Category Archives: Technology

Artists Abstract/Don’t Represent

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Normally I teach both abstract and non-objective art in a full-on unit.  This year I decided to revise that.  While I think the information included is important, it was information that could be learned in a shorter amount of time…with the right activities and check-ins.  I am lucky as our school is 1:1 and has a set of TVs at the front of the school that we can hook in to.

Day 1: Each class broke into 5 equal groups.  They brought one computer with them and we headed to the front of the school.  Each group hooked into a tv, and they were asked to first define both abstract and non-representational/non-objective.  After that, each group went thru a slideshow and determined if an image was abstract or non-objective, based on what they had discovered in their definition search. At the end of class, we went thru the slideshow as a whole class.

Day 2: We briefly went over the definitions of each style of art.  The students then were to watch 2 videos through playposit.  One video was on Joan Jonas and the other was Soo Sunny Park.  They students had to determine which artist would be considered abstract and which was non-objective.  They also had to say why.  This was really to stress the difference between the two genres and to let them see 2 artists at work.

Day 3:  At the start of class, we had a check for understanding where kids defined each term, said what they had in common and what made them different.  Then it was time for was our image find day.  Each student had to create a document that contained 10 images.  Five of the images had to be abstract.  Five had to be non-objective.  They also had to say why they chose those images–what drew them to those pieces.  I like having them do this because it causes them not to choose the first 5 they find and to really search through a ton of images.  Furthermore, it gives me some behind the scenes info into art they find intriguing.

Days 4-6: These were studio day.  Students chose which type of art they wanted to create, then had 3 days to create that art.  It was awesome.  The first day about 60% of students were working, but by the second day, 95% were working and not rushing thru.  I was very pleased with the conversations and the engagement by my students.

Day 7:  Our final day of the bootcamp was reflection day.  I asked students to fill out a google form.  I asked them again to tell me the differences and similarities between abstract and non-objective.  I asked them what genre their artwork fell into.  Then I asked some opinion questions about the bootcamp and abstract/non-objective work.  With the extra time left that period, kids could finish up anything they hadn’t gotten to over the past 3 studio days.

This was a huge success.  It wasn’t so long that they eventually lost interest. And, it was focused and narrow enough for 95% to understand the two concepts.

A New Approach to the Bootcamp

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Well, it’s a new bootcamp approach for me and my students. Normally when we do bootcamps, there are many demos by me. And, since I don’t want to spend the whole class period doing demos, it ends up being one per day and then work time. So, each approach is learned separately. Granted, this has been okay for our drawing bootcamps and painting bootcamps. Last year I followed this approach for printmaking as well. It was kind of a disaster. Most kids didn’t really learn much, they whipped through each technique, and they wasted a lot of materials. So, this year, I decided we needed to do something different.

My school is 1:1 MacBooks, and it is an expectation that we include a technology component. I thought this would be a great way to meet that expectation and change up the bootcamp. This year, I would expect the onus of learning the techniques on the students. We talked about how this bootcamp would be different and that they were the ones to watch the demo videos for the technique they needed to learn. I would only be doing one demo–inking and pulling prints.

I create a Google Slides with my expectations for the bootcamp and shared it with my students in Google Classroom. At the start of the bootcamp, we went over it. I expected that each student would learn a minimum of one printmaking technique. They students could decide to either work alone or in groups of up to 4 people. Each group had to make 3 copies of an artwork that utilized different printmaking techniques. AND, they couldn’t repeat techniques in their piece. So, for example, a group of 4 had to create an artwork that had 4 different printmaking techniques. If you worked alone, you had to learn 2 techniques.

While I have 2 things I need to revise for next year, and I will get to those in a minute, I think overall this was a success. The majority of the kids watched multiple video demos before making decisions on what they wanted to learn. They communicated with others on the artwork creation and learned from each other when they had questions about techniques. Of course I had those that needed more attention than others, and I had some that needed modified requirements, but that is normal in a TAB classroom where differentiation is a common occurrence.

The biggest thing I have to revise is HOW I deliver the information and expectations to the students. The multiple copies aspect of printmaking was a difficult concept for many. I also want to look at the time line for next year. The students had 8 studio days (48 minute periods) to create and do a google slides for a presentation. I think I need to make it a full 2 weeks (10 days), not including a day for presentations.

I am proud of my students. They worked hard and learned way more than they realize. I plan on trying to incorporate this type of bootcamp into our future bootcamps. I am glad that I put the learning was put on their shoulders because it allowed me more time to observe and interact with my students.

Brainstorming with Padlet

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If you have never tried Padlet before, I suggest you check it out.  I found out about this wonderful free online program this summer.  I have used it twice in my classroom already.  

The first time it was meh.  Not all my students had computers and they had to shout out what they wanted me to add when we had a brainstorming session.  Many voices weren’t heard because, well, you know that student, the shy one that doesn’t speak up and especially not to the whole class.  

Today we used it again in my Art 2 class.  We had our final brainstorming session about Man/Machine and the relationship, meaning, and interactions.  Almost all of the students had computers so they were able to add as we went.  It was a huge success.  It can be anonymous and helps those who don’t know or don’t want to share their physical voices.

And bonus, I can share the link on their Art 2 webpage so they can reference it.

It really pumped me up as we move to the art making stages of this unit.

Bringing in Some Art History and the Digital Age

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A fellow art teacher posted this link to our FB art teacher group.  I thought it was awesome.

Basically, this middle school art teacher in Georgia shows a carefully selected group of artworks to her students and has them add text over the images to create memes.  But, she takes it a step further and then has the students research the original context of the artwork and when they post the meme to their edmoto page, they write about the original context in the comment section.  Then students are asked to comment thoughtfully on 3 of their classmates memes.

I think this idea is great.  And, I am going to incorporate it into my art 1 classes.  I think once every other week, the students will pick from the list of artworks and create the meme.  They will then upload it to their blog and add a description of the original context of the artwork.

It is a great way to tie art history with technology.  And, using the meme makes it relevant to the students and their lives.

Thanks to Artful Artsy Amy for sharing her blog.  I hope you don’t mind me borrowing your fabulous idea.  😉

Monthly Newsletter

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I put together a monthly newsletter that I send out to my parents/guardians, principals, and some colleagues.  You can find links to them on the right column.  I use a program called Smore.  I have a section for each of my classes–art 1, art 2, etc.  I have wanted to keep in touch more with parents about things that go on in the classroom.  I want them to know what their kids are learning in my room–that there is more than just “art” or “fun” happening.  I want them to know I plan carefully and that I have high expectations for my students.  I include pictures and some carefully worded explanations of what is happening.  I have received return emails from some parents complementing me and thanking me for keeping them updated.  I also received a very nice card from the district instructional technology coordinator, the man that introduced me to Smore, about my use of the program and recognizing my effort.

Lately, the newsletter have been a bit more difficult to write.  I have been exploring new things and trying out some things in the classroom as I grow as a teacher.  I believe in being transparent about what I am doing.  But it is scary.  I worry that someone is going to question why I am changing things, question my decisions, not agree with what I am doing, or worse, ask me to stop and go back to what everyone thinks art should be.

I know I shouldn’t worry and I should be confident in what I am teaching my students–I do have their best interest in mind.  I guess only time will tell if my worries are for nothing.

Air Drop

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My student told me about airdrop today.  It is awesome.  It was so easy to transfer the student files onto my computer.  I didn’t have to walk around with my flash drive.  Why didn’t someone teach me this sooner.  I guess this is one good thing about 1:1.