The coronavirus and COVID-19 have changed how education looks globally. I won't take up your time detailing what you already know about this world-wide switch to distance learning (within school communities that are blessed enough to have resources to carry on online.)
Teaching elementary students online has many age-specific challenges. Our school's homeroom teachers have been working specifically to build tech-habits; trying to keep the format the same, using the same platforms, and even clicking the same pattern of links.
For art, like all other specialist classes, I've planned a lesson a week for the students to access on their own time. I record a video of myself to introduce the lesson and then add as many resources as possible to cater to as many learning styles as possible. My school has gone with Google Slides so we can imbed videos directly into the presentation to help keep students off of youtube as much as possible. So I introduce the video, have a simple title/objective, list out materials needed, and then given clear and simple step by step directions. I try to have a PDF of the steps as well as a few videos (tutorials and time lapses - ones made by other art teachers or students are best!)
My school uses Seesaw as a platform so students can upload their work, presenting it with anything from a simple caption to a video. Their family members and peers can see their work, like it, and/or comment on it. I have the chance to give them feedback and imbed tiny bits of art vocabulary in my voice memos full of encouragement and constructive compliments!
We've been given the word that schools will remain closed for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year, so it will be interesting to see what changes come and how my school handles reporting!
I know I keep most of my art activities to my Twitter feed, but this one is too fun not to share here on the blog as well!
As I've written before, I'm deeply grateful to all of the other art teachers out there sharing ideas, inspiration, and resources as we all switch to online teaching. I came across Rowena Meadows' photography thanks to a post on an Art Teacher group on Facebook by Michelle Griffith (thanks!)
Please take a moment to check our Rowena's work here on her Instagram or her website.
I've turned it into a project for my elementary art students thinking that it is something everyone has the materials to complete AND that it is something fun an entire family could get involved in.
My partner and I made an example photo and had a blast putting it together!
So give it a try, give Rowena her credit, and use the hashtag #COVIDCoronaChallenge so we can all share your way of adding color into your quarantine!
Home Learning Program Extra Projects and Resources Shared Google Drive Folder
The above link will take you to a Google Drive Folder I made with the following resources:
I am so grateful for all of the other art teachers who have taken to the internet to share resources. The Facebook Teacher groups, blogs, and other websites have been a gigantic source of information and ideas during this time of quarantine.
I'm uplifted by this showing of the human spirit's generosity, kindness, and care for others.
So I'm passing some along. Enjoy!
I'm so excited to be embarking on my IB Art Teacher training. Our first module of the course has given us a choice of prompts to answer and I wanted to share my thoughts on the following:
To what extent does imagination play a special role in the visual arts?
I remember the first time I saw Van Gogh’s earlier, representational art because it was the moment that -click- I began appreciating different forms of art. Knowing that he could paint “well” but intentionally chose a more directly imaginative way to convey his meaning and sensations was my aha-moment.
In my childhood drawings, the point was always to strive for realism. I liked using reference pictures and was only content with these doodles if they “turned out well.” Perhaps that’s just good artistic ethos, but even to this day, it is the main obstacle in my own artistic process: “but I just can’t make it look the way that I want it to.” And yet the art that draws me in even more than the art that makes me gasp in appreciation of its mastery is the art that communicates ideas in ways I’ve never seen before. I have such a deep appreciation for artists who can overrule cognitive boundaries to allow their imagination to guide their pieces.
Studying Robert Motherwell’s Elegies in a college Art History course grew my first blooms of gratitude for artists who imagined their senses into a visual reality. I believe this form of imaginative synesthesia, if you will, is at the core of meaningful artistic expression.
California-based modern artist Heather Day states that she uses her work to, “study the mechanisms of sensory perception — mining what happens when the body interprets a sound as a texture, or a scent as a color.” This takes great discipline of imagination; fortitude of mental foraging!
John Brosio’s use of childlike images in the backgrounds of some of his paintings creates a juxtaposition that so strikingly conveys his artistic imagination. He states, “The success of a painting in the end has so little to do with subject matter but compels us rather with how well it codifies the way in which things relate to one another in this universe. I think of painting as the pursuit of realizing some degree of surrender to these sensibilities through an orchestration of select relationships.”
It is this great feat of connecting thoughts, experiences, senses and beliefs with visual expression that is imagination’s role in the arts.
I often hesitate to buy new books without friends' recommendations, so this year I relied on Pulitzer Prize writers to overwhelm me with quality narratives. I would love to "talk books" with you, if you enjoy those conversations as much as I do!
In 2018, I specifically sought out writers from other cultures and found that to be rewarding. And in 2017, I gorged on novels as 2015-2016 was all neuropsychology and Oliver Sacks. Here are some of the titles I've enjoyed this year (with my highly recommended reads asterisked):
**David James Duncan's The Brothers K (one of the best books I've ever read.)
**Madeline Miller's Song of Achilles and Circe
**Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale, The Testaments, and The Penelopiad
**Jeffrey Eugenides' Middlesex
Jennifer Egan's The Goon Squad
Jane Smiley's The All-True Travels and Adventures of Lidie Newton and Golden Age (3rd in tril.)
Junot Diaz' This is How You Lose Her
Graham Swift's Last Orders
Haruki Murakami's Norwegian Wood
Jessie Chaffee's Florence in Ecstasy
Viet Thanh Nguyen's The Sympathizer
Anthony Doerr's All the Light We Cannot See
Jhumpa Lahiri's The Namesake and In Other Words (excellent resource for Italian-learners)
Ed Yong I Contain Multitudes (still working on this epic science find)
Slyvia Plath's The Bell Jar
Richard Rohr's Falling Upward
Trevor Noah's Born a Crime (audiobook - highly enjoyed the listen!)
What takeaways did you experience with these books? What other books would you recommend?
I discovered International Dot Day totally by accident. The art teacher before me left some amazing children's books about art and art history. The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds was one of those treasures!
I immediately recognized its value for my teaching and have used the simple, accessible message to start up every year. "Make a dot and see where it takes you" can help build a classroom environment of understanding, awareness, and grit. The character's engagement, perseverance, and eventual gallery directly correlate to the pop up art show we put on to build a sense of both student unity and appreciation for quality work.
We celebrated International Dot Day for the third year in a row at CIS and it just gets better and better. Admin, teachers, and upper school students get involved alongside the elementary. Parents come out to see their child's handiwork. Students peruse their class's art and are often found making encouraging comments to friends (and gasping when they find that their homeroom teacher can pull out quite a drawing too!)
And Dot Day is just one great example of how energy-building a pop up art show can be! The 2nd Graders' Tin Robots graced the hallways last year (and will again this year) as a resounding success. Displaying art can do far more than any amount of discussion in terms of children learning to be confident in their own expressions and proud of their own hard work (or, in some cases, learn that choosing to work hard really does make a difference in the end.)
Our Art Department has joined together in this understanding and is being creative with how to display art in these pop-up shows. Our school's beautiful outdoor planning means that art gets hung on clotheslines tightened between poles and on boards protected from rain under tents. The Music Department has let us borrow their blocks for musicals to prop up for hallway shows and the library often donates a bulletin board to use for a month's gallery too!
How do you display art at your school? How have you found it helpful for student engagement?
"Self-taught" has such a ring to it, don't you think?
Only I hid behind that label in twisted-up-identity for such a long time. If I don't get training, then I can't be expected to be good, was a fearful stance I took for years. Until I decided to make good and literally practice what I preach, well teach. I always fill with passion when educating students about the health of growth mindset and neuroplasticity but also chose to remain stagnant in my own artistic development out of fear of failure.
Finally, I decided to attend a school I had kept in my periphery since hearing about it in 2014: The Florence Academy of Art. And to seek out training in oil painting which is something I'd desired since childhood! Oh, to finally learn the secrets of the masters and create realistic portraits combined with my own personal expression!
Except that there really weren't any secrets. I must admit I was disappointed to realize the same, simple truth I share with my students: it comes down to practice. How much are you willing to persevere and try and try again? How much are you willing to pour yourself into your work and press up against learning when it feels like a wall? How much can you strengthen your will and perspective into focusing on the moments of mastery within the process (and the character-polishing and skill-building process itself)?
Learning feels terrible.
As an adult who has put herself through learning Italian, volleyball, scuba diving, and oil painting all within the last few years, I've become reacquainted with the learning process. And truly, learning feels terrible. It's the bits of mastery that keep you going. As teachers, it is our calling to help students understand and accept this process: it is our responsibility to support and guide them within it. Grit, perspective, goal-making, and engagement are all necessary to learn anything.
How have you found ways to help your students understand and work through the learning process? Do you have books, exercises, or video clips that assist you in scaffolding this work?