Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Course Creation and Project Based Learning

This summer has felt like a blur! I'm sure I'm not the only teacher who is feeling that this year. I was up to something really exciting this summer though. I spent the summer writing a brand new course: Graphic Design! I've written and edited courses before on painting and drawing several times, both for summer school and semester schedules. This project however was much larger due to it being newer subject matter for me and I was writing it from scratch. I was also given free reign on what technology pieces I would like to teach in the course, including the entire Adobe Creative Suite, so I was feeling both incredibly lucky and overwhelmed with choice.

I started with a mind map of what exactly I could cover in a course that would be the only level of graphic design we are currently offering at my school. I found a wealth of resources online and also consulted the library (where I checked out so many books I could barely carry them out). Once I had a plan, looked at the Ohio Visual Arts Standards and started thinking about assessments.

For this course, authentic assessment and project based learning were goals of mine because of the career-based subject matter of the course. So, I created a graphic design “company” and framed the course around my students being a team of designers working for our clients and myself as the team leader.

The beginning of any online or traditional course can benefit from a “Getting to Know You” activity of some sort. This course is a bit special because I started students with a job application for the design company.

Each assignment in the course describes a story of the client who has approached the company and what they need from the team of designers. I'm excited to see how students respond to this ongoing theme of on the job training and real world situations. More to come! 

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Collaborative Class Project in Art Club Online

For years I have dreamed of creating a mural or other large artwork with my students. Logistically this can be a bit of a challenge with my students being scattered all over Ohio without the ability to converge in one location very often outside of graduation and perhaps prom. So this year I set out to make my dreams come true with a collaborative project for my Art Club students.

First came first, choosing a theme. For this one I was inspired by "The Eye Project" (above, more photos here). I liked this project because it shows the diversity of students but also ties them all together into one composition. Myself and the other Art Club facilitators held a meeting with students to discuss how eyes express ideas and emotions within artwork. We provided tutorials for creating eyes and encouraged students to think beyond a typical realistic eye if they wished.

Second, I had students sign up so I could mail them the materials they needed for the project-in this case that included a letter of directions and a rectangular piece of watercolor paper. The students chose what media to work with for the project, created their compositions, and mailed them back to me. Then, I had a blast putting it all together. See below!

The final product!

Friday, May 6, 2016

Art Day: Intervention and Supplemental Opportunities

Last year, I had a crazy idea to meet one of my failing seniors in the library and work with him to complete the art projects he needed to pass and graduate. It worked! He successfully completed art right in front of my eyes. At that point I thought it would be great to offer this opportunity to more students. Lots of organizing and paperwork later, Art Day was born!

Yesterday, myself and 3 other teachers on my team, met at our school headquarters to facilitate a day of making art with failing students, many of them seniors. We each invited our struggling students and set up a room with 5 different stations for various projects in Art 1. We provided lunch, materials, and instruction. The result was awesome! The students really enjoyed working side by side and creating artwork. They are also now all passing and I am hoping Art Day will give them the confidence to continue working on their own.

On Art Day, we also had the opportunity to invite our advanced students to paint ceiling tiles for our headquarters building. Selected students from all levels of art were invited to paint the tiles and I am so impressed with their work! It was a really great day and fun to get both groups together for a day of artmaking.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Aiming for Higher Achievement

Over the past 5 years, I have written about my passing rate, reluctant learners, and working to increase the number of students successfully passing my Art 1 class to earn their fine art credit. But this year, I have grown tired of pulling teeth for my students to achieve the minimum. I am tired of begging for students to do work when I really want them to learn more than the minimum, try more than the minimum, and achieve more than the minimum. So, I wrote a goal on my whiteboard that hangs in my office this year, "Aim for A's, not just passing."
Until this semester, I believe I have been aiming too low at times for my students. So, this semester I have been working through some new strategies to increased achievement, rather than simply pass rate. And, it is working!
Here is what I have been trying:
Page 1 of the catch-up packet

  • Emailing all students who are missing assignments from the previous week every Monday morning with helpful strategies and scaffolding worksheets when applicable
  • Increasing my phone calls by an average of 20 more reaching out calls per week, encouraging students to complete their work and addressing any questions
  • Freeing myself of the "passing packet" and replacing it with a catch-up packet (click here to download) which includes more weeks of art projects, better directions, and is marketed towards improving a student's grade with no promises of receiving a passing grade.
Surprisingly, students seem to gravitate towards the catch-up packet far more than they ever did the passing packet, and it doubles as an intervention tool for students with an IEP or who simply prefer to work in a worksheet-style method. It works well as a way to help students who were added late to the course get caught up as well. 
We are only halfway through the semester and already I am seeing an overall 10% shift to higher achievement (letter grades) than at this time last semester! 
With 2% more A's and 8% more C's (and 8% less D's) I am over the moon. Go students go!

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Process and Progress Checks

I think one of the biggest challenges I have teaching art online is helping students mid-project as I would if I were walking around a brick and mortar classroom. Of my two courses, Art 1 is the most fast-paced, and I am able to see a student's growth and process as they progress from project to project as well as through practice sketches and one-on-one sessions. However, I rarely see an "unfinished" project before I see the final one. This is because students are generally completing one project per week and students often do not choose to show me what they are working on in this condensed time frame. Art 5 is much slower paced with artwork being created over many weeks as they are higher level, more independent, and aimed at portfolio development. Thus, this course became my guinea-pig for developing ways in which to see a student's artistic process.
This year I have instituted progress checks for Art 5 students where they check in several times throughout the process of creating a piece of art. It is important in an online environment when working with students individually, to plan out structured checkpoints and have clear expectations. Each project begins with a brainstorming sheet such as the one below.
Following the brainstorming sheet, students have a progress check dropbox where they submit their project at least once before the final project. Though I only require them to show me one time, my students have all chosen to show me their work multiple times for each project. These progress checks give me an opportunity to give each student detailed feedback through screencast-o-matic and dialog about their artwork on the phone or via email. Below are a couple examples of progress checks and final work.
The conclusion of this process is reflecting upon the piece and self-assessment. In Art 5, students are encouraged to grade their own work in order to develop their skills of selecting work for a portfolio. They are also asked to answer reflective questions which differ based on the goal of the project. An example of one is below.

Adding progress checks to my Art 5 class has been very successful so far and I am receiving higher quality work from my students and having more conversations about their goals for each piece and how they are effectively communicating their ideas. How do you encourage process-oriented thinking in your classroom?

Friday, February 26, 2016

Dressing Up Engagement Strategies

As I mentioned in my September blog post, I have been working on making tip videos in my classroom which highlight tricky concepts for students and seek to correct misconceptions before they happen. I have been successful with these videos and noticed an increase in the quality of student work that I have been receiving since I made them. However, I noticed that some students were still not watching the videos (Screencast-o-matic lets me check my view count for each video). I did notice that I had a higher view count than any other week during the week that I dressed up for Halloween. This got me thinking, perhaps students would be more likely to watch a video if I dressed in something silly or unusual. Students are able to see a thumbnail of the video when I embed it into my announcements. Cassie Stephens, a fellow Art Ed blogger is the queen of dressing up for the art classroom. I am not quite to the point of making my own outfits, but here are some of my silly video outfits:

This seems to be entertaining students as much as it is entertaining me. My view counts have almost doubled since I switched to costumes!

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Tablets as an Option for Art Making

I am getting very excited about next semester starting next week and I am preparing my semester 2 classroom with new technology on my mind! Big surprise right? I have been working with my team this semester to create tablet options for all of my Art 1 projects. Previously, all projects were required to be done on paper through traditional techniques. However, I have found that students really enjoy the option of creating a different way and it also benefits students who do not have art supplies or are having problems with their scanner. Also, having a digital option prepares them for all kinds of careers and it helps meet UDL guidelines. So, I have finally done it!
Each lesson in Art 1 offers two options for the assigned projects: a traditional option and a tablet option. All of my students have Android tablets to work on and all the apps I use in my class are free. Some of my projects offer a similar option for the tablet option as the traditional. For example, students may paint traditionally for their Impressionist Landscape, or they may use a painting app such as Sketch Guru.
Traditional watercolor
Using Sketch Guru
Other assignments have a different way for students to show their understanding of a given concept. For example, for my proportion lesson involving foreground, middle, and background students are able to draw the interior space of a room with pencil, or they can create a digital collage using PicCollage. Both assignments accomplish the creation of a piece that shows depth and understanding of proportions but some students might prefer one over the other. 
Traditional drawing

Using PicCollage to manipulate images
Some of these apps add additional materials for students to use that they would not have access to at home easily such as the texture tablet option. Students are learning about visual and tactile texture and then asked to either create a drawing showing 4 textures or create a sculpture showing 4 textures in TrueSculpt
Traditional drawing
Using TrueSculpt
I thoroughly believe in teaching traditional art skills and would never want to move towards 100% digital in my classroom but I think options are important. I am excited for students to have the opportunity to experience more diverse materials in their art making and get a taste of digital art if they choose. Stay tuned! 
Shameless plug: I'll be giving a presentation at NAEA this year on Saturday at 2pm all about using free Android apps in your art classroom!