Never Say “Never”!

Last year if you would have asked me how I was going to change my entire art program to include technology, I would have had a difficult time answering your question, let alone trying to achieve such a goal.  I’ve been teaching art for 18 years and doing a good job of infusing new lessons into the mix and trying new techniques.  But using technology, using iPads???  Never!  First of all, I didn’t have the knowledge of technology or iPads.  Secondly, where was I going to find the money to buy iPads for my art room?  Finally, where was I getting the confidence to take on this task!

 Well, as the old saying goes, “Never say never!” 

 After taking some graduate classes, most using technology, someone mentioned IPEVO and the new user friendly/ space saving technology that they have developed.  After pursing their web site I was happy to find the WISHPOOL.  Every month IPEVO offers a product to teachers for free.  All they need to do is express the need.  It is a short, very easy application process that took me less than 20 minutes to complete.  Within 24 hours I was happy to be the owner of the newest IPEVO document camera.

 Beginning to feel lucky and knowing the only way I was going to get iPads in my art room was to find a grant that would offer a substantial amount of money.  Our principal sends us the information about the Target Arts and Culture Grant.  In February, I decided to apply for the grant.  It took a substantial amount of time to research and develops a proposal.   By March I was ready to submit my application.  I didn’t hear from Target for months and when I received an email late in August.  I almost deleted the email thinking it was spam when I remembered my application. I was awarded the grant a few days before the iPad 5 was released.  So, with money, coupons, and 4th generation iPads the $2000 bought 5 iPads now making my art room a 1:6 iPad classroom. 

 I felt like I was on a roll, so I then decided to look into  Donors Choose is a charity organization designed for educators that are wishing for objects for their classroom that they cannot afford to pay for from their budget monies.  Corporations, foundations as well as individuals can donate to your cause. I was intrigued by the concept yet skeptical as to who would donate to a teacher in a fairly comfortable school district.  To my surprise a foundation as well as several parents and faculty members made my first project a reality in 3½ hours!  In a few weeks I will have 5 styluses to use with my students and their iPads as well as a classroom projector.

 I’ve never considered fund raising and/or grants for my classroom.  I didn’t think the process would be worth the effort.  Now, I am an advocate of the process and realize that the possibilities are endless. 

 It is rewarding to be teaching in the 21st century. 

Can a seasoned veteran still teach in the 21st century?

After taking nine months off for a sabbatical to recharge my batteries, I find myself in a conundrum of wondering, “What do I do?”, “Where do I begin?” and “How do I instill all my new found knowledge into my teaching?” this fall.  I’ve spent the past school year in a much needed respite from the classroom.  Instead I have been refueling my intellect with classes in Technology, Creativity, Common Core Standards, as well as STEM initiatives.

This road to discovery has been full as well as fulfilling.  I’ve embarked on a technological journey of learning that was rigorous as well as enlightening.  I am now able to communicate with students of the 21st century through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Blogging.   And I’ve delved into the recesses of right/left brain thinking, advocacy of the arts, and blogging for educators.

Today educators are required to take students through school to become innovative and creative individuals of the 21st century.  My concern has been if I would be able to lead them effectively on this new path of discovery.  Do I know enough about technology, do I understand the Common Core; am I meeting the STEM outcomes?

The lingo is new, the timing is pertinent, and the students are young and savvy. Has education really changed so much that I have forgotten how to teach the pupils of today?  Merriam Webster defines a student as an attentive and systematic learner.  They are children who are inquisitive and explorative in nature that want to play and create.  They work to achieve goals and praise that builds confidence to become tomorrow’s leaders.

Yes, the buzz words may have changed and some techniques may be different. This is a phenomenon that has happened throughout the history of education – it is ever-changing. But the process is the same.  Therefore, my mission is the same.  Whether it is through Twitter, You Tube, or the latest STEM initiative I will continue to do my job… instill the love of learning.

The art of cartography….

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The Art of Cartography…..

Essential Questions:  How is cartography considered art?

Sixth grade students spend the first few weeks of school learning about maps in Global Studies classes, transition words in Language Arts, and contour line in Visual Arts.  Creating a lesson that uses all of these skills is called interdisciplinary learning.

In Art class students begin by utilizing contour line to draw several different inanimate objects; i.e., vase, jar, bottle, scissors, cup, etc.   This is presented merely as a practice exercise and emphasis is put on the actual drawing process, concentrating on the outside edges of the objects.  These simple drawings later become the land masses on their map.

Utilizing the skills of Global Studies and mapmaking, students incorporate a key, compass rose, and latitude/ longitude lines onto their maps. Symbols are used representing topography as well as the route to the buried treasure.

Once maps are colored with oil pastels and aged with brown tempera, the students write a description of where to find the Pirate chest. Their story must include the use of transitions words learned in Language Arts.   QR codes are attached to the finished works before they are displayed.  Other students in the building can then use their hand-held-devices to listen to the  stories.

By letting students use their imagination and creativity you increase retention and make learning fun.  This is one of their favorite lessons.

5 ideas to improve teaching as well as learning…..

I have been contemplating on how to improve my teaching as well as the learning that takes place in my classroom.  I feel that I have become somewhat stagnant in my processes over the past 20 years even though I try to change the projects developed and keep my teaching style current with trends.

My school consists of 800+ students in the 5th and 6th grades in which I split evenly with a team teacher.  At the end of last year we took a look at what we are teaching and decided to omit, re-fresh, and add new lesson plans to our repertoire.

  1. Implement more TAB lessons. (Teaching for Artist Behavior)

2. Create a service project; i.e. student-led teaching of art to a local nursing home community and/or pre-school. 

3. Develop digital portfolios for student assessment. 

4. Create interdisciplinary lesson plans. 

5. Utilize technology in an interactive format; i.e. blogging, interactive white board, virtual learning through YouTeacher or Skype.  

These are 5 ideas I have to improve teaching as well as learning in my classroom.

Can you share some of yours?

Swimming in the Wishpool

In my classroom I am constantly showing works of art or demonstrating with the use of a document camera and projector. It is sometimes a tricky endeavor seeing that I teach in a building of 50+ teachers and there are only 2 document cameras. After receiving an iPad as a birthday gift, it wasn’t long until I started to brainstorm different apps and ways to implement this hand held device in my art room. I knew that a document camera and projector were a must in order for the iPad lessons to be successful.

Around the beginning of the school year our district informed us that we were permitted to purchase document cameras with our budget monies. The search began for the highest quality document camera at the most reasonable price. After some discussion with colleagues, I discovered the IPEVO Point 2 View Document Camera. This 2 megapixel document camera is lightweight and easy to use. There are two focus modes as well as snapshot. For a mere $69 I had a highly portable document camera of my very own.

Our district technology does not support Apple products so I knew I would not be able to purchase any type of device to link my iPad and camera with budgeted monies. So, the second search began for an inexpensive way to link the two. Returning to IPEVO I found the WS-01 Wireless Station for only $69. This as compared to the Apple TV for $99 proved to be a better value for my pocketbook.

But, while perusing the IPEVO website I discovered the Wishpool. Wishpool is a program sponsored by IPEVO that wants to get technology into schools. Every month the Wishpool Team chooses a product to give away. It is easy to apply for a wish. Simply register with your school’s email address and write a brief paragraph telling Wishpool your story. The Wishpool Team will read the emails and award free technology to deserving schools.

It just happens that the product being offered while exploring the IPEVO Wishpool was the Wireless Station I needed to purchase. I sent IPEVO a short paragraph stating my predicament of having to purchase my own wireless station. Within 24 hours my wish was granted, within 48 the wireless station was shipped to my school.

I now own the IPEVO document camera and IPEVO wireless router, downloaded the IPEVO Whiteboard app converting my iPad into a document camera /white board-all for a mere $69.

Thank you IPEVO!