Wednesday, January 22, 2014


I have concluded my semester 1 with my highest ever passing rate as a teacher. 74% of my students passed Art 1! I believe the passing packet and my other efforts to engage students during the last 2 weeks of the semester really made the difference this time.
The method I used:
1. Send out mid-term grades for the 2nd quarter.
2. Send the passing packet to all failing students (see previous entry)
3. 2 weeks from the end of the semester, send each failing student an email with the subject line, "Name, you are X assignments from passing!" outlining some assignment suggestions to get them to a passing grade
4. 2 weeks from the end of the semester, call each failing student to tell them about the email
5. Last week of the semester, call each failing student who has not completed the work assigned in the email and remind them of the amount of time they have left to complete it
6. Provide an extension of the weekend to complete all missing work

With this method I was able to engage my reluctant learners so they could succeed and earn their required fine art credit. I'll continue to use this method next semester and hope for similar results.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Getting Silly and the Passing Packet

As we approach the end of semester 1 for 2013-2014, there has been a big focus in my department around pass rates. This school year is the first time in Ohio that a fine arts credit is required for all students to graduate. As an art teacher, I think this is fantastic news! However, it has been a challenge this year with an increased population of students being placed in my Art 1 class who do not want to be there and also might not know about the new requirement. Engagement is always a challenge in an online environment, especially when students are not interested in the content. I also often find that students have high anxiety about drawing and art in general. There are many ways I work to soften and break down these barriers of learning in my class through video, step-by-step instructions, live lessons, demonstrations, and working with students one-on-one. However, for the students who aren't looking at my lesson pages at all, it is a bit more difficult to help them. Thus, I have begun to get a little more creative with my approach to reach reluctant learners, and even a little silly. 
I have created a document called the "Passing Packet" which is a word document that includes all of the lesson materials and project instructions for all of the projects students are required to do to pass. I have broken it down to make it as simple as possible. Complete the packet, earn your credit. Now, I do not distribute this information to students who are already engaging and being successful. I only give it to students who have not engaged in the content throughout the first 15 weeks of school. It is my hope that I can engage even the most reluctant learners to engage and pass Art 1. I also worked with my co-teacher Dana to create a fun video that helps remind students we have a sense of humor, and even though they might be frustrated, we are here do everything we can to help.