Saturday, April 26, 2014

Technology Integration Project: Lesson Plans

Below are the detailed lesson plans for my Technology Integration Project: Painting with Brushes!

Day 1

Content:  Painting with Brushes: Animal Advocacy Art (Day 1)

Language:   Students will explore a list of animals including many endangered species. Students will choose one animal to paint and research.

Vocabulary:  endangered species, characteristic, inherited trait, atmospheric perspective, perspective

Assessment/Evidence of Learning:  Students can recognize distinctive characteristics of various animals and discern their function for the animal's survival. 

Materials: animal list, photographs of each animal on the list, pencil, eraser

IP-Students will peruse the list of animals and will place a dot next to each animal they are unfamiliar with. 

GP- Students will discuss animals they are familiar and unfamiliar with, viewing pictures of them to help with understanding. Instructor will point out endangered species and introduce the idea of advocacy for a cause like awareness of endangered species in art making. 

IP-Students will draw conclusions about animals’ behavior and habitat based on distinctive characteristics (such as a long snout, big ears, bright colors, or claws). 
GP-Students will discuss possible functions for ‘strange’ body parts and characteristics (such as a hump on the back or an overly large beak).

GP-iPads will be handed out to students. Students will be lead through how to find the Google app and search for a picture of their chosen animal. Students will print a picture of their chosen animal. Students will be encouraged to choose a photograph that is clear and depicts the animal in it’s natural habitat. 

Mod: Special Education students will receive assistance from peers to read animal names and will be given many visual cues through pictures from a projector. 

Diff: ELL students will be given verbal assistance in sounding out words and will be given the opportunity to share what certain animals are called in their native tongue if the name is known. 

Ext: Students will be encouraged to research more on the animal they choose at home or during free time in their regular classroom so that they can add more conceptual depth to their artwork. 

Day 2

Content:  Painting with Brushes: Animal Advocacy Art (Day 2)

Language:   Students will explore the app Brushes on iPads. Students will experiment with the app enough to have a basic understanding of the tools available within the app. 

Vocabulary:  layers, opacity, image size, gallery, pixels, density, intensity, dynamic angle, dynamic weight, dynamic intensity, desaturate, fill, color balance, hue, saturation, transform, invert, undo, redo, duplicate, color mixer, settings, blocking, sketch, RGB

Assessment/Evidence of Learning:  Students can maneuver through the Brushes app, utilizing available tools with relative effectiveness. Students can follow visual cues to learn the basic tools available in a drawing app. 

Materials: iPads with Brushes app loaded, printer, paper

IP-If not finished, students will choose animal and print out a picture of their animal as they would like to draw them. 
GP- Instructor will lead students through creating an example image using all the tools available on the Brushes app to assist students in introduction to tools. Students will first create a background with visual texture and depth. Then students will create a new layer and sketch their animal using their picture as a guide with the pencil brush. Students will create a new layer and block in colors. Students will then create a new layer and add details into the picture. Students will turn off the sketch layer so that it is not visible. 

IP-Students will experiment with the app, trying out different brushes and styles to create different effects. 

IP-Students will summarize the tools and what they found they could do with them near the end of the lesson.

GP-Instructor will encourage students to experiment with drawing using the free app at home if tablets or smartphones are available to them. 

Mod: Special Education students will receive assistance from an aide to maneuver around the app, having the aide choose brushes to use and help with order of steps and will be given many visual cues through live stream from a projector. 

Diff: ELL students will be given visual and verbal cues. The app is primarily image based so students can manipulate tools without too much difficulty. 

Ext: Students will be encouraged to download the free app and experiment with it more before next week. Students will be encouraged to continue researching their animal to add concept depth. 

Day 3

Content:  Painting with Brushes: Animal Advocacy Art (Week 3)

Language:   Students will explore the app Brushes on iPads. Students will create a ‘painting’ with the app, utilizing all the basic tools they have learned about Brushes in previous classes. 

Vocabulary:  layers, opacity, image size, gallery, pixels, density, intensity, dynamic angle, dynamic weight, dynamic intensity, desaturate, fill, color balance, hue, saturation, transform, invert, undo, redo, duplicate, color mixer, settings, blocking, sketch, RGB, endangered species, characteristic, inherited trait, atmospheric perspective, perspective, observation

Assessment/Evidence of Learning:  Students can create a painting using the Brushes app on iPads, utilizing available tools with relative effectiveness. Students can use observation skills to draw an animal from a picture. 

Materials: iPads with Brushes app loaded, printed picture of chosen animal.

GP- Students will each be given an iPad with the Brushes app loaded. Instructor will do a quick demo reminding students of tools and what they are capable of doing within the app.

IP-Students will first create a background with visual texture and depth, depicting the landscape of their chosen animal’s habitat. Then students will then create a new layer and sketch their animal using their picture as a guide with the pencil brush. Students will create a new layer and block in colors. Students will then create a new layer and add details into the picture. Students will turn off the sketch layer so that it is not visible.  

IP-Students will save their picture and print it in black and white. Students will email their completed picture to the instructor for printing in color.

GP-Instructor will encourage students to experiment with drawing using the free app at home if tablets or smartphones are available to them. Students will be reminded that any art made and printed from the Brushes app.

Mod: Special Education students will receive assistance from an aide to maneuver around the app, having the aide help choose brushes to use and help with order of steps and will be given many visual cues through live stream from a projector. 

Diff: ELL students will be given visual and verbal cues. The app is primarily image based so students can manipulate tools without too much difficulty. 

Ext: Students will be encouraged to download the free app and experiment with it more before next week. Students will be encouraged to continue researching their animal to add concept depth. 

Technology Integration Project: Painting with Brushes (START HERE!)

For my Technology Integration project, I created a unit on how to draw using a popular free iPad app called Brushes. This app has been used by professional artists all over the world and has actually been the sole medium for creation of two New Yorker Magazine cover illustrations. It is relatively easy to learn and so versatile in it's use! It was a lot of fun creating this unit because I got to play around with it too. Below is some information about the project, detailed lesson plans, and a video of me describing the project and showing an example of the finished project that I created using Brushes. 

Technology Incorporated:
During this unit, we will be using a class set of iPads with an app called “Brushes” installed. This app is free. Students will also be using a wireless printer to print their pictures made in the app. 

Learning Theories/Design Models/Correlation to Activities:
Constructivism/Constructionism. Papert's learning theory of Constructionism is one I lean heavy on in this unit. It describes a style of teaching where students are basically thrown headlong into a concept and are meant to figure out much of the information on their own. Students will be exploring ways to make art using an app. Students will be given the prompt, “Draw an animal from a list in their natural habitat using atmospheric perspective and exploring the use of Brushes to create a complex image.” Students will then be given a demonstration of the basic tools an features of the app and then will work on their project. That may seem pretty specific for a project that is constructionist but in fact, having a list of over 100 animals from all over the world makes this a pretty broad statement. With this basic prompt, every single one of my 500 students could create an image that is solely their own and totally original with the same basic meaning behind the painting. All the information will be different as will the cause (Bald Eagles have a different kind of advocacy than coyotes, for example). 

Spiral Curriculum. Jerome Bruner described a style of teaching where students can learn about any subject at any age with the right kind of modification. I would like to take this project and modify it so that every grade I teach could learn from it and then build on the things they learn every year. 

Visual texture, atmospheric perspective, drawing from observation, layering, multimedia art-making, composition, design, emphasis


  • choose appropriate vocabulary to discuss the use of art elements such as color, texture, form, line, space, and value and art principles such as emphasis, pattern, rhythm, balance, proportion, and unity.[1.B]
  • design original artworks.[2.B]
  • invent ways to produce artworks and to explore photographic imagery, using a variety of art media and materials.[2.C]
  • describe intent and form conclusions about personal artworks.[4.A]
Science TEKS:
  • explore how adaptations enable organisms to survive in their environment such as comparing birds' beaks and leaves on plants.[10A]
4th Grade (at first, then all grades)-Students in this grade level discuss animals in a book-based unit they do at the end of each academic year. This would be a great time to discuss with them artists’ ability to advocate for a cause through visual media. Students can discuss endangered species and study their chosen animal more in their regular class, scaffolding their learning and giving students the opportunity to make art with deep meaning. 

Length of time required:
Three 45 minute class periods. One class period will be devoted to looking through the provided animal list and familiarizing students with all animals, especially ones students may not have heard of. Students will use iPads to find images of the animal they choose and will print an image of the animal wirelessly. The second class will be devoted to learning the app, Brushes. Students will explore the tools available in the app and will experiment with layers, different kinds of brushes, opacity, size, and the various buttons available (undo, redo, etc.) In the third class, students will take what they have learned about the app and will draw from observation of their printed picture the animal they have chosen using the Brushes app. Students will use layers to create a background with various brushes and atmospheric perspective. 

Detailed Lesson Plans:

See Follow-up posts. It's getting to be a little long and I am not sure how to attach a document to the post. (If you would like the animal list as a resource for your classroom, let me know in a comment! I can email it. Just as a side note, I did not include water animals. The list is primarily made up of larger land animals, some reptiles, and some birds.)

Below is a link to a multimedia presentation of the unit which is a more abbreviated version of the information you see here plus some extra!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

An [un]Easy Partnership: Digital Technology in the Visual Arts Classroom

WILKS, J., CUTCHER, A., & WILKS, S. (2012). Digital Technology in the Visual Arts Classroom: An [un]Easy Partnership. Studies In Art Education54(1), 54-65.

An [un]Easy Partnership: Digital Technology in the Visual Arts Classroom

This article describes the relationship between technology and the visual arts classroom. It is generally understood that there are pros and cons to everything and technology in the classroom is no exception to that idea. Especially in the art classroom. The article breaks down the parts of technology integration that are easy in the art room and the parts that are not so easy. It starts out discussing the current state of digital art making. Some of the digital art out there is pretty neat, some is kind of weird...but it is a new-ish medium so there is a lot of experimentation happening, which the article describes with links to some interesting "Net-Art" out there right now. The argument the writers are making is that because the job of art making requires that we use any and everything available to us to get our point across, utilizing new Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) to make art is crucial and because it is crucial in art-making, it is crucial in art education. It is difficult though because it is such a different kind of art medium that it can be difficult to integrate it into a curriculum that has been relatively stable for a good long while. 

The article describes several ways that engaging in ICT in art education is an easy partnership. Specifically, it gives students a new way to explore different concepts, forms, and conceptual frameworks. It can also integrate strategies and applications in hot visual arts professions such as 3D modeling, graphic design, and desktop publishing. It opens up opportunities to create movies as an art form, take virtual field trips to art museums, and sharing student work digitally. Art making on digital devices, such as iPads, can also help break down barriers for some students who struggle to succeed with traditional art media. The fact that the technology can do so much of the work frees students up to experiment freely, correct mistakes easily, and create deeper meaning within the work rather than just focusing on perfecting the performance of the medium being used. 

As far as challenges in integrating digital technology, the article describes four. The first one is the challenge of relevance and benefits. There are many art teachers who struggle to see the benefit of integrating new technology. They might not see the purpose of it or feel that drawing and painting on an electronic device would not be as authentic of an experience as drawing or painting in reality. There seems to be some dissonance between technology and the tactility of the creative process. The next challenges they discuss is that of time, an already crowded curriculum, and inadequate resources and support. Without the right kind of professional development, all the ICT in the world could do no good in any classroom. Sadly, specific professional development for art education is very rarely provided within a local school system simply because there is such a small population of teachers who it would actually effect. Educators also claim, "there is insufficient time to critically explore the medium and critically analyze artists who use this medium because of the myriad demands in their subject area." (Wilks 61) Lastly, they discuss the challenge of access and restrictions. If there is only one or two computers available to students in the art room, there is precious little students can do to create art in a meaningful way. 

I can relate to this challenge. Seeing students just once a week for a 45 minute block does not feel like nearly enough time to cover everything sufficiently. There are tons of media to explore, art history to cover, famous artists and art styles to discuss, elements, principles, drawing practice, the list goes on and on. It is scary to even think of all that but considering adding even more with few resources seems more like torture for the teacher than benefit for students. 

There are some neat resources offered in the article to help ease art teachers into technology and with the potential for an art and tech partnership being nearly limitless, there are tons more. So despite the challenges, it is important to embrace what technology that is available to us as art teachers and work to integrate it in art study as well as art creation. It is a gradual work but it is a necessary move for art education. In my classroom, I am slowly working toward integrating the iPad carts we have available at my school. It is certainly a challenge to say the least but I am very excited about the possibilities. There are lots of times when things don't work out and nothing seems to have gotten done but I think students are still benefiting from the exposure whether it works out completely or not. 

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Teaching and Learning with iPads, Ready or Not?

Murray, O., & Olcese, N. (2011). Teaching and Learning with iPads, Ready or Not?. Techtrends: Linking Research & Practice To Improve Learning, 55(6), 42-48. doi:10.1007/s11528-011-0540-6

iPads in the Classroom, Are We Ready?

This article focuses on iPads and their influence on the learning environment. It begins by explaining how amazingly successful the iPad was when it was first introduced, selling over 3 million units. Likely, this was attributed partially to the 250,000 applications available for the iPads and the common interface to the iPods and iPhones that had also received quite a lot of success on their own before the iPad. The real question the authors were asking as they wrote this article was, “whether or not the iPad and its software environment allow users to do things in educational settings that they could not otherwise do.” (Murray 43) This was with the understanding that most technologies that do show this capability tend to last longer than the typical current tech fad.

The authors analyzed many apps available for the iPad and categorized them based on educational use and whether they fostered collaboration or not. They tested each app and put them into categories and tried to project each app on a screen while it was being run. Their findings were that in answer to their question, the hardware and software of the interface and iPad itself held the most compelling argument for its use in education rather than the apps. There were some apps that were exemplary but overall, the iPad’s capabilities to connect to other devices using Bluetooth and also utilizes social networks and cloud services to transfer information easily. They did highlight some amazing applications they found in the article though. Here is a short list:

Leaf Trombone

Star Walk
3D4 Medical Images

Shakespeare in Bits
Good Reader

Sundry Notes
SpeedTest X
Google Docs

OmniGraph Sketcher
Jungle Time

Paper Map
National Geographic Bee

Some of these apps are more collaborative in nature than others but overall, “the iPad is pushing the edge of both hardware and software innovations” (Murray 48)

The final word in this article in answer to the authors’ question was that the iPad could have some amazing potential especially in the area of collaboration. They mention that this is a great opportunity but more apps do need to be developed to support modern learning theories.

I think this article is really helpful for me simply because my school has class sets of iPads and we are encouraged to use them regularly. I have struggled to find ways to integrate them and I appreciate the focus in this article on collaboration as a key factor in the successful use of iPads as an educational tool that enhances learning in a way that other technology might not. I am hoping for my final project for this class to be related to iPad use in the art room and I think it would be really interesting to figure out how to use the idea I had for using the free app Brushes in a collaborative manner. That would be really neat I think and would likely hit a chord with many of my students who play on collaborative online environments like Minecraft on a regular basis. I am excited to explore the apps mentioned in the article as well. 

I am so intrigued by iPads and how much potential they have for interacting with the world in a more direct and tangible way than even computers have been able to provide.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Article Review: A Learning Ecology Perspective

A Learning Ecology Perspective: 
School Systems Sustaining Art Teaching with Technology

Lin, C. (2011). A Learning Ecology Perspective: School Systems Sustaining Art Teaching with Technology. Art Education64(4), 12-17.

Before discussing this article in particular, I would just like to applaud the journal from which it came. Art Education is an exciting journal where art teacher-researchers send in the most up-to-date research being done in art education. The National Art Educators Association (NAEA) puts it out quarterly and it is a really amazing resource for what works and is being done in the field of art education.

This article introduces a school district that seems to have a very exciting art program. Ching-Chiu Lin documents a high school art teacher named Mr. Blidy and his program. Lin's argument in documenting Mr. Blidy's high-tech art facility is that art and technology have such deep ties that integration of the two is essential in today's art classroom. Mr. Blidy is not only the art teacher at his small rural high school but he also serves as the Webmaster for his school's website and the technology workshop instructor for his district. He is also a teacher-researcher on a funded project that explores the implementation of videoconferencing in art teaching.

As Lin describes Mr. Blidy's arsenal of technology at his fingertips, it is no wonder that his art program is thriving. He has the administration on his side and willing to give him whatever it takes for him to provide his students with the best art education possible. Hearing about Mr. Blidy being given a computer lab filled with shiny Mac computers with Photoshop and other art-making software available for student use is enough to make any art teacher drool. More than anything else, Blidy attributes the success of the program to his superintendent who was and has always been an advocate for school technology innovation. Lin writes about Blidy's superintendent, "'Mr. Sanders would bring boxes of software and say, 'Look, this is a 3D modeling program you might be interested in trying out. Hang on to that for a while' " (personal communication. May 3, 2007). With Sanders's support, Blidy's knowledge about and experience with teaching art with technology has developed greatly over his 10 years teaching at Newark, mostly through self-instruction: he researches online resources, reads manuals, and tries out the new programs." (Lin 14) His excitement paved the way for Blidy to be able to even have entire classes just devoted to computer art-making and graphic design. 

Students in Mr. Blidy's art room also notice what a fantastic gift they have in their technology. Students are able to learn through inquiry and teach one another about the technologies they are exploring through their art-making. Mr. Blidy provides an open environment where students collaborate effectively to produce high quality products. Not to mention the fact that the exposure to such technology in the art room makes technology integration in other subjects much more attainable. A student named Lindsey even stated, "'The atmosphere here at school is very computer friendly. It doesn't matter what classes you take, you've got to be in contact with computers at some point"' (Lin 15) Wouldn't every school district like to be in that position today with all of the Technology TEKS now required of us? 

The word 'ecology' as defined in the article is, "a set of contexts found in physical or virtual spaces that provide
opportunities for learning." (Lin 12) Mr. Blidy is most certainly providing ample opportunities for his students to learn in exciting and new ways. Technology has been made so readily available at Newark High School that it truly has become an integrated tool for teaching which enhances every learning environment within the school. I believe that the article speaks most loudly to the fact that in order to maintain a healthy technology-integrated art learning environment, the support must come from every level. 

This article is truly inspirational to me as an art educator. Mr. Blidy's situation is sort of my dream. He has been given support all the way up to the top administrators in his district and that alone is something that fine arts teachers in general find very rarely. However, it is utterly apparent from this article that the difference is extraordinary. Having a solid fine arts program can enhance student learning in every subject and when given enough support, can prepare students in very practical ways for the world outside of the K-12 classroom. Technologically, art is probably the most exciting and pertinent subject to teach. Most jobs in technology involve some sort of creativity and/or problem solving, both of which are integral parts of the art process. Not to mention the fact that most art jobs in the field have the most advanced technologies heavily integrated. Technology costs money for sure but in the long run, a well funded art program can grow a student population that functions with ease in the tech-savvy world in which we currently reside. 

Friday, July 6, 2012

Voila! A New Past-time! Plus some...

I believe the most exciting technological thing I learned about this semester was definitely how to podcast. It's something I've been interested in for a while but just could never really figure out how to do it and never spent very much time trying to figure it out on my own. I know podcasting will become a new past-time in no time for me in my professional and personal endeavors. I hope to include things like that in my classroom blog too. Actually, the brainstorming that took place during the tech projects in this class led me to come up with some really exciting ideas for my new classroom starting in the fall. 

I tried really hard all semester to utilize the tech project to create real life classroom projects. In this way, the entire class got me thinking on how to improve my room and my class environment before I have even gotten there! What a wonderful thing! The need to complete some of the projects led me to research what the TEKS were, how to use them to make a real lesson plan for my classroom, where to go to find new ways of introducing new concepts...the list goes on and on. 

I also learned how to create an e-portfolio, which is something that at least my family has been wanting me to do for a very long time. In high school, I was really into web design but since then, I have basically forgotten everything having to do with it. It was really neat to get to try my hand at it one more time and reconnect those neurons in my brain. I basically completed my working e-portfolio too...which can be found here:

My Official E-Portfolio!

Anyway, it has been a very enlightening class. I've even learned some about what my philosophy on education is, which has been helpful so far even just in knowing what my goals really are for a lesson plan. I can't wait to engage my classes in higher thinking using the tools I've gained for my educational toolbox from this course. 

Friday, June 29, 2012

Am I a Net Gen Kid?

This week in EDUC 597, we read this chapter from a book called Educating the Net Generation. It was the first chapter and it's basically explaining what that "Net Generation" looks like. I believe we were asked to read this because, in reality, what good is an 'education through technology' course going to do me if I don't understand the importance of technology in the average child's life today? I'll tell's a big deal. Kids these days, the chapter says, spend about 2 hours every day in front of some kind of screen and that's just about the same amount of time the average kid spends playing outside every day too. No wonder we have bigger kids...they don't play enough...that's a different subject though. But that's just one way you can see the average childhood experience changing in drastic ways thanks to, or at least due to, technology. Of course, I must take into consideration that this article places me at the edge of this "Net Generation" and "Generation X".

The cool part about this tech-savvy generation, though, is that it is changing the way kids think about stuff. Now, my first thought is usually "of course...the kids just want to have everything done for them...they can't focus because all they want to do is play video games..." etc. but this chapter actually put some things into focus for me that I recognized but could never really explain on my own. The Net Generation is a group of people who apparently have a much better understanding of the balance between real life and the virtual world. Not to mention that their way of learning has become much more discovery-based. They'd rather figure problems out on their own. It's like that emphasis on problem solving I've always professed as being the golden standard is actually sort of a reality. The chapter talks about the Net Generation being active in community, being very structured, they often like working in groups or teams, are fast-paced, and can multi-task pretty well as a general rule. All of a sudden, this seems to be describing me in a much more accurate light than I'd first realized. 

So the chapter gives criteria for the reader to kind of gauge where he or she is on the tech generation scale. This is largely based on age, but there are exceptions to every rule. For this reason, they do have a chart that marks you by your age, but there is also a set of questions to be answered that place you too. Here they are:
  • Are you more comfortable composing documents online than longhand?             
  • Have you turned your "remembering" (phone numbers, meetings, and so on) over to a technology device?
  • Do you go to meetings with your laptop or PDA?
  • Are you constantly connected? Is the Internet always on whether you are at home or work? Is your cell phone always with you?
How many different activities can you effectively engage in at one time?
Do you play video or computer games?       
So where do I fall? Well, I'll just answer the questions and see where I am. 

1) Yes. I will say that I do have quite an affinity for writing longhand and keep a journal regularly but when it comes to composing a document, I do feel much more comfortable on a computer. It's easy to change something and I definitely type much faster than I write with a pen. So that one is a yes.

2) Yes. Again, I must admit that I used to remember things much more often than I do now. At least with phone numbers, it's a definite yes. I honestly think that if I could afford some kind of smart phone or something like that, I would be a full yes on that question too.

3) Not really. I do not go to meetings with my laptop, though I do converse with people over programs like maybe that counts as a half and half?

4) No. My cell phone is always with me but, just as I said before, my lack of a smart phone is most likely the only reason why I am not always connected in some way.

5) Yes. I will say I am a fantastic multi-tasker.

6) Not really. I don't really play video or computer games, though I have tried my hand at them socially. (Sounds kind of like its a drug when I say it like if I'd tried cigarettes..."I don't smoke but I have tried doing it." haha.

So there it is...I am about half and half. And I think once I do end up with an iPhone or iPad, it'll be all over. I'll be totally connected. 

And so, if I am here as a borderline Net Gen kid, maybe it's more personal than I'd previously thought. Perhaps this is even more of a big deal than I thought. And so it does make sense to incorporate technology...and that theory I always had about invention and discovery and exploration in learning makes even more sense now! Any qualms I had about it I think are gone now. 

As far as changes, I think keeping kids engaged through the whole process of learning is a bigger challenge than it used to be. Keeping students focused is key and I think part of that is the teacher being focused and excited about what's going on. I think another part is just keeping them busy. Engage their minds as they enter the classroom and then move on from there. No down distractions. If there's no time for distraction, there's no time for poor behavior choices. 

However, that leaves me with one question. Have the people in this Net Generation become so discovery oriented and so fast-paced that the way they should be taught needs to become more of a show? Do they need more color, more spice, more cryptic but fun looking? Maybe so...that's my new quandary.