Some interesting Tweets over the past few days…

My new best friend is Twitter, well actually HOOTSUITE (great combo program for your Twitter account available on the Ipad and on your computer…)

Since Sandy washed away my daily newspaper, getting back into the swing of things has been cumbersome. I forgot how great Twitter was-how fast and how furious you can gather loads of info in just a short time.

My old daily routine pre-wash out was get up, make the coffee, clean the house while it was brewing and then park myself in front of the newspaper followed by my Xfinity feed…now-coffee (of course), less cleaning (no house to clean) and no newspaper-straight to Hoot Suite to see what’s cooking…then if I find something I want to investigate further and the school bells are ringing, I just pin it to my Pinterest account for reading later.

So a few of my fav tweets this past weekend…





Some great tips and an old favorite…VOICEHREAD!

Source: via Teri on Pinterest


Eduemic…one of my favorite to follow…


Source: via Teri on Pinterest


So…all these articles and video in less than ten minutes-twitter, twitter, twitter…

Prezi, Prezi, Prezi

While researching for the class I am teaching this Friday, I have been blowing up You Tube looking for info on how to quickly make PREZI presentations fast, easy and effectively. I have found a few videos. Check these out…

Watch this first:

Using a pre-set template with Prezi:

Make a Prezi out of your PowerPoint presentation:

The SQUINT Check-three ways to improve your Prezi:

Tech Your Teaching Seminar

Tech your Teaching Tool Kit

Thanks for joining me at

TECH Your Teaching: The Art Teacher’s Tool Kit, Web Resources for the Art Educator

Any questions, please feel free to email me at [email protected]

**If you have any favorite web sources, please comment below and share!

Below are several links to assist you including the Prezi.

Tech Your Teaching Prezi:

Links to various web resources:    for educator’s  account:  for educator’s account: for classroom account:  to save YouTube videos to import go to  image search engine safe for kids

 Fun Student Resources:

QR codes


Research Resources

Cool Prezi:




Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Sorry for being MIA…

My house is under the water on the horizon…

My last post was actually written almost a year ago…I have a few excuses…well, first there was Arts Night 2012-which was smashing, by the way. Then there was summer-who wants to blog when you can be on the beach? And then of course, school started back up and I had every single intention of revamping and updating my blog…

Then October 29, 2012 changed my life forever.

For those of you whose lives were effected-this date is burned into your brain. For those of you who were lucky-be thankful. This was the lovely day that Superstorm Sandy decided to hit Brigantine. Yup-landed right on us and in my living room…

Funny thing was that I didn’t take it seriously-I figured it was just another coastal storm that we would evacuate for, come home, clean up our yards and everything would be hunky dorey…no such luck with this one.

When we were actually allowed to come home, life was changed forever. Our house received close to three feet of water in it. Have you ever wondered what 3 ft. of damage water damage can do to a house? Specifically SALT water? Don’t ask-it’s awful. We lost everything on the first two floors-living there was impossible. Over the next few weeks we mucked out, tried to rebuild and failed miserably.

Between our insurance company, paperwork, new FEMA Advisory maps, having to now raise our house to over 16 ft using block (thank GOD!), a letter to the President of the United States and a response, being displaced and loosing all our stuff, life has been  problematic to say the least.

So, as I sit in my home away from home away from home (we are now in our second rental) and it is almost 4 months later, I thought MAYBE it would be a good time to take my mind off of Sandy and put it on my career.

Keeping our fingers crossed that soon our home will begin being raised, that our insurance money will finally come in and that we can hopefully raise, repair and replace our living room, dining room, kitchen, bath, laundry room, bar, foyer, fireplace, Florida room, garage, front steps, back steps, front door, back door, furniture, appliances…(the list goes on forever) before June 1 when our lease runs out.

Say prayers for us-we need them!

Volunteers: want them, need them and get them!

Post 3

February 10, 2012

How much artwork?

What would I do without our volunteers?

I wouldn’t be able to do much because there just aren’t enough hours in the day. So I get help from volunteers.

Having volunteers in your classroom is one of the best opportunities in the world for you to get organized, gain support and allow others to help you. It was taught to me years ago by a veteran teacher and it is a skill I put to use each and every year.

Working till it is all done.


Each year in our school, we put together a huge gala celebrating the multicultural approach to arts education. This evening is called “Arts Night” and features over 5,000 pieces of art work (which have to be mounted, labeled and hung), 250 student performers (who need to practice and have costumes), 6 performances (which need music, choreography and sets), multicultural food (which needs to be donated or cooked), a glow hall and a family art project (which needs to be organized and run). We also have a Security Team to make sure the 1500 visitors to Arts Night are having a wonderful time.

Community members are terrific volunteers!

Several teachers in our district direct the traffic and work with the kids, but the actual WORK of Arts Night is all done by over 200 volunteers from the staff, families, community and alumni. 

This has happened for the last 21 years. For real.

So how do you get 200 volunteers to help you?


It’s that simple. People want to help. Here are some tried and true tips to getting those volunteers into your world.

  • ASK
  • Give them OPTIONS
  • Be prepared
  • Be welcoming


How do I ask someone to give up their time for me? I don’t even like to ask my husband to go to the Post Office for me!

Security volunteers.

IMPORTANT: YOU ARE NOT inconveniencing VOLUNTEERS! If they didn’t want to be there, they wouldn’t come in.  I have found so often as a parent, a teacher and the president of our local PTA that people WANT to volunteer. By offering it to them, you are helping them as much as they are helping you. Maybe they really want to be involved in their kid’s life at school, or maybe they lost their job and need something to do, or maybe they have a great job, but want to help out because that’s the kind of person they are, or maybe they want the company. Anyway you cut it, volunteers are VOLUNTEERING.

So to ask-just ask.

Cultural food prepared and seerved by volunteers.

  • I invite people to help.
  • I ask the members of our school family to volunteer.
  • I send home notes explaining what I need with a place for them to fill in their pertinent information. Then I ask them to send it back to me.
  • I post it on my webpage and give them a place to contact me.
  • I put it on the local news channel that flashes important info about the community.
  • I put it in the local newspaper.
  • I reach out to senior organizations (Grandparents LOVE to help!).
  • I reach out to teen organizations that need volunteer hours.
  • I reach out to community organizations like the VFW, ELKS, American Legion, local churches.

    Lifers (people who volunteer even after their kids move on)



When asking, make sure to give options. Not every mom is home when the kids get off the bus. Not every dad has the opportunity to help out after school. So give them choices.

For example:

Come in and photocopy when you can, bake the food for the event, shop for the event, donate an item for the event, build something for the event, work at home for the event, come at night to the school to prepare for the event, come during the school day, do the photographing, be the person who writes the news article for the event, sew the costumes for the event, make calls to get volunteers in for the event, be the Facebook liaison for the event, coordinate an area of the event…

It’s all about options. Somewhere, somehow, if you give them enough options, they will show up. I promise.


Have you ever volunteered for something and then when you got there, the person in charge didn’t have something for you to do? Or worse yet, says, “Just help.” AAAUUUGGGHHH! I just got a babysitter for that?!

Even the kids want to help!

YOU NEED TO BE PREPARED with INSTRUCTIONS. I admit; there have been times when I have had so many volunteers, I have run out of things for them to do. But I always, always try to have something for them to do when they come-even if it is something I don’t actually need done at the moment.


One time when I volunteered for one of my kids’ activities, the organizer of the event was rather snippy and short. Now being an organizer of many events, I completely understand why the organizer might be short or snippy, but it still hurt my feelings a little when they were short with me. MAKE SURE TO ALWAYS HAVE A SMILE ON YOUR FACE WHEN THEY ARRIVE. Make the place you are working together a family environment.

*Tip: Speaking of families, if mom or dad doesn’t have to get a babysitter and can bring their kids, you will get more volunteers. Ask one of the local teenagers who need volunteer hours for school or church to watch the kids in the room with you while the parents work together.

Feed them; they will come.


If you feed them, they will come. Really.

Do you need to put on a feast? NO! It’s not their last meal! But even having coffee and brownies helps. I serve family dinners when we have Arts Night set up night meetings. I do a fundraiser earlier in the year (we’ll talk about that in another post-RAISING MONEY FOR YOUR EVENT) and apply it to getting pizza, powdered iced tea and paper products for my meetings. Usually someone is kind enough to bring a snack and we eat together while we work. I can’t tell you how wonderful it is to share a meal with people who are working together for a greater cause-it is really neat.

A chance to work together on a project.


FOLLOW UP: OK-I admit-this is the tough part. If a parent agrees to help you and sends in a form, or gives you their email address, or phone number, it is important to touch base with them to confirm when you need them. Arts Night has gotten so big that I actually have a parent call person who starts calling the volunteers for me around mid-March. This does two things-it shows that I want their help and it makes them realize I am counting on them. It really works. I recently have been trying to move into a more technological format of confirming volunteering-I’ll let you know how it works out. Bottom line, when someone calls to confirm, you feel like you have a plan.

Dads love to help too!

THANK THEM! THANK THEM! THANK THEM! No matter how you do it, say THANK YOU! For Arts Night, part of our fundraising goes to getting a small token of my appreciation towards my volunteers every year. Last year it was Hot Sauce with the Arts Night logo on it because we were studying Mexico, one year it was fortune cookies with a note inside about thanking them for helping at Arts Night, sometimes it’s a t-shirt, sometimes, it’s just a thank you note or call.

Volunteers-they work (literally and figuratively).

Try it-you will be amazed.

See the page above called “Arts Night” for more information.

By the way, a huge amount of my volunteers are people who no longer have kids in the school. Their kids have moved on, but they haven’t. They like the sense of doing something good for someone else and they like the sense of family. They enjoy working together for a greater good.

Till next time~


It is all great fun.

Working together.

p.s. There is a rumor around my school that the only way to get out of being an Arts Night volunteer is to move out of the state. That’s not entirely true…

To Multicultural or Not?

Post 2 January 22, 2012

Salwar Kameez


I just had a little girl ask me (in broken English), “Can I bring in my Salwar Kameez for art on Tuesday?” For those of you who don’t know what a Salwar Kameez is (I didn’t at first-so don’t be embarrassed), it’s the pant suit type outfit that Pakistani women wear (and some Indian woman) as opposed to a Sari. See pics:

Ok-so why is that significant? Because this little girl hasn’t said two words to me since she started in kindergarten last year (she’s in First). We began studying India and Pakistan yesterday. Today she talks.
That’s why I do multiculturalism. It reaches kids-all kids-even the ones that don’t talk to you.
Here’s another one:

Yesterday, as we were walking in to learn about India, a little boy in second grade says, “Mrs. Gragg-when are we going to do Macedonia? My family is from Macedonia. I can tell you all about Alexander the Great and Macedonia. Can we please do Macedonia?” OK-first of all-the fact that he knew who Alexander the Great was (the kid is 7), made me pause AND more importantly, that he wanted to share his customs with our school. My answer-absolutely! OK-so that means I now need to figure out how to integrate Macedonia in one of our yearly units before he leaves me when he is in fourth grade-I have two years…
So how do you do a (or many) multicultural units in art class?
Pick a place-any place that interests you. Maybe the place you went on your vacation to last year. Maybe that place you want to go on vacation to. Maybe that country that has the most wonderful artifacts-maybe a historical place. YOU PICK. That’s the beauty of this.
So now that I have chosen, what do I do?
Huge question-simple answer.
Make friends.
• Ask your music teacher to burn you a cd of music from the country you are studying (I’ll bet the music teacher ((if she knows her stuff)) will hop on board with you and play).
• Find students whose families are from that area (I bet you’ll find someone). Call them up, tell them you are totally uneducated when it comes to their country and ask for guidance. I guarantee you will break down HUGE barriers with that one. You’ll learn from the true live source. The kid whose parent it is, will be so vested in your class, you won’t believe it. Plus you’ll probably get a volunteer for the art room (that’s a whole other unit we will talk about shortly-VOLUNTEERS).
• Ask your tech teacher to show the kids on the internet where the place is you are studying (I’ll bet she or he will want to play with you, too!).
• If you have a librarian in your school-ask for books (I bet she/he will play too!).
• Reach out to places like Skype for the Classroom and ask for international friends.
• Talk to the classroom teachers-tell them what you are doing. Then ask them if they have ever gone anywhere wonderful and do they have pictures they can share?
• Look around you and actually process what is from that country and what isn’t-you’d be surprised how integrated we are once you start looking.
Once you have chosen your location, made friends (some of which who might want to join you on this adventure), RESEARCH.

I make a presentation about the country that tells about the people first, their culture, where they live, what they eat, how they dress, what is fun for them, how they learn and how art is part of their world. As my music and tech teacher like to play with me on this, I add music and tech to the presentation. I find samples of the art I want them to create (always check out YouTube for demo clips of your chosen art), link it all with the art skills I want to teach and make a UNIT. A unit lasts about 6 weeks in my world (I see the kids 1 time a week for 40 minutes) which includes 1 session of “talking time” –this is the introduction to the country and the presentation, and 4-5 sessions of studio time.
Where do you get that information from? There’s no ART MANUAL for Multiculturalism….
Well, there are actually a plethora of resources, but you need to pull them together for your unit. So-start gathering! Check out Crizmac for great multicultural references.

Fantastic place for resources!

In the beginning I actually had to go to the library and get books. Then I actually used SLIDES (remember those?). Of course, I was so afraid of copyright infringement, I tried to take all of my own slides. That didn’t work when I did an international location, so then I took pictures of books and made them into slides (I figured if the copyright police came after me, I would tell them it was for educational purposes ((I have NEVER used someone else’s pictures to make money from-remember that-it’s important)), but have borrowed completely). Then I had to find the projector and pray the bulb was working. Then I had to set it up…it was a nightmare! And for the first 8 years of my career, I did it on a cart!
The good news is, you don’t have to do that. You have the internet.
Use those surfing skills and find pictures and videos and maps to help you. As a rule of thumb, when I am researching, if I find a picture (image) that I intend to use, I save as it to a folder I have created on my desktop for the unit. I make sure it isn’t “All Rights Reserved”-if it is, I move on. There are thousands of images out there that are available or I go to a Creative Commons site like Flickr. If I can, I site at the end of the unit where I found the image and say a general thank you to the people I borrowed it from-and I promise I won’t use it for personal gain.
Once I find images and video I think are age appropriate and shares the “story” of the country’s culture and art, I make a presentation. Years ago it was me talking and the slide projector (yuck-boring!), then along came the computer and technology. PowerPoint became my best friend and I finally was able to make enough promises to the tech guy that I got my TV in my classroom hooked up to my computer for display. Years went by; a Promethian board (another version of the Smartboard) showed up in my classroom one day. The tech guy hooked me up to the internet with my computer and presto change- I had technology.
I asked the tech guy why the Promethian showed up in my room (this was like the year 2000), when I didn’t ask for it. He said (and I quote), “The Superintendent knew you would use it.” My face hit the floor-really? Me? I didn’t even know he realized I was doing that much tech in the art room. Then it dawned on me-he’s been to Arts Night (that’s the final presentation of all of the art from all of the countries we visit and learn about each year-check out the link to the right to learn about Arts Night). Several Arts Night, in fact, and he saw the effect of multiculturalism on the kids, the community and my teaching.
Wow-Multiculturalism did that?
You bet it did. We related art to a general area topic that was in need of assistance (Social Studies/Geography). We taught it across the curriculum. We helped the teacher by exposing their kids to the global world. It took pressure off of their plates. All of a sudden, I wasn’t just the “art” teacher playing with supplies, (and the same for the music and tech teachers). I was the art teacher who taught geography and history-two things k-4 teachers tend to never have enough time to do. By the way-our teachers don’t ever ask me to do their holiday projects for them (like, please do my Father’s Day project…) because they understand I have a multicultural curriculum that follows a plan, does relative work to the greater good (Social Studies and Geography) and which has a high success rate because our students are TOTALLY engaged at all times in our classes actually learning informative stuff.
Once you have your knowledge and your reference, put it together in an exciting format. My chosen tech tool currently is Prezi. Prezi is this amazing FREE (for educators) tool that allows you to use a huge canvas to layout your pictures and information in any type of an order you would like. Then you link that order through paths and it basically creates a PowerPoint on steroids-you zoom in and out and all about. It’s total great fun with kids-they are absolutely fascinated. Plus it is very easy to embed video into Prezi. Check Tech Tips to the right for some more info on Prezi.

PowerPoint on India from 2004

Prezi 2012

OK-so now I have my knowledge, my presentation, everything I could possibly know…what’s next?



DO IT. It’s that simple. Present it to your class. See the magic and sit back and enjoy it. It will be the best teaching you EVER do in the art room-I guarantee it. Why? Because the kids love it. They will be super engaged, there will be less discipline problems, they will learn without even knowing they are learning, cultural barriers will be broken down, character ed will be infused in your curriculum, you’ll be doing your core standards and here’s the big one…YOU WILL GAIN RESPECT!
You bet-respect from your students (because they are learning something that actually has meaning to all of them), from your co specials team (who will probably want to participate in this with you-at Brigantine Elementary School, our Specials team teaches together every year in a multicultural approach to arts education), from your co-teachers, from your administration, from your parents of your students and from members of the community.


All because of Multiculturalism? YOU BET!
Till next time-

Hello world!

Blog post 1 Jan. 21, 2012

Well, I do like the “Hello, World!” greeting, so I think I will keep it. Either that, or Namaste.

Brigantine Island

My name is Teri Gragg and I am a multicultural art educator for elementary students in Brigantine, New Jersey, USA (a tiny little island next to Atlantic City) for the past 20 odd years. I’d love to bend your ear for a quick bit to talk about teaching art, multiculturalism, teaching across the disciplines, tech and just plain fun art stories.

I have the BEST job in the whole world. REALLY. I seriously mean REALLY.

All teachers say at one point or another in their career, “I have to write that down-these kids are hysterical!”  I have some silly, amusing, heartwarming stories that would be fun to share. I also hope to share some of my teaching topics from the past 24 years.

Oh, by the way, on the side of this blog are three additional pages: Tech Tips-I’ll post some of the terrific stuff I have borrowed, found or enhanced to help you integrate art and technology more effectively; Arts Night-this is my second passion, our multicultural gala event that happens every year as a result of our Specials Department’s multicultural teaching, and ArtiTech-my personal tech/art integration into the virtual classroom. Check these pages out.

ArtiTech go to to ArtiTech IV

So my first story…

I teach little kids-really little kids ranging from 5-11. Basically starting from kids who can’t tie their shoes, to kids who could tie me up with their shoelaces. I teach in a tiny little community with two schools (I know-I’m lucky) and have an enrollment of about 450 kids I see one time a week for 40 minutes for art. I said earlier I have the best job in the world and I wasn’t kidding. They pay me to play with kids with art supplies. OK-that sounds easy-too easy as a matter of fact, so years ago (many, many years ago) when I first became an art teacher, I felt compelled to find a common denominator that I could share with my students that didn’t just have to do with me showing them how to paint or color. So being fascinated with different cultures from around the world, I integrated a multicultural approach to teaching art education in my class. I thought it would be the perfect blend. It turned out to be better than perfect-it turned out to be a truly teachable skill that every art teacher should integrate into their curriculum.

Yup-I said that-EVERY art teacher. Sorry, if I offended the great art teachers out there that don’t have a multicultural twist, but the truth is, in this global society, it is our duty as art teachers to use art as a comfortable, exciting stepping stone to break down cultural barriers and teach children to embrace differences.

Volunteers for Arts Night

8 years on a cart, then a beautiful art room!

So off to the library I went (yeah-no internet back then) and started researching different cultures. I picked the few I thought were really cool my first year and took the plunge. I used the culture to introduce the lesson and the art supply to complete the art project from the culture. I completed my core curriculum standards using the back door approach-culture first, art second-well, actually not second at all, just the skeleton behind the lesson.

It was a major hit with the kids, the administration, the community and the parents of the kids who were from different parts of the world.

This turned out to be key in our district as in the early 1990′s, casinos came to the town next to us, Atlantic City. Prior to the casinos, Brigantine was a very small community. When the casinos came, everything changed. People rented houses in Brigantine who worked in Atlantic City-people from all over the world. Within months, this tiny island because a melting pot of cultures. The kids of Brigantine were having a difficult time understanding this change.

This was a pivotal moment in my career. The real light bulb moment for me was when I was walking down the hall and saw a group of Brigantine kids picking on a group of Indian kids all because of the way they looked. Many Indian and Pakistan families had moved to Brigantine, and their culture was intimidating to the Brigantine kids. Using art as a way to teach everyone about each other was the perfect solution.

Fortunately, I had an administration that was totally supportive, so I threw away the “how to” art books and broke open the multicultural books (which there weren’t that many of 21 years ago). 21 years later, I am completely pleased and thankful to say that it was the best career decision I ever made.

So now when I walk down the halls and I see my kids (students), they ask me, “Where are we going in art today, Mrs. Gragg?”

Like I said, I have the best job in the whole world.

How do you integrate a multicultural approach to arts education? Check back for the next post…

But you can start by thinking small-find a place you love, research the you know what out of it, put it together in a way the kids will enjoy, associate an art skill with it (for example, when teaching about China, teach Sumi Painting) and dive in. Watch how fascinated your kids will be. I’ll explain more next time.

TECH TIP-Use YOUTUBE to help you quickly research the country, its people and art. Share the video with yourself (or KICK it) and then use it later in your presentation. Check out Tech Tips “YOU too Can YOUTUBE” article to find out how to sneak in those YouTube videos past that pesky firewall…

Thanks for reading.