February 2009
Vol 6 No 2

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Teachers.Net Gazette Vol.6 No.2 February 2009

Cover Story by Alfie Kohn
Why Self-Discipline Is Overrated: The (Troubling) Theory and Practice of Control from Within
To inquire into what underlies the idea of self-discipline is to uncover serious misconceptions about motivation and personality, controversial assumptions about human nature, and disturbing implications regarding how things are arranged in a classroom or a society.

Harry & Rosemary Wong: Effective Teaching
To Be an Effective Teacher
Simply Copy and Paste

»Do You Have a Student Teacher?Hal Portner
»Test-taking Skills Made EasySue Gruber
»Teaching Children Refusal SkillsLeah Davies
»How to Be ConsistentMarvin Marshall
»The Busy Educator's Monthly FiveMarjan Glavac
»Dear Barbara - Advice for SubsBarbara Pressman
»What Side of the Box are YOU On?Kioni Carter
»Global Travel GuruJosette Bonafino

»Teacher Study Groups: Taking the “Risk” out of “At-Risk”Bill Page
»Can Anyone Learn to Draw?Tim Newlin
»The Heart of Mathematical ThinkingLaura Candler
»Finding Free Art Materials in Your CommunityMarilyn J. Brackney
»The Downside of Good Test ScoresAlan Haskvitz
»February 2009 Writing PromptsJames Wayne
»In The Middle School (poem)James Wayne
»Using Photographs To Inspire Writing IVHank Kellner
»Teacher Performance AssessmentPanamalai R. Guruprasad
»How To Help Victims Of Bullying: Advice For Parents & EducatorsKathy Noll
»Unwilling Student Meets Unwavering Teacher Lauren Romano
»Notes from The JungleJohn Price
»Lead the Class - Teachers as Leaders John Sweeting
»Opposing Views of a Post-Racial SocietyRoland Laird
»Who Really Needs Four Years of Math and Science? Steve A. Davidson

»Apple Seeds: Inspiring QuotesBarb Stutesman
»Today Is... Daily CommemorationRon Victoria
»The Lighter Side of Teaching
»Teacher Blogs Showcase
»Carol Goodrow’s “Healthy-Ever-After” Children’s Books
»Printable Worksheets & Teaching Aids
»Memo to the New Secretary of Education and
John Stossel: American students are NOT stupid
»Lessons, Resources and Theme Activities: February 2009
»All of the Presidents in Under 2 Minutes!, Needle Sized Art, I Am a Teacher!, How It’s Made: Copy paper, and If My Nose Was Runnin’ Money
»Live on Teachers.Net: February 2009
»T-Netters Share Favorite Recipes
»Technology in the Art Classroom
»Newsdesk: Events & Opportunities for Teachers


The Teachers.Net Gazette is a collaborative project
published by the Teachers.Net community
Editor in Chief: Kathleen Alape Carpenter
Layout Editor: Mary Miehl

Cover Story by Alfie Kohn

Effective Teaching by Harry & Rosemary Wong

Contributors this month: Alfie Kohn, Sue Gruber, Kioni Carter, Marvin Marshall, , Marjan Glavac, , Hal Portner, Leah Davies, Barbara Pressman, Tim Newlin, Bill Page, James Wayne, Hank Kellner, Josette Bonafino, Marilyn J. Brackney, Barb Stutesman, Ron Victoria, Panamalai R. Guruprasad, Alan Haskvitz, Kathy Noll, Lauren Romano, John Price, John Sweeting, Laura Candler, Roland Laird, Steve A. Davidson, and YENDOR.

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Marilyn J. Brackney

Archive | Biography | Resources | Discussion

Finding Free Art Materials in Your Community
by Marilyn J. Brackney
February 1, 2009

When money is tight in school systems, art is frequently the first subject that suffers budget cuts, so teachers often resort to using trash or solid waste as a source of art materials. After all, it's free and easy to come by.

Working within a "bare bones budget" and reusing materials isn’t necessarily bad. Besides helping to save the environment and money, creating art from solid waste requires kids to think in new ways, and making something out of nothing is fun and challenging.

In addition to reusing household trash such as newspapers, magazines, and junk mail to make art and crafts, there are many community sources of clean, solid waste. You can gather lots of interesting, useable items by spending an afternoon going from one business to another collecting scrap materials.

Phone ahead or write a short letter explaining your purpose in wanting to use solid waste to make art. Mention that reusing scrap materials helps you save money, and it keeps solid waste out of the landfill. Usually, employees and business owners are happy to give customers surplus or pre-consumer waste materials free of charge.

Some of the places you might visit include the following:

  • paint and decorating store
  • fabric shop
  • newspaper publisher
  • craft store
  • printing company
  • glass company
  • lumberyard
  • hardware store
  • interior designer
  • framing shop
  • home decorating and gift shop
  • party store
  • office supply store
  • photographer
  • sign making studio
  • carpet store
  • upholstery shop
  • florist

By visiting these businesses, you're likely to find materials such as ribbon, wallpaper and fabric samples, cardboard, paper, beads, foam core and mat board, scrap frames, Plexiglas, wood, dowels, cloth remnants, crepe paper, tissue, polystyrene peanuts, envelopes, PVC pipe, streamers, vinyl letters and material, linoleum, slate, carpet remnants, floral wire, and newsprint.

Others that Provide Free Materials

iLoveSchools, which is located at, offers a free donor-matching service for teachers who create Wish Lists of their classroom needs such as equipment, materials, and supplies. Then they're matched with people who donate the items.

In addition to links to resources in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, England, Costa Rica, India, and Italy, the Materials Exchange at has state by state listings and links to operations that offer industrial process wastes, by-products, and surpluses.

Visit The Freecycle Network at This online resource encourages reuse, and it's made up of millions of members who post items that are available for free in their respective towns and cities. [Editor's note: you may also join and post requests for free materials. Nothing may be bought or sold through Freecycle.]

ReDO, which is located at, is an international, nonprofit organization that promotes reuse as an economical means for managing surplus and discarded materials.

I have hundreds of photos of projects available at my web site

In recognition of the 50th anniversary of Hawaii's statehood, we're creating a special unit of study that will feature art, music, science, geography, and history. We'll include teachers' contributions about Hawaii theme ideas. Tell us what you've done in the past or what you plan to do to teach your students about our 50th state. We'll post some of the ideas in the Hawaii unit that will appear in The Imagination Factory's Member Links.

Teachers and anyone else who contributes will receive credit for their ideas. No payment will be made, but all contributors will be eligible to win a free Discover Hawaii board game. The winner will be determined by a drawing to be held this spring. The game features color photos of some of the most visited points of interest throughout the Islands, and students learn about the geography, history, and Hawaiian language as they play. The deadline for contributing material is March 7, 2009. Please send your ideas to

Design a Miniature Float is one of the art projects that will be published in the Hawaii unit. Created from a shoe box, the float can be pulled in a parade celebrating Hawaii's statehood.

©2009 Marilyn J. Brackney

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About Marilyn J. Brackney...

A professional artist and educator, Marilyn Brackney has worked with thousands of children during her career teaching art in the public schools and in her studio. She hosts The Imagination Factory, an award winning Web site that shows visitors how to create art and crafts from items most people throw away.

Since its launch in 1996, millions of people have visited The Imagination Factory looking for inexpensive art ideas or ways to teach kids how to reduce, reuse, and recycle, thereby saving energy, natural resources, and landfill space. The Imagination Factory is located at

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