Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Mattawan Tech Camp 2012

Artists Name: Christine M.

School: Northview HS
From Video Game Design, to management tools like Class Dojo, and an endless amount of Free resources for consuming and creating content - the Mattawan Tech Camp offered a little bit of everything for the teacher looking to add digital tools to their curriculum.

The event kicked off with a lively and thought-provoking Keynote from Rushton Hurley, whose presentation title included the words "Kicking Posterior." As an advocate for the power of digital tools in the classroom, Rushton shared his passion with the crowd and offered the impact we can have in our classroom if we allow students the chance to create and share content through the video production. 

He continued this discussion in his sessions by offering us a load of free resources as well as things to think about. One thing I learned involved the search function in Google. Maybe you already knew this, but I hadn't ever seen the advanced search option in Google - did you know you can search for specific file types? He had us search for PowerPoint presentations using this method. If we can do this, so can our students. This got a lot of us re-thinking the presentation tool and how we can use it as a way for students to see what other students have created and synthesize it into something of their own, like a video or even use what they find to write a critique or summary of the presentations.

 I also appreciated the resources page filled with tools that I was seeing for the first time. One such tool is called Psykopaint. In this cloud-based program, you can upload pictures and then select artist styles ranging from Seurat to Van Gogh (and more) to paint your picture. You really have to check it out to see what I mean.

I had the opportunity to present at this conference, too. I discussed how I have used Video Game Design in the classroom. Sometimes as an Art teacher, I get a little narrow in my definition in what I should be teaching; Art History, drawing, painting, sculpture, and ceramics are key, but I have opened up to the idea that animation, video, digital arts, and video game design are also important aspects in Visual Arts education. You can check out the Video Game Design page I created for the conference filled with links to important sites about how this skill can effect student achievement as well as how students can make them and various competitions students can enter. The Scholastic Art and Writing Awards will begin to accept games starting in September, so consider this as you start planning your curriculum. And if you don't know how to program or design a game, it is okay - you can still create a space that facilitates that learning for your students. I know that is the case in my classroom, at least.

Have you learned something at a Edu Camp this summer? Please share any new skills, tips or tricks below.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Gearing up for Another Year

Artists Name: Samantha V.

School: Lakeview HS
In about a month, our classrooms will be filled with kids ready to dive into projects and materials. If you are anything like me, then you have been thinking about that for quite a bit of the summer and maybe have already had a few of those pre-school nightmares (you know the one where you end up with a class full of students revolting against your lesson or you run out of a needed material and no back-up plan).

Here are a few things that ease my stress when thinking about the new year:

1. Seating Charts - It is a simple thing that always does the trick for me when it comes to easing my stress over the start a new year. If you haven't checked out The Art of Education yet, you really should. In a recent post about seating charts, there are a list of great ideas for creating and organizing them. To add to their ideas, I would also include using sticky notes for student names on the charts (as shown here). This allows you to only have to write it once and simply pull it off the paper and re-stick it to a new location when changing seats. I always have my seating charts done before the first day and greet students at my door to introduce myself and tell them where their seats are located. If there is an issue with a seating arrangement, I can quickly pull the sticky note with the student's name and easily place it on a new spot on the chart.

2. Artsonia - I have been using this free online resource since 2007. I always try to get my classes organized before the new year with their rosters function and the fact that they allow kids to "graduate" into the next grade, makes that super simple. In addition to serving as a way for my students to share their work with the world, Artsonia does so much for helping raise funds for my classroom, supply ideas and tools for lesson planning, and documenting student growth. With the expectation of documenting student growth as a link to teacher evaluations, there's a lot of questions about how to do that in an art classroom. With Artsonia, documentation of growth is more manageable through the evidence of student artwork and accompanying artist statements. Artsonia has also added a lot of new features this year, as explained by Suzanne Tiedemann here.

3. Twitter - So, this is a new one that I am adding to my back-to-school regimen this year. I have been using this resource since Tricia Fuglestad urged me into it and I am so glad she did. I have been able to connect to teachers and artists from around the world that have enhanced my growth as a teacher. If you are on the fence about it, just check it out and see for yourself. Here is a post about how twitter is revolutionizing the concept of Professional Development and one specifically about how it works in #artsed.

What are some key things that help you get prepared for school and out of the pre-school jitters? What is a tool or trick that you cannot live without? Please share your thoughts and ideas in the comments below.