Thursday, September 20, 2012

(Re)Learning to Blog

This school year I have joined a community of blogging online educators ( I am so excited to be a part of a community of teachers who work in an environment similar to my own. This community has provided me with prompts for blog posts to help us learn together. The first prompt is sharing my blog’s purpose. It has been almost a full year since I began blogging here and at the beginning, my purpose was clear. I set out to inform anyone who was interested about what it is like to teach art online. At this point most of my audience was family and friends, many of them teachers, interested in education, or just interested in how on earth I could teach art online. I was writing to start conversations involving the questions people had about online education. I had the traditional educational experience in which I never attended an online school or took an online course and I had plenty of questions about online education before I became an online educator (and of course I still have questions!). Now it is my second year as an online educator and as a blogger and I am re-evaluating the purpose of my blog. I feel I have written about many of the questions people had and as my audience expands my ideas about what to write are changing. I still feel it is valuable to inform readers of the things I am still learning every day and how my online classroom works but I also hope to be a resource to the teachers in the online education community. I hope we can be resources to each other and learn together.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Building Learning

The dust is beginning to settle this week as we recover from some technical difficulties with our LMS (learning management system) last week. I am starting to get back into the groove of the school year contacting and welcoming new students and grading their first assignments. This week, students are working on using proportions to create a sense of space in their drawings. Like many Art 1 classes, mine focuses on foundational skills, at least at the beginning. Later, students will learn about linear perspective, which shows them how the foreground, middle, and background connect with this mathematical concept. An important element of any lesson in my online classroom is that is builds upon student learning and provides a foundation for future learning. When the connections are there, students retain more, and I can really tell when students understand the content. For this week’s lesson, students will complete a drawing of an interior room that uses the foreground, middle, and background to create depth and space. Part of their learning takes place by reading the lesson and looking at examples, but I feel the main part of learning takes place when they are asked to demonstrate it. A student might go through the process, “Now I’ve read about it. I know what it looks like. How can I create it? How can I make it my own?” I think that last question is especially important. I encourage my students to make each assignment personal even when the content is technical. In my online classroom I assess in chunks. Each week has a small project for students to complete which helps me witness students building upon their learning as they go. Assigning one project per week keeps students continuously learning and practicing their new skills. Creating is a way of learning that encourages problem solving and I love to see what my students come up with.