Monday, May 5, 2014

The Open Art Room - Creating Structure as a Team

During my first semester this year, I had a student ask to meet with me one-on-one in our synchronous classroom software, WebEx. Often when I am trying to help students get caught up with their work, we meet and discuss which assignments to focus on and I can show them examples of the projects and answer any questions. I also showed this student demonstrations using my document camera. He really found our meeting helpful and we continued to meet like this once a week until the semester ended. He told me that working with a teacher like this made him feel more like he was in a classroom, like he was not working alone.
This got me thinking, how can I regularly create this environment for students? After speaking with some of my colleagues, "Open Art" was born. Open Art is offered to students once a week. The session is run by myself and 3 other teachers and it is open to students in any of our sections. During the session, we walk students through each step of the weekly project, demonstrate over the webcam, and answer questions as students work individually. We allow students to work at their own pace by letting them roam freely through the slides after we have reviewed them. At the end of the session students will have their project done or developed enough to finish on their own.
Here is a sample presentation from one of our sessions:

We have seen consistent attendance at these sessions and find that students appreciate the extra structure that Open Art offers them. Students know that they can plan to do their art homework during the session and can have someone there to guide them through it. Also during these sessions, our special education teacher is able to open breakout rooms to work with students one-on-one. It has been wonderful to collaborate with other teachers on my team to make sure these sessions run smoothly. I will definitely be implementing Open Art again next year!

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