Friday, March 23, 2012

Pre-Made Curriculum

Today one of my colleagues directed my to a pre-made online art curriculum. During our visit to the NAEA national convention we visited a room full of samples of products that we could use in our art classrooms. Not having a traditional art classroom, most of the products could not be applied to my classroom in particular but my colleague stumbled-upon something that could. Studio Space by McGraw-Hill is “a unique, fully digital art program for secondary educators”(quoted from their facebook page). I explored it today to find useful lessons, fun studio projects, and excellent resources all presented in a beautiful way. I am not “plugging” this product, however I find it extremely interesting that it exists. I often feel alone as an online art educator but the fact that such a product exists means that K-12 online art education is alive and well. The way that information is presented in the Studio Space is beautiful and makes me want to do a bit of an overhaul for my classroom pages.
You can learn more about Studio Space here:

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Writing New Curriculum for Art 5

Snapshot of the current Art 5 classroom
 Throughout the year I have learned many techniques that work well for teaching art online in my Art 1 class. I have been offered the opportunity to teach Art 5 next year and I want to put my learning to use when creating this class. There is an old Art 5 curriculum in place but it has not been used for a number of years and I would like to put some of my ideas to use. Art 1 is a very large class with around 200 students, which makes some ideas I’ve had more difficult to put into action. The purpose of the Art 5 class will be for students to prepare portfolios for art schools so that will be my end goal for students. Knowing this, I will focus on portfolio development and artist statements as an advanced art class in a brick and mortar school would as well. I have been brainstorming ideas specific to teaching an advanced art class online that will help my students get a rich experience and come out with beautiful portfolios.
An issue I have always run into in Art 1 is the limited supplies. Because Art 1 is an introductory class and many students need to take it, the supply list is rather basic. For Art 5 I plan to let students decide the media they want to work with in their assignments. I will include a manual of basic instructions for many art materials so students can get ideas and decide what they can afford and would like to work with. This will allow students to experiment with new media or work with something they are comfortable with so their portfolio really shows who they are as an artist.
My assignments in Art 1 are very structured, however I want to try more broad assignments with my Art 5 students. Students will have at least two pieces they need to plan, design, and create. They will fill out a planning sheet that describes their concept, what supplies they need, and a time line for their creation. Teaching online as I have said before, does not allow me to see the whole process of a student’s art making. In Art 5 I want to work towards more in progress critiques as a class in WebEx, but also between teach and student. I will require students to turn in sketches and partially completed pieces for feedback so they may improve the work before it is done. Though I might allow up to four weeks for a student to finish a piece I will require them to show me something each week.  
I have created a rich community of students in my Art 1 class through live sessions and a discussion board in the classroom. Students post artwork they like and that they have created in and outside of class for their classmates to see. Since the beginning of the semester the “Share Your Art” discussion board has been viewed more than 600 times! I plan to continue this idea in Art 5 as a place for students to share ideas with their classmates when a live session is not going on. I hope to create a community between these students in the small group class that it will be. I also believe that using the discussion board as well as WebEx sessions to share their work will motivate students and hold them accountable for completing work on time.
I am excited to put everything I’ve learned into a new course and I cannot wait to see how it turns out.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Extracurricular Activities Online: Art Club

The welcome page for Art Club
This being my first year teaching, I wanted to get involved in anything and everything at my school so I volunteered to be one of the three Art Club advisors. This is the second year that Art Club has been around at my school. It began last year as a social extracurricular option for high school students. Each month, students come together in WebEx and lead discussions about their favorite artists and their own artwork. Because this is an optional activity, it is not graded and is just for fun! Our Art Club members have the opportunity to participate in the many art contests we hold throughout the year even if they are not enrolled in an art class. The big contest we are working on right now it the senior t-shirt design contest where students submit designs for a t-shirt that 2012 graduates will receive. Students in Art Club are also invited to attend any art field trips to local art museums throughout the year where they can meet other students interested in art and friends they’re made in art club. Last week during our March meeting we shared pictures from our recent trip to New York and students shared their artwork. Our Art Club members are working on a collaborative doodle project where they create doodle drawings on small pieces of paper that has been mailed to them and later my colleagues and myself will combine them into a large collage. We will be completing the project at a family night where students are invited to attend and help with its construction. Art Club is a great opportunity for students to feel involved in their school community.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

An Experience Like No Other

Today, three art teachers from my school and I presented at the National Art Education Association Conference in New York City. We presented on the topic "Teaching Art Online: How Does that Work?"
Prior to the beginning of our presentation I was nervous. About to deliver my first ever presentation at a national conference, I was worried about how many people would come or what questions they might ask. Would they find our presentation helpful? I was worried about many scenarios but I was completely surprised by the one that actually occurred.
By the time I looked up from reviewing my notes prior to beginning our session, I saw that the room was almost full. Many people continued to enter as well throughout the presentation and by the end, we ran out of chairs. I was confident that I and my colleagues had put together a presentation that was both visually interesting and dense with information. I had no idea there would be so many interested in what we had to say. Delivering our presentation went smoothly with few questions are we spoke, mostly technology questions that we could answer quickly. The real magic occurred after we concluded our PowerPoint slides. Many people asked us questions about how we connect and relate to our students. People told us they are trying to teach online or they do teach online and they looked to us to learn how they might improve. One girl approached me because she is also researching the question, “Can we teach art online?” and she wants to interview me for her research. I hope this experience leads to more of these types of connections. I feel we presented a vibrant picture of what we do and that not only can art be taught online but it can be taught well. Never have I felt so much like I am not alone or that everyone feels art education online is somehow less relevant to the field. Our audience was excited, interested, and intrigued. Several of my professors from undergraduate school were present to support me and learn what I do and seeing familiar faces in the audience made me so proud of myself to be teaching other art educators in this forum.
I have never thought of myself as a researcher or an expert in anything but now, more than ever, I feel that teaching others about this amazing phenomenon of online learning is exactly where I need to be. I am becoming a resource for those learning about this field and I am already sharing my experiences now. I feel like a valuable part of this profession and I will definitely continue to teach others about the unique experience of teaching art online.