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Cardboard Creature Project – Phase Two – Stop Motion/Green Screen

“My filmmaking really began with technology. It began through technology, not through telling stories, because my 8mm movie camera was the way into whatever I decided to do.” – Steven Spielberg

Starting with a quote by Steven Spielberg may seem like a lofty way to begin a post about video making by upper elementary students. To clear that potential misconception, know that this post is about the exploration of video making tools – stop motion and green screen – by novice filmmakers. More than that, it is about the joyful, creative, and willing spirit with which my fifth and sixth grade art students embraced and approached the idea of using their hand-crafted Cardboard Creatures as the stars of short films. Back to Spielberg though, this post is also about using technology. Teaching in a 1:1 device school, where every student has access to an iPad all the time, both at school and at home, compels me to help them understand how to use the technology as yet another vehicle for self expression.

This is the second of three posts about the Cardboard Creatures. You can read about how they were crafted in Phase One here. You can read about how they served as models for 3D Design for 3D Printing here.

Stop Motion Animation

There are many ways art students can create animated videos with iPads. We have been using Stop Motion Studio for years, and although not super fancy, it is intuitive for my students and is also free. The Cardboard Creatures were designed to have mobility as one of the Creative Constraints  – precisely because of the animation process. Stop motion animation requires several continuous frames with the subject in a slightly different position for each frame. As an example for the students, I used a wooden artist’s mannequin and posed it in various positions in front of a green screen. I then dropped it into iMovie In green screen mode (a new option in a recent update of iMovie*) and also added audio.

*iMovie added the option for green screen/blue screen in June this year. Many of my students have access through school to DoInk Green Screen app and used that for their videos, as was my original plan. If not, they used iMovie. Going forward, I would just use iMovie. They will be compelled to add audio with iMovie, too, because it is so easy (and fun).

My example video was certainly enough to get the wheels turning for my fifth and sixth grade art students! In many of my classes I have 25-30 students for which I knew the three green screen painted walls we have at the end of our hallway would not be enough. I also wanted to keep the majority of my students in the classroom so I would be available to help them. With this in mind, I took six large empty boxes from a recent cafeteria delivery and cut off the flaps and ends to make filming booths. I picked up a gallon of Behr #1753 Sparkling Apple latex wall paint ($34 at Home Depot – traditional green screen paint on Amazon was $90):

I did buy some green screen gaffer’s tape from Amazon to use to tape up the seams of the box. I made six of these filming booths.

One day as I glanced over at them just sitting there, it occurred to me I could use the filming booths to alter the reality of the classroom space. Dream imagery came to mind. Indulge me, please…:

Thanks. The filming booths ended up working quite well as students with smaller Cardboard Creatures were able to work right in the classroom at one of our six tables. Fortunately, student groups were finishing their Cardboard Creatures at different times, so they would also start filming at different times.

Because so many groups used the filming booths, just a few groups with larger Cardboard Creatures used the green screen walls in the hallway. I also ordered green screen cloth to drape over large boxes to use as stages for the stop motion work so you wouldn’t see the floor.

Mary wanted me to mention that her outfit is in support of Pink Out Day, a day when we wear pink to increase awareness of breast cancer.

Green Screen

When groups were finished filming their Stop Motion animation, they saved the video to their iPad camera roll. From there it is easy to import it to either Do Ink Green Screen or iMovie. They could then adjust sensitivity of the green screen (Do Ink) or add music or sound effects (iMovie). Sound was not required for the project, so many videos don’t include it. Once edited, the videos were turned in to Google Classroom by one student from each group. Below you can see some of the final projects for this phase. They are fairly primitive and amateurish, but most evoke the playful quality of creating with imagination. You’ll see one student name at the top of each video (a Google Classroom construct), but each represents the work of a group. Here are several:

Tell me, how fun are these? I hope you enjoy them as much as I do! Many of these videos represent first experiences with animation and green screen for my students. Remember, even Steven Spielberg had to start somewhere…

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Cardboard Creature Project – Phase One – Build

“The most sophisticated people I know – inside they are all children.” – Jim Henson

The photo above is of me and a whole bunch of cardboard on October 8, 2019 as I waited to introduce our Cardboard Creature project to an incoming class. It was all down hill from there!

Here’s how we did it:

I introduced this unit by showing Caine’s Arcade, a film by Nirvan Mullick. I’ve been showing this video to students for years, but this is the first time we’ve followed it up by working with cardboard. And I’m so glad we did!

Students started by responding to a bell ringer prompt in their sketchbooks: Design a figure you could make 3D. This prompt is purposely vague and open-ended, allowing for creativity and active imagination. It also initiates first consideration of thinking in 3D. This was a great opportunity to differentiate between creative drawing and scientific diagrams, although they both require creative thinking. These are a couple of the responses:

After sharing designs with those at their table, students formed groups based on friendship, like-mindedness, and similarity of creature design. I encouraged groups of three, and when necessary due to class size, groups of two or four were formed. During their first group meeting, students compared designs and discussed possibilities for a design that either combined individual drawings or elaborated on one of the drawings.

Together we also looked at the cardboard artwork of artist Justin King:

Cardboard Animals By Justin King

And after a couple of classes as an inspiration boost, we also looked at the work of Monami Ohno:

Cardboard Sculptures By Monami Ohno

I also shared these three attachment attachments with the students through Google Classroom. We went over the various ways to construct 3D forms with cardboard so it becomes a mechanical endeavor, well thought out and conceived for prime support and bonding.

Students then began the design process with one person sketching for each group. I asked students to show me their plan for mobility for the figure and for attachments.

This went very well. Clearly there is no shortage of imagination in the 5/6 art classes! Here is a small galley of some of the group drawings:

The Creative Constraints for this project were:

  1. Attachments must be made with attachment techniques and hot glue
  2. Creatures must be self supporting and have mobility
  3. Finished creature width and depth must fit within the designated box

Checking the size of the creature against the designated “size checker” box

Groups were able to start building as soon as their design was approved by me. We were using Canary Cardboard cutters and scissors, glue guns, yarn, and brass fasteners. No tape. We discovered along the way that fishing line was helpful for Phase Two: Stop Motion/Green Screen (shared in a separate post). A couple of groups also used sand for ballast on top-heavy models.

The cutters were arranged in little “toolkits” with 4 cutters and one scissor in each, enough for one toolkit at each table. At the end of every class students returned the tool kits and the glue guns (also one per table) to the supply table. I took a quick inventory to make sure they were all accounted for as I didn’t want these tools to leave the classroom.

I was thorough in going over the potential hazards of the cutters and glue guns. Early on there were five or six minor cuts and about the same amount of minor burns, for which band-aids and/or cold water soothed all. Fortunately, nothing was serious, and the accidents tapered to zero after a couple of classes. Experience and confidence seemed to build resistance to injury.

Here are some photos of the cardboard artists at work:


Checking the size of the cardboard part against the designated “size checker” box

Dedication!

And a video of one group explaining their project as they put it (her) together:

I teach nine different classes over two days. Classes are 50 minutes long. It took most groups between five and six classes to make their cardboard creature. As groups finished, they started Phase Two – Stop Motion/Green Screen, for which I had demonstrated the apps and process around the fourth class as some groups neared completion of their build. By October 30, most groups were finished building and we took a break from building/filming so I could show them Phase Three – 3D Design (shared in a separate post); how to design for 3D using Morphi App. I was also concerned about working with hot glue and cutters while the kids were wearing costumes on Halloween; I know my own costume was too “drapey” to be messing around with hot or sharp things.

Notorious Ruth Bader Gentili with the cardboard creatures

As the Cardboard Creatures were completed, they graciously posed for photos before being herded to the school lobby for display there. As two students and I were finishing up the display near the end of the block, students were pouring into the hallways for lunch and recess. We were mobbed with excited kids looking for their creatures.

Above photo credit: Jennifer Mannion

And now (drum roll, please) here are some of the Cardboard Creatures:

Reflection:

If I could bottle the energy the kids brought into the classroom for this project, I would apply it to some of the traditional art projects that cause some kids to check out, disengage, and mutter, “I’m not good at art”. Everyone was at home with this project. It was so different and challenging we all knew and accepted failure as part of the process. The class atmosphere was truly one of discovery, exploration, and true collaboration.

And if I had a nickel for every time a student asked, “Can we just stay here and do this all day?” I could pay for all of the glue sticks we consumed. Kidding not kidding. We went through about 200 glue sticks, necessitating a next day Amazon order in the middle of things to keep us in business. That’s completely my fault. Working groups can get away from you quickly. While you’re helping one group sort out structural issues, another group is using the glue to fasten one edge to another, which intuitively seems like it would work, but doesn’t. Cardboard is heavy and one bead of glue along the edge doesn’t support the weight. Mini-demos about this popped up in the middle of classes as I saw the mountains of glue on certain pieces. What’s the alternative? Tabs, flanges, and Lacing:

Much has been written about the important role of play in child development. This felt like play for all of us. As the teacher, my job was to facilitate the project and interactions. I would intervene with building help or smoothing group dynamics as needed. With group work, certain students struggle to maintain the balance between leading and being led. That’s where the teacher has a role in defining possible tasks within a project and helping groups to either separate out a little to make sure all are busy with defined jobs or to go all-in on one task. For instance, early on, EVERYONE wants to use the glue gun, and the teacher helps ensure that everyone has a chance.

Over the past few years I implemented group projects in November. The past few years, my fifth grade classes were engaged in the WeRMakers Product Design unit and the sixth grade classes incorporated 3D printing in the Game Makers unit. Typically we would have accomplished the important first tasks of creating a portfolio folder, making sketchbooks with covers that are also artworks, learning to photograph art and upload it to Google Classroom and our online gallery, Artsonia, as well as completing at least one additional independent art lesson before moving on to group work.

This year I shook it up a little, going from portfolio folder to sketchbook with cover artwork right into the Cardboard Creature group project. One reason is because at the end of the last school year, when I took inventory of my supplies, I also took a look at the materials I had collected through the years. I had an abundance of cardboard, including large sheets from the packaging of white boards throughout the school. As the project took shape in my mind, I reached out to my colleagues for more. It turns out Gary, a custodian at my school, is the keeper of the boxes from food deliveries, and there is a pretty good assortment in a space right outside the school kitchen. He kept us in cardboard throughout the project. Thank you, Gary!

I liked this scheduling shift a lot, as it tuns out. The group work enabled classes to get to know each other more quickly. This is especially important for my fifth grade students who come together from two different schools when they get to middle school. It also helped them to know me as a teacher earlier in the year – to learn that I value originality over sameness, exploration over duplication, and that when I get their attention, I say what I have to share and then get out of the way. This is a nice foundation to have established as we go forward into the school year.

Lastly, for me personally, I learned a lot about constructing with cardboard. I learned a lot about my students as individuals: the natural leaders, the forceful, the followers, the easy-going, the always helpful, the determined, the rays of sunshine. I enjoyed being in the art space with students, all 200 of them. No  school day or cardboard creature was the same. It was fun.

Holden waves “hello”

Brandon’s Mini-Mona Lisa

My demo for how to make a rounded form ends up as a hat/helmet, of course…

And it was magical. When I would lock up at the end of the day, I’d glance back thinking I might catch all these little creatures coming to life for the night. And when I opened the door in the morning and threw the lights on, I could feel a shift in energy, as if they had suddenly become still…the secret life of Cardboard Creatures.

 

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Out Of This World Sketchbook Covers

“To confine our attention to terrestrial matters would be to limit the human spirit.”Stephen Hawking

As I curate the student artwork for this post, I just can’t stop downloading pieces from Artsonia because they are ALL OUT OF THIS WORLD!!!

We just wrapped up this project and most students have had a chance to upload their work to Artsonia where they are on display in this gallery: https://www.artsonia.com/museum/gallery.asp?project=1822853

Miriam Harrati

These are the covers for the sketchbooks we made two weeks ago. Space scenes are first sketched out with white colored pencil on purple tag stock after the book is made. Students opened the books flat on the tables and treated both outside front and back covers as one panel or scene. Color was added with oil pastel and blended with blending stomps.

Kylie Connolly

This was a super engaging project for all due to (I think) the tactile quality of the oil pastels, the freedom of imagery, and the huge success of overlaying one color on another as it hides a lot of missteps.

Jack Oleksyk

Students were given a few resource sheets of planets, meteors, comets, rockets, and constellations. From there they were encouraged to create their own unique space scenes. Martians welcome.

Sean Lewinsky

This was a great opportunity to talk about the difference between an artistic rendering and a scientific diagram. Come to find out, some sixth grade science classes had made scientific diagrams of the solar system recently, and this project helped to foster further connections with the topic of space.

John Nakamura

This project also generated discussion about perspective. Rather than draw themselves surrounded by space, students were asked to imagine themselves being immersed in space where every time they turned their heads, all they saw were planetary and other objects, not their own bodies.

Grace Sabo

The relaxed yet eager work sessions generated a lot of conversation (no surprise – Area 51 was a frequent topic 😊) contrasting with periods of total silence except for the music air-playing to the speaker (I’ve been stuck on Jack Johnson in the classroom lately).

Ella Martin

As students finished, they used Autodesk Sketchbook on iPads to create digital space scenes. Those will be posted in a few days.

Matthew Haley

Meanwhile, enjoy these vibrant space scenes! I hope you love them as much as I do!

Greyson Michael

Tyler Loo

Lia Romano

Jacob Poirier

Irelyn Bradley

Kyle Keaveney

Justin Ferenczy

Aiden Fayer

Caleb Keyes

Taylor Ferlo

Hailey Pierce

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Couldn’t Make It To Open House 2019?

Couldn’t make it Open House this week? No worries at all!

This is a super busy time of year and one can’t do everything! It was a pleasure to see so many parents and guardians Tuesday night and I appreciate your stopping by to say “hi” and check out the art room. If you weren’t able to make it, please know you can stop by any time. Here is what the room looks like in a 360 Panorama (click on the photo to see the room): 

Open House visitors enjoyed the following video, which shows highlights of last year’s 5/6 Miscoe Hill Art Program and should give you some idea of what to expect this year (click on the photo to see the video):

Also available was the back-to-school letter containing a breakdown of grading criteria and my contact information. Here is a link to the letter: Welcome to 2019.20 color

Speaking of contact information, I have emailed every address I had for my students’ parents and guardians last week. If you did not receive an email from me, please let me know at agentili@mursd.org 

It was a pleasure to meet some of you this week and I look forward to meeting the rest of you one day soon, possibly at conferences or at the Art Show in the spring.

Sincerely,

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International Dot Day 2019

Screen Shot 2014-09-22 at 12.34.06 PM

In the Miscoe Hill 5/6Art room we have had a blast creating dots and watching them come to life using the Quiver app on iPads. Why create dots? Because of the book The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds. Here is a narrated video of the story:

We colored in templates made by Quiver and then used the app to view the dots we have made. Quiver uses Augmented Reality to transform the dots into dynamic, moving dots. You can download the Quiver app to any mobile device, print the template, and view the dots with augmented reality. Here is a video how it works (please substitute “Quiver” for “Colar” because the app has changed hands since I made this video:

As students view their dots with augmented reality, they’ve been capturing them in photos and videos on the iPads. Here is a compilation of their artwork:

And individual students’ work is posted on Artsonia here.

Nice work, right? The video will be posted on the International Dot Day wall and on Twitter with the hashtag #DotDay19. Over sixteen million Dot makers will participate in International Dot Day this year!

To see a heart-warming story about one a former student and the impact Dot Day had on her, please follow this link: Shea on Fablevision 

Always remember:

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The Printed Image: Student Artwork On Display

“Photography is a small voice, at best, but sometimes one photograph, or a group of them, can lure our sense of awareness.” – W. Eugene Smith

2019 Miscoe Hill “The Printed Image” Artists

The following students will have their artwork on display in the Massachusetts Art Education Association exhibit The Printed Image from September 30 – November 15 at the MA State Transportation Building, 10 Park Plaza, Boston. The artwork in the exhibit is curated by middle and high school art educators throughout Massachusetts.

In choosing work for this show, I tapped the tremendous well of artwork created by my students last year that was uploaded to our online Artsonia gallery. All of this artwork was created on iPads. I am incredibly proud of the following students whose work has been chosen for the show. Grades listed are last year, the school year in which the artwork was created.

Name: Kayla Aubut
Grade: 6
Title: Perspective
Medium: Photography
Size: 15 x 19

Artwork by Kayla Aubut

 

Name: Patrick Connolly
Grade: 5
Title: Exploration
Medium: Photography
Size: 15 x 19

Artwork by Patrick Connolly

 

Name: Kenneth Hanson
Grade: 6
Title: Self Portrait With Oversized Nose
Medium: Digital Art
Size: 15 x 19

Kenneth Hanson

 

Name: Jacob Jiang
Grade: 6
Title: Digital Abstract
Medium: Digital Art
Size: 15 x 19

Jacob Jiang

 

Name: Bridget Klupa
Grade: 6
Title: Sweet Tooth
Medium: Digital Art
Size: 15 x 19

Artwork by Bridget Klupa

 

Name: Maggie Lewinsky
Grade: 6
Title: Self Portrait
Medium: Digital Art
Size: 15 x 19

Artwork by Maggie Lewinsky

 

Name: Lucas Nguyen
Grade: 6
Title: Still Life Abstraction
Medium: Digital Art
Size: 15 x 19

Artwork by Lucas Nguyen

 

Name: Diana Plotkin
Grade: 6
Title: Funny Frog
Medium: Digital Art
Size: 15 x 19

Artwork by Diana Plotkin

 

Name: Lauren Tabakin
Grade: 6
Title: Digital Zone Doodle
Medium: Digital Art
Size: 15 x 19

Artwork by Laura Tabakin

 

Name: Linda Wang
Grade: 5
Title: Super Imposition
Medium: Digital Art
Size: 15 x 19

Artwork by Linda Wang

When you see these students in the hallways and out and about in the community, please congratulate them on their fine work!

 

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Summer Learning 8: Clay Is Fun/Clay Is Hard

“Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.” Thomas A. Edison

I spent most of my summer getting dirty and looking like this:

And it was glorious! I would spend the early morning hours getting stuff done around the house, writing, or reading. Around 9am I would change into these clay clothes and go on up to the pottery studio, not to be seen for at least a few hours. The studio is nothing more than half of my husband’s former woodshop on the top floor of one of the outbuildings on our small farm.

It’s a primitive space. There’s no running water and no heat. Clean up happens with a garden hose in a double wash tub sink, where I usually end up getting as wet as the stuff I’m washing.

Clean up station

There’s a table saw in the middle of the space. And a drill press in the corner.

But there are two giant windows that make me feel as if I were outside. A fan to move air. And a peaceful view of part of the back yard, which I especially love during a storm.

There’s also an old iHome clock radio tuned to WUMB Boston (folk radio – where you’re never more than an hour away from a Richard Thompson song – ha!) on which the volume button no longer turns and is permanently set to kind of loud, but not too loud.

Lastly, the space is graced with and blessed by St. Samuel, a painting on glass by friend and former student, Sam Odysseus Wolken. St. Samuel is my constant companion in the clay studio, and keeps a watchful eye over my work.

St. Samuel by Sam Odysseus Wolken

I opened the studio for this summer after our return from Philadelphia, around July 2. Because I only use this great space during the summer, I take the first couple of weeks to refresh the muscle memory of wheel work. Consequently, I would go to the studio each day with pottery goals in mind. I would usually throw a few small bowls to warm up. I used Indonesian Batik stamps (Brimfield) and 3D printed peace dove cutter/stampers to imprint the first pieces.

First work warm ups

Once I got my pottery groove back, my first goal was to throw decent cylinders, focusing on pulling up the sides. Once I could do that again, I focused on collaring and pushing out the sides to make curvy vessels.

Embracing the curves

The next goal was to throw plates. This is a big challenge for me. I use videos on YouTube to teach myself. I must have referred to six different videos before finding one that helped. I made a bunch of small plates. I couldn’t seem to master the large plate, but I had other goals I wanted to accomplish.

Small plates

At this time, about a month into summer clay work, I was driven to design a cutter/stamper to imprint the plates and double as a cutter/tracer for slab clay cut outs. I had done this last year with 3D printing tracer/cutters inspired by Picasso’s peace doves.

Peace doves made with 3D printed stamper/cutters

This year, I took inspiration from our last remaining peacock, Lapis Lazuli, the sole survivor of the four peafowl we have had on our little farm over the past several years. I took to Autodesk Sketchbook on my iPad to noodle around with ideas for a stamp/cutter in the evening (while binging on Game of Thrones – finally, I know). I then imported the design to Morphi app to model for 3D printing. This is what I came up with:

Design One

When I used it to imprint the clay, it was too detailed and busy to integrate well with the lack of structure within clay.

Too detailed

So I went back to the drawing board with a revised model:

Design Two

Which didn’t 3D print very well because the lines were too thin:

I went back in to Autodesk Sketchbook intending to thicken the lines and ended up with a whole different design:

Design Three

I liked this design a lot and it 3D printed very well. It also imprinted the clay nicely with minimal clean up, if any.

I ended up adjusting the size five times and printing it out in all five sizes, small to large. I have a New Matter Modt 3D printer that Santa brought a few years ago. It is at end-of-life and is challenging to print with. It did manage to eke out the pieces I needed.

The languishing New Matter Modt

Along with different sized stampers for different size vessels, I wanted the tracer/cutters to make a series of slab clay cutouts that diminish in size and are tied together as a hanging wall decoration.

5 sizes of stamper/cutters

5 sizes of stamper/cutters

Greenware peacocks

Bisque fired repeating peacocks to be strung together to hang on a wall

In the midst of this work, I decided to design and print a peacock feather (the eye, really) to hang at the bottom of a singular peacock cut-out.

Peacock feather

Once I finished all the slab work with the peacock and peacock feather cutters, I had to stop because we were going to be away for vacation. That would give the clay pieces a full week to dry. When we returned from vacation on August 17, I fired everything in the kiln. After firing, I took inventory. I was surprised at the volume of the fruits of my labor:

Yikes

Some close ups:

These will all be be glazed (hand painted) and fired (again) this fall, which will take focus, discipline, and determination because I will be back at school as of next week. At this point, with the studio having been open for not even two months, this is what has accumulated for glazing:

Meanwhile, I’m still working on making large plates. As mentioned before, I use YouTube to learn technique. I am blown away by the varied approaches to wheel throwing pottery, especially plates. I’m happy to say I’ve met with success this week thanks to this video by an art teacher in Illinois. This is the fourth technique I’ve tried and it worked well for me.

10″ plate – hallelujah!

I’ll make a few more large plates this week and weekend before going back to school on Monday. Once we settle in, the air will start to cool here in Massachusetts and I’ll no longer be able to work in the pottery studio. Instead I’ll spend my creative time glazing all of this pottery and picking up my brushes to resume watercolor painting for the winter, in the least, who knows what else?

Reflection – Pottery

My relationship with pottery is not new. I did some hand building and clay sculpture in high school. I don’t remember taking a clay class in art school, where I was first a graphic design major before switching to painting. I did take a ceramics class in my MEd program and loved it. A former colleague (hi Leia!) was a ceramics major and taught me a lot when we worked together. My students create clay projects a couple of times each year and I’ve offered many clay classes for our school Enrichment program, as well as week-long summer clay workshops like Clay Every Day. So my relationship with clay is not new, but it has never been consistent. It is an ability I developed well enough over time as an educator to be able to teach it.

There is something tremendously appealing to me to work with a substance, in this case clay, to manipulate it and have it manipulate you, as it resists or encourages your interaction with it. There are times, for instance in pulling a wall, where you are so in sync and everything is working perfectly. It feels like flying.

Other times it seems you can’t do anything right, and along with centering the clay, you have to center your head and be completely in the game. It is a fantastic stress reducer. It is a thoughtful solo experience that I find very peaceful, yet empowering. This is going to sound corny, but the entire process of working with clay within the space we’ve designated for it makes me feel like me again.

Reflection – Summer Learning

It may be obvious to a reader that working with clay on a sustained basis is professional development for an art educator. After all, artist educators were artists before they were teachers. For me, setting aside consistent time to work in the clay studio was a conscientious decision, in fact a reaction to how I have spent previous summers.

This is the first summer in a long time where I haven’t taken a professional development course, participated in a program, or taught a course or workshop (well, I did facilitate one workshop). Earlier this year, I took stock of my summer professional development over the previous five years:

  • 2018:
    • Massachusetts Arts Curriculum Frameworks Revision facilitation: Five working days with at-home work between meeting days
    • Project Based Learning three day workshop
    • TABnology one day workshop facilitation
    • Bay District Schools, Florida, one day on-site workshop facilitation, three days with travel
  • 2017
    • International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), San Antonio, four day conference and presentation of “weRmakers”
    • Framingham State College Coursework for Certificate In Instructional Technology
  • 2016
    • Framingham State College, Coursework for Certificate In Instructional Technology
    • Massachusetts College of Art and Design, Teaching for Artistic Behavior (TAB) Summer Institute
    • Harvard Graduate School of Education, Online, Teaching and Learning in the Maker-Centered Classroom
    • International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), Denver, four day conference
    • English Language Learner Training, Uxbridge, three days
    • Ed Tech Teacher Summer Workshop, Cambridge, three days
  • 2015
    • Harvard Graduate school of Education, Project Zero Classroom, Cambridge, five day workshop
  • 2014
    • Framingham State College, Framingham and Dedham and Online, STEM Certificate Program with PTC

I considered all of the out-of-pocket expenses, because aside from a $725 once per year course reimbursement and the occasional registration fee covered by my district, everything else (travel, hotel, commute, supplies, textbooks) was on me. And I considered the juggling I had been doing to take advantage of summer time off to relax and restore my energy and balance it with family medical issues and all of this professional development and commitment. Lastly, I factored in my work in leadership of my local teachers union from 2013-2017, which never stopped in summer. With all of this in mind, I decided that this summer would be different. And boy, am I glad I did!

All of this time on the clay studio has truly reenergized me. Not only that, but all the thought time has grounded me and made clear a focus to bring the “soul” back into my teaching. I have been feeling scattered over the past few years, darting between traditional art making, digital art making, 3D modeling, project based learning units, and student-directed art making. While all of these directions are good and valid, I haven’t felt an integration toward a common objective between them.

While all the clay work I’ve done this summer has developed my craft in this medium, it has not yet empowered my creativity and self-expression. I expect when I begin to paint the pieces (because painting is my medium) I will begin to feel like I am expressing myself artistically.

As I start school next week, the common thread or overarching goal within my classroom will be self-expression. With whichever medium my students are engaged, our collective focus will be on how the work can lead to self-expression. I expect this won’t always result in pretty, bulletin board showcase work, but I expect it will be of the utmost value to my students as growing human beings, citizens, part of our school community of learners and greater global community of artists.

I’ve been thriving all summer in the clay studio. If we are to empower our students to thrive, we must ourselves thrive. And not in a reactive way, say using meditative methods to decompress, but in purposeful engagement in activities that empower us to be our unique and individual best selves. Our time outside the classroom should be recognized and respected by our administration and our community as our own time to fulfill our personal responsibilities and engage in meaningful activity that leads to our own empowerment. It is only then that we can empower others.

Self-empowerment and self-expression will be my goals as we go back to school next week. Meanwhile, until the days grow cold again, I’ll be in the clay studio in my free moments.

Hello from the clay studio

This post is the final post, part eight, of a group of posts about my self-directed professional development in the summer of 2019. To see the others, search Summer Learning or 2019 Summer PD.

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