Mrs. Vecchioni's Art Room


Life is what we make it, always has been, always will be.
—Grandma Moses


There are so many exciting new projects in the art lab this year! mcaExplore Mrs. Vecchioni’s website, stop in room 112B or next time you see me, ask me what’s going on—I love sharing the great things Waters School students are doing! Email me if you have any input, ideas or feedback—I look forward to hearing from you. 

Look at our Waters Fine Arts Digital Gallery (click on artsonia link at left) to see some of the exciting projects students are creating in art class!

Take a moment to check out this month’s featured Growth Mindset film short:

SOAR by Alyce Tzue


2019-2020 Visual Arts Syllabus

Please take a moment to check out an overview of this year’s curriculum and classroom expectations:

Take a look at what an arts integrated scope and sequence looks like in the art room— Art Lab.



Please join us!

TBA…Annual Global Cardboard Challenge

Our annual early fall Saturday of creativity, design and engineering is coming soon! Start saving your cardboard and masking tape now:)! Look for our confirmed date in late October in the next edition of Green Notes!

2019-2020 1st Semester K-8 Artist Study & Exhibit

The American Pop Art Backstory: Andy Warhol!

More details to follow…:)

Save-the-exhibition-date: January 10, 2019

Upcoming artist connection exhibit at the Art Institute of Chicago…


BIG THANKS to the Art Institute of Chicago for free Chicago Public Schools field trips and Waters School administration. We were able to get a free docent-led tour for all eligible (4-8 grades) Waters School students! If you would like to be a chaperone, please email HOORAY!!!

November 1-15, 2019 Our 18th Annual Dia de los Muertos Celebration of Life Pop-up Gallery & Parent Ofrenda!

Please Join Us! Take a moment at Report Card Pick-up to view a beloved Waters School tradition featured on the first floor lobby of Waters School. Our artworks are rooted in traditions of Dia de los Muertos and Mexican folk art. Our Parent Ofrenda is an interactive display honoring our community loved ones who have passed and is dedicated to an art room favorite (and Mayan artifact and Day of the Dead enthusiast), Frida Kahlo. Come and see our energy and creative enthusiasm in this informal and organic celebration of  LIFE! Bravo K-8th graders!


Maker Camp Update: Leonardo’s Workshop TYROS & VETS Session 1: Coming soon—October 2019! More information to follow :)!

Check out a TYROS Maker Camp Launch Party below!


To learn more about the Maker Movement and the inspiration for our Leonardo’s Workshop (Makerspace) in the art room, please see .


HUGE thanks to the artists and volunteers that made 2018/2019 class projects, pop-up galleries, family art workshops, all-school exhibits and digital visual art portfolios for every student such a success! We couldn’t have done it without you! Special thanks to Vanessa Summer, last year’s Art Mom Extraordinaire!

Special Thanks to Nancy Wieting for all of your hard work as photographer-in-residence for students’ digital portfolios. You are truly the art lab’s fairy godmother!

Please take a moment to check out student artworks (current and archived) at

Thank you for your support!

Amy Vecchioni




(A peek into the past and a look to the future…)

DESIGN THINKING 2.0!  Waters Fine Arts & K.12 Lab Collaboration

In August 2018, Mrs. Vecchioni had the opportunity to train in design thinking with at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California.

Image result for design thinking

As a K-12 lab school, we can’t wait to utilize new approaches to design thinking in all art projects as we grow our success with Genius Hour and Choice-based visual art experiences this year!


What is design thinking (from the @ Stanford)?

Putting design to work. We build on methods from across the field of design to create learning experiences that help people unlock their creative potential and apply it to the world.


Design can be applied to all kinds of problems. But, just like humans, problems are often messy and complex—and need to be tackled with some serious creative thinking. That’s where our approach comes in. Adding the’s tools and methods to a person’s skill set often results in a striking transformation. Newfound creative confidence changes how people think about themselves and their ability to have impact in the world.”


Making STEAM: Exploring New and Old Media in New and Exciting Ways!

2018 Creative School Fund Innovation Grant that shares Making is a MINDSET, not a SPACE…

A Makerspace collaboration with Intuit Center for Intuitive and Outsider Artists, The Laboratory, Power-up Tech Academy, Fraternal Forest, The Uthando Project and our own Leonardo’s Workshop! Special thanks to our Outsider Artist-in-Residence Della Wells!

Our primary goal in We Are All Makers, our Creative School Fund (CSF) project, was to facilitate and grow a school-wide passion that sparks curiosity to experiment, prototype and Make more— in a variety of settings that reach beyond traditional curriculum. This was our goal–for teachers and for students… In each of our field trip experiences we were able to do this with transformative results.

Our students were excited to choose their field trips and have a hand in designing each field trip outcome. In Leonardo’s Workshop, our school Makerspace, students created entire curriculums and designed all outputs. Students practiced being a Maker in each of the Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) disciplines in concert with their homeroom study of a theme (mathematical graphing and computer coding, simple machines and creating pulleys and wedges in the forest, making film shorts based on the circus and much more). Students now have a common school-wide language of being a Maker and solved challenges of their own design. They worked on these challenges with real world constraints, continuous collaboration and with authentic results that were shared with peers.

Our CSF grant experience has been a pedagogical laboratory to test Making across the curriculum and across grade levels. By demonstrating that Making is a mindset, in a mélange of real world settings, we’ve created the prototype to expand innovative pedagogy and learning throughout our school. We’ve already shared our results with our community and other teachers nationally. Hooray!

Look here for our final films coming soon!

2017/2018 James Dyson Foundation’s Design Thinkers Program

We are excited to continue our collaboration with the James Dyson Foundation to further our exploration of Design Thinking. We will be rapid prototyping a real world problem with 6th graders, conducting a backward design Design Challenge with all classrooms K-8 and will add Design.Build.Test to our 3-5 grade Leonardo’s Workshop Veteran Maker Camp.

For more information, please see

2016/2017 LEONARDO’S WORKSHOP! Design Thinking, Tinkering, LAUNCHing…

We have LAUNCHed our first designated Makerspace at our school and appreciate your commitment to making this possible. Check out more about Leonardo’s Workshop at


Special thanks to Liten C. who, instead of asking for birthday presents on her 6th birthday, asked her friends to donate to our Makerspace grant for the art room and to Tommy S. who donated all of his yard sale earnings to the visual art department. Such kindness and generosity are an inspiration to all of us.

Please see Ms. Smith’s recent Green Notes post for more about this exciting new adventure


healing classroomsThank you to everyone who participated in our Healing Classrooms Challenge! We added our handmade, original pinwheels to the hundreds of others being created by Students Rebuild teams around the nation. Our efforts have raised $252.00 for children in Syria that have been displaced due to war and unsafe living conditions in their homeland. In addition, our Art In Action activity created new 126 pinwheel toys for children to play with! We will continue our partnership with Students Rebuild in 2017. We will announce our next challenge soon!

2015/2016 CHOICE-BASED STUDIOS & THE ARTWORK OF GAYLEEN AIKEN: Intuit Center for Intuitive and Outsider Artists Teacher Fellowship Proposal

20160525_113033-1_resizedintuit1Ms. Zelle and I began this project as professional exploration of creating more choice-based opportunities for student learning and as a way for students to make art with limited adult guidance/influence/interference—aiming to provide an artistic environment similar self-taught artists’ freedom to create…


We feel so fortunate to have been awarded an Intuit Fellowship for the 2015/2016 school year because it was a great way to collaborate with passionate educators around the District, learn about new educational theory, see new art on teacher field trips (:)) and —best of all—our students were able to exhibit their artworks in a real art museum in Chicago for an authentic audience!


5th grade students in Room 308 worked in choice-based studios throughout the project in order to make independent creative decisions as artists. Choice-based studios provided diverse students the freedom to determine the best fit for their learning styles, interests and ability levels. Students chose their own media and methods to create at least one narrative self portrait using an art-making method beloved by Gayleen Aiken—comics, scrapbooking/collage, narrative painting and /or 3D cardboard construction. Students chose their brainstorming method to begin their artwork and evaluated their own artwork. These choice-based opportunities demonstrated the investigative processes found in artistic experience and all meaningful learning.


More choice-based projects and opportunities (and authentic audience experiences) are planned for the upcoming school year. To learn more about choice-based art education and Teaching For Artistic Behavior (TAB), please see



Our 2015 Chicago Arts Partnership in Education (C.A.P.E.) La Peña en La Floresta mosaic camp was a huge success! Over seventy-five artists of all ages came together to create an amazing new public art installation for the main entrance to our school!


The original organic tile and mirrored rendering was inspired by our garden ecology curriculum, 1st graders’ native leaf sketches and mosaic campers’ prairie flower illustrations. In addition to our new main entrance, we created sculptural towers that are installed in our nearby monarch butterfly garden. Both public art installations pay homage to outsider artist Simon Rodia’s Nuestro Pueblo. (Nuestro Pueblo is also known as Watts Towers.) We are hopeful that these collaborative artworks will celebrate the creative spirit of our Waters School community for years to come!


We would like to thank all of our community artists and give special appreciation to the talents of Bill Keller, Clayton Miller and our extraordinary artists-in-residence, Victoria Mendoza and Juan Carlos Perez! Huge gratitude to Mrs. Crespo, Ms. Alvarez and everyone at C.A.P.E for their vision and determination to make this community art making opportunity possible!


La Peña en La Floresta is dedicated to the children of Waters Fine Arts School in loving memory of Joanne Nguyen (2001-2015).

mosaic camp 2011

 Other Recent Outdoor Mosaic Projects (See sidebar to learn about these projects.)



Banner(1)Our Me & We: Exploring Identity and Community with Vivian Maier project defined and demonstrated student identity as individuals and as a community (as 5th graders, as members of Waters School and as Chicago youth). Students in Room 308 illustrated their own interpretations of identity by creating a series of narrative photographs documenting themselves— in self-portraiture, school community vignettes and neighborhood street photography.



This practice shared research and interpretation of Vivian Maier’s distinctive presence as an outsider (self-taught) artist who utilized her camera lens as a medium to share her vision and frame her experience. These Me & We discoveries have become photographic documents of how our students identify our time and space and their place in it. Photographic documentation included personal portfolios, in-school permanent exhibition and outdoor neighborhood community banners as well as exhibit at Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Artists last May.


2014 Creative Schools Fund Arts Innovate Award & K-8 World Dance Partnership

Stepping Up: Around the World with Patterns, Lines and Forms! was a tremendous arts integration experience for Waters Fine Arts School students, teachers and community at large. In this program, we explored the evolution of contemporary American dance by discovering its roots in West Africa, its journey to the Americas through the Caribbean and to its most recent form— found in urban youth culture interpretations on the streets of the New York City in the 1970s and Chicago today.Creative-Schools-Chart - Copy

All of our 600+ students, in grades K-8, experienced dance instruction in a variety of dance forms including folkloric dance of Guinea (grades K-2), Cuba and Haiti (grades 3-5) and contemporary American breaking/break dancing (grades 6-8). Our “math in motion” partnership with Chicago Arts Partnership in Education (CAPE) and individual dance artists (Errin Berry/Muntu Dance Theatre, Kathleen Turner/Deeply Rooted Dance Theatre, Amansu Eason/Muntu Dance Theatre, and Mikey Rioux/The Sho) was an intensive 10 week dance immersion during physical education class.

Experiences for students included dance instruction in each specific form, mathematics instruction taught through dance integration and written reflection of dance forms and mathematics integration in weekly student journals. Our students explored movement and learned dance skills throughout the 10 week residency and were able to incorporate these experiences into improvisional final dance creations that showcased newly acquired dance and mathematical knowledge to our entire school community.

Stepping Up: Around the World with Patterns, Lines and Forms! was a huge success for all stakeholders at our school and we look forward to finding new ways for our students to experience dance instruction on a daily basis due to the enthusiasm and learning that was evident throughout our 2013-2014 Creative Schools Arts Innovate Program. (A DVD of the final performances is available! See Mrs. Vecchioni for more information.)

2012/2013 Rivers of Our Ancestors, Our Homelands and Our World!

6th grade Fine Arts & Technology Integration Project with The Chicago Symphony Orchestra!

Rivers of Our Ancestors, Our Homelands and Our World was an  arts integration extravaganza with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (CSO) that was featured at the Chicago Cultural Center and on the CSO’s website as a component of the CSO’s Chicago River Festival. Students were part of an award-winning documentary that shared the importance of rivers to our community and humanity. They even had a chance to meet Yo-Yo Ma. Read more about this exciting Chicago event at

Check out more special projects, collaborations and partnerships on our RECENT PROJECTS page.

parent workshop

A HUGE thank you to Waters School students, staff and families for your creativity, energy and support!

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
— Margaret Mead

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