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Couldn’t Make Open House?

Couldn’t make it Open House tonight? 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 tonight 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 5/6 Art 2017

Speaking of contact information, I emailed every address I had for my students’ parents 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 last night and I look forward to meeting the rest of you one day soon.


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Teaching for Artistic Behavior: #TAB Institute 2017

“I do it/You do it. I challenge/You wrestle. You choose/I support” – John Crowe, Theory of Everything

Teaching for Artistic Behavior

In the world of Art Education today, the pedagogical practice of Teaching for Artistic Behavior (TAB) has become a movement toward affording students the opportunity for individualized creativity and away from the one-project-at-a-time-for-all-students approach. The movement is strong and has been energized through social media, with about 8500 members total in the eleven TAB groups I counted on Facebook. Early on, art educators were quick to harness the power of the professional learning network through Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, as many are the only art educator in a school and have actively sought out collegiality for affirmation and counsel. The TAB professional learning network is huge.

Originally developed in the mid-1990’s, established in 2001, and formally incorporated in 2007, TAB was founded by Katherine Douglas and John Crowe with Pauline Joseph and Diane Jaquith after exploring and collaborating around this constructivist approach to teaching art. The Teaching for Artistic Behavior website is a wonderful resource for everything TAB. To see a TAB art classroom in action, watch this video by Katherine Douglas of students working on a cardboard (and so much more) ship.

TAB is the foundation for Choice-Based Art Education, which is a newly created interest group of the National Art Education Association (NAEA). In fact, it was as I sat in the 2016 NAEA Delegates Assembly as one of the two Massachusetts delegates and listened to proposals for the establishment of the group that my interest in TAB was piqued. Having been interested in both the Reggio Emilia and Montessori methods when I was an elementary regular educator, the student-centered approach was familiar. Over recent years, the terms “Choice-based,” “Teaching for Artistic Behavior,” “TAB,” “TAB-Choice” and “Centers approach” for art education are often interchanged.  In regular education, current related terms include Student-Driven, Choice, and Inquiry. Current regular education Choice concepts include 20% Time (from Google), Genius Hour (from Apple), and, to an extent, Project Based Learning. Student choice and student voice are certainly popular topics in education today. As of late, through my interest in technology, I have often found myself with one foot in each of the domains of art education and regular education. It was with this in mind I enrolled in the Teaching for Artistic Behavior Graduate Course and Summer Institute held at Massachusetts College of Art and Design two weeks ago.

The Tree House residence at MassArt

This is the fourth summer of the program, and for the past couple of years I have watched it come and go, thinking “I should do that”. I signed on in the spring and was glad to return to my alma mater for a week in July, although at their “new” campus on Huntington Avenue. MassArt is where I earned my undergraduate degree in painting 30+ years ago when the campus was sprawled across Brookline Avenue, from Longwood Avenue to Overland Street. The Overland Street building held the student studios, overlooking Fenway Park. Those were the days.

Day One:

Katherine Douglas

Two weeks ago, though, we were ensconced in the new Design and Media Center at MassArt for the TAB course. We met on Sunday night for dinner and introductions and the week began at 9 am on Monday morning with choices (of course) of programming depending on one’s interests. I chose to attend the TAB 101 session with TAB founder, Katherine Douglas. The slides Katherine used as reference can be found here. The slides create a great framework for understanding TAB, but it was pure Katherine Douglas who breathed life into them for us. She is funny and her anecdotes are entertaining, yet she can’t help but exude  wisdom and insight garnered from many years teaching elementary art in a public school, riding the waves of budget shortfalls and challenging administrators, all the while forging a brave, new path for art education. Here are my SketchNotes from the first day of the course:

SketchNote One

These are a few bulleted items from Katherine’s presentation:

  • 3 Tenets of TAB:
    • What do artists do?
    • The student is the artist
    • The classroom is the studio
  • Choice: Children were rushing through planned projects to draw on the chalkboard
  • Centers: Survival strategies when insufficient supplies led to centers approach
  • Scheduling: 5 minute demos to introduce a new center to make the most of short art periods
  • Differentiation: “Teaching art was like making Thanksgiving dinner – the beans are raw while the rolls are burned”.
  • Assessment: “We know what the children know by watching them.”
  • Guiding question: “How can you make your art different from everyone else’s artwork?”
  • Mediums:There are 3D people stuck in a 2D world”
  • Reflection: Five minute museum
  • Sharing: Art show for only highest grade level
  • Pedagogy: John Crowe’s Theory of Everything –
    • I do it/You do it
    • I challenge/You wrestle
    • You choose/I support
  • Early colleagues: John Crowe, Pauline Joseph (see more in SketchNote #7)
  • Student-Directed: Students will decide –
    • How to do it
    • When to do it
    • If they’ll do it
  • Constructivist theory: Start where they are
  • TAB Feedback Loop – How TAB offers feedback between students and teachers: see this Prezi by Katherine Douglas

Ellyn Gaspardi

Spending the morning with Katherine Douglas would have been enough to keep my mind busy, yet I chose to spend the afternoon with 6th grade art educator, Ellyn Gaspardi, in a breakout group with other middle school art educators. Drawing from many years of experience in her TAB classroom, Ellyn had a lot to share with us, which she did with both passion and humor. She also challenged us to make comparisons with our current teaching practice in order to envision the TAB approach in our classrooms. Ellyn shared some components of her program and her thoughts on running a choice-based classroom:

  • Elements and Principles of Art: To be taught as part of work underway, not as separate concepts
  • Studio Habits of Mind: around the room or posted if used for assessment (rubric)
  • Assessment: “In an art classroom, grading and assessment are about square pegs and round holes.”
  • Over-arching Themes: 
    • K – 4: Exposure
    • 5 – 8: Identity
    • 9 – 12: Expression
  • Guiding Principles:
    • Ignite Intrinsic Motivation
    • Teach how to generate ideas and solutions
    • Give permission to adapt and collaborate
    • Give permission to inquire and debate

I was inspired by Ellyn and her approach to TAB and am hoping to visit her in her Massachusetts art classroom during the next school year.

Day Two:

On the second day, we broke into grade level groups to further explore the possibilities for TAB with our student demographics. As Art Department Chair for my district, I wanted to understand TAB implementation at every level, so I spent some of the day with the middle school group, and some of the day with the high school group. I had learned a lot about TAB in the elementary classroom in Katherine’s morning talk the day before. Here are my SketchNotes from Day Two:

Ian Sands

Let’s just say if you follow art education online at all, you know Ian Sands. Ian has gained notoriety over the past few years writing often provocative posts against one-size-fits-all, cookie cutter approaches to teaching art. Birch trees are his particular nemesis. (Insert Ian eye roll.)

Ian facilitated the high school art teacher group, which I waltzed in and out of, depending on what was happening in the other groups. I appreciate having that flexibility, and am especially happy to have information on TAB for all grade levels to share with my district as a result.

Ian shared common practices in his art room including examples of assessments and critiques, which are especially important at the high school level. Whereas most elementary and middle school art work can be assessed with rubrics or simple evaluations, high school grading bears more consequence because of GPAs and college acceptances. Conversely, at least for me, it is easier to conceptualize a TAB classroom at the high school level where independence and prior knowledge is greater, so less time is needed to focus on the centers and classroom configuration. In fact, although our high school is project-based, the physical space is more like a TAB room and students receive instruction in the style of the 5-minute demo and rely on peers for additional guidance.

The rubric Ian shared is in the SketchNote above and below. Students receive either an E, C, or a D, based on their level of engagement. I like it and am considering using it in my middle school classroom along with the Studio Habits of Mind already in use.

Assessment rubric by Ian Sands

Reflections and blogging are also key in Ian’s classroom and we discussed many options for blog websites. It is especially important that the platform is free and can accommodate images and video for art students. We discussed Google Docs for G Suite schools, Weebly, Seesaw for younger students, and Satori (not free). Other blog platforms (Tumblr, Blogger, WordPress) are often blocked in school districts.

Day Three

While we had focused on the “nuts and bolts” of TAB over the past two days, day three brought a departure from that close look and offered us a chance to consider all populations in our schools. The day began with a panel discussion on Cultural Competency in the Classroom, with Cecilia Mendez, Beth Balliro, Chandra Ortiz, Ekua Holmes, and Mariana Yates Cabral and moderated by Julie Toole. This was an important discussion about maintaining trust in the multicultural classroom, with the art room as a sanctuary. At one point Mariana shared that how important it was to her to have been asked her name and after saying it with a hard R in Mariana, being asked how it was said at home. It was then she realized she should insist that her name be pronounced correctly, with the rolled R of the Spanish pronunciation. She then said, “Hey, if I can learn names like ‘McConaughey’, others can learn to say my name correctly”, which elicited a big laugh from the crowd that did not diminish its poignancy.

On the third day I also participated in a session with Ian Sands about how to incorporate themes and units in the TAB classroom, which was good to see at the high school level to compare with the way I use them in my middle school classes. I also participated in two workshops with Diane Jaquith, about the Studio Habits of Mind and Curriculum.

Here is the SketchNote from the day:

Diane Jaquith

One really helpful session was in evaluating artwork with the Studio Habits of Mind. Diane Jaquith led the session using the artwork each of us had submitted for a group show. Diane had printed sticky notes with the Studio Habits on them and we went around the gallery and affixed them to the wall next to the artwork. This activity helped me realize that assessment can be done based on finished or nearly finished artwork. Normally, I use the Studio Habits to evaluate students on their process, and it was interesting to consider evaluating their finished work this way as well. This would also be a clear way for students to understand the Studio Habits of Mind, through using them as criteria for a peer critique.

My impression is that Diane is the glue of the TAB Institute. She is the one who clarifies the schedule and shares all the plans for the day. She seems to never tire with this work, and is still able to field questions and lead sessions competently and without skipping a beat.

I was also lucky to attend a session on curriculum with Diane. I had been curious about TAB and curriculum. If students are each exploring their own art at their own pace, with materials they choose over other materials, I wondered how we might define this within a curriculum map. Diane shared a few different approaches and reassured us that it is understood we all have different situations with different requirements and expectations from our leadership and community, so we must remain flexible. Fortunately, TAB affords flexibility. If we consider the main goal of Teaching for Artistic Behavior to be creating a student-centered learning environment, the focus for TAB curriculum is on the essential questions with students choosing how to explore them. In other words, rather than defining projects within the curriculum, we establish essential questions and provide media with which they can be explored. One way to facilitate the use of varied media by students is to provide a chart where students indicate the center at which they had worked at the end of class. After four classes at one center, they are required to try something else. We all know the students who would be content to draw Anime characters every class and never explore anything else, for instance, and a chart such as this encourages them to move away from this comfort zone.  I am working on curriculum mapping as a summer project, so this session with Diane was timely.

A recent quote by Diane on defining TAB: “…a teacher can offer a ‘modified choice’ program but there is no such thing as ‘modified TAB.’ Here is why: TAB is a philosophy, a way of approaching your art program in which every decision made is with the intent of developing artistic behaviors and moving in the direction of full student independence. If this is what guides your decision-making as a teacher, then you are a TAB teacher.”

Diane Jaquith has co-authored two books about TAB – Engaging Learners Through Artmaking: Choice-Based Art Education in the Classroom with Katherine Douglas, and The Learner-Directed Classroom: Developing Creative Thinking Skills Through Art with Nan Hathaway. These are the de facto bibles for the TAB approach. Throw in Creative and Mental Growth Viktor Lowenfeld and John Dewey’s Art as Experience, and you’ve got the superfecta of reference books for your choice-based art education classroom.

Field Trip

Wednesday night brought pouring rains and a field trip to the Parts and Crafts Hackerspace/MakerSpace in Somerville, MA. This was a great opportunity to see other methods and materials that might be included in a choice-based art room. Today’s artists are not limited by traditional art materials (think James Turrell) so electronics, 3D printing, and other non-traditional materials should be available in art classrooms today. Parts and Crafts was a good place to visit to see the realistic possibilities for adding these elements to an art program. I say “realistic” because too often MakerSpaces are all about the materials and less about the materials as tools for planned actions. I felt right at home among the stacked containers of materials and supplies, as I think any art teacher would. We are accustomed to having materials at the ready in order to bring to life whatever it is our student artists have envisioned. This is why I believe a school MakerSpace should be an extension of the art room. Here is my SketchNote from the field trip:

Studio Centers

Ongoing throughout the week were studio centers as provided for and set up by teachers attending the TAB institute. The studio was managed by Clyde Gaw, 30 year veteran art educator and TAB educator for the past ten years in Indianapolis, Indiana. Many participants spent their evenings in the studio with Clyde, creating both artwork and camaraderie. I had chosen to commute from my home 30 miles west of Boston, driving within the bewitching hours pre-6:15 am and post-6:30 pm in order to spend an hour in the car each way rather than two hours because of traffic. Due to this schedule, I was not able to participate in studio time, and so didn’t get to know Clyde very well, aside from some greetings and funny commentary we exchanged.

The purpose of the studio is to let participants experience first-hand the way studio centers are set up in a choice-based art classroom. Materials and instructions for their use are provided, opportunities for collaborative murals and other projects are established, challenges for experimentation are defined, yet the artists are free to explore and create independently. Examples of studio centers can be seen in the SketchNote below:

Day Four

This last day of formal programming began with a fantastic presentation by Julia Golden-Battle and Julie Toole on LGBTQ in education and the formation of gender identities within young people.  The underlying theme of the 2017 institute was Teaching All Students – the inclusion of this segment was essential and very well done. It was at this session that I learned about the Gender-Unicorn, a diagram for which you can see in the SketchNote below:

The next part of the day included an Un-Conference, where participants offered to facilitate sessions on TAB and choice-based related topics. I facilitated a session on Integrating Technology in the Art Classroom, which fell under the heading of STEAM on the un-conference schedule. Following the un-conference model meant I hadn’t prepared a formal presentation and had just a few minutes to gather some resources to share (which is half the fun of it). I went through the icon folders on my iPad and collected pertinent apps in one “TAB” folder and also went though my photos and videos on my phone and collected examples of student work I had documented previously in a shared folder I could access with my iPad during the un-conference. I have been presenting on this topic at various conferences since 2013 (since my district became a 1:1 learning environment with iPads), so I had a good idea of what I needed to illustrate methods by which teachers and students can use technology in art education. This is a potential future post of its own, and not by any means a comprehensive list, but here are just a few of the tech ideas I shared:

  • Google Classroom or other Learning Management System 
    • for centralized delivery of instruction and resources that students can access whenever they need them
    • where students can “turn in” photos of their work at all stages for your evaluation or to ask questions and share artist statements
    • for peer critique or discussion about artwork, concepts, or art history, etc
    • for timelines and check lists for project work
  • Artsonia 
    • an online public gallery of student work where student identity is protected
    • to share artwork with parents and school community
    • for students to develop a following of family and friends as cheerleaders for their artmaking
  • Document Camera and Projector
    • Breathes new life into the 5-minute demo where all students can see what you’re demonstrating from comfortable seating around the room, rather than clustering around a crowded demo space
    • Students can share their work for all to see easily from around the room
  • 3D Printing 
    • as an art medium in the student-centered studio space
    • for creating tools to be used with other mediums such as plates for printmaking or dies for ceramics
    • as a prototyping tool
  • 3D Modeling Apps
    • Morphi
    • 3Dc.io
  • Drawing and Painting Apps
    • Sketchbook Express
    • ArtRage
    • Procreate
    • Brushes
    • Paper by 53
    • Adobe Sketch
  • Apps for Sharing and Collaboration
    • Padlet
    • Popplet
    • Google docs
  • Photography Apps
    • Photoshop Express
    • Photo Wizard
  • Collage 
    • Pic Collage

We also talked about “app-smashing” which is using one app for a process, and adding in one or more additional apps and process(es) to accomplish a finished piece or product. With all of the apps and equipment mentioned above, they can be stretched and used for other than their primary intent with just a little bit of imagination.

SPARC Mobile

Later in the day, Ekua Holmes brought around the MassArt SPARC Mobile, which is a traveling art van that makes stops around the communities of Boston to bring art making opportunities to the people there. This was a fabulous addition to the day as the idea of a traveling art mobile is genuinely exciting. The van is a stock van that has been retrofitted with shelving and dividers designed by the MassArt industrial design department and it is chock full of colorful art supplies. You can read more about it here.

Day Five

Last day. Sad. If we all weren’t so exhausted, it would have been really sad. I know the people who had been staying at MassArt’s residence, the Treehouse, had been attending TAB sessions all day, exploring Boston in the evening, and finishing off with late night sessions in the studio and they were happily beat. I was overwhelmed with all I had taken in from so many inspiring and knowledgable instructors, as well as worn by the commute. (While driving to and from Boston throughout the week I had compiled a top ten list titled “All I Need to Know I Learned on the Mass Pike” – it helped.) Here are Friday’s SketchNotes:

So then, the last day was a literal and figurative “brain drain” where we took apart and packed up the studio and gallery as well as listening to a few more words of wisdom. We also worked in our grade level groups to create action plans for going forward. This is tricky for me.

Two summers ago I was thrilled to attend Project Zero Classroom at Harvard Graduate School of Education, a week-long program where I also learned so much and first heard the advice, “change only 10% of your teaching at a time”, which has stayed with me. I don’t know for sure, but I think this is based on the idea that whatever problems you currently have, there’s pretty much zero chance that everything needs to change – you must be doing something right! Making change a little at a time gives us something to reflect against, like maintaining a control group in a science experiment. I know for a fact that a lot of what is happening in our/my 5/6 art classroom is good, in fact I swear, some of it is great.

I have some juggling to do with some pretty awesome project-based learning units already in play, some classroom routines that work really well (handmade sketchbooks and creativity prompts), and a boatload of integrated technology. I expect my focus is going to be on the idea, “Students choose how to do it, when to do it, and if they’ll do it”, and on finding ways to afford more opportunity for them to make these choices.

While I know some of this summer’s course participants are making sweeping changes and “doing TAB” completely as they return to school this fall, my action plan is to first evaluate my current practice to measure how much of what we do is student-centered, and whether or not the part that isn’t is valuable, meaningful, and effective. John Crowe’s Theory of Everything (I do it/You do it. I challenge/You wrestle. You choose/I support) will be the device against which I gauge my pedagogy. John Crowe himself says every good classroom has all of these stages in play at one time or another. The experiences I create for my students sometimes include I do it/You do it as an introduction, always include I challenge/You wrestle as practice and usually include You choose/I support for the final project. My first goal will be to allow enough time for the choice phase of a project.

There are particular elements of the Teaching for Artistic Behavior course that I want to implement, no matter what. For instance:

  1. I really like Ian’s rubric on engagement.
  2. I also love the idea of studio centers and the freedom derived from having several mediums to choose from.
  3. The cardboard challenge is calling me. I once taught a summer class in a program for gifted kids and for our “Inside the Castle Walls” class, we built a castle out of cardboard that completely FILLED a classroom at a local vocational high school. My students and I already watch Caine’s Arcade every year, a cardboard challenge is due.
  4. Peer critiques using the Studio Habits of Mind
  5. Keeping a watchful eye on the culture of my classroom and trying to cultivate a community of tolerance and diversity.
  6. As department chair, share my TAB experience with my colleagues and help to facilitate classroom visits to Ellyn’s school and to an elementary school in a nearby town where there is a TAB practitioner.
  7. Continue to work on developing ideas for an effective MakerSpace where art is valued as one of the STEAM subjects with the same importance as the other subjects.
  8. Revise the art show goals to include more student curation of content.
  9. Keep in mind there are “3D people stuck in a 2D world” and provide opportunities for my “cayenne pepper kids” to exercise their strengths.
  10. Lastly (for now), post the question, “How can you make your artwork look different from everyone else’s artwork?” in the classroom. Perhaps in a thought bubble, with a bunch of question marks around it. Or maybe as crossroads with several paths as offshoots from the hub. Or maybe make a zonkey scratching his head in thought?

How to Draw a Zonkey by Ian Sands






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Exposition, Exploration, & Exit ISTE17 Part 6/6

“What is that feeling when you’re driving away from people and they recede on the plain till you see their specks dispersing? —it’s the too-huge world vaulting us, and it’s good-bye. But we lean forward to the next crazy venture beneath the skies.” – Jack Kerouac, On the Road

Massachusetts to Texas

I had to go all the way to Texas to have breakfast with my friend, Bethann Orr (@borr), Director of Technology in Barnstable, MA. Bethann and I run into each other at tech conferences around the state, but this is the first time we met in Texas! Bethann was staying at the famed-for-being-haunted Menger Hotel, so naturally we met there for breakfast. I love hanging out with Bethann to hear about tech life from her perspective as a director. I also loved hearing about what she is looking for at ISTE. We asked the server to take our photo with the hope of seeing ghosts in it later. See any?

See any on this photo of the lobby?

Yeah, me neither.

On the way to the convention center form the Menger Hotel, I stopped in to look at the architecture at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church right across the street. It’s a beautiful church, built in 1870, and literally built around by a shopping mall in the 1940s.

So of course I was curious to see what it looked like on the inside. With it’s elegant vaulting and flying buttresses, it is Gothic in style and beautiful to behold. I’m glad I took a moment to step inside.

Tools for Every Phase of the Project Cycle

Post ghost and beautiful church, I was back at ISTE for Tools for Every Phase of the Project Cycle with Suzie Boss (@suzieboss), Myla Lee (@MyTLee3) and Jane Krauss (@jkrauss). 

Right away the presenters had all 150 of us in audience collaborating on a Google Doc:

And using the app, Today’s Meet, to communicate with each other about our ideas for project based learning. I was fascinating to work this way and witness so many ideas being generated at the same time.

The presenters then outlined the steps through the project based learning process.

They provided a great list of phases of the tech tools that were mentioned:

Sparking Interest – Kahoot!

Question Finding, Problem-Posing – ArcView, TuVa

Research – Diigo, Google Alerts

Working with Experts – Twitter, Google +, Hangouts

Teamwork – Google Docs, Google Sites, SMS

Field Work – Phone cameras and video, STEM apps for gathering data

Project Management – Today’s Meet, Padlet, Trello

Constructing, Refining, Presenting Artifacts of Learning – Evernote Suite, Weebly, QR Codes

Reflecting – Periscope, Edublogs and youth publishing sites like Youth Voices

Knights of Make-A-Lot: Third Times the Charm

My last official session at ISTE17 was Knights of Make-A-Lot: Third Times the Charm  with Josh Ajima (@DesignMakeTeach), Diana Rendina (@DianaLRendina), Robert Pronovost (@pronovost), and Sarah Emerson (@gatethird). I enjoy seeing how others are incorporating 3D printing in their programs and this was a nice showcase. One project stood out as something my colleague, Jon Hansen (@MrHansenArt) might consider as he gets his feet wet with 3D printing in the 7th & 8th art classroom. Through a grant he is acquiring a gum ball machine (for which I am sure he has an awesome plan) yet may be interested in this project Josh showed where his students designed small trinkets to be 3D printed and then inserted into plastic gum ball containers for dispersement. How fun is this for a middle school?

It was also validating to see Robert Pronovost sharing Thinking Routines from Agency by Design (@AgencybyDesign) that I had shared in my We R Makers presentation just three days earlier. I’m glad to see the work of Project Zero Classroom’s Agency by Design become widespread.

Robert’s slide

Slide from my WeRMakers presentation

Expo Hall

ISTE is intense. The quantity of sessions and presentations is intense. The Poster sessions fill giant lobbies and hallways and can keep you busy for an entire afternoon as you weave your way through them and talk with people along the way. The keynotes are compelling and the Ignite sessions are fast and fascinating. You find yourself constantly checking the ISTE mobile app to see what your plans are, only to spot something else that looks interesting and try to then accomplish both sessions during the same time slot. This is the reason we did not make it to the Expo hall until the last day of ISTE, in the afternoon. And it closed at 2:00.

ISTE photo

That, and because I wasn’t in the market for anything in particular as I had been last year when I was looking to purchase at least one more 3D printer for the classroom. Last year I visited every 3D printer company who had a booth at ISTE and upon returning home, decided to purchase printers from two vendors I had spoken with in the Expo Hall. This year I wanted to visit their booths and thank them for a solid year of 3D printing. I also wanted to thank the tech support people who had been a big help throughout the year for various reasons. When you buy a product like a 3D printer, you are also establishing a relationship with the vendor and their support team. I value these relationships and am grateful for quick answers in the middle of a dense printing period.

Here with Bill from Polar3D

Because of ISTE’s excellent vendor directory in the mobile app, it was easy to find the Polar3D booth (@Polar3D) and the New Matter booth (@newmatter), which were the two vendors I had purchased printers from last year. It was great to put faces with telephone and email voices! Bill from Polar3D was showing a cool new printer that prints on a conveyor belt. Polar3D collaborated with PrintrBot (@printrbot) to develop this game changer:

I also checked in at the MakerBot booth (@makerbot) because my first 3D printer is a MakerBot Replicator II, which I received for free through a grant almost four years ago. I am a MakerBot ambassador for the MakerBot for Education program.  It was great to see what this company is up to and I look forward to the day when I can purchase one of their newer models as a lot has changed in four years. I was especially impressed by the castle in this photo and cannot wait to show my 6th grade students when they begin castle design during the next school year:


Of course none of our classroom 3D printing would be possible without design apps in our 1:1 iPad school. The next stop was at the Morphi booth (@morphiapp) which the app developer, Sophia, was sharing with MatterHackers (@MatterHackers) and Ultimaker (@Ultimaker). I had seen Sophia earlier in the week, and it was good to see her in the Expo Hall and to meet her partners there.

Sophia and I frame a model of a sports stadium designed with Morphi by one of my fifth grade students last spring

We took a little longer at the Expo Hall, but vendors were starting to pack up. One product that I really liked is the PadCaster (@PadCaster) mobile production studio for iPads. This is a pretty slick idea that makes a lot of sense to me. I could see my students sharing their commercials for our game design unit with videos made with PadCaster.

As we left the Expo Hall fully satiated with technology for education on so many levels, there was a little sadness that the “too-huge” world of ISTE was over, yet we were excited at the next crazy adventure on which we were about to embark.

During the convention I could never get a shot of this sign because there were always groups having their photo taken when I walked by

We had one more night left in San Antonio to see the things we had not yet seen. We decided to visit the San Antonio Museum of Art, and I’m so glad we did. The museum has a nice assortment of art from around the world from a variety of time periods, including a Copley (feels like home) and some bold contemporary art. What I love about visiting art museums in cities around the US is the regional art you find that you won’t see elsewhere. For example, there is a wonderful collection of earthenware tableaus by Mexican folk artists including Candelano Medrano, whose work brings me back to a visit to the Museum of International Folk Art in Sante Fe, NM eleven years ago.

This art inspired a multilevel collaboration (read about it here) at my school ten years ago as we created a world map upon which we placed tableaus of early civilizations and first peoples:

Photos - 06610


Here are some close-ups of Medrano’s work:

Another beautiful object at the museum is an archway outside in the courtyard. I was drawn to it by the mosaic work. I fell in love with it because of the peacocks:

Art-fulfilled for a little while, we left the museum, but not before spotting this mural at the rear of the parking lot:

Back at the hotel, we realized there was a swimming pool. It is over the road (literally) on an outcropping of the hotel on the fourth floor. It overlooks the convention center on one side and downtown San Antonio on the other side.

And suddenly there were bagpipes:

Awesome it was, but restful it was not! Nonetheless, with the heat in San Antonio, it was refreshing to chill in the pool. And then we went into our last night in San Antonio, savoring everything detail because we knew we were leaving in the morning.

Last morning in San Antonio

From here we would drive to Bandera, the self-proclaimed Cowboy Capital of the World, for some rest and relaxation.

And for this:

And a rodeo:

And this:

And this!

And some quiet restful peace:

The next morning, duly “cowboyed up”, we pulled out of Bandera to spend 24 hours in Austin before flying home. I wish we had more time in Austin, and I wish I had planned ahead to catch some quality music events there. Next time!

We flew out of Austin at 6:00 pm and were wheels down at Logan airport by 11:30 pm. And it was over. We loved it. Every bit of it – from frenetic ISTE to “mutton bustin” in Bandera to Sunday brunch in Austin. It has taken a few weeks to reflect on the experience through these blog posts. In pulling together photos and notes to write the posts, I feel like I am “wringing out” the moments to turn them into memories. I am still processing the information learned and evaluating how I will apply the ISTE experience during the 2017/2018 school year. Until then there is summer to enjoy with gardens to tend and road trips to lovely places, because…: “The road must eventually lead to the whole world.” ― Jack Kerouac, On the Road

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(Rock the Boat) Don’t Rock the Boat Baby & ISTE17 Part 5/6

“Whither goest thou, America, in thy shiny car in the night?” – Jack Kerouac, On The Road

Middle Keynote

Jennie Magiera kicked off Tuesday with an inspirational message in which she invited educators to tell their own stories as well as empower their students to tell theirs. She invited all of us in the auditorium to be wizards: 

“Teachers are fun- loving, adventure-going, exciting, passionate, human beings who are leading our kids to go on an adventure every day.”

Here is an excerpt from the ISTE write up by Julie Sturgeon:

Be a wizard. Thanks to an eccentric fourth grade teacher who led her class in hunts for imaginary dragons and handed young Jennie The Hobbit, Magiera adopted the idea that teachers are fun-loving wizards who can help you find your whole self.

So, today, if you were to meet her husband at Starbucks, he would share his love of craft beer and barbecue, but not his profession. Magiera, however, tells you immediately what she does for a living. “Because being an educator is not just what I do. It’s who I am,” she said.

You, too, can invite folks to join you on the adventures you are arranging.

Treat resistant colleagues as friendly dragons. Networking at ISTE conferences are an emotional boost for Magiera, but when she returned to the Windy City, colleagues ran and hid from the crazy tech lady. She admitted the let-down led to resentment at times. But it’s the same situation as a story from her childhood about a dragon who terrorizes villagers because he’s in pain. “Take a step back and listen to what [your colleague’s] problem is. If you have the kindness to help them with their problem first, even if it’s unrelated to your goals, then you’ll be amazed at how they can become your greatest ally,” she shared.

Kinetic Sculptures

Determined to get right to work on my wizard skills, I set off for STEAM Powered: Creating Kinetic Sculptures Using LittleBits with Jessica Holloway and Eric Landgraf. In this session we worked together to collaboratively design and construct kinetic sculptures powered by littleBits (magnetic electronics) and to learn how to teach this unit to intermediate age elementary students. This session was especially fun for me because there were a couple of art teachers there and this would be a fantastic approach to sculpture in an art program. While I don’t have Little Bits in the art classroom at this time, I’ll be looking to get some in the future to add to the options for art making by my students.

We worked with paper, markers, foam sheets and other assorted materials to create a sculpture that moves. This is ours – a tribute to Warhol, Haring, and Basquiat:

And here is the back that shows how we built it:

And here are some sculptures the other groups made:

Meanwhile, as the session was nearing its end, I noticed smoke pouring out of a duct at the Marriott Hotel next door. Sure enough there was a fire going on in the mall beneath, causing evacuation of the hotel and the mall. Everything ended up being okay by the next day, but it reminded me of the crazy microburst we experienced in Denver at ISTE 2016. We had wild wind, heavy rain that caused our workshop ceiling to leak, and pelting hail – eliciting the hashtag #whatthehail. Here’s hoping ISTE 2018 will be drama free in Chicago.

San Antonio River Boat Tour

We had a few hours available before the next conference session and we had been hoping to take the boat tour along the river (when people know you are going to San Antonio, they say, “Take the boat tour along the river”, so of course you have to). We are big fans of boat tours wherever we go, so this little tour that winds along the 3 foot deep man-made river that provides a framework for the riverwalk, was right up our alley. It was about an hour long, yet provided an interesting perspective for the  artist’s eye. Here are some photos from the tour:

Convention Center from the river

Tower of the Americas – there is a restaurant at the top of this. Gah.

Walkway to mall from convention center

Traditional, Transitional, Transformational: What Kind of School or Classroom Have You Got? 

Our school district had facilitated an interview with author and education instigator, Will Richardson (@willrich45), on May 22 in the evening. I was out at an Arts/Learning awards ceremony that night and missed the event. Fortunately it was broadcast live on YouTube and can be found here.

Will Richardson ISTE2017

Will Richardson looks as if he would be equally comfortable on stage playing bass guitar for a band like the Eagles as he is in discussing transforming education. You can see his TEDx talk here.

Themes throughout Will’s work include student-directed learning and preparing children for the non-traditional jobs none of us can predict at this time. Here are some snippets:

How can we give kids more agency over not just how they learn things, but what they’re learning as well. How can we let them follow their passions a little more closely?

How we learn differently? I don’t think we learn differently at all. We still learn by following our passions. We still learn about the things we care about. No one I know is an expert on something they find boring as all get out.

90% of what we teach in school we teach ‘just in case’.

It’s easy to start a school rather than change a school.

Throughout his presentation we were encouraged to consider the 10 Principles for Schools of Modern Learning , co-authored by will Richardson and Bruce Dixon, and to evaluate our individual and school progress along these tenets.

The 10 Principles are based on answers to the question, “What does deep and powerful learning look like?”

And by using the 10 Principles as a guide, we can transform learning within our schools:

Needless to say, I’m looking forward to Will’s visit to our school district in August as we kick off the school year on educator orientation day. I’m also excited to see how we can work together to begin what promises to be a huge shift, a sea change, in the way we approach learning in the district.

Not to minimize these ideas at all, but they are not new, and are surfacing again at a time when we desperately need to hear them and consider their impact on our future through education. When I studied to become an elementary educator in the mid-1990’s, ideas about student-centered learning were embedded in the pedagogy we explored. This was a time of thematic units center-based instruction, and learning through inquiry, long before the No Child Left Behind act and Common Core. Reggio Emilia was touted as an important model for learning as it is student-driven, constructivist, and experiential. In 1997, we toured the Sudbury Valley school (@SVS_school) in Framingham, Massachusetts, where students from 4 -19 years old continue to conduct their own personalized education as they did then. We listened intently as founder, Dan Greenberg, guest lectured in our classroom. And I know some of my colleagues have had similar educational experiences. After finishing my course work in 1998, I spent a month teaching alongside British Educators in a primary school in England where this approach to learning was also taking place. When I first started teaching in my district later that year, I was able to incorporate a large amount of this in my classroom, and was able to continue for a few years before the state frameworks were developed and everyone was suddenly focused on MCAS. With a BFA in Painting and a Master of Ed in Art, it was a perfect time for me to switch to art education, and I did.

I sat in Will’s session feeling wistful and nostalgic about my first years in education. And also sad as I considered my colleagues in regular education today who have no choice but to be driven by state testing, prescribed curriculum, and curriculum maps. Teachers who spend their days reciting script prepared for them in math and reading manuals. They know their tightly entwined schedules so well that if you put them in a closet in the complete darkness, without a clock, they could tell you exactly when a class block is over.  I know I could. That is the rhythm by which we navigate our school days. If we truly want this transformation in our district, we have a lot of work to do. I hope we can all dig down deep and get it done. I’m all in.

My only fear is that I will refer to him as Will Robinson because of repeated exposure to Lost in Space in my childhood.

I left Will’s session knowing that his words and ideas would resonate with me further in a couple of weeks while in the Teaching for Artistic Behavior (TAB) workshop at Massachusetts College of Art just two weeks later. TAB is is generated through constructivism, intrinsic motivation, and experiential learning, as was, not coincidentally, founded in the mid-1990s. I will write about that in a future post.

Shiny Car in the Night

And so, with my mind just about blown, we had the Camaro brought around from parking and took off into the evening.

We drove toward the town of Gruene, which is a former cotton-producing community along the Guadalupe River and now features restaurants, dance halls, and gift shops. About a half hour into the trip the skies darkened.

And we had the opportunity to figure out how to pull over on the busy Texas highway and get the convertible top on under pressure. Good thing we did:

Once we got to Gruene, the skies began to clear and we had a nice, relaxing night with BBQ, brews, and music. Gruene is indeed picturesque and the water tower symbolically keeps watch over the town as the billboard eyes keep watch in The Great Gatsby.

Once we had our fill of Gruene, we got back in the car, put the top down, and headed out in our shiny car in the night.



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Making Monday & ISTE17 Part 4/6

“I was halfway across America, at the dividing line between the East of my youth and the West of my future, and maybe that’s why it happened right there and then, that strange red afternoon.”  ― Jack Kerouac, On the Road

This post is about the rest of Monday, after my presentation, which you can read about in this post.

The halcyon moments after a presentation are filled with reflection and taking stock. And an entire bottle of water to rehydrate while I regrouped in the Presenter’s Lounge. #ISTEspoiled.

Although I had a few poster sessions and interactive workshops selected on my schedule, I took a few moments to regroup before attending a session on Adobe Spark. Unfortunately, it was a how-to session, and I already know how to use the app, and I was hoping for a session about possible applications for the app. This is another thing I love about ISTE, though, there are sessions of all types, from philosophical discussions on learning to these how-to sessions, where presenters boil down the steps in using a certain technology and generously provide ways for the complete novice to learn. These sessions are where you’ll find the foot soldiers – the classroom teachers, technology teachers, and digital coaches. Another great thing about ISTE is you can “decide with your feet”, quietly leaving one session and finding one that is more appropriate to your needs. I ended up wandering among the poster sessions (think science fair) for a while.

Next up was a moment I had been looking forward to – assisting two friends I had met at last year’s ISTE conference, Barbara Liedahl (@bliedahl) and Susan Brown (@SuBrown4h) with their presentation, Bring the Maker Movement to Your School – One Box at a Time. I had participated in this workshop with these two brilliant “maker mavens” at ISTE in Denver last year, so I was looking forward to assisting participants with paper circuits and other fun projects.

It was not a surprise that they did not disappoint! In no time, paper circuits had been used to create light up wearable technology in the form of flower pins. Participants exuberantly exclaimed, “Ta da!” as their pins glowed with light.

After that fun session, the next was about Genius Hour and it included lots of great resources, some of which can be found here: http://www.eddiesclass.com/genius-hour-2-0/.

It was only 2:00 on Monday and my brain was full and overstimulated. We decided to get a burger (and whataburger it was!) and then visit the Briscoe Western Art Museum.

Briscoe Western Art Museum

As I mentioned before, my husband is a cowboy at heart, and the Briscoe is now his favorite museum. For me the standout was seeing a nice collection of George Catlin’s art that I had heard so much about in an American Art class years ago.

The Briscoe is pretty small so we had time to walk around San Antonio for a while.

And spotted this compelling sculpture, which is a monument to Samuel Gompers, founding president of the American Federation of Labor.

Drawn to it by my union sensibilities, I was moved by the idea that when Compers wrote his list of “What labor wants” nearly one hundred years ago, he probably expected the items would have been resolved by now. I was struck by how much we want/need the same things today:

Just as we were considering plans to go to one social event (at the library) we got a text inviting us to another one. this one was hosted by Explain Everything (@explaineverything) and Soundtrap (@soundtrap) and there was to be food and frolic. And there was! Because along with all the other great folks, the art education crew was there. It was a delightful surprise to spend an extra evening with them! Don’t we look like we’re having fun?









We R Makers & ISTE17 Part 3/6

“He no longer cared about anything (as before) but now he also cared about everything in principle; that is to say, it was all the same to him and he belonged to the world and there was nothing he could do about it.”   ― Jack Kerouac, On the Road

Monday morning = Presentation Day

But first I had a 7:30 am breakfast meeting with TES Teach to which I had been invited a few weeks earlier. I use and recommend their product, Blendspace, as a great tool for organizing links and documents to share with students, colleagues, or to create your own reference file. It was a quick walk from the hotel and when I arrived I was greeted with coffee, a delicious breakfast, friendly faces and the wisdom of Jim Knight (@LordJimKnight). Jim shared his thoughts on the “unbundling of education”, comparing it to record albums being unbundled today as we select single songs rather than whole albums for our playlists. This led to a good discussion on change in schools and the role technology will inevitably play in affecting change. Unfortunately, I had to leave early in order to get to the convention center for my own presentation at 9:00 am.

We R Makers

Go time! I was excited to see my presentation, Educating the Next Generation of Innovators, on the screen outside the door of room 208. And the tech guy was there, too, making sure everything was all set. Although I had my own adapter, it was just like ISTE to even have “dongles” waiting there just in case. 

Time for a quick selfie with the group before starting

The We R Makers presentation is about using empathy and systems thinking to help our students arrive at ideas for making. With Makerspaces readily available in many schools, students have the tools they need to make whatever they want, but often need structure and support in developing ideas for projects that will sustain their interest and engage them from initial efforts through revision and ultimately, completion. This approach involves product design or redesign as a result of looking closely, considering systems, and the user experience. After going over the basics, participants formed groups of four or five and began with close looking and sketching very inexpensive and simple pencil sharpeners. I love the hum of participants working together:

When I polled the group about the roles they have in their schools, there were only three art educators, and one of them was me. The other two were my beloved art education friends, Laura Grundler (@grundlerArt) and Chris Parker (@kreyus) who came and jumped in to document the session for me. Best. Friends. Ever.

Everyone jumped in and followed the steps of sketching the pencil sharpeners intact, then deconstructing them and sketching the parts, all the while considering the systems around the lowly sharpener. Systems considered included manufacturing, mining and refining raw materials (I recommend www.sourcemap.com), distribution, transportation, the consumer, and the eventual disposal of the sharpener.

Once participants had chosen a system on which to focus, they generated a list of people within their chosen system. The next step was to choose one person and to use empathy to consider how the product may be redesigned to be more effective, more efficient, more ethical, or more beautiful for that specific person. This is where the design process begins.

This exercise is taken from the Thinking Routines developed by Agency by Design (@agencybydesign) at Project Zero Classroom (@ProjectZeroHGSE) of the Harvard Graduate School of Education (@hgse).

Once participants had redesigned the pencil sharpener to better the experience of the user they had chosen, they shared their products with the group. Here are a couple of examples:

Throughout and at the conclusion of the session, participants shared their work on a Padlet sharing wall here: http://tinyurl.com/ISTEweRmakers

This post on the wall cracked me up:

Bringing out the big guns

Presenting at ISTE 2017 was fantastic! They take presenting seriously and staff the space with attentive tech help. I have had disappointments at other venues before with insufficient wifi or lack of microphones or speakers – at ISTE, everything was there and in top-notch condition. Also, ISTE gets a bad rap in some circles for being too commercialized and all about product and technology gadgets. There is a lot of talk about education and learning at ISTE, perhaps some miss it because of the large Expo hall. The 150 people who participated in my session were engaged in discussions about learning, process, and innovation. They were sincere and a pleasure to work with. A joy, in fact, and I would do it again in a heartbeat if asked.

Another supporter in the room was Sophia Georgiou, developer of the Morphi App which my students use for designing models for 3D printing.




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Remember the Alamo & ISTE17 Part 2/6

“Why think about that when all the golden land’s ahead of you and all kinds of unforeseen events wait lurking to surprise you and make you glad you’re alive to see?”   –  Jack Kerouac, On the Road


Upon awaking on Sunday, our second day in Texas, I was excited to visit the Convention Center to check in at registration and pick up our badges and the ISTE tote bags full of program info.

The place was empty and as I walked around with my husband I kept saying, “You just wait until later today when the 20,000 people arrive, this place will be packed!” In fact, the hallways were so clear you could see the decals on the floor.

And the pro-inclusion signs outside the bathroom (we gave these two thumbs-up):

After picking up the tote bags and checking in, we strolled around to get the lay of the land. Knowing I would be presenting at 9:00 am the next day, I was curious what the room was like and of course wanted to get a glimpse at the technology I’d be using. The layout of the San Antonio convention center is easily understood and we found the room without any trouble. Not only that, one of the technology technicians was there setting up surge protectors at every table. So we chatted. He let me know that he was in charge of two rooms (just two rooms!) and would be outside in a chair while I was using the room if I needed help with the projector, microphone or DEDICATED WIFI. This is one of the things I love about ISTE. They spare no expense in ensuring the technology needs are met. Technology is taken seriously!

As we left the area and passed the Presenters Lounge, and I couldn’t help taking a little #presenterpride selfie with the sign. Come on, you would have, too!


At this point in the morning there was nothing on my schedule for a few hours, so we hit the streets on San Antonio to explore. Of course we remembered the Alamo.

The Alamo

San Antonio is a city full of flags:

The Alamo with Texas flag

Note the gargoyles on this building

We walked some of the San Antonio Riverwalk and admired this gem of a landscape architecture project:

ISTE Begins

Before I knew it the time for my first official ISTE session had come. First up on Sunday was: The Devil’s in the Details: How to Turn Your Curriculum into an Authentic Learning Experience with these fine educators:

Please note: The surge protector plugged in and ready for participants to plug in devices at most tables – this is another thing I LOVE about ISTE!

This session focused on outlining the structure, processes, and tools for successful project-based learning. Here are a few of the slides:

This was a well organized presentation. They even gave us candy (which I left in Bandera, but that’s another story).

I have always liked and understood the TPACK scale the most – it was good to see it being used

I could add to this list, as I’m sure most edtech enthusiasts could.

This was a great way to officially begin the ISTE conference as it got my mind working to apply these tools to my own classroom and the project-based learning units I’m designing.

Next up was the session with Adam Bellow (@adambellow) and Steve Dembo (@teach42): Open the Curiosity Door which was an interactive session about how mindset and framing can have a huge impact on student outcomes, both quantitatively and qualitatively. The auditorium was packed for this session and the energy was good:


STEAM With A Really Big A

Walking around with all of those possibilities for further exploration in my head, I went to one of the hotels to attend the New England ISTE San Antonio Mixer, where I hoped to network with educators from New England. (I know, I had to go to Texas to network with New England  people?)

At the mixer I met Gaby Richard-Harrington (@gaby13rh) and I’m really glad I did. Gaby asked me about my presentation (she saw the ribbon on my badge) while I was telling her about it, she suddenly said, “Oh! STEAM with a really big A!” I liked that. I like that so much I decided right then and there to use it as a way to express STEAM with Art as the springboard. If someone else is using this, I’m hope you don’t mind if I use it, too!

It was at this mixer that I was asked “What do you do?” and when I replied “I teach art at the middle school level”, and the questioner responded, “Oh, why are you at ISTE?” and I responded, “Our middle school art curriculum is infused with technology of all types. I’m here to learn from others, to learn about new things, and to share what we’re doing in my classes.” And then I asked her, “What do you do?” and she responded, “I teach social studies.” Of course I asked, “Why are you at ISTE?”. Honestly, I don’t even remember what her answer was. Whoops.

ISTE Opening Keynote

Another thing I love about ISTE are the inspirational keynote speakers for whom we are warmed up by jamming’ musicians and bands. The first keynote session band was The Tiarra Girls (@tiarragirls), a band of young women from a high school in Austin. They were terrific and here is a sampling:

The keynote speaker was introduced by ISTE CEO Richard Culatta (@rec54) whose focus in his speech was Shifts in Education:

Shift 1: From delivery to exploration

Shift 2: From one-size-fits-all to personalized

Shift 3: Using tech to close the equity gap

Richard also made the announcement that the ISTE Standards for Educators had been released and are available for download at: www.iste.org/standards/standards/for-educators  

Richard Culatta

When Jad Abumrad, the host and creator of the popular public radio program “Radiolab,” which is broadcast on 524 stations across the United States, took the stage, we didn’t quite know what to expect. I’m a big fan of radio shows (especially while working in the studio), loving This American Life, Prairie Home Companion, Sez You, etc, but have not listened to many Radiolab shows. Jad Abumrad was fantastic!

Here is the ISTE writeup by Julie Sturgeon:

“For everyone who worries they’ll feel sick at the idea of rocking the boat, Jad Abumrad has an uplifting message: Yes, you will.

The creator and host of Radiolab told the packed keynote audience at ISTE 2017 that he calls this feeling the gut churn.

It’s the place where you are uncomfortable.

Where you feel hopeless.

A void where you aren’t good enough, and mistakes are dogging your heels…

Jad Abumrad – Gut Churn

…Abumrad knows it well. As a radio journalist, his career success revolved around how to build his own voice rather than imitate others. It was a test that required looking at things his way, creating his path and filling the emptiness before other voices rushed into his head to crowd out his own.

Along the way, he asked the wrong questions, stumbled in his research, slammed into some dead ends and hit the self-doubt gap — the same frustrations many educators experience when designing new approaches to their classrooms.

He offered these four encouraging tips:

Negativity is your catalyst to reach your goals. Uncertainty is like the dark German forest from fairy tales: It’s frightening every time you find yourself there, but after you survive six or seven times, you realize you can navigate your way out.

Allow the question to become your whole being. When Abumrad is stuck in a problem, he asks, “Am I putting all my nerve endings into this?” Because if you commit to pursuing the question, he adds, “you will probably not get where you think you want to go, but you’ll get somewhere else, and it could be beautiful.”

Do not accept anyone else’s fear. Others are always willing to add cautions or warnings disguised as advice. Kill that sucker. If you stick with your crazy idea, you might let someone down or your end result might not be perfect. But the outcome is not your purpose. It’s to ask the questions.

You will find your voice. While pursuing the seemingly impossible task of trying to describe to a radio audience how different animals would see a rainbow, Abumrad eventually decided to attempt to work with a choir to marry colors and notes.

Conducting that choir was an epiphany. “I thought this was something I couldn’t do; I thought it was something that would never work, and suddenly here we are and it’s working,” he said. “It was a little bit like if you were living in a house and suddenly you opened the door and you realize you have a whole wing of the house you never explored.”

This is the clip Jad showed during his keynote:

But while he encouraged educators to dream big, the reality is that the world has its limitations. Abumrad uses the scientific theory of “adjacent possible” as his way to keep the balance: You don’t have to solve the world’s problems. Just find that one little move you can make right now that will open up myriad possibilities.

And that is the reason educators, in the end, don’t mind the upset stomach.” – Julie Sturgeon

Being an art educator at ISTE, I was thrilled to hear and see Jad’s inclusion of his broadcast on color. With all of the broadcasts he has to choose from, he chose one about a concept that art educators attempt to explain to their students (even though our understanding is somewhat murky – speaking for myself). How absolutely fortuitous.

For the other art educators out there and anyone else who is interested, here is a link to the color/rainbow broadcast, Rippin’ the Rainbow a New One from Radiolab – it’s fantastic211178-rip-rainbow

Feeling inspired and mentally prepared to take on ISTE, we left the convention center with only Tex-Mex food as a goal, and walked off into the evening.





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