Archive for April, 2018

So, I’ve been working on some more art. I do love spring break for making art. (This is part of my taxonomy project where I make sets of images.)

As I wrote before, I’ve been focussing on mixed media and collage type works which takes away some of the pressure on brushstroke or have as much control over mark making as I would like. What it does require is that I maintain a supply of raw materials. So far that has meant some or all of the following: contour line drawings, prints of various things (many of them on different papers and in different colors), other images that I think are interesting, bits of text, stamps, paint, ribbon, string, you name it.

For this set of works I used contour line drawings of plants, laser cut woodblock prints (of chairs and a fireplace), some cabbage prints (where I cut a cabbage in half, ink it right up, and print it onto various paper) and paint. I was really interested in building up layers of fairly simple images, although the original contour line drawing is not on plain paper, but on a musical score. The layering gave me the opportunity to trace over lines or hide them a bit. In the photographs, the layers are sometimes hard to see in the pictures, but it was a challenge to find the paper and color combinations that produced the effects that I wanted.  Most of the individual pieces did not have a lot of color, or were one color, yet I wanted colors in the final pieces. I tried out coloring background, image, or musical notes.

Here we go. There are five pieces, for the last one I have included a close up to try to show the colors and layers better.

The chair print, done on old airmail paper, covers a lot of the original drawing. The bird provided that extra layer I wanted.

 

Here the print also covers a significant amount of the background. It also has an addition of text on the chair.

 

Here there are several types of paper and printed pieces here. The chair was cut out around the edges, but there are also horizontal stripes of mulberry paper that do not have additional printed images. They are most obvious as they cover parts of the leaves.

 

The cabbage print is on top. of the contour line drawing and then the chair is cut out and added on top. The paper mutes some of the lines, but I drew them again on top of the cabbage.

 

The green in the plant only where it overlaps with the fireplace print really works for me.

 

The yellow cabbage print here with the magenta background is more visible in person. This close up gives a little more of an idea of the detail.

 

As I continue to reflect on my five-piece set idea, I notice that there are several outcomes for this experiment.

  • I really push to find those last pieces in the set.
  • The set stays fairly consistent there’s not a lot of variety.
  • It turns out there are many more than five pieces to be made in this set.
  • A small change becomes significant enough that I split the set and continue to work with until I reach my five pieces.

 

What I’m also finding is that often one work with initially still fit my group, but also suggest a new direction for another time. The last work in this set of images fits that description, and I think will form the jumping off point for more pieces that have both positive and negative spaces addressed through color.

Nick Cave exhibit at MassMoca, summer 2017. (photo by me)

So I’ve been thinking about tech tools lately. When I work with teachers to support their technology use in the classroom, I always insist that we start with the learning goals or really anything but the technology. However, I have an upcoming technology event and so particular tech tools are on my mind.

A tool that I had forgotten about but have come back to is VoiceThread. I have helped foreign language teachers use it in the past, so perhaps I just got stuck in putting it in that bucket. I don’t know.

Anyway, my students and I were doing research on installation artists. After a brief introduction to the movement from an art colleague, they were off and investigating individual artists. As it turned out, I did not have time in the schedule for students to present their findings, nor was presenting really a goal of this mini-unit. Side note: What to do with research findings so that there is some audience or use for it beyond the researcher is often a conundrum. If I do the presentation thing, it ALWAYS takes WAY longer than planned. Plus, often it turns into a different person lecturing. Is that really what I want? If I give student groups an entire class period and make it clear they need to engage and teach the class versus just dump information, they can do that. But with the ~10-minute time frame, by the time you add class participation, each little report out is taking over class again. Ok, back to the main point here.

I had several goals for this little mini-unit:

  • First of all, I wanted students to learn about installation art as a movement.
  • I also wanted students to become more familiar with how to talk about this kind of work, so I had them incorporate information from reviews in their research.
  • I wanted students to learn about at least one artist in more detail, but also to hear about a few more artists.
  • Finally, I wanted the presentation itself to invite interaction, connecting it to installation art in a way.

Hello, Voicethread.

I teach seniors so I didn’t figure I had to do too much explaining. I sent them the link to make an account; I did a little bit of explanation in class; I directed them to where the how-to videos were online. Some students found the drawing tools and really used VoiceThread to a fuller extent than others. And, a few students had minor technical issues. Overall, the learning curve for using VoiceThread was a non-issue.

When I look at the whole thing, it worked really well for the goals I had. Students could easily share their final work with their small group and with me. Not only did it allow for written or audio comments by the student-researcher but really lent itself to interaction, which was the most challenging goal to achieve without using extensive class time. Having students interact with the final presentations is a baby step towards one component of their culminating assignment for this unit, and being able to practice the interactive piece and think about ways to engage your audience will be helpful moving forward.  

(I would embed one or two, but all the comments are identified with the student first and last names. You’ll have to trust me on the quality.)

Why hadn’t I thought of this before?

 

So, I’ve been thinking about hyperdocs. @TeacherDebra, my amazing colleague, first introduced me to Hyperdocs and the Hypderdocs ladies last year. I loved the idea but wanted to make sure it translated to my older (12th grade) students. (Why do I even think this thought anymore? I have yet to come across an idea that can’t translate up or down the grades. Yes, it sometimes changes more in translation than other times, but really I have been at this too long to let myself fall into that thinking trap.)

When I first looked at some examples, I was uncertain. Some of my hesitation was about the potential to be making a pretty worksheet. A pretty worksheet is still a worksheet; it’s not significantly better as a learning activity than an unattractive worksheet. But, that is my job–to create quality learning experiences that don’t turn into the equivalent of a worksheet no matter what fun tool I use. So, I gave it a try.

My first hyperdoc was for a unit in my Good Reads class last fall (12th grade English elective). It served more as a long-winded explanation of one, extended activity. I got to have a few additional bits of information in there, but it was in many ways a pretty activity description. It didn’t connect enough to the bigger picture of the unit or what the purpose of the activity was in the larger assessment plan. I knew this activity was supposed to set the students up for a writing assignment. So, I should have centered my entire hyperdoc around that bigger idea.

 

 

This year (another 12th grade English elective) I have been using them to better effect, but I can still do better. First, I created one to outline just a few days of class work in conjunction with our summer reading. We had already talked about the book itself. This work extended our discussion. I wanted to model the pattern of looking at a bigger question, doing some research, thinking, thinking some more, and coming to some conclusions. 

 

I did a little better job here with connecting to the goals of the work and connecting that to our unit goals, but there’s still room for improvement.

I followed a similar pattern with my next hyperdoc. Again, this covered our extension of the unit once we had done our basic reading and looking at art. (I posted the same information on our LMS but in straight text; students mostly preferred the hyperdoc version.)

 

Looking at these now, with some distance, I see that even these improved hyperdocs don’t do enough to make the learning goals clear enough. It made so much sense to me, the unit planner, but for everyone else, it still leaves a lot to be desired. I appreciate that these two recent hyperdocs do clearly highlight the thinking patterns I was aiming to reinforce, which was a big part of what I wanted to accomplish in these mini units.

I have one unit left in my current English class. I should take advantage of what I have learned in reviewing my work and try again.

What advice would you give me?