Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Google Glass Lessons

I have just ordered Google Glass and I am so excited about using it in my online classroom. Here are some ideas I have come up with so far. Check in to see how they are received by my students!

Virtual Field Trips
I would stream field trips to art museums around the state through Glass. Students would be able to “attend” the field trip by logging into a live session and could ask questions and participate in the field trip while Glass acts as their eyes and ears. Sections of the field trip could also be recorded for watching later in the asynchronous classroom.

Demonstration Videos
I will make a large collection of art demonstration videos to be used in all 4 sections of Art 1. These videos would show students how to use drawing techniques, what to look at when drawing from observation, and how to set up a still life scene. I would like to have one of these videos in each week of our semester course that students could access any time in the asynchronous classroom.

Interviews and Artist Studios
I would visit local artists in their studios to discuss what it is like to be an artist and I could use Glass to show students the artist’s work. Students would get a taste of a “day in the life” of an artist.

Perspective and Proportion
I would use Glass to teach students the difficult concepts of perspective and proportion. By students being able to view the world from my eye level, I can show them how objects get larger as you approach them and the objects in the background are smaller and how to capture that concept on paper. When I teach student about linear perspective they can view buildings through my eyes and see what a vanishing point looks like if they were to stand right in front of it. Many concepts in Art 1 involve students looking at the world in a different way. These lessons could help give students a more authentic experience that will help them understand the content better.

Stay tuned for more!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

What We've Accomplished

I love graduation day. We as teachers get the distinct pleasure of seeing our hard work come to fruition once a year in a beautiful celebration. Today is a day I'm proud of my school and my students. Again we graduate the largest single high school class in the nation. Watching a video of our highlighted students: a professional musician, a race car driver, and an anchor for our weekly news show who is graduating at only 16 years old, I am reminded that online education allows these students unique opportunities to achieve their dreams NOW. But it's not just the "celebrity" students this type of program helps. Thousands of other amazing students received their diplomas today. Many graduated early or with honors. Today is a day I feel honored to have the pleasure of meeting and congratulating these incredible students in person. Congratulations Class of 2013!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Motivation Frustration

It is the last week of school this week and I am finding myself wishing I was a motivation super hero for my students. With a current pass rate for the semester of 58%, I am scrambling to motivate 42% of my learners to pass my class. In online learning, student motivation is the biggest challenge I face. If a student fails my art course, it is solely because they have not completed enough assignments to pass the course. It is easy to get sucked into my own frustration this week rather than continue to do everything I can to let them know it is not too late and I have not given up on them.

Here are the methods I am focusing on this week:
  • Passing instructions: I started my mission to save my failing students with an email that listed all the assignments they could choose from and how many they need to do in order to pass my class. Sometimes it is a little disappointing to know students want to do the bare minimum to earn their credit, but as teachers we all know this is true sometimes and it is easier to motivate a student when they feel the goal is within their reach.
  • Phone calls: Reaching out to students over the phone is sometimes the make it or break it in their motivation. It's easy to forget they are more than just a overlooked name in my classroom if I do not reach out to them. As I have spoken with my students who are failing this week, many of them have been thankful for my call and already working on the assignments they need to submit. 
  • Personal emails: Not all of my students answer me when I call, and sometimes their numbers do not work. At this point I turn to emails, but they still need to be personal. Now, instead of many options for passing I have moved to specific assignments for each student to complete that will push them to a passing grade. I look at the number of assignments they need, pick the ones I want them to do, and send out the message with a read receipt. I have found that for some students, a specific list is more motivational than many options. To remind students that these emails are personal I put in the subject line "Passing instructions for (student name)" or if they are only one assignment away from passing it will say "(student name) you are ONE assignment from passing". 
  • Offering extensions when possible: Deadlines are important as they give procrastinating students a reminder that they really need to get it done. However, when possible, offering extra time gives students the extra push they need to know that you care about their success enough to grant extra time. I never offer this extra time until the very end so as to not promote more procrastination.
In addition to these end of school year efforts, I send out midterm and final grades through the mail, contact legal guardians and students regularly, and send out weekly emails of tasks to complete. It often feels like we are fighting an uphill battle as online educators but each time I see a student work hard and earn a passing grade (even at the very end), I am reminded that my efforts have all been worth it.