Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Showcasing Student Work

Artist Name: Krystan Iazzetto
School: New Buffalo High School
Winter brings with it many things - snowflakes, hot chocolate, holiday breaks, and of course Art Competitions. It seems that this time of year is when students start to get into the groove of making their best works and teachers are making the tough choices of which pieces best represent their school in annual events like the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards.

If you went to Diane Heath's presentation on Scholastic to AP Portfolio's at this year's MAEA Conference, you would have seen how this teacher uses the opportunities offered through student competition to showcase student work and push students to achieve their highest potential. As a result of participating in programs like the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, her students have high standards and expectations for their work and her program has built a prestigious level of respect.

The Scholastic Art and Writing Awards is only offered for students grades 7-12, but there are many opportunities for students of all levels to be showcased in Michigan and beyond. To help organize these opportunities, I created a LiveBinder of various sites that hold competitions. Some have passed, like Sooper Yooper which corresponds with ArtPrize in the Fall; others are fast approaching, like the Cray-Pas Wonderful Colorful World Contest due December 9th.There are also various events to showcase students that are still yet to come in the Spring, like the Region shows and the Governor's traveling show as well as shows celebrating Youth Arts Month.

If you are interested in showcasing work beyond the walls of your school building, you can also participate in Artsonia, the largest online gallery of student work.This resource allows students to share their work with family and friends, build and maintain an online gallery over the course of their school career, as well as raise funds for the art classroom.

Whether you are a seasoned veteran or have never done anything like this at all, we can all agree that our main concern and focus is offering opportunities for students to shine. What are some of the annual events that you participate in to showcase students?

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Pass it On

As Thanksgiving break comes to a close, it is a good time to reflect on the year so far and the things we are thankful for as a result. As teachers, we get to impact the lives of so many over the course of our careers. With that capacity comes the great responsibility to not only teach our content, but also pass on the power that our content has to bring people together and create positive change for others.

During the holiday season, there is a push for many organizations to come together and reach out to those in need. The Arts offer a great starting place for this. From organizing events like Empty Bowls to raise food and funds for your local food bank or participating in the Memory Project to help lift the spirits of orphans from other countries, the Arts have a great way of reaching out to others through service. When we make the choice to do this, we not only do we teach our students about the power of giving to others in need through events like the ones featured in this LiveBinder, but we also show the power the Arts have in bringing awareness to issues and focusing on solutions.

Service-learning projects give students evidence they can do something about things that concern them. By incorporating this type of activity in our curriculum, we empower students with the voice that goes beyond the frame of a piece of art, showing the real-world implications of what they are doing.

Here are a few ways others have incorporates service-learning activities into the classroom:

  • Carrie Jeruzal of Pentwater used the Empty Bowls concept for a CommuniTEA event to raise funds for a local charity. Instead of soup, the event focused on the Japanese tea ceremony and students created ceramic tea bowls to sell. 
  • Susan Chapman of Seaholm High School used the Memory Project in her classroom to connect her students with orphans through art.
  • The Illinois Art Education Association members created "Art to Go" packets for local Children's Hospitals. This allowed sick children to make art while away from school.
  • Byron Center West Middle School students created winter and holiday themed artwork for local senior-citizen assisted living center to be used as decoration for the residents.
If there is a community or service-learning project that you have had success with, please share your results. Imagine the possibilities that can result from the small gestures of kindness fostered through the opportunities while participating in the Arts. This addition to curriculum can enhance any program and create a shared sense of community within your classroom.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

In Gratitude: Who Are You Thankful For?

One of my favorite moments at the 2011 MAEA Conference was the Awards Ceremony acceptance speech given by Barbara Rensenhouse. Barbara received the MAEA Distinguished Service Award. She has been a mentor for innumerable art teachers over her many years at Western Michigan University. Retired in 1991, she is well up in age but her words were sharp and on the mark as she urged us to affirm others for their work in the field. As we were honoring her, she was urging us to honor others.

This week I came across an article in the September issue of Art Education (the NAEA Journal) by Elizabeth Delacruz. She too, was giving an acceptance speech for an award, receiving the 2011 Ziegfeld award. In this speech, she lays out four frameworks to guide our thinking as art educators. What resonated with me was her idea that we should “take on an entrepreneurial disposition, referring to both an outlook and a cluster of behaviors. This ability:
    • to understand particular needs in particular contexts
    • to discern meaningful patterns
    • to think big
    • to innovate
    • to envision something new and useful
    • to conceptualize, design, and carry forward concrete plans of action with specific intended outcomes.
These are the skills and dispositions we hope to foster in our students.” These are 21st Century Skills.

Also recognized at the 2011 Conference was Kim Cairy, outgoing MAEA president, who was honored as the MAEA Middle Level and overall Art Educator of the Year. In her tenure as President, Kim embodied these dispositions. She is an exceptional leader. I have been so impressed with her. She is a parent, a teacher and a leader. She moves easily from one role to the other. When she first came into office I still remember receiving a card that she had hand-made urging us to think outside of the box. She is a big thinker and an innovator, yet humble and personally attentive to others’ needs. Thank you, Kim, for giving so much of yourself to the organization.

Who has influenced you in your art teaching and thinking? A mentor teacher or college professor? Someone you’ve never met but whose books or blogs you avidly read? Who do you want to thank?

During this season of Thanksgiving, please take the time to comment below and honor those who have helped shape you as an artist/educator, thanking them for their influence and help.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

2011 MAEA Conference Recap and Reflection

It has been a few days since the 2011 MAEA Conference has ended and I, like many others, still have loads of papers, products, and ideas to sort out as a result.

It was an exciting time to meet teachers, artists, and share ideas to help better serve the students of Michigan. As a result of this multiple day endeavor, I was able to meet new people and learn all kinds of tips and techniques that will help enhance the way I deliver instruction to my students.

One topic that has come up in our facebook group as a result of the conference is the cost. In times where many districts are downsizing budgets, it can be very difficult to find funding to allow for experiences like this to occur. The reason I was able to attend this year was through the MEEMIC professional development grant. I was thrilled to use that grant to attend this conference and also present on various grant opportunities available to help bring additional experiences to our students.

Some of the noteworthy workshops include the following: 
  • Presentation by Professor Guey-Meei Yang about the work being done at Eastern Michigan University with their Art History and Art Education Departments collaborating effort resulting in a Wiki we can all contribute to and use
  • Book-sigining and workshop led by James Warhola about his children's book "Uncle Andy's Cats"
  • Performance by book Artist Susan Share
  • Presentation by Kristyn DeMint about how to use Skype to interview artists in the classroom like she did with James Rizzi
  • Collaborative lesson plan share by CSI (College of Secondary Instructors) whose ideas can be seen on our Flickr page.You can also join and upload your pics to the group.
  • Technology integration ideas presented by Molly Marshall
  • 10 contemporary artists you should know, presented by  Roy Reynolds
  • Receptions showcasing the Art Education programs at Western Michigan University and Kendall College of Art and Design
  • Great keynote presentations about Innovation by Mike Schmidt (showing the connection between strong Arts education and innovation in the private sector) and Creativity by Marvin Bartel
  • Great Hands-on learning experiences from the vendors at the conference and artists at the Park Trades Center
  • Conversations with Visual Art Teachers from across the state to discuss important topics like assessment, featured in the blog post by Claudia Burns
If you were unable to attend this year's conference, I hope you can make it to the 2012 conference in Traverse City, October 25-28th. If the issue is cost, you can try to advocate for yourself by sharing the resources in this post with your district administrators as the example of the types of learning experiences and reason for them to help provide this professional development opportunity. You can also find grants to help pay for the experience or you can also keep updated on current topics and resources by following this blog or the facebook group. If you have a resource that you presented or saw and would like to share the link or concept, please comment below.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Swimming Upstream

We're back from the Conference! So many ideas and images are swirling around in my head. The sounds and sights and wonderful experiences of the weekend energize and sustain us through the winter. I can't wait to try out the new bookmaking techniques I learned and experiment with some watercolors and life drawing with my alternative-ed high school students.

But what I'm really eager to try out are some of the new assessment strategies I've been reading about. Really?

I know, it's not media, it's kinda left-brained, it doesn't seem very "arty." But we can use quality assessment to improve instruction and empower students. And, learning how to assess students very well might save your job.

The number of stories I heard this weekend about teacher evaluation, assessment, about "My district is expecting this..." was surprising. But the work has begun and it looks like Walled Lake and Ann Arbor are leading the way. In their workshops Walled Lake and Ann Arbor teachers (and one administrator) described the innovative curriculum that they have been developing over the last few years.

What are you doing in your district? Have your administrators challenged you to validate your art program? How do you use assessment? This is a challenging area for some of us; let's help one another out. Let's swim upstream together.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Transforming Traditional Teaching

With just a few days before the annual MAEA conference, many Visual Arts teachers from around Michigan are beginning to pack their bags and check off their lists full of to-do's before heading to Kalamazoo. Conferences like this are happening all over the country as a precursor to the National Art Education Association Conference in NYC his March.

Conferences give teachers the tools necessary to hone their craft and learn from other experts in their field. It is a time for collaborating, connecting, and creating new techniques and traditions that are then brought into the classroom, transforming the educational experiences provided to students.

As discussed in the previous post, if you are unable to attend this weekend's conference, the type of take-a-ways offered through the interactions offered at conferences can be sought elsewhere. We are lucky to live in a time where we can instantly connect with others to share information that directly impacts educational practice resulting in the improvement in our teaching craft and student achievement.

Something to consider as you get ready for this year's conference --  how has your teaching been transformed as a result of the interaction with colleagues and/or peers? What projects, materials, or ideas have you borrowed and reworked to give your students a new take on an old concept?

One teacher who is keen on transforming traditional teaching methods in the Visual Arts classroom is Ian Sands. This High School Art teacher from North Carolina uses his classroom as a lab for students to experiment, question, and rework what art is and how to make it. The title of his classroom blog, "Beyond the Pencil" is a challenge to students to think beyond the obvious and push themselves to use new ideas and items to explore traditional Visual Arts concepts.

Whether you are able to attend this year's conferences or not, it is a great time to rethink your practices in the classroom and transform a traditional lesson into something that pushes past the ordinary. To help get some ideas, here is the Prezi Ian has made public from his presentation at this year's Art Education Association Conference in North Carolina - thanks Ian, for sharing!