The past week has been a whirl wind of activity in our little art room at Robinson. Monday NBC News called to talk to me about how I have used Art Project powered by Google in my classroom. After several phone calls they said they wanted to come for a visit to our classroom. Due to STARR testing scheduled on Tuesday and Wednesday our visit was set for Thursday.
Students, parents and teachers alike helped me to spruce up our hall displays since company was coming! The art represents every grade level and filled the halls as far as the eyes can see. Oooooohs and Aaaahhhhhs filled the halls when kids arrived to see such an enormous display. I must say without all the volunteers I could not have managed to hang so much art work before 5:30!
With the art lair all tidy and neat and materials all ready for the next days lessons I attempted to go home and sleep. Of course the excitement woke me up about 4:30 am. Driving to school in the dark I arrived about 6:30 and had just gotten off the phone with my sister asking her to say a little prayer and send good vibes that technology all works when my panic moment set in. That's right, the computer monitor and connection to my ceiling mounted projector was down. I tried to calmly check all connections, reboot, even tried to switch out monitors with another computer when I knew my heart was pounding so fast I had to get help! I walked out in the hall heading towards the office when I spotted my principal and without a "Good Morning" loudly exclaimed down the long hall that "I NEED tech support!" After telling her the issue she confirmed my fear that they usually did not start until 8 am. Surprisingly I remained fairly calm and said just try to call, but we have time. They don't plan to officially film until class starts. I must say I was very grateful to John who showed up and quickly got the wires and monitor adjusted! Whew!
The producer and cameraman arrived just at 8 am and talked to me about the set up and how I would run the lessons, where I would stand, etc. They were very kind and made the process easy. I must admit I was not nervous, but rather the adrenaline kicked in and I was ready to go. My 5th grade showed up at 8:30 and I explained about what was about to happen and that there might be a crew coming in to set up. The kids were excited and had lots of questions but we were able to very quickly get started on their lesson! (I will share their lesson very soon- Art Nouveau Vases)
I could see in the hall the crowd and crew gathering during class, but they waited outside the door until h grade block arrived. My students were beaming and holding their poetry journals in the hall ready for action! The camera man Bob Abrham helped to get my microphone on and while equipment was hauled into the class.
The lesson started quickly and the cameras rolled. I introduced our new unit "Illuminated Manuscripts" (funded by Kids in Need Foundation Grant/Loft) by using this Prezi which has an embeded link to an Art Project collection of Illuminated Text and folio illustrations. We looked at art work and the kids did a great job using the smART vocabulary to critically observe the imagery. I stressed the size of books and how many were not large images and the details were quite small with helped to highlight the great feature on Art Project which allows you to ZOOM in and really begin to see details. We moved quickly into our project where students will be starting with just the first letter of a poem they will be illustrating for their books they will make for our school library. (I will share the entire unit completion) The camera man and reporter interviewed students while they were working and I was told not to talk to other students during interviews. This was TOUGH, kids were asking questions and I had to point and try to use motions to help the students understand that my microphone was picking up all the sound OVER the interview. There were a few moments where they had to instruct me to call on the kids near the camera which is hard when you are used to trying to call on a variety of students. As the class seemed to quickly come to a close and students got ready for dismissal I lined up the class to meet the next group!
The hallway was a buzz with excitement and my 3rd graders were invited into class. I started the lesson when the camera man stopped me and said he had to take a few moments to get a tape. They said that was perfect what you said, make sure to say that all again... I looked at the kids and said "Um, do you all know what I said?" then I took a moment to shake my legs and be a little silly for the kids. It seemed to help ease all the camera jitters in the room. The kids laughed and take two on the 3rd grade lesson got rolling! The students went on a virtual trip to several museums and I showed them how they could navigate the site from home. We went on virtual tours of several museums and used the navigation feature akin to Google maps Street view technology. The kids enjoyed seeing new museum spaces and picking the gallery rooms we would travel through. After our virtual trips jet setting around the globe from one museum to the other the kids were ready to create. I shared a collection of landscape, portrait, still life, etc to review the different types of art they might like to collect. Students were introduced to a project where they will create their own mini art museum. They were the collectors and curators putting together their own exhibit! After creating the corner of the room they used material in their art bins to create mini masterpieces for their collection.
Several students were individually interviewed and time seemed to move quickly with all the excitement.
The last part of the experience was the personal interview. Lighting equipment and camera angles were discussed and repositioned until they were all ready to film. We discussed Art Project and its features, impact on students, potential use in education, and a few comments about creativity, art education and my great PLN! I know much of the interview and hours of video will be chopped down to a few moments in our classroom. I hope my student's excitement for learning and my passion for arts education comes across in the segment which is scheduled to air next Tuesday April 3, 2012 on NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams.
Many thanks to Craig Roland for sharing my name and information with NBC. Thank you also to my Principal Ms Jones and the staff at Robinson Elementary School for getting so spiffed up and beautiful on the day after testing, and helping to get Robinson ready for a National visit.
I would also like to thank my great PLN on twitter for all their support and encouragement. You all keep me inspired and striving to add new exciting elements into my classroom each and every day. Thank you to: Theresa McGee , Tricia Fuglestad, Suzanne Tieldman, Theresa Gillespie, TAEA & Samantha Melvin and many other fantastic #artsed teachers.
Last spring Robinson Rangers were inspired to action to help those who were dealing with the devastation of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Students were able to study the art of Japan and learn more about the country that was dealing with a huge loss while feeling empowered to help with a few folds of paper to create origami cranes.
DoSomething.org appealed to young people throughout the world to share their love and support for the Japanese people with “Paper Cranes for Japan.”
The task was simple:
1. Find/make and upload a photo of an origami paper crane
2. Upload that photo along with a message of support to the Facebook page “Paper Cranes for Japan.”
3. Mail your paper cranes to Students Rebuild to trigger $2 for each crane. The goal? 100,000 cranes received will raise $200,000 to support Architecture for Humanity’s plan to support the rebuilding efforts of Japanese architects.
Why cranes? Cranes are sacred creatures in Japanese culture. According to ancient legend, anyone who folds a thousand origami cranes will be granted a wish—like long life or recovery from illness—by a crane.
Robinson Rangers met the task and set forth to learn about Japan, their art and their culture. Students were inspired to send hundreds of cranes for Japan and in the process learned how they can make a difference. Fourth grade students were so inspired that the project started showing up in their language arts classes in the form of Poetry for Japan!
The entire school was involved in the Paper Cranes for Japan and the experience had a huge impact both on the student's understanding of world events, the understanding of how students can make a difference in the world, and gaining a global understanding of other cultures.
Japan is still struggling with a recovery process that will take years to finish and for many the loss of loved ones will always leave a heavy place in their hearts. I am saddened to hear in the news this morning of another earthquake hitting the already wounded country. Please keep the people of Japan in your thoughts in these difficult times.
Here is some of the work my students created last spring in response to the events in Japan: