. My suggestion was voted the winner and I walked away with a souvenir sticker book of abstract painter, Wassily Kandinsky.
In the end, this got me thinking about how much a teacher can learn from this tour: how easy it can be to engage a group of students by simply making them get up out of their seats and physically mimic an image or concept, or by having them choose an item from a whole grouping and explain their choices.

But most of all, by not taking any of this too seriously, we were able to relax and have fun, and probably retained way more information about works of art than any other prior visit. Without even trying!


I really enjoyed my Museum Hack tour, and if you are in a city that Museum Hack conducts tours in, I highly recommend going on one! Museum Hack offers general tours (like the one I went on), but they also offer private/family tours, tours for parties, and team-building adventures! Can you even imagine, a professional development activity like this? I can.

Mr. Leban

Monday, March 06, 2017

D304 Art Highlight - Wood Cutout

Wood Cutout by Lauren F., grade 7.
Success! This positive/negative space wood cutout was designed and cut by Lauren F., from 6th period Applied Art. It measures 7 1/4" x 10" and was cut with a coping saw. Students used a hand drill to make holes in the corners of the negative space. The blade of the saw is removed and replaced after it is fed through the board. Students move the board and saw often to cut out the negative spaces, leaving only their design.

Mr. Leban

Monday, February 27, 2017

D304Art Highlight - Copic Markers



Special thanks to @mattbrun from @copicmarker for sharing some marker technique with Brooks art students today. #ArtEd #gbmsart #oakpark97
via IFTTT

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Room D304 Art Highlight - Animation Critiques


Today was animation critique day. Students travelled through the classroom watching the movies of their peers. They were asked to critique 4 animations of classmates not at their table. The feedback included "one thing you did well", and "one thing I might change". For fun, we voted for top animations in 3 student driven categories: Best animation, Most Original Story, & Smoothest Animation.

Friday, November 04, 2016

Room D304 Art Highlight - Trading Cards


Trading cards for inspirational people. These digital trading cards were created by students in D304 about people that they find inspiring. We used the @autodesksketchbook app from @autodesk to create the portrait, the info card, and to compile them both in the same image These examples were created by (clockwise from the upper left) Maya L., gr8, Danielle A., gr8, Grecian W., gr8, and Abby W., gr6. #ArtEdTech #gbmsart #D97art #oakpark97 #ArtEd

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Room D304 Art Highlight - Slayer!!!


SLAYER!!! Owen A., grade 8, went above and beyond on his inspirational portrait. His attention to detail shows his investment and connection to Kerry King and the importance of his music. #ArtEd #gbmsart #D97art #oakpark97

Friday, October 14, 2016

Room D304 Art Highlight - Inspirational People Portraits



These portraits are of people that my students find inspiring. They were created on the Sketchbook app for iOS. Clockwise from top left, the young artists are Alex M - grade 6, Jolie K - grade 6, Aliyah D - grade 8, Sam D - grade 6. #ArtEd #oakpark97 #D97art #gbmsart

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Room D304 Art Highlight - About Me


Kylie and Violet, grade 6, share the things important to them by using symbols in these colorful collages. #gbmsart #D97art #oakpark97 #ArtEd
via IFTTT