Monday, May 9, 2011

A Classroom Blog?

In my Walden class, we are encouraged to investigate how we might use a blog in our classroom. 

There are two ways that I would like to try.  First, some background to our middle school art routine.  To begin, my classes always start with bell work.  On Mondays, the students receive a new Artist of the Week.  We spend 10-15 minutes on Monday discussing a professional artist (their genre, medium, country of origin, any themes, etc.) and one significant piece of artwork that encapsulates their style.  Each day of the week, the students are given a new vocabulary word to copy into their AOTW (Artist of the Week) journal so that by the end of the week the student has been introduced to a new artist, a significant piece of their artwork, and five new vocabulary terms that refer to the AOTW and to the project the students are currently working on.  It is always my goal to make sure the AOTW ties into the concepts for the projects the students are creating at the time. 

On the other side of the paper, the students are given a drawing assignment that will last the week.  Once the students have copied the definition for the day, they proceed to the drawing side until I give directions for the day and studio time begins.  Each weekly drawing assignment is meant to tie into a project concept or sometimes a totally different art skill that I know I won't have time to cover in a project assignment. 

Blog opportunity #1
In terms of the classroom blog, I would like to give the students an opportunity to further explore the chosen Artist of the Week beyond the one token piece of artwork.  The classroom blog would provide a venue for the students to find and post a picture of other pieces of artwork done by that same artist.  The students could be asked to post the picture with an explanation as to why they chose it above all the others.  This blog post would not only ask the students to explain why they chose the piece but also to incorporate new or learned vocabulary terms correctly in their explanation.  By the end of the week the students would have access to a selection of works by the AOTW instead of just the initial artwork and also have an opportunity to discuss the works while practicing the academic vocabulary.  The students would also be prompted to post a comment using academic vocabulary properly on at least two other student's choices. 

Extension of Blog opportunity #1
I could also expand this into a section where the students try to find professional artists (living or dead) that pertain to our current project and  post them with an explanation as to why they should be considered for the next Artist of the Week.  This would push the students to explore the concepts we are learning with our projects and connect them to something somebody has done outside of the boundaries of our school walls. 

Blog opportunity #2
I would also like to get to the point where the students could take pictures of their designs for projects, their journal drawing assignment, and/or final projects and post them for critiques.  Group classroom critiques can be unbearable as most students cannot bear to say something critical about another student's work (especially a friends) in a face-to-face setting.  After teaching the students how to appropriately critique a piece of art using constructive suggestions or compliments, I believe the students would be more open to making comments behind the safety of a computer screen.  This would allow for honest collaboration on sketches during the design phase, sharpen their critique skills on the final products, and extend the conversation beyond the weekly period of the drawing journal.  Effective critiques demonstrate a knowledge of the concepts being discussed and the academic terms used to describe them.

The blogging opportunities mentioned would be useful for several reasons.  First of all, it pushes the students to integrate the academic vocabulary into their discussions.  It also allows for more communication in terms of  in depth, student generated conversations about their personal artwork and artwork done by the masters of the trade.  These blogs would offer more interaction with the information outside the given fifty minutes I see them every day.  These blogs would allow me to break down the constraints of teacher directed, time management issues and allow the students to immerse themselves in the content on their own time and, in some ways, their own interests. 


  1. I have to say that I think your ideas of ways that you can implement the use of a blog into your art classroom are creative and very developmentally challenging and appropriate. I was wondering if you would be able to offer them class time to do any of these activities or if these would be things that would occur outside of class time? The reason I ask is because I would suggest that if this is an activity that should be generally done outside of class, it might be a good idea to offer students who might not have regular internet access at home an opportunity in the classroom to begin working on these activities if you have computer/internet access in your classroom.
    I agree that incorporating a blog into your classroom offers students a chance to dig deeper and makes their learning so much more well-rounded as you are not bound to the same time constraints by which other teachers feel hindered.
    Best wishes as you begin this new adventure!
    ~Heidi Estep

  2. Thanks Heidi,

    I do have a couple of computers in my room that students could rotate on and off from. I'm thinking that if I coordinated it so they had a schedule similar to Walden's where you have to make the initial post by Wednesday and then a follow up comment by Sunday, it would give students ample time to jump on a computer, either in the classroom, the media center, or at home. I would imagine that as this plays out real time, I'll have a better idea of how to set due dates, computer availability, and my ability to give each posting and comment it's due attention for grading. I don't want this process to become so overwhelming, grading wise, that I cannot give worthwhile feedback. I'd love to hear from others that have started this process in their classrooms as to how that due date/grading schedule works for them.

  3. Mary,

    Your ideas about integrating blogs into your curriculum are really good! First off, I love that you begin every week with the students discovering a new artist. What a great way to bring discovery and inquiry into the classroom! In addition, I like your idea about integrating the blog tool to extend this activity. I also think that it would be a great experience for your students to post their work on the blog site for comments. What a way to bring their art to life! Great job! Can't wait to hear more of your ideas in the coming weeks!


  4. Hi Mary,
    These are wonderful ideas. It sounds like your classes are very rich--students are learning so much. I wanted to share a web-based application that you may really like:
    It is similiar to blogging but easily allows you to share visuals--so students could easily post art work for critique--their own or other artists'.
    We explore this in course 6711 but I thought you might like to preview it.

    I enjoyed your posting.


  5. Susan,
    Thanks for the tip for I had a chance to play with it today and shared it with a colleague that is itching to expand tech into her curriculum. We were babbling on and on about the possibilities. I now have a laundry list of things I want to try next year. Thankfully, I'll have all summer to play and work out the kinks.