I am on a steep learning curve this winter and spring. My student teaching placement in Ceramics is a good thing, as I am not only refining my teaching skills, I am also pretty much learning ceramics again! I took 2 night classes in Ceramics at my local community college about 3 years ago, and although I learned a lot, did not learn how to run a ceramics studio, or fire the kiln.
I found this video that has convinced me that there is more to ceramics than just making some pots...I wanted to share it with you because Mike Dodd's philosophy really resonates with me. So sit down in a comfy chair, grab a cup of coffee in your favorite hand-made mug, and watch Mike Dodd at work.
I have just spent the last hour losing myself in the creative process so beautifully provided by Canva.
I started out playing with colors. I uploaded a photo of one of my paintings and Canva analysed the colors for me, so if I wanted to use the colors in a design, voila! There they are!
Then I tried creating a poster to advertise my artwork (I have a sale coming up in September). It was so easy to create in Canva- it was an easy answer to inDesign, and for the most part, free. There are some graphics and photos that are free, others cost a dollar or so...I ended up uploading a photo of my art work.
Then I started poking around Canva- it even has lesson plan ideas. I really like this one about visual poetry--it's a great starting off point for kids of all ages and skill levels.
I am definitely adding Canva to my bag of teaching tricks. And I have a feeling I will be using it for a lot of different things in the future.
Image below made on canva!!!!
I have noticed that I prefer to take notes with a pen or pencil and paper. I look at my fellow students, some young enough to be my offspring, taking notes on a computer or tablet, and think, "I would never remember a thing afterwards". When I need to memorize or remember something, I write it down. Sometimes over and over. The act of repetitively writing something on paper gives me a visual memory that is easier to recall. But if I take notes on a computer, I have trouble remembering anything from the lecture. I concentrate on typing, not the lecture itself. And then, I will have trouble remembering not only what I typed, but where I put the file. In fact, I have developed a strict system for organizing my computer files, because without it I, and all my files, would literally be lost.
So I think I have a passion for paper. The printed page. The printed word on the page. A real book. This brings me to a side topic- the e-reader. I don't like them because:
1) I have no idea how much more of the book is left to read,
2) If I accidentally drop the reader on my face while falling asleep, it jumps "pages" and makes it impossible to find my last stopping point, and
3) If I can't see the cover or the book, I have no idea who the author is or even what the book is called.
I will admit that on a trip, an e-reader is great to pack. But that is all I will admit.
Now maybe these are my own unique problems, but this article on NPR seems to support my theory that maybe pencil and paper is a good thing. What do you think?
View from the sea, watercolor on arches hot press. 4" x 4", 2017.
I am glad I am not alone in thinking that the art room may be the one place in a school where we can find respite from technology. Where we work with our hands and our imaginations. Where technology, which permeates so much of every classroom, is not welcome, or used more as a living encyclopedia of art and artists and movements. Where the hands, the heart, the mind all join in the creation of something unique and personal for the artist. Where the experience of art making is shared in person, without a screen in between the artist and the teacher.
This blog spoke right to me today, in which Melissa Purtee voices all of my doubts about the value of tech in the art room. It has its plusses...but also its minuses. It helps with assessment, with research, with getting organized...but does it take away too much of the face to face that students need? Too much of the hands on experience that school used to be filled with?
Purtee's article followed on the heels of an article about how technology is taking over the classroom by Natasha Singer, in which she shows how large tech companies are investing millions in school districts, supplying them with technology, changing the way the classroom is structured, all with little oversight or research about how this is affecting students...not to mention how Google is in roughly half of the nation's schools, gaining millions of future customers, and using schools as their testing grounds.
And all this follows a study published by Common Sense Media that shows that more technology use is hurting students' performance, according to teachers. It decreases attention span, does not improve writing skills, hurts their ability to communicate face to face, and does not help their critical thinking. On the positive side, we see that students gain huge benefits from adaptive technology, they can gain a broader understanding of the world, and an increased understanding of how we work together.
Before we throw out the clay and the paintbrushes and hand every child a digital drawing pad and cool new apps for creating art, give them a chance to create with their hands, on paper, on canvas. Give them a chance to get messy, to make mistakes, to paint over, throw out, start over. Let them deal with disappointment, ask for help, brainstorm a new idea, work with a teacher or a partner. Have them experience what art making has involved for millennia...the hands, the eyes, the heart, inspiration, and practice.
Titus albus, watercolor, ink, gold on yupo, 8" x 8", 2016.
This is a lesson plan is based on the startling and beautiful photography of Chris Jordan, a Seattle resident. Often, when students are tasked with making art based on recycling or waste, they end up with a 3D object, which while interesting and valuable as a project, that clutters up their home. I like the idea of keeping a photograph instead of an object, based on my interest in minimalism. So the idea of this project is to find and photograph waste in their home or community, working on the elements of design as they compose their photographs.
Students will address ISTE Standard 3 Knowledge Constructor:
Google Forms is flexible, and free. Love that. It is also easy to change the design, and provides real-time feedback for a teacher from their students, and vice-versa. How powerful a tool it can be to see how your students are doing--formative assessment at its best. It's easy to use, and you can keep track of results.
Here is an art exit slip that I use whenever we have a project that requires a little more skill and thinking.
Brushfire II, oil on canvas, 18 x 24 ", 2017. All rights reserved.
Another List of favorite art links:
Brushfire I, oil on canvas, 10" x20", J de Mello e Souza, all rights reserved.
I am not a "gamer". Not. At. All. The amount of time I have spent playing any kind of video or digital game is probably under 100 hours in my entire life. The amount of time I have spent trying to get my kids off of digital/video games and reading a book may be in the tens of hundreds. I am not comfortable with video games. So it's just my luck that I was asked by my IT teacher to learn to play Minecraft (I kinda liked it, and I understand why people love it) and to explore 2 games on Gamesforchange.org. Much eye rolling and groaning ensued.
Until I read the mission statement of Games for Change:
"Catalyzing Social Impact Through Digital Games"
Ok, that is pretty cool. I sifted through the games until I found some free ones to play. Here are my thoughts:
I played Disaster Detector, and after I got over myself, had a pretty good time. The initial music is a little annoying, but thankfully, it went away at some point. I used the tutorial to get started. There is a lot to learn! Different weather instruments, how they give clues to the weather, and how a city manager prepares for disaster, given the constraint of money and time. This game would be great for elementary/middle schoolers. The challenge level is not very high. I enjoyed trying to figure out which disaster would come next, but I would not say that it is immersive.
Navigation is clear, visuals, including text are clear and easy to understand. Feedback is timely- you know how the city feels about you whenever you take any action. There are about 5 cities to choose from that you can be the city manager. Disasters range from tornados to flooding to earthquakes. I learned how to play the game, and got a refresher on meteorology. I am not sure I will play it again.
My conclusion? We need to raise taxes!!!
The second game I played was called Choosing My Way. After downloading Adobe Air (more eye-rolling), I was ready to go. Choosing My Way offers different choices to the player, as if he or she were a refugee/immigrant/new to this country. It gives different points for the choices you make, and you can get points for doing the right thing in different situations. The resources include expected things like money and time, but also include patience and support from others. I like how this game makes you consider the best steps to take as you adjust to a new country. The player must be able to read some English, but this game can be played by any skill level.
The game is not immersive- you are constantly trying to figure out what you want to do next and calculating how many resources you have versus how many you need. I focused on learning English, and then getting a job. I was not sure I was on the right track, as I only got feedback at the end. Navigation is fairly clear, although the instructions are a YouTube video which I didn't watch. I was able to figure out how to play anyway, so it is not too difficult. Visually, it is a little boring. It uses symbols to represent resources, and plays calming music throughout.
My conclusion? It's good to help middle or high school students realize how difficult it is to arrive here as an immigrant. Or even to prepare themselves for the real world.
Overall conclusion? I'm still not a gamer.
Pierre a dit, watercolor and ink on Yupo, 8" x 11", J de Mello e Souza, all rights reserved.
This interactive color wheel is the answer to all of my dreams....looking for color codes? Looking for triads? Wonder what color you should wear with those orange pants? All those answers and more are here for you to discover...have fun playing!
This color wheel clock hangs in my studio--it's a plain white plastic clock from IKEA that I painted with acrylic paint a few years ago.
How can assistive technologies and universal design for learning be useful in the art classroom?
Here is an overview that I created for a class in IT, with two examples of interesting assistive technology: Eyewriter and Digital Wheelart.
How do you use AT or UDL in the art classroom? I want to know!
Sphere Study, watercolor on paper, 6" x 6", J de Mello e Souza, all rights reserved.
I am an artist and teacher, living in the Pacific Northwest. My teaching is heavily based in Art History and Science. I have a certificate in Scientific Illustration. I love nature, hiking, sailing (as long as I am not in charge), my family, and my border collie.