Monday, December 9, 2013

Mind Blown: Teaching For Artistic Behavior

During the course of my most recent class at Plymouth State University, "Elementary Methods and Materials in Art Education" with Alexis Eynon, I needed to observe an Elementary school art room. I had the pleasure of observing two. 

The first was Claire Provencher's art room at McDonough Elementary school in Manchester, NH. I had met Claire a couple years back through the NHAEA and really liked how she structured her lessons and included art history. So, I asked to observe her room. However, right before I was scheduled to go in to observe, I was doing my research on her and her school (like a good observer does) and noticed that this year she completely changed the was she does things in her classroom! This year she has made the transition to the Choice-based Art Room or Teaching For Artistic Behavior.


I hadn't heard of this, but I am so glad I was able to check it out! If you haven't heard of this before, I HIGHLY encourage you to check out the following links and books. This method of art education has been around for about 30 years and is very intriguing to me (and a bit scary)--students are now in charge of their learning and projects. The art teacher is a facilitator and art director--not the one in charge of every project. Students choose materials, subjects, and more.

Now wait! I know you have objections! I did too! I know you are thinking, well that won't work for me (or my students). But, I ask you to just check it out. It really is cool and doable! I was also able to observe Holly Rousseau, an art teacher at Highland Goffs Fall Elementary School in Manchester, using Choice-Based learning in her art room. It can be done! And, I think, is a valid way of teaching creative thinking and higher order thinking skills that definitely should be considered. I even wrote a Research Paper on it called "Choice-Based Art Education for the 21st Century." I can send you a pdf of it if you'd like.

So check out these resources. They are VERY thought-provoking....

Article: "Smoke and Mirrors: The Art Teacher as Magician" by Nan Hathaway (pdf)
This is the article that inspired Claire Provencher to look into TAB/Choice-based learning.

• Website:  Teaching For Artistic Behavior, Inc.
This website is a treasure-trove of information on TAB teaching/learning!

• Book: "Engaging Learners Through Artmaking: Choice-based Art Education in the Classroom," by Katherine Douglas and Diane B. Jaquith
A great read and has many testimonials about how this method of teaching/learning can be achieved in the art classroom.

• Book: "The Learner-Directed Classroom: Developing Creative Thinking Skills Through Art" by Diane Jaquith and Nan Hathaway
A compilation of articles from a variety of teachers who are using this approach in their art rooms from Elementary school through High School art rooms. Also a quick read and very accessible.

But as LeVar Burton used to say on Reading Rainbow "But you don't have to take my word for it!" Go observe a TAB/Choice-based art room near you! And let me know what you find!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Ten Things This Art Teacher Learned From a Tech Conference

Yesterday I attended one day of the Christa McAuliffe Technology Conference in Manchester, NH. I was lucky enough to have recived a one day scholarship to the event and I joined one of my colleagues from Plymouth State University and five Undergrads from Plymouth's Department of Elementary Education & Childhood Studies for a day of technological fun! 

A bit of info about the conference:
From the site: "Christa McAuliffe was our New Hampshire "teacher in space" astronaut who died in the Challenger shuttle launch on January 28th, 1986.

In Christa's memory and in keeping with her spirit this conference is designed to highlight the sharing of successful technology practices among educators. The conference serves as a forum for exchanging technology-based success stories, integration tips, instructional strategies, technical solutions, and management techniques, that really work in the learning environment."
Christa McAuliffe Experiences Weightlessness During KC-135 Flight
(image from wikipedia)
A bit of info about technology and me:
OK, so, I have to tell you--I'm not techy. I mean, I have to have my 11-year-old do all the tech work on my iPad, computer, and cell phone (which isn't even a Smartphone!). SIGH. But I'm learning! I attended so that I could learn how to include technology in my classroom as well as help the Undergrad students I work with at Plymouth State incorporate technology into their lessons.

But I have to say, I was a bit nervous about attending this conference. I'm not sure why--it isn't as though someone was going to stop me and ask me to reprogram their computer or something!

So here are the Top 10 things This Art Teacher Learned From a Tech Conference:

10. I'm not alone. Look, I cannot even get my remote start on my van to work (I stand outside the car door clicking the switch and locking and relocking the car over and over). And I don't run into many artists and art teachers during my day. But, I was surprised when the keynote speaker for the day, Kevin Honeycutt (Hi Kevin!), started off his lively presentation by sharing that for thirteen years, he was an art teacher! This conference is for educators, no matter what they teach! Not only was I not the only art teacher in attendance, I was surrounded by other educators who want to find a way to include technology in their lessons. If I want to make sure art is kept in the schools--I need to make sure I'm at as much stuff as possible, talking with people, sharing ideas, and KNOWING that all subjects need art to bring it all together!

9. Don't wait until you're perfect. This one is also from Kevin Honeycutt. Imagine if people didn't do anything unless they'd be perfect right away! Is that what I teach my students? Is that what I teach my own kids? NOPE! I cringe at the first posts on my blog and I still drool over blogs where people have professional-looking photos, but I'm here and sharing my stuff. I didn't wait until I had made tons of claymation movies to teach a class on animation--I fooled around for a few seconds with the program, showed my students a couple of short animations, and then set my kids loose on it! They taught me and taught each other. Seriously, if I wait until I KNOW what I'm doing, I'll be left behind. I can always ask a student to teach me! :-)

8. Keep track of what's important to you. Kevin Honeycutt might check out this blogpost. Am I so cool that a person with 21,000 Twitter followers would check out my humble blog? No, but he uses Google Alerts to track the things on the web that are important to him. So, whenever anyone mentions his name, his son's name, etc., he's receiving an alert. I could do this if I was interested in claymation, or 3D printing, or iPads in the art classroom. I'll have to experiment to make sure I'm not receiving a million unnecessary emails, but I could always do alerts on myself and my school. Let's see what people are saying. 

7. Every student is a person. Again, thanks, Kevin. I mean, I KNOW that the students I teach are people, obviously, but am I really treating them--all of them--with respect and showing them that I am glad they are in my class (I think so, but now I'm going to be watching). How am I reacting to students? Even the little things make a difference. If I sigh whenever a student asks me a question or don't try to reach a student who just sits there, head down, I may be missing out. What if I am the only one who ever shows a student that have worth, just by being who they are? This works with my own kids too.

6. If I wanted an easy job (and wanted to be rich)--I shouldn't have chosen teaching. This teaching business is a lot of work, both in and out, of the classroom--YOU KNOW THAT. And even when I am done my degree, I'm not done learning. It isn't like I think of 100 lessons and I teach those until I retire. Every day I am going to be thinking and changing and learning something new for myself and my students. But if I want to teach my students to be lifelong learners, I need to model that!

5. You need to make time to try technology, but you don't have to do it alone. Kathy and Laura from Antioch University spoke about that. There's a lot of technology out there. It's overwhelming, I know. But, baby steps! I need to talk to others, see what they've tried, try a few APPs, websites, and programs and share what I've learned. I can also have the students review things and share their findings--I don't have to go it alone! I can ask for help!

4. We need to teach students HOW to behave on their "digital playgrounds" and be open to change. I know students are using technology, but it can be used for so much more that social media! They know how to use the devices, but I'm going to teach them how to use these devices for so much more! Think of all the teachable moments that will arise when students are experiencing this new way of working. Those teachable moments can BE the lesson! Also, I need to not be so worried about what software or APPs I'm using, APPs come and go, what I am teaching my students is bigger--how  to be LEARNERS, no matter what the tools.

3. Make it relevant for the students--projects and technology can help! Kathleen McClaskey from Ed Tech Assoc. spoke about that. I'm trying to give my students more choice--I know, it's scary! But when I personalize learning to the students, I allow them to make the learning relevant to them and take ownership of their learning. I'm starting small by having students choose the subject matter (while I choose the media) and vise versa! Also making technology one of the tool choices in a project or two. Some students won't choose it, but some will--maybe even those students who "don't like art."

2. Grad credit can be found in surprising places! Ok, so this one may not interest you, but it was pretty neat to me! As I've said before, I'm going to Grad school at Plymouth State University. At this conference, I noticed THREE different ways to earn grad credit--just for learning things I wanted to know already! If you decide to go back to school, check out the options your school offers for alternative options for earning credits--you can customize your learning to suit your needs and interests. Thank you PSU!

1. There's so much to learn! And learning can be fun! Attitude, attitude, attitude! Do I want my students to be overwhelmed by all of the stuff they need to know? Trust me, some of them are already! And sometimes I feel this way about all the stuff I need to know to include technology in my classroom. But learning can be fun! Hopefully my students don't think I know everything--'cause I most certainly do not! But *hopefully* they are seeing me be interested in learning and trying new things. Sure, not everything I do is successful, but that's OK, and it's OK for them too.

Of course, I learned so much more! I learned about all sorts of APPs and websites and techy things to check out. Did I need to go to a Tech Conference to learn the things above? Probably not, but If I hadn't gone to this conference I wouldn't have met the amazing people I did and get all jazzed up by learning all of these wonderful things all in one day!


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