Cheralynn Johnston – Artist and Educator

imageI’ve been teaching high school art since 2000.  I took a couple of years off and went to SCAD and earned an MFA in Painting.  I really thought I was going back to the classroom “for a year” to figure out life and finances after grad-school.  This Fall I will be starting my 7th year at Salinas High School and 17th year teaching.  Needless to say I truly love my job.

A few years ago Salinas High School District offered 1:1 chromebooks for our students.  At first I really didn’t know how this technology would be an asset to the art room, but I was eager to figure it out.  It’s put the spark back into creating lessons and totally changed the way I teach.

I am pleased to share with you what is working for me and my students.  If you have any questions please feel free to ask.  I love knowing I am not only teaching my students, but being able to share and collaborate with teachers around the world.


Geometric Still Life

Out of all the things we teach, this isn’t my favorite lesson to deliver.   I’m going on my seventeenth year of teaching and teach six classes a day…. that’s a lot of spheres, cubes, and cylinders.  I have to say, I love using videos to demonstrate the meat of this lesson.  It’s great to walk by a desk and see a student rewatching a video a second or third time.  Of course I sit and shade with my students for most of the period.  In fact, I have more time to shade with them because I am not spending the class period demonstrating in the front of the room.  The ones “who get it” are moving along and my strugglers are able to receive one-on-one attention.  The overall success rate in the classroom right now is pretty high and that is the reward that keeps me going from sphere to sphere to sphere.

Web-based version of a Google Slide show: Geometric Still Life

Editable Google Slide Show: Geometric Still Life

Paper Twist

For years I went straight into shading geometric shapes and then into a grid drawing using graphite.  I kept thinking I wish my students had a little more practice getting the hang of how to shade.  I also feel being able to apply the vocabulary I need them to understand so I can communicate with them how to shade is very valuable.  If they know what I mean when I say, “this area here is a value one, the shadow here is a value 6, this is a soft gradient, and that’s a hard edge” half the battle is over.  Recognizing the value of the contour line and shading the inside of the shape the same value is priceless.  Being able to shade a smooth gradient is also key to a successful foundation.   Scaffolding on top of the drawing exercises we learned previously and moving onto this project has been the extra practice I think they needed.  My students have gained confidence in their ability to draw and the rest of the year is going to be pure fun.

Have you tried EdPuzzle with your videos? I took my video and added questions to it. It’s been a great way to hold students accountable for the information they should be getting and I don’t have to repeat myself when it come to directions. Well, for the most part I don’t have to repeat myself. Click here to try it.

Link to Paper Twist slide show published to the web.
Link to Paper Twist Google Slide show you can edit.

Introduction to Graphite

Introducing graphite has been a blast! It is so much fun when you are in your groove delivering a lesson and look around to a totally engaged classroom.  I often have my students repeat the vocabulary definition as a call back response.  Hearing the entire group say the definition in unison makes me smile immediately.

I created a Google Draw so they could interact with the handout before they shaded it.  I used this for the “explain” section of the HyperDoc.  It make walking around and checking for understanding easy.

In this lesson I use Kahoot to review the vocabulary words I introduced the day before.  It is a free app and simple to set up.  It is such an amazing way to review vocabulary!  They love it and wanted to do the same quiz a second time for more practice.  If you haven’t used it I highly recommend it!  I will definitely be using it more often.

I hope this lesson is as much fun for you to deliver as it was for me.  We are going to be drawing a “Paper Twist” next, I can’t wait!

Link to web-based lesson: Introduction to Graphite

Link to Google Slide Show you can edit: Introduction to Graphite

Link to Value Scale Handout  

Link to Value Matching Handout

*I did not create the Value Matching Handout.  I found it on the web 17 years ago and I wish I had the source to give them credit, but I don’t.



Blue Tape Murals

IMG_3741This has been a great way to start the year with my advanced group! Collaborating with a fun project like this creates a safe and fun learning environment for the entire year.  My students are working hard and enjoying the process.  They are so proud of what they are creating and the laughter has been a joy to listen to.

One of my goals this year for my advanced students is to improve their planning  process.  I felt some of their compositions last year were not as strong as they could have been due to poor planning.  I want to help them develop stronger sketches so when they execute the project it has a better foundation.  I am excited because this collaboration project will remind them of perspective techniques that I hope to see utilized throughout the year.

A popular question has been about tape.  I put my kids into groups of 4 and I give each group one roll of 1″ and one roll of 1/2″ tape.  They might use 3/4’s of the roll.  They have been using an exacto knife to split tape into smaller pieces.  I found Uline is the best buy, but you have to buy $100 worth.

Web-published post HyperDoc lesson: Blue Tape Mural Project

Link to file you can edit HyperDoc lesson: Blue Tape Mural Project

Drawing Your Selfie Using Your Personal Data

Another teacher posted a link to this article and I loved the idea so much I made a HyperDoc out of it.  I literally copy and pasted straight from the article.  I gave the author, James Freitas, credit and posted a link to the article at the bottom of the first slide.

Here is a link to the article: How to Draw Your Own Selfie — Using Your Personal Data

Here is link to a published version of the HyperDoc.

Here is a link to the Google Slide Show that you can edit to your liking.   

First Week Of School

I really do love the first week of school.  It’s not Christmas, but sleeping the night before has always felt like I am ten years old and I am way to excited to sleep.  Then… the alarm goes off and I want to snooze away.  I have always felt the worst part of my job is an early alarm clock.  I have come up with a few ways to curb a little of the exhaustion that comes with the first week of school, but I don’t think there is a way to avoid the after school nap.

CLASSMATE BINGO – link to digital file.                           Screen Shot 2018-08-04 at 11.06.33 PM

I love this game because it gets them up and talking to each other within the first few minute of class.  I wait to take roll until after the game because it gives me a chance to introduce myself personally to each student and hear them say their names.

COURSE SYLLABUS SCAVENGER HUNT – link to digital file       

    Screen Shot 2018-08-05 at 7.23.24 AM
Do you get sick of hearing yourself talk?  Don’t do it.  A simple solution is to film a video.  This is by far one of the best things I have done for myself during my teaching career.   I have made an eight minute video introducing my course syllabus.  Along with the video, I have also created a scavenger hunt for my students to play.  My students were engaged and on point when I reviewed the questions with them.  Due to this being a flipped room activity, I am able to run around like a crazy person, solving whatever first day issues arise while they are on task.  An added bonus to creating this video is I also use it on back to school night.  (10 minutes x 6 periods) + 1 video = an evening out of the year, for every year of your teaching career, where you won’t have to repeat yourself over and over.  This makes talking in front of a camera totally worth it.

Digital copies of the my course outlines.

Screen Shot 2018-08-04 at 11.13.46 PM.png


ART 1-2 COURSE OUTLINE – link to digital file

ART 3-4 COURSE OUTLINE – link to digital file



I squeeze this in when I have about 15 minutes to spare at the end of a period.  Basically, we are drawing a person passing the drawing to the right between each aspect of the figure.  First, I have them draw a circle in the upper 1/4 section of the page and then they pass the paper to their right.  Next, I have them draw a neck, and pass it to the right.  Part by body part or item of clothing, I have them draw the figure, passing the drawing to their right after every step.  After they complete their collaborative drawings we do a gallery walk so we can enjoy the rooms creativity.  I like to talk with them about drawing ideals and how art is more enjoyable when we let go of the idea that art is only good if it looks like a photograph.

“GETTING TO KNOW YOU” GAME BOARD – link to digital file

Screen Shot 2018-08-04 at 11.06.06 PM.pngThis is the first year I have done this and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  It will take a little more than 2 class periods and is totally worth it.  The kids are laughing, getting to know each other, and learning some key things they will use all year long.  They learn how to make a copy of a digital handout, add the turn in folder to their Google Drive, how to submit a digital assignment, how to use FlipGrid, and most importantly they make a friend in the classroom.

While they are engaged in the activity I was able to walk around and input their names into the seating chart.  In the years past I have sent the seating chart around and let them fill it in.  This time I was able to talk to everyone individually and find out just exactly what they want to be called and the correct pronunciations of their names.

I have also included video explanations of three team building games we will play throughout the week.  Letting them see the rules of the game before we play will hopefully make leading the games a little more efficient.

TWO TRUTHS AND ONE LIE- link to digital file

Screen Shot 2018-08-04 at 11.05.42 PMI have my students fill out a slip of paper that I keep in a folder on my desk for a time filler when instruction doesn’t go all the way to the bell.  I introduce the student, read the three sentences and have the class try to figure out the lie.  This gives me a chance to ask each student a little about themselves in front of the room.

In a blink of an eye it is going to be Thanksgiving break, Winter break, Spring break, and then it’s the end of the school year.  I highly suggest making all of your photocopies during the last week of school leading into Summer break.  I know at the time it’s hard to imagine the next school year,  but it’s worth it.  You will be ready to go and will not have to deal with the copy room cluster.

Have an amazing first week of school!!  If you have name games or tips you do to make your first week of school a breeze let us know in the comments below.


Digital Portfolio’s Using Google Sites

Last year was my first year incorporating digital portfolio’s into my curriculum.  Our students have grown up with plug and drag programs their entire lives.  They catch on fast and in the end I think they taught me more than I taught them.  My favorite aspect of this assignment is knowing they are learning 21st century skills to create a valuable product.

The downfall to this assignment is grading.  One way to grade is to have a master spread sheet with live URL’s.  I created a Google Form to collect their URL’s, and then downloaded the entries onto a spreadsheet.  This is a great way to grade for content, but it can take forever.  I found the easiest way to assess is having due days where I walk around and they show me their sites.  This way I am able to give verbal feedback, answer questions, and target students in need of more guidance.

Student chrome-books are finicky and can be totally frustrating.  Figuring out how to upload, manipulate, and add photo’s to their sites was a feat.  We learned a lot together and now that I understand a little more I have recorded ScreenCastify demonstrations for every step.  I’ll keep you posted as the year progresses!

Link to HyperDoc: Digital Portfolio Instruction
I created this HyperDoc using Google Sites.  It’s great because students will be able to model their site after the format they are using.  It’s bad because I don’t think I can share it with you so you can edit it to your liking.  If you know of a way let me know, I don’t mind sharing.