It’s my tenth school year at my school, 26th year of teaching, my second year of full choice. You would assume I got this under control. I do have things lined-up and a system in place but with new students in the studio who are new to the program it’s all new to them. So I have a lot of housekeeping information to disperse before a successful launch of my choice based studio can begin to flow. I feel the momentum has been growing for the choice program and my students are excited about the self-directed and self-pace studio opportunities.
On the second day of school I focused on warm-up experiences and the kinetic body drawing was a huge hit. After two days of hands-on experiences; I introduced the process to submit artist proposals and how to document the research and their artistic journey. One blip I discovered was the platform I was using for student documentation had changed some of the navigation and uploading tools. It became too many steps for a smooth process for my students. So I spent the night vetting out a new platform to introduce to my students as a replacement. I don’t need to tell you how stressful it was making a switch mid-gear. Luckily, I found Sway.com and it is perfect to meet my needs as the educator and my students find it user friendly. They love it. The platform is a Microsoft platform that connects to my student’s school email account and it also has a nice smart phone app. The value added is the quality of the appearance and the design layout options are really nice. Each student can modify and design the look of the documentation on Sway to match the style of the work or student’s personality. I also appreciate the curated resources that populates on the link for each Sway when my students use key words for the document. Before I would curate information I collected on our class Haiku page to use as a starting point for my student’s research. Sway having this feature is an added benefit to using this platform. Students can still upload documents, websites, YouTube videos, and add written comments for each slide. The only piece missing is the ability for me to comment directly on the Sway so we will need to do more one-on-one discussions to have full communication about their process. This isn’t really a negative but it was a convenience to comment on each of the student’s links from home each evening so my students could read and have a record of what was said about the submissions. The sharing options are similar to the prior platform so each Sway can be visible when the artist chooses to open sharing beyond the artist proposal form.
This year I am going to add QR codes to help share all the research/process my artist creates. We will continue with the Arts Reveal Night presentations but we will be adding QR code links to each of our displays. I will be requiring students to write artist statements and titles on each piece. On the artist statement students will add a QR code to share what they want viewers to see and learn about their work. The Sway link can be copied into a QR code creator and saved for future use. I can also see using this QR code for attaching to scholarships, resumes, and art competitions.
Busy week setting up my students to understand the proposal and submission process then leads into how to collect and design an artist proposal and keep it original. I have several videos I share about Remixing and best practices to follow when appropriating ideas to create original works. I support my young artists with Artistic Targets and Themes. I read the artist proposals and review the skills each artists wants to explore. My next step is to plan workshops to scaffold the learning of each artist. I hosted several individual and small group workshop sessions. This next week I will review with everyone how to push the compositional layout to get the most unique and well composed compositions. This week I felt as if I was keeping a whirling storm under control. Loads of energy and excitement to submit their Artist Proposals with the new Sway platform. I had an evening with my student’s parents for our Open House and the excitement was echoed by the parents. I have to say, having my students share what they are doing with their parents is a big deal. Teens don’t often let their parents in, so when they do, you know you struck a chord.
We had our first big school social at a Watermelon Supper and my art club kids showed up in force to help spread school spirit with face painting. The energy will carry me into next week for our Club Fair when my student leaders will present all the club’s activities. We already have a Girl Scout Troop Empty Bowls workshop to plan and a Saturday Chalk Art drawing day to celebrate the arts. Our theme is “Celebrating our HeART”.
One more little bit of exciting news is that I was asked to submit an article on the Kinetic Body warm-up drawing inspired by Heather Hansen’s “Emptied Gestures” for the School Arts Magazine. I have been reading that magazine since I started teaching so it is an honor to publish an article about my artists in the magazine. I will keep you posted when it is published.
Have a great start to your new school year.