This has been a month of discovery, challenges, questioning, frustrations and overall mind-opening experiences. Having never used an iPad at all before this class, I ran my first iPads in Art After-School class with students last Tuesday and taught a Percolator app lesson with my 5th graders. That’s a lot of progress in one month, and my confidence has soared! Additionally, I have been reading two highly inspiring books for educators: Open, by David Price, and Invent to Learn by Sylvia Libow Martinez and Gary Stager. In conjunction with this class, I feel inspired to change my teaching style to adapt to all these new ideas. I love that after 20+ years in a classroom, I can still be learning so much myself. I love that I am in a school where I am encouraged and enabled to grow professionally. I love my job!
Four apps or tools I learned:
This year I am dependent on borrowing iPads for Art from the shared school cart, so am restricted to using apps that are approved by the school. If an app is free, I can fairly easily request for it to be uploaded onto the iPads, but it is much more difficult for paid apps. We have a rubric for selecting new paid apps, but one problem is that the approved apps have to be uploaded to all the school iPads, which raises the cost, of course. Last week I was able to get Sketchbook Express and Photoshop Express onto all the shared iPads. Therefore, until I can get even a small set of iPads for sole use in the art room, I will focus on using Sketchbook Express for drawing and painting, Photoshop Express for photography, iMovie or Smoovie for movies or stop-motion, and Toontastic, Explain Everything and Book Creator for storytelling. There are a number of great apps I discovered in this class that are on my personal iPad, which I will use with my classes in a more restricted way, individually or with small groups. Adobe Photoshop Express is relatively straightforward, and has fewer drawbacks than other free apps. I have had it uploaded to all the school shared iPads and plan to use it with my after-school activity. It’s easy to create albums, has a range of filters and simply cropping and editing tools. Sketchbook Express is another app I had put onto the school iPads. My students were exploring this app last week, and really enjoyed the symmetry tool, which is just one of the neat functions in this app. I like that students have to be very creative with this app, as there are no short cuts to creating a product. I created both Flickr and Pinterest sites for my students, and am planning to use them to display the best of my student’s artwork. I will have to sync the iPads individually to my classroom desktop after each lesson, so think they will work better for me than either Artsonia or Dropbox. I also plan to use Twitter to promote my students’ art – both individually and collectively, and raise awareness of special programs and exhibitions. I can reach our parent body through the school twitter accountwhen new displays go up at school. I can also tweet about extra curricular programs like my lunch-time Art Studio and after-school iPads in Art program.
Three things I will take back to my classroom:
I already described apps and web tools I’d like to use above, so these are three other things that I have learned, and will use with my students: Learning collaboratively and sharing ideas is so stimulating and rewarding. I need to find more ways for my students to collaborate on art projects, and this can be both in the classroom, between classes in my school, and between schools. I need to balance high-tech with low-tech projects in my art room. Although my school is very high tech (especially for a school in Ethiopia), I do not have much technology in my art room beyond a computer and projector. With my new found confidence, and wide array of new ideas, this is something I intend to work to change this year and next. Pursuing a passion makes learning easy. This week I convinced my principal to schedule Art Studio time with students into my work load, to allow for individual project based learning experiences. As well as optional Art Studio lunch-time sessions, this will allow students to pursue their creative passions; and now iPads can be a part of that picture.
Two goals I have:
My professional development goal for this year is to improve my use of technology for student learning, (which is also a school goal) and communication about the elementary school art program. With this course I have gained many of the tools to achieve both goals. Last week I began an after-school activity program for students in grades 4 and 5, with one session a week for 10 weeks. To improve communication about the elementary art program, I plan to use Twitter, Flickr and Pinterest. My second goal is to improve the level of technology hardware available for my art room and art classes. I aim to get funding for a set of iPads for the art room for next year, as well as an Apple TV.
One thing I will never forget:
One thing I will never forget is my first attempt at using iPads in the art room with a class of students: The fear of facing that first lesson; the worry that I just wasn’t ready; the ease with which the lesson ran; the gleeful delight on the children’s faces as they created characters and settings, and told their stories; the success of the lesson, and the growth in my confidence.