Tag Archives: art

Let them eat Cake!

At this time of year, when all things at school are winding down, it is important to still keep our students engaged. I think sometimes this is a challenge – but I love it!

We have this great unit of work for Year 8, that we always want to spend more time on, but run out of room in the year to fit it in in-depth. I have a bank of resources and ideas that I really want to use and get the kids involved in, but time is always my enemy.

But what this does mean, is that I can teach it at the end of the year, with no worries about deadlines for assessments. I can just teach it for the enjoyment of the content. Which is great, because the topic is

Food Glorious Food

Starting with the Amazing videos of Heston Blumenthal to demonstrate the design process

Please explain you say?

Idea -> Proposal -> Research -> Experimentation -> Evaluation -> Re-design ->Presentation to User/Audience

This unit of work focuses on food as subject matter historically and in popular culture.

Another great resource is this series called Eating Art

When I tell the kids about this topic, they get really excited. And this year, I had a boy bring in a cake for the class to use as their source image.

Let them eat Cake!

Let them eat Cake!

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We then do a series of drawings, much like a stop frame animation…. of the cake disappearing. One bite at a time. All students have to draw the whole slice of cake first, and I tell them that if one person takes a bite before they have drawn it, then no-one gets the cake. They all have to put their hands up and tell me when their drawing is finished for me to approve them to have a bite and move onto the next drawing.

It is AMAZING how quiet the class was! They were silently drawing and LOVING IT! Their drawings we really good and some of the more challenging kids who don’t usually love art, were even into it.

I don’t often bribe my kids… but this was a great way to get them involved and keep them engaged!


Noob, Master or Wizard

Differentiation is a focus this year, not only at my school, but also in the region. This has meant that there is a massive push to make a range of strategies more explicit in our programs and units of work.

So, what is Differentiation?

It involves the use of teaching, learning and assessment strategies that are fair and flexible, provide an appropriate level of challenge, and engage students in learning in meaningful ways. Differentiated programming recognises an interrelationship between teaching, learning and assessment that informs future teaching and learning.

http://syllabus.bos.nsw.edu.au/support-materials/differentiated-programming/

Being unique and different isn't all that bad

Being unique and different isn’t all that bad


The concept began as a strategy to enable Gifted and Talented learners to be challenged in mainstream classrooms. The realisation is all students learn in different ways and when provided with a range of ways to problem solve, a choice of product outcomes and the opportunity to work at a pace that suits them, students will achieve better and more to their potential. No longer is the “one size fits all” solution adequate in the 21st Century classroom.

There are a few suggested strategies that can be used. These include:

  • Differentiating the process or activities
  • Differentiating the product outcome or assessment
  • Differentiating the content and materials
  • Differentiate the environment

All the above can be further explained when you examine the following models:

How does this translate in the classroom?

I feel confident from teaching the GATS class that I am able to accomplish these ideas when programming and implementing a unit of work. But when we sat down to discuss it as a faculty, there was a need to have it more explicit and each concept defined and used clearly by each teacher. (Now there is irony – teach in a differentiated way, but don’t program like it! HAHA!) There was also a push from above for each faculty to focus on one strategy to become experts at it – the Art department scored Extended Brainstorming. The more that I thought about it and read about differentiation, the more clear it was to me, that in Art we are really lucky. While we teach students a skill in using materials, the concept development and inevitable outcome, is always differentiated. Students are always working at their own pace and some extend their artmaking when they feel confident, while others are more complacent.

For me, reflecting upon my classes, I thought perhaps I had let my Visual Design class down. Because I teach in such an open-ended manner, I feared that maybe they weren’t developing good enough Graphic Design skills, and some were not all confident with using Photoshop. I don’t like to set down in stone HOW to use the software, I figure that as they problem solve and decide on a visual concept, they are going to have to learn how to use the software, to make it do what they want.

In saying this, I decided to PRE-TEST their skills. I gave them a task that was open-ended, but the end product was like a test of their developing skills.

Here are some of their products.

There is such a range. But it really challenged them and gave them the chance to really showcase what they could or couldn’t do.

So, are you a NOOB, MASTER or WIZARD?

Once complete, I assigned the students the next design brief. However, I based it upon these previous submissions. I was going to tell them what to do, but let them choose. I let them choose from 3 possible project – each increasing in difficulty.

The NOOB task is for students that are developing their Photoshop skills.

The MASTER task is for students that are able to use Photoshop, but not always confident.

The WIZARD task is for the super dooper students who want a challenge and know what they are doing.

The feedback discussions we had about where they were placed in their ability was great, and now the are all doing something that they are enjoying and with enough challenge to learn new and develop their skills.

What are some things you have tried to differentiate in your classroom?


To Teach is to Learn

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I am at an interesting point in my career….

I love what I do… but I want to do more! I feel like  have a lot to offer other teachers and sometimes my brain feels like it is going to explode with all the ideas that I have that I want to try. I have been so lucky with the experiences and opportunities that I have had in my school. I guess I am one of those keen beans who gets asked to participate in lots of different things. This has then led to the development of my own ideas, new approaches to the classroom and changes in my teaching values.

Last week I was inspired by two things. These things have made me further think about what I am going to do in the future.

ONE

I have often wondered why I thrive off being given new challenges. Many mornings I walk past my Deputy Principals office and she stops me… “Jess….. I have this idea…….”. For the past 8 years I have been at Mosman High School, I have accomplished a lot of things and am always busy.

It began with a literacy project, then the completion of my NSWIT accreditation and involvement in an Element 5 professional development project for this, then I did my Masters of Cross Disciplinary Art and Design for 3 years, had a studio residency and an art exhibition, have been involved with different technology roll outs, gone to and presented at MANY conferences, worked towards and received the Ministers Quality Teaching Award, done my maintenance of accreditation, have been teaching Year 12 HSC Visual Arts, done HSC marking, have been teaching the GATS class and have gotten engaged and married.

This is just a brief summary of my accomplishments – but I won’t bore you with more!

After watching this TED talk by Kelly McGonigal, I realised that I have embraced the stress around me – and I LOVE it! It opens my mind and it inspires me to do new and better things.

TWO

In a staff meeting last week, two colleagues presented on their learning at the GATE Conference. At first I was frustrated and annoyed… and then I was sort of happy.

Why?

Well, they were focussing on differentiation and some strategies they had heard about at the conference. Then one teacher was saying how she had learnt about ideas that focussed on a student- centered classroom. And that she was slowly trying to change her approach to how she teaches, getting students to ask the questions instead of her. This annoyed me at first, because I have been saying this for at least 2-3 years when I present to staff!!!! But then I was happy, because FINALLY, maybe, a shift was happening! The teacher commented that it takes 2 years for reflecting and change to happen…. and she claimed she was only at the beginning of her journey!

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*sigh*

Thinking about these things made me think of this graph:

A graph of Everett Rogers Technology Adoption Lifecycle model

A graph of Everett Rogers Technology Adoption Lifecycle model

I wonder where to from here?

Change is slow, despite the forces that push for it to happen. And it is frustrating for me, out here, by myself, seeing how this change can be good. (I am not really by myself – there are many people like me, and I am not discounting the role they play in my life – this is just a figure of speech!)

I believe that as I teach, I learn. I am inspired to try new things and this has led to some exciting lessons in my classroom.

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I like to take risks and challenge my students think creatively and problem solve. I have embraced technology and the potentials that this offers. Now I want to see a shift into more blended learning with cross KLA projects and collaboration across schools and across the world. I have researched differentiation, Project Based Learning, collaboration, Games Based Learning, gifted and talented strategies, an array of assessment strategies and creative thinking.

So, for the future, I see myself as a leader who wants to make change happen. But this is not as easy as it may seem. What type of leader should I be?? Where can I be most effective? Would I miss the classroom? Would I miss my school? Does the role that I think I want even exist? Would I be a good leader??? These are crashing through my brain right now. I think I can only do so much within my classroom context and see potential for more.

I think I am lucky to have a great PLN around me and great friends to keep me stimulated… but I will still keep looking for an answer to my conundrum…

To teach is to learn. 


Connectedness

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connect |kəˈnekt| verb [ with obj. ] bring together 
or into contact so that a real or notional link is established

I like to be connected.

I confess that I am a social network addict and love to share aspects of my everyday life. My partner has rolled his eyes at me plenty of times, and asked if just this once, our meal could remain private. HAHA! (Sometimes I appease him, but I really do enjoy taking pics of my food – sorry!)

icons

It is increasingly easier to share your everyday comings and goings with the virtual world and it is rare to feel alone. Using Instagram, I feel a sense of community with many like minded people, also sharing photos of their daily lives. Twitter is where I share my teaching ideas and Facebook is a more personal space for me and my close friends.

In my own little world, I have noticed how this sense of connectedness makes me so happy. And how it has helped me to become a better teacher and a better friend. I have my own little ‘communities’ or ‘networks’ that provide me with constant laughs, challenges and ideas.

Besides my partner (who is amazing), my colleagues and my uni friends, there are 2 groups of people that I talk to everyday… and without those conversations, I think I would feel stifled.

CONNECTION #1

The Work Ladies

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Jude, Lorna and I at Lorna’s Wedding in Wales, July 2012.

After training on Mondays and Wednesdays, we have breakfast together. This gives us the chance to debrief and gather our thoughts. As friends and work colleagues, we can talk about anything: from assessment tasks to weekend adventures. Having such a great support network at school is seriously undervalued. I know not all teachers are lucky enough to have friends in their workplace, but I can tell you, without these ladies – some days at school would be more difficult.

CONNECTION #2

The Edmodo Ladies

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Me, Bianca and Monique

We met in the most random way. While we had already been connected on Twitter, we had never met in real life. Until Edmodo brought us together. All three of us were selected to present at EdmodoCon 2011 – an online Virtual Conference. In preparation for the conference, we thought it would be a good idea to meet up and discuss what we were going to present. The random thing was, we all lived a suburb away from eachother and were able to meet. (Edmodo had no idea about this – they just thought we were all from somewhere in Australia!!!!) This random meeting developed into great professional relationships… and awesome friendships. I think the highlight of this connection has been the EPIC group SMS that we have been sharing over the last month or so. These ladies are great to bounce teaching ideas off, have a laugh and reflect upon our day in the classroom.

sms

So….

With all these connections in my everyday world, I started to think about how important it was to replicate this dynamic into my classroom.

It is written clear as day in the Quality Teaching Framework document:

 ELEMENT

What does it look like in classrooms?

What does it look like in assessment tasks?

Connectedness

Lesson activities rely on the application of school knowledge in real-life contexts or problems, and provide opportunities for students to share their work with audiences beyond the classroom and school. Tasks apply school knowledge in real-life contexts or problems, and provide opportunities for students to share their work with audiences beyond the classroom and school.

While a traditional classroom exists in the one space… in-between the four walls that are prescribed to us by a school

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In the amazing 21st Century classroom, there are no boundaries as it can exist in an online space

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Modelling the way I connect using Social Networks, I have tried to develop this sense of collaboration in my classroom. Building up the students understanding of how to communicate and share with their peers as a community.

But I wanted to take this a step further. 

This year I was allocated 3 Year 8 classes.

*sigh*

I thought I was going to go mad if I taught the same thing three times in a week. I had to change the programme, not too much, but just enough, so that while it was more exciting for me, it would still cover the outcomes that the other teachers were covering.

I reflected upon the way I connected… and how it had opened up my eyes and has helped me everyday to understand my teaching practice more. Why not bring this into the classroom???

I reached out to my Professional Learning Network and asked if any teachers here or overseas would want to connect with my Year 8 classes who were studying the topic of ‘The Suburbs’.

Bingo! There was a teacher from Alabama who said yes… and from there my idea developed. Inspired by the blog/photography project 52 Suburbs, I wanted the students to not only look at their suburbs and their small worlds, but compare this to other students experiences.

What am I going to teach then?

I decided that I wanted my students to study the artists we would normally study, but instead of writing about them, they could make little videos that we could share with the class overseas. This will be particularly interesting, because the two key Practitioners are Reg Mombassa and Lin Onus. Mombassa is an Artist who uses many Australian icons in a humorous way. Onus uses his art to reflect upon his identity as an Anglo Saxon and Aboriginal living in a white community.

I also wanted them to make art to share with this new audience. While they are sharing images of their different communities using Edmodo, I thought about how cool it would be to be PenPals with these overseas students. Going back to old school letter writing to compare their lives on the other side of the globe. So, the students are going to design their own postcards and send them to this new connection overseas.

Exciting times ahead!!!

Check out the outline for the unit of work. I have used Bianca‘s PBL model to nut out the ideas that the students are going to explore.

How do you get your students to connect in the classroom?


What kind of WILD THING are you?

Can you believe we go back to school this week?? After 5 weeks of Holidays, I am so relaxed but am also looking forward to getting back into it!

This is also an exciting time for the new Year 7 kids… coming from Primary school into High School! They must be excited and scared all at the same time!

Back to school

As part of transition at our school, for the first time, we have developed a cross-faculty unit that will allow the Stage 3 students to come to high school and settle in with more ease.

The theme is based upon the text, “Where the Wild Things Are”, and the Project Based Learning Direct Question is:

What Kind of Wild Thing are you?

One representative from each faculty all sat down and brainstormed ideas for how this could be adapted to each of the syllabus outcomes in each subject area. Some teachers were reluctant and not sure how to approach this, but together we slowly made it all come together.

During Orientation Week the students will have mini lessons on how to cope with high school. These include internet logins, study skills and bullying classes. This week will also see the students go to the zoo and get in touch with their wild side. They will also watch the film, read the book and have a CSIRO science exploration day.

In my excitement, I developed this booklet for the Visual Arts Faculty….

What kind of Wild thing are you? Why don’t you build your WILD SELF….


H.S.C – Have.Some.Care

You know those blog posts that you dream about… you are going to nail it… all those thoughts that have been washing through your head and are now in writing…! YES! That is this one! A long awaited post that is well overdue…!

After marking the HSC Visual Arts Written Exams, I had many frustrations running through my head.

Piles and piles of exam papers regurgitated pre-learned essays/artists/ideas. Our Syllabus requires us to teach case studies.

investigation of content through at least 5 case studies in art criticism and art history

The content is driven by the teachers strengths and interests, and most teachers try to cover an array of artists. Some case studies are also student research based, so that they can have autonomy over their learning and find artists that interest them and support their art making.

Well, this is the goal anyway….

It was evident that deep learning and understanding was lacking in some responses. It seems that some students think that HSC Art is only about the art making and not about the written component… Now, this is not a criticism on any teachers – more on the role of the HSC exam in their learning.

I LOVE LOVE LOVE what I do!

But feel there is a disconnect in the content that I have to teach and the end exam. How can learning and understanding from 5 case studies… which should be approximately 15 different artists…  be represented in a 1 ½ hour exam? The questions ask the students to make sophisticated links between artists and ideas. They must understand not only the aesthetic qualities of the work, but the conceptual practice of the artist and the world influences on their work.

I know that no matter what happens, we are controlled by the Syllabus and there will probably be some sort of quantitative tool used to evaluate a students learning as the endpoint… But I also want my kids to have a visual language and understanding of the art world that goes beyond an exam.

After seeing the Picasso exhibition yesterday, my teaching values are even firmer in my mind. I don’t want all my students responding to the exam with the same wrote learned artists. I want them to be involved in the work of the artists that they know – so much so that any question thrown at them they will be able to make links and develop an argument.

Don’t you just love my holiday romanticized view of Teaching!?

But what does this have to do with Picasso???

Well… just as the HSC exam questions required the students to make links, develop arguments, draw conclusions, recognise the impact the world has on art and do all this in a short space of time.. when seeing the audience viewing the Picasso exhibition, I am sure many were confused, didn’t know how to react, but thought cause he is famous and the work was in a gallery it was art. But were they all able to EVALUATE his artistic practice and realise the importance of all his processes. I want my students to be able to engage in a meaningful dialogue about art beyond the HSC exam.

Portrait of Olga in an armchair, 1918

Not all his works were good and not all works were ‘typical’ Picasso. His body of worked developed and changed in response to the world around him. Picasso experimented with different approaches to the picture plane and was confident in his own aesthetic. He was a talented artist, but was also smart enough to be able to challenge the traditional artistic conventions. Picasso’s oeuvre ebbed and changed as he tried new things and figured out what worked for him. He did not let anyone sway him and continued the Cubist style throughout his lifetime. It was evident when looking at Picasso’s work that he has awareness of the art world around him. His work did not exist in a vacuum. The aim of studying HSC art is to develop creative thinking and problem solving skills that help you to respond to the visual world around you.

Aim

Visual Arts at Stage 6 is designed to enable students to:

•      gain increasing intellectual autonomy in their abilities to aesthetically and persuasively represent ideas in the visual arts; and

•      understand and value how the field of the visual arts is subject to different interpretations.

Picasso’s work shows an awareness of the world around him, and his response was to turn it on it’s head.

Le Déjeuner sur l'Herbe, Manet

‘The déjeuner sur l’herbe’ after Manet, 1961, Picasso

MY CONCLUSIONS….

When a student sits the HSC exam, it is like a Picasso –

Portrait of Dora Maar, 1937

you have to look at the question for a while, consider everything you know, turn it upside down and inside out… extrapolate what they are really asking of you, minus the number you first started with, use evidence to support your findings and write an essay that actually means something to you.

After the HSC, you are not going to have to write an essay, but you will probably go into an art gallery and engage in a dialogue about the art you are viewing. I hope that my students can do that meaningfully and with passion when they leave my classroom!

REFERENCES:

image retrieved from http://everything-underthe-sun.blogspot.com/2011/05/exams-at-iit-described-in-funny-style.html#.Tw4gv96z6Qo
image retrieved from http://www.robinchung.com/top-5-sources-of-daily-frustration/ 
image reference http://www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au/exhibitions/picasso/room-by-room/return-to-classicism/
image reference http://www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au/exhibitions/picasso/room-by-room/anxieties-love-war/
image reference http://www.ululating-undulating-ungulate.com/category/art-appreciation/aesthetics/
image reference http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Manet,_Edouard_-_Le_D%C3%A9jeuner_sur_l'Herbe_(The_Picnic)_(1).jpg
image reference http://www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/2008/aug/27/art.france