Technology is quickly changing the art education paradigm. The National Arts Education Association along with the National Coalition for Core Arts Standards recently published new National Media Arts Standards along with new Visual Arts Standards. My first glimpse of the standards came in the form of two huge posters with very small print. Overwhelmed would be a good way to express my first impression right before they were quickly folded up and stashed in a bag. But, my mother did not raise me to shy away from my fears and so I must brave try to comprehend the new standards and put them into practice in my art program.
Over the last year I was fortunate to be in a school that had mobile ipad labs that could be checked out and used in my classroom. Scheduling conflicts and time restraints made incorporating the technology into our class routine difficult. In late spring a Transforming Technology Grant opportunity was shared by my district and I jumped at the chance to apply for resources for my classroom. Drum roll please, I won! August will bring the return to a classroom set of ipads for the Capitol of Creativity! Thirty ipads will now transform the way I teach, assess, and how my students will create in art.
The debate has begun among #artsed peers between those embracing new technologies vs those immersed in traditional mediums. My own beliefs stem from looking at history and how new technology tools have changed the art world. Technological advances have made an impact on art creation can be seen in the invention of the printing press, camera lucida, photography, to digital creation and interactive virtual reality environments of today. It would be difficult to list all the innovative ways artists' have adapted new technologies into their mode of expression throughout art history. We as art educators can not ignore the quickly changing way our world is interacting with technology.
I started teaching twenty years ago in the fall of 1994 as an itinerant art teacher in five elementary schools in rural Virginia. My five elementary schools started getting computer labs and the discussions of how teachers would incorporate the computers into their day was heard throughout the halls. I did not have a computer at home but my principal Mrs. Carpenter allowed me to stay after school to figure out these new computers and to get on Virginia Pen boards to connect virtually to other art educators, I was fascinated. Four years later "You've Got Mail" is seen in theaters and AOL is in my home. The ways we connect to each other quickly changed my perspective on professional development. Networking with art educators started with the Incredible Art Department yahoo list group to the variety of social media sites like #artsed PLNs on Twitter, FB art teacher groups, google+, Art Education 2.0 ning, and instagram. Now, I have the opportunity to bring the benefits I have embraced in my own learning into the hands of my students.
My journey of transformation is just beginning in how the new additions to my program will change the way my students learn, create, are assessed and even how we share. Fear not, for the art room will still be a place to squish our fingers in clay, to learn to see color mixing on the tip of a brush, and a place for our students to be makers. The future is what we are willing to embrace and what we make of it. I am fortunate to be part of the innovative #artsed PLN that share ways of incorporating technology into their classrooms and they will serve as great resources throughout the year ahead. The swirling list of applications I will chose to use is growing thanks to Tricia Fuglestad, Janine Campbell, Cathy Hunt, Theresa McGee and Hillary Andrlik for helping to inspire ways of incorporating technology into my classroom. Last week I took part in the Virginia Center for Excellence in Teaching Fine Arts Academy at George Mason University and part of my project for the year ahead will be how to best embrace the new media and art standards into my new technology rich classroom. Consider this summer my cocoon where I am researching to prepare for the fall when my classroom will hopefully emerge to fly to new heights of technology integration.
I have the wonderful opportunity this week to work with Dr. Kimberly Sheridan a professor and one of the authors of Studio Thinking 2: The Real Benefits of Visual Arts Education. The conversation for Studio Thinking, Teaching for Artistic Behaviors (TAB), or Choice education in the art room has been growing in the arts community for quite some time. The book is helping to solidify many of my beliefs in how I teach and ways to vocalize the importance of teaching art.
My classroom is very close to the studio atmosphere and has included a gradual transformation of how I think and approach lessons. Reflecting on my most successful lessons the concepts of Studio Thinking or Habits of Mind connections can be made.
Part of our discussions questioned how time is spent in the art room. Seeing data that broke down time into segments was interesting to contemplate how we use our allotted time into categories of student work time, demo/lecture, critique, or exhibition time. Many administrators come to observe demo/lecture time when in reality the great learning may blossom in the interactions between teacher and student during studio time. The moments when a teacher can walk around the room and visually assess the progress students are making, redirect when needed, and encourage students to boldly continue forward in their efforts can be meaningful in student growth/understanding. I am contemplating how I can best evaluate class time to make the most of our 47 minutes of learning in the Capitol of Creativity next year.
How do you assess your use of time?
Thanks to the brilliant leaders in Richmond and the staff at George Mason University I am spending the week in the most intense, meaningful, and motivational professional development opportunity of my career.
What is VCET? Virginia Center for Excellence in Teaching is held for six days on the George Mason campus and continues in the fall. Educators have traveled from all over the state of Virginia to join forces to learn how to become stronger Teacher Leaders. The Academies focus on a different areas:
The #artsed Academy started Sunday night with a wonderful dinner and fast tour of the campus. We all got settled into our dorm rooms with anticipation for Monday morning! (Yes, we teachers never stop learning!)
Monday morning we met our fearless leaders who will be guiding us on this journey : Dr. Kimberly Sheridan and Robert Stansbery.
The day started with a visual metaphor for teaching by Andy Goldsworthy.
Words bounced quickly around the room with educators relating their practice to the powerful image before us. The Portal to Learning:
"How can arts be a powerful entry into thinking?"
"What is the core of my own #artsed beliefs?"
My own beliefs have been evolving over the last few years with the rapid changes happening in our world. The addition of new technology and ways to help bring artistic behaviors in my classroom have me looking to the horizon. My focus is turned to the outward searching, looking beyond the building blocks that may seem familiar toward the framework that will guide me in the year ahead. In the months ahead I am looking forward to this process of finding a clear vision of my VCET project and the powerful changes that Teacher Leadership can help build.
I would love to hear how you might interpret the sculpture as a metaphor for your teaching?