Putting It All Together


My Online Philosophy

Being a teacher means much more than developing and delivering a lesson. All educators know our job is about juggling content, creating realistic measurements, self reflection, all while remaining available to students who need an adult to confide in. I do believe these same expectations should be held to our highest standard regardless of the classroom setting, like an online classroom. The online and in class standards of teachers are quite the same excluding the online etiquette, so why would we think it any different? Rice comments on exactly this when she says, " As in any teaching assignment, your primary role is that of educator" (2012, p.39). She knows as well as any teacher that we are obviously good at what we do, we know how to manipulate a lesson for all to understand, have mastered our higher-order thinking questions, and have criticized and altered our own teaching for the better. If I were to transfer my ways of teaching into an online environment I know firstly, I would want my students to be successful by any means necessary. This simply means I would have to shift my thinking of in class, hands on, interactive activities that aide students in a brick and mortar school to finding, accessing, and implementing the plethora of online or software based tools to better student learning through the portal of cyber schooling.
When I began this class I found myself really questioning if art could actually be transformed into an online class, but after this past month and a half, it is safe to say, it is completely doable. Of course, I would have much preparation to do by finding new ways to share artworks online beyond the synchronous video chat format. I would want to find a portfolio based tool, maybe have students create their own website using WIX, Weebly, or even Smore like I am using now to continually update for myself and other students to see. I would transform my wall to wall art poster covered classroom into a brilliant, excitable web page for students to feel fully immersed in the art creating world, even if they are still sitting in their bedrooms. Overall, art is more than an activity and I would want my students to feel that art was brought to them wherever they may be, not them reporting to online art class. In my mind, the online atmosphere would need to be livened up with the intensity of Mrs. Shafer's art room, explore virtual field trips, and be more than a computer screen. If students feel that they are a part of something more than a chat room dialog or a type and submit based assessment, rich, in-depth conversations and creations can be accomplished.

An Online Art Unit

The unit I teach that comes to mind first for using as an online class would be my fourth grade drawing unit. I currently incorporate parts of my STEAM curriculum into 4th grade art at my new elementary location in Chichester School District and since many of my lessons include online research or step by step processes, I feel it would be the most cohesive in an online atmosphere. I would need to use a combination of online tools but I know having a synchronous video feed would be the most successful in delivering at least the intro to all lessons. From there a step by step video including slides with written instructions could be used so students can stop and review as needed, a picture gallery that includes visuals showing each step along the process would be helpful for visual learners, and a discussion page would allow conversation during class time as well as outside of class time for students to discuss their work, ask/answer questions, and provide a live feed of commentary for me to check in on.
This drawing unit is comprised of the following:
  • A Self portrait that uses fractions and measurements to place all facial features are the right size and in the correct place of the face
  • A Nebula chalk pastel creation on black paper which includes a blurb about their chosen nebula from HubbleSite.org
  • A Cityscape that uses one point perspective and observation
  • A complete figure fashion design that requires historical visual guides and research in order to develop a new outfit


A LMS would need to be established and exercises for students to become familiar with it would need to be prompted immediately in order for classes to run smoothly. If I were to become part of an online schooling that requires a particular LMS, I would obviously follow through with that, but if not I would imagine a Moodle or something like it would be most accessible with the support of a Collaborate Ultra video tool.
A synchronous tool (like Collaborate Ultra) would need to be used in order to provide in-time directions and live video feed when introducing a project. Although it would be nice to have constant live footage, like it would be in a school room class, I feel it is not absolutely necessary throughout and entire lesson. This is simply because I always have time allotted for students to just work, so this would carry over into my online classroom. I always start a class time with an opener, but I am a strong believer that the most important part to the Visual Arts is time to experiment and learn the materials, content, technique yourself after a demonstration. This leads me to the asynchronous portion of my online classroom. All students would have to report and check in during their scheduled art time, but I would want students to use their time wisely in completing the task at hand; and there is no real reason for us to sit behind a video chat just to watch each other work. If I do not need to lecture, let the children work! Students could then access a live chat room to post questions or concerns with their work. Recommendations can be posted by myself or other students to create a conversation. This could also be transformed into a blog-type posting if live chats are not accessible. Going with what I already know, I would have an up to date WIX page where students could access all documentation, videos, instructions, etc. Here we could have access to an ongoing blog/forum for each project. It would also be a requirement to post, whether it be for helping others or adding towards a critique, which could also easily be included synchronous or asynchronous! One way of conducting a critique could be by sharing the video screen. Students would have access to the camera in Collaborate Ultra for all to see, provide their information about their work, then allow the mic or chat to be shared by other students to provide feedback. The other way for critique to occur could be in a gallery viewing. Students would have to take and send a picture of their completed work for me to upload to a gallery, then they would be expected to visit and comment on others work during their class time. This would support community conversation and feedback to all.
As far as working together, this could be a very difficult task if used for more than just discussion or research work. The only other option to online collaboration of an artwork would be an online graphic program. Scribblar or FlockDraw could be used for multiple people to work on a single artwork. This would be a challenge to students who may have never accessed computerized drawing or graphic design and it also may not have the most dynamic of tools to use. However, it would definitely be interesting to pursue and interesting to see what students develop out of these tools.

Management and Assessment

My considerations for both synchronous and asynchronous in my online classroom would be quite similar to my in school expectations. Students should be cooperative and use proper, respectable English when conversing or commenting within the class. Obvious negative talk will not be tolerated. Directions should be followed closely and in a timely manner.
As far assessments, rubrics would be posted at the beginning of all lessons so students can access them and self assess before submission deadlines. As always in my art room, students will assessed on effort not absolute correctness. I encourage trial, experiment, and acceptance of mistakes. Yes, there are right and wrong ways, correct and incorrect answers, but when we are grading art, something completely objective and not everyone's forte, you have to grade on a students success due to personal ability not absolute correctness in performance.
Big image

This poster, self made and proudly displayed with mistakes intact,
hangs on the front of my desk to remind the class at all times to just try.

Aha! Oh, yes. I see.

Frequently Asked Questions:

So it is established that students may be a little less hesitant to participate now that we are in an online setting, but how do I continue this positive behavior consistently?
  • Students may be more eager to participate if they are doing well, but if they're not doing well? If students feel down on themselves, of course they're not going to be as excited to share their thoughts. Yes, this goes back to your typical classroom environment and setting expectations, but what more can be done to console a student through cyber space?

What DO you do if technology fails?

  • Sure, we know it happens, and it will always happen at the most inopportune moment, but what do you do to plan for it or make up for tech failure? Are there "If technology fails lessons" students should access and complete? Do you just reschedule class? Do you just pick up where you left off last time regardless if class time had been lost previously?