Friday, 27 August 2010

What does an art teacher do during the holidays?

...Produce Artwork?

A few weeks ago #pgcetips caught my eye on twitter, I began to follow and contribute to it. Advice was flowing thick and fast on a number of different topics related to teacher training and classroom experience.
A tweet that particularly caught my eye was the call for illustrations to go alongside the tweets in the book so I offered to have a go.

One of the tasks I had set myself this summer was to get to grips with Adobe Illustrator, especially the 3D aspects, shading and rotation. This seemed like the perfect opportunity as I find it is always better to experiment with a real project goal. I just push myself harder this way.

Producing the series of images allowed me to experiment with the aspects of Illustrator I needed to enable me to teach these aspects in September, increased my knowledge of Photoshop at the same time and helped produce a crowd sourced book that will hopefully support future teachers.

I am glad I contributed to this project as my work has a purpose, it is frustrating that so much experimentation for my teaching either ends up languishing in a drawer or on a hard drive and it was good this time it has a life of its own and has given me project ideas for my students next year.

To find out more or to download/buy a copy visit

Monday, 7 June 2010

My first Jog

After bookmarking months a go I have finally got round to giving it a go.
I found this extremely straight forward to use and to edit, you simply copy and paste web links then add some guidance or description.

My first jog is part of a staff development session tomorrow highlighting  just some of the support from Moodle around the this space for how well it goes down.

I do think this is a tool I will definitely visit again in a classroom setting or for pre trip research as the guidance could actually set a task/question for the student i.e. find info on...

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Online Learning

This week I took part in Discover-e 2010. It was my first full online conference and it was definitely an experience I was glad I took part in. It was also the first time I had experienced Dimdim though I must admit it was a little glitchy in places.

The conference used Moodle as a platform which was interesting in itself, though the less "techie" delegates struggled at some points but it was a good structure to try to engage participation and place resources for access. 

I liked the luchtime 'fun' activities as it showed lesser used elements of the learning platform. I also won a prize for this entry.

Saturday, 24 April 2010

I can do it too...

As a teacher I find you spend a lot of time showing students new techniques and other artists work and they rarely see what YOU can do. They often seem to forget that teachers have talents apart from the ability to 'Teach'.

I have brought work I have done in, in the past as examples for the students. I try to continue to be an Artist alongside being a teacher though this is not often possible.

Last weekend I spent some time producing some web graphics and vectors on Illustrator. When I went in on Monday I showed a couple of my students what I had created. They were really surprised at what I had achieved and it provoked analysis and debate on a level I had never experienced from these particular students. They were very inquisitive and questioned me for a long time about how I used the various tools achieve the overall effect.

This weekend I decided to dust off the paint brushes for the same reason. This weeks effort has turned into a very traditional style painting though I plan to develop this further over the next week, so it is very much a work in progress.

What the last week has very much reminded me is that students benefit form seeing the talents of their teachers it makes us more three dimensional to them and can often be used to stimulate inquiry, as they are tangible artifacts not just images in a book/website produced by a faceless artist.

Monday, 12 April 2010


Tatton Park Gardens 10/04/10

Over the last few weeks I have watched a number of conferences, talks and live streams from around the world. They all seem to be getting very repetitive as similar ideas/enthusiasm seem to come up in all situations along with the same lack of understanding and vision. These are the same tech/learning related issues that are being debated in every educational institution across the country if not the world:
-How to engage learners
-Social networking
-IT provision
-CPD (lifelong learning amongst teachers and lecturers)

Today I was watching the initial JISC Conference 2010, Pre conference debate "A perfect vision-Technology priorities for higher education" and comments William Dutton made reminded me of all those discussions at BectaX.

He talked about how we shift students to being able to create the internet, not just consume it? And that answers were unlikely to come from FE and HE.

He asked the question "Networked individuals will be the drivers of education in the future not institutions" -almost 80% of the audience agreed.

I personally agreed with alot of what he said as it was nothing really that had not already been said in all those other situations over the last few week. What was different was the back drop-HE and FE.

The thought that is going round and round in my head at the moment is why don't all educational institutions SHARE:
As all these different sectors have so much they could learn from each other. Stop focusing on the tech and the politics, focus on the teaching, learning and STUDENTS.   

I know I learn from looking at different educators/sectors and thinking how could I apply that? Don't you?

Thursday, 8 April 2010

Thought provoking times

This has been a strange few months; my teaching senses seem to be heightened and I am becoming more aware of the world around me. This is due to a renewed passion for learning:
  • No longer reading blog posts in email and using a reader; Google Reader.  Though this has also increased my reading from 8-12 blogs a day to 190+. (Perhaps excessive?)
  • Signing up to Twitter and following the teachers whos blogs I read and speakers I have come across at conferences. Obviously this grows as new tweeters catch my eye.
  • Blogging to vocalise/reflect/record thoughts (though at embryonic stage) 
Having said all of this it is not just technology/social networking alone it is also a change in attitude. I was letting the system and 'politics' get to me and I made a conscious effort to stop getting frustrated and focus on what is best for my students and myself.

I can not change the whole education system over night and no one person can but what I can do is:
  • In the classroom:Be positive about students learning and my teaching. Continue to learn to be a better teacher and continue to reflect/assess/develop my practice. Prepare students as well as I can for the 21st century using what I can.
  • In my department: Support those around me who are less comfortable with technology. Find ways to build the community within the department both face 2 face and online. Celebrate our students.
  • In the college: Do what I can. Continue to push for CHANGE.
I feel there is something in the air at the moment; this was best highlighted in Tom Barretts recent post Whispering Change . I hope there is a revolution but for the moment I am focusing on what I can and chipping away.

Sunday, 28 March 2010

Walking by Hannah Taylor
I am finding that as an Art teacher many assumptions are made about you and what goes on in the classroom; you either spend all you time teaching Photoshop on Mac's and that everything you do is digital or your teaching is described as "Arty Farty" through lack of understanding.
Teaching for an art teacher is really no different to any other subject. As a teacher you:
  • Share your enthusiasm to encourage students to be inquisitive, investigate and develop their skills.
  • Use examples from history and current culture to make learning relevant to their lives.
  • Employ everything in your arsenal of tools, materials and techniques  to make teaching and learning possible.
Yes I do teach very traditional drawing and painting but I also teach Photoshop. I teach collage yet I also teach stop frame animation. I am struggling to put into words what a 21st century Art Teacher is, all I know is that we can no longer be pigeon holed the way we once were.

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Presentation-e Curriculum Group

Leaving staff development day part of me was really excited as it had brought out so much positivity and enthusiasm. I spent the weekend mulling over these my thoughts as I really wanted to find a way to encourage build upon and promote this positivity. This is what I have come up with:

The college could benefit from developing a pedagogy on how Moodle, the Internet and social media can be used within the new build to develop teaching and learning.

A good focus for this would be how to motivate, engage and enthuse students to ultimately facilitate them becoming more independent learners through the inclusion of Moodle, the Internet and social media.

How a potential pedagogy and exemplar materials can be developed:
  • The creation an "e Curriculum" group which meets to drive the development of Moodle. This allows us to harness some of the enthusiasm for this area and people to work in collaboration across curriculum areas rather than isolated departments.
  • Regular publishing of an "e newsletter" that showcases best practice and highlights articles of interest from around the web. This could also encourage the development of "PLN"s (Personal Learning Network) amongst staff.
  • A collaborative project which encourages all staff to contribute ideas.  This could address an area of the curriculum all teachers teach i.e. year 1 tutorials.  Teachers could be asked to contribute ideas for tutorial topics they think should be covered, and the scheme of work developed collaboratively online.  "Crowd source a topic".

In the long run this path could reap a large variety of rewards:
  • Build on good practice from recent staff developments
  • Treat all staff as valued 'experts' with opportunities to contribute.
  • All staff would become 'collaborators'
  • Develop moodle into a learning environment not just a resource deposit.
  • Develop a core set of lesson plans for use in tutorials, specifically with a social media/interactive slant which teachers can use, regardless of their knowledge of these areas, eventually multi-skilling staff in e-technology which may raise their confidence to apply this to their own specialisms.

To fully embrace an "e Curriculum" the institution should address our approach to the internet, especially in light of recent research and this particular Ofsted report; 'The safe use of new technologies'

The OfSTED report shows, putting blocks on multiple websites is detrimental to students long-term Internet safety; students increasingly spend their lives with an unblocked Internet in their pockets.  They embrace social media as a communication and collaboration tool.  The college has recently began to leverage social media's promotional opportunities, yet we see this as an inappropriate medium for students to use within the college?
This makes students view the medium as forbidden, rather than something to be embraced as part of their daily life and to build upon this cultural change.  If we embrace this change it gives the college the opportunity to show students how social media can be used safely and responsibly and  how they can use these tools within their own development as a learner.

Facebook has a number of educational applications in the classroom, research, sharing course content (none of these mean 'friending' students). Not only this but it is:
  • No. 1 photo sharing application on the Web
  • More of our students have an account than do not
  • We can use it to show the true power of the web and develop student use for the positive rather than negative reasons.

Twitter has even more applications for teachers and can be used to improve sharing and motivation and even has a wide variety of classroom uses. Some of theses uses are:
  • Following news
  • Sharing information
  • Providing a back channel to a lesson
  • Broadcasting information
  • Sharing objectives
  • Live discussions
  • Following and taking part in backchannels to events.

In the world today it is not acceptable to block websites to manage classrooms, especially with the age group which we educate; we are trying to prepare students for university and work where no such barriers exist. We should not completely lift all barriers but we need to loosen our grip of the Internet to allow teachers and students to be more spontaneous in what they do and fully exploit some of the powers of social media, allowing us to educate students how to responsibly use social media and protect themselves.
We can not lift barriers without addressing our AUP (Acceptable usage policy) for staff and students that clearly outline:
  • Sanctions (possible use of white list)
  • Responsibilities ' 
  • What is 'Inappropriate
    Becta in conjunction with many other agencies (including Ofsted) have guidance we could access to help us do this.

    I feel if we can teach students to use technology to create, innovate, research, communicate, collaborate and learn we are preparing them for their 21st century future as none of us know what they will face.

    Wednesday, 17 March 2010

    Do I Tool-Belt it?

    I have been thinking about this all day, mainly due to a conversation on the way in to work...

    Why do I choose to use specific pieces of software and not others? (In my planning, learning,teaching of lessons and 1 to 1 with students)

    What are my criteria to decide value?

    As teachers we all seem to have favorites; these are almost 'go to' pieces of software/online tools, yet  we also try the new things that we find.

    Today I have been trying to discover how I decide if it goes on to my "tool-belt" or it remains bookmarked for that rainy day.

    To end up on my "tool-belt" it must meet the following criteria:
    1. Be accessible to the students; easy to use, quick to pick up, add value to their lesson and be safe
    2. Have a usable interface for me; save time (or use time effectively)
    3. Be free to use
    Examples of these tools I use daily if not weekly are:
    Even though I have decided upon these criteria I must admit, occasionally for a bit of a sensory WOW  now and then I resort to:
    what do you think? what do you use on your "tool-belt"?

    Sunday, 14 March 2010

    Continue to learn

    This week we had a staff training day on Friday. Volunteers were asked for to contribute ad share what they do in their classrooms that others might find useful, I had suggested earlier in the week we share our continuous learning which I must admit at the time provoked a puzzled look. I explained that I felt what we do well as a department is continue to learn; about our subject and other areas of interest we each hold, but we also share these things with each other. I chose this as I think it is the most important thing we have.

    I believe that there are people out there who teach that do take their knowledge for granted and do not actively seek fresh new knowledge  (if you feel I am wrong I apologize) and I think they do this for a number of reasons but mainly because something has made them loose enthusiasm.

    Fridays presentations/sharing went well and seemed to encourage some people but most of all I will take away this thought...

    "Keep your enthusiasm, hold on to it tight and don't let anyone take it away from you."

    Sunday, 28 February 2010

    Do not take it for granted!

    This week I realised that I can not take online resources for granted. You have to have a backup plan...yesterday Wordle vanished. This is my favorite word cloud website as it is really straight forward to integrate in to lessons and the outcomes are very visual. There are other websites that produce similar word clouds but you get used to working with a particular tool, its like loosing your favourite pen; you can write with others but it is not the same.

    Sunday, 21 February 2010

    Teaching and Learning-Sqworls

    These are the resources/programs and software that i have come across and are/might be useful.

    New this week are tagul and visuwords.

    Tuesday, 2 February 2010

    Brain explosion