Tag: high school art teacher

Teaching Tips for Hybrid and Virtual

THREE WEEKS IN HYBRID

I have to start this post with a disclaimer: my first two and a half weeks of school has been a lot of putting out fires, just barely hanging on, and feeling a bit like a failure. But, as I rounded the corner into week three of teaching in hybrid, I suddenly felt like my feet were on the ground. For the first time, I had a handle on my schedule, what projects were going on, and I felt more confident dealing with the technology component.

Below are eight tips that I have jotted down as I moved through the dumpster fire that is the start of the school year, pandemic style.

PLANNING YOUR YEAR

If you are anything like me you love to plan out your entire semester, maybe even the year, in August. I love filling out my planner with when I aim to start projects and my project progression. This year, throw all your past schedules in the trash (not literally, since COVID is temporary you may want to reference those again in the future).

Figure out what your school’s plan is. Are you full virtual? For how long? Are you hybrid? Do the students switch off every other day? What does the daily/weekly schedule look like? Using this information, create your own schedule. Figure out what projects can be completed with low materials and decide which projects are most important for your art program.

In addition to roughing out the first few weeks, consider what happens at the end of a project. How are students submitting work to you? Set up your organization system NOW so students can learn it from day one. In the spring, I had students email me pictures of projects when they turned them in to be graded. That system was a hot mess. If I had to follow up with a student, or track down a project for grading, I was forced to dig through my e-mail.

This year, my school is set up through Teams and Blackbaud. I have chosen to train my students to access project information and submit work through Teams. Within our Teams group, each student has a folder with their last name. Every new project they create a subfolder with the project name, where they upload their artist research sheets, critique sheets, and pictures of their work. I know exactly where to track down their work, no questions asked.

Rough out your first few weeks of school. If you are in hybrid mode, count the number of days a project would typically take and apply those to how often you will see a student in person. When I realized I would be a hybrid teacher I opted for my students to work on one assignment at school and one assignment at home to prevent projects from traveling back and forth daily. This leads me to…

If possible, avoid having your student move supplies back and forth.

MANAGING SUPPLIES

Many teachers around the world are finding themselves in a situation where students can no longer share supplies. Art kits are being put together for at home and at school use, art suppliers are running low on watercolor and drawing supplies. As a hybrid teacher, I had to create art kits to allow my students to work on projects at home. However, I quickly realized this system would not function well if my students where lugging supplies and projects back and forth from school and home every day. Inevitably, things would get lost, projects would be left in the wrong place, and students would be left with nothing to do.

To avoid that situation, I decided to have a project for in-class, and a project for at home, running simultaneously. This presents its own set of challenges. For one, my students will be working on projects at home that I can’t offer the same amount of guidance as I would at school. Also, there are times I present a project to the entire class, both in person and on Zoom, but if the students are at home they won’t apply that information until the next time they are physically present at school. It was also very confusing at the start of the year when I had to present multiple projects a few days in a row, then split the students up to start working on assignments.

However, despite the challenges of juggling multiple things at once, I think it’s easier than trying to fill virtual student’s time with busy work or risking supplies traveling from location to location. My school does allow communal supplies in the classroom, as long as they can be disinfected between student use. For those who have to rely only on individual kits, traveling supplies may be inevitable.

PLAN AHEAD

As soon as you determine which projects you are going to start the year with, start typing up your instructions. If you are in full virtual mode this is incredibly important for students to reference if needed. If you are in hybrid mode, this is a helpful tool if you are busy with one group of students and need the other group to start working independently.

When I say type up instructions, I mean type up every step, detail, everything you would verbally tell the students to do. If a student is late due to technical issues (inevitable) or misses a class, you can direct them to these instructions without having to interrupt the rest of the class.

Record demo videos.

Just like written instructions, demo videos are a huge time suck to create, but an invaluable asset when it’s done. If you are working on a project example now, stop! Set up a camera and record your process. These videos can be uploaded to a location students can access when they are working independently, if they miss class, or simply for a review of instructions.

It can be overwhelming to look at a year of projects and imagine recording demos for every single one. Instead, start small. Look at your first two weeks. Can you get the demo videos done for just your full virtual projects? If you take one bite at a time, eventually you will eat the whole virtual monster.

Teaching with a breathable mask is key.

Before you even start your first day of school, go mask shopping. Order a few different styles from a few different companies. The most important parts of a mask are breathability, comfort, and safety. The mask is there to protect you and others, so make sure you have a quality mask that is actually doing its job. You will be wearing that sucker all day, so make sure it’s comfortable. I had headaches for two weeks solid, and I think a big part of that was adjusting to wearing a mask.

Finally, make sure you can easily take deep breaths in your mask. My nerves always kick into high gear on the first day of school. I talk a little faster, requiring bigger breaths between words. This year I had a particularly thick mask on the first day. When I took those nervous gulps of air the short moments between all of my informative words, I realized I wasn’t getting the level of oxygen I needed to not pass out in front of my class. I had to consciously take a moment to breathe, greatly slow down my talking, and a mask switch was necessary. I now have a thinner cotton one that allows me to talk more easily, while still protecting my health.

Also, wear your mask! Are you around people? Wear your mask! Are you six feet apart? Wear it just in case! Are you eating lunch solo or at a safe distance? Okay, fine, take off your mask.

Drink your coffee at the start of the day, you won't have time later.

CAFFINATE!

If you take nothing else away from the post, remember this one. DRINK YOUR COFFEE BEFORE SCHOOL STARTS. I made the mistake the first few days of lightly sipping on my coffee en route to school, answering a few e-mails, and then realizing my class was on their way. Once your mask goes on and class starts, sneaking those gulps of coffee is nearly impossible. I have days where my planning doesn’t hit until after lunch, and coffee that has been sitting around that long just isn’t worth the effort to drink it.

Develop a system for learning student names.

STUDENT NAMES

Now that you have a plan, are caffeinated, and masked up it’s time to start your year! Learning student names this year is nearly impossible!! If you are hybrid or full-on seeing kids in person, you are likely only seeing their eyes. If you are virtual, you are probably only seeing their forehead. Typically, in week three of school, I have a handle on 95% of student names. This year, I am still figuring it out.

The biggest help has been assigned seating, required at my school for contact tracing. I can easily refer to my seating chart to see who is sitting where. Also, when students are on our Zoom call I see their names on their screens. To help further solidify the name/face connection I also have a roster printed out with their picture next to their name. Find a way to get that name/face connection made to help you more easily connect to the students in a time when we can’t be closer than six feet.

TECH SWEAT

If I can promise one thing about this school year it is that you will be sweating… a lot… Technical issues will come up. On my third day, I got the blue screen of death in the middle of class. By the time I rejoined my Zoom call, the call had defaulted to a student and I couldn’t figure out how to regain control in order to share my presentation. Class ended early that day and I felt like I needed a shower afterward. I haven’t faced tech issues to that extent again, but at least I have a sense of control with my spare deodorant safely stowed in my desk drawer.

Teachers, be flexible and give yourself a break!

GOOD LUCK!

If I am being totally honest my mantra my first week of school was if I am just physically showing up every day, I am doing a good job. My expectations were very low, but as I have gained confidence in this new world of education, that bar is slowly starting to rise. It is going to be hard. You are going to be tired. You will feel like a failure. Tech will fail you. But, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. You will hit a point where you feel like you have a small handle on the situation. In a global pandemic, as essential workers, as a small lifeline of normalcy to the students we teach, we are doing a great job every day just by showing up.

Thanks for stopping by! Don’t forget to subscribe to my blog or check my out on social media for more life experiences, project ideas, and art teacher nuggets. You can also cut out the typing up instructions and recording video demo by checking out art projects and resources on my blog here and here as well as on my TPT here.

Distance Learning – Visual Journals

A visual journal page of a sign that says "don't stop art."

I recently got word from my school that we wouldn’t be back before April 13th. I have doubts that we will even return the 14th, but only time will tell. This means no students, no hands on learning, no art show, so many other cancellations of events and what we all consider the norm, gone.

Just two weeks ago I walked the line between is this really serious? and will we actually have school cancellations due to an illness? It only took until the end of that week to realize the severity of the situation we are in. I immediately began planning how I could continue to push art into the lives of my students during this, because at a time like this an outlet for our feelings is as important as hand washing (although wash your hands FIRST then start the creative outlet for your mental health).

What is most important to me is that we don’t stop art. That my students continue to flex their creative muscles in this time of isolation. So what do I do? What do educators do? How do we continue to provide for our students without having a face to face with them? These questions are what pushed me into the next phase of dealing with COVID-19, I was long out of denial, it was time to take action.

Luckily, I have a project that fits well into distance learning, visual journals. Before my students left I had them take their visual journals home. If you have not started this project, all your students need is a used hardback book that they (and their family members) no longer want. If paperback is all they have, use it! If a sketchbook or notebook is all they have, give it a go! If they have no bound book option, use a piece of paper. That most important part is getting started and making something.

MY DISTANCE LEARNING PLAN

For the next two weeks I have a solid distance learning plan that focuses on visual journals. Luckily, if we continue to teach and learn from home, this project can be extended. You can find all my resources, including a presentation, handouts, and more, on my TPT here for free. I also have many how to worksheets on visual journaling you can check out here. You can also continue reading below for the general outline of my plan.

TOPIC: VISUAL JOURNALS & COVID-19

For the first week of distance learning my students are focusing on what this current crisis looks like, by reading information on reputable websites such as the CDC. They then reflect on how this crisis is impacting them, their friends and family. Next, they begin planning out a spread (two facing pages) in their visual journal that sums up their coronavirus experience in one image.

My school is using technology already put in place to support us through distance learning. All assignments are posted to our class Blackbaud page. Completed assignments can be uploaded through the same system. This organizes who submitted which assignment when, without me doing the heavy lifting. In addition, we are using Microsoft Teams as a discussion board and file holder to organize all our documents into one place and as a secondary option for students to access what they need for their assignment.

If you don’t have technology in place to support you, it will take extra work, but it can be done. Google classroom is free and an amazing way to connect with your students in one place. E-mail is another option to at least get assignment sheets and information into your student’s hands (or inbox). They can e-mail you pictures of their visual journal pages that you post to a Flickr or similar page where students can check out each other’s work and comment on them. If you haven’t started a class Instagram yet, now is the time! This could be your online gallery of work and community space. Worse case scenario, you could mail packets out, although not ideal, it is an option if it’s feasible for you (heaven knows we need to be taken care of too. Make sure you take care of you!)

At the end of the first week my students only have to submit their reflection sheet and start brainstorming designs for their visual journal spread. I want us all to take baby steps at the beginning so we don’t burn out by the end. I am taking the less is more approach, while still giving my students the opportunity to express themselves.

At the end of the second week they will submit a photograph of their completed visual journal page to me. My students will be graded on all submitted work, not every school is, but grades are great motivation to work, so I am thankful for that.

VISUAL JOURNAL SUPPLIES & HOW TO

To complete this project students can use materials typically found at home to create beautiful works of art. Included in my free packet is a list of supplies they can creatively use they may not think of as art supplies. Below is a basic list to get you started:

  • Used hardback book
  • Magazines
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Sharpies
  • Tape
  • Paperclips
  • A computer to find images and a printer to print images
  • Foil
  • Paper bags
  • Wrapping paper

Because my students are already a couple of months into our visual journal project, we work on them every Friday at school, they have already been introduced to collaging, mixed media, and examples of visual journals and techniques. If you are starting from scratch, send them here to read through how tos or have them Google visual journal or altered books for ideas. Send the visual journal presentation in my free pack. Have the students take the reigns in their art making and find inspiration on their own. The internet provides almost limitless access to tutorials, information, and tips, encourage them to use it.

As your students work on their spreads don’t be afraid to create your own. Video your process, share what your reaction to coronavirus is. Be vulnerable with your students because we are all vulnerable right now. Although my school has prohibited video conferencing of any kind with students, due to the inability to oversee actions and to be free of liability of any inappropriate or poor conduct, I can share videos of me working. Although we aren’t in the classroom together, I believe hearing my voice my instill a sense of regularity into this process.

As we navigate through this unprecedented time, if we continue to be out of school I plan to post a list of visual journal prompts students can select from and create visual journal pages about. I will check in with their progress at least once a week, and have new spreads due every two weeks.

Your distance learning may look completely different from mine, but I hope this at least provides ideas to get you started. It’s overwhelming to change everything we have been trained to do, but we can do it and we can do it together.

OTHER DISTANCE LEARNING IDEAS

If you teach elementary school, middle school, or photography classes I have been working overtime to get distance learning packs put together for you! Read below for more information.

My retired art teacher mom and I created a distance learning pack for K-5 with projects designed specifically with the abilities and needs of each individual grade level in mind. Each lesson pack includes presentations, assignment sheets to help the parents and students, and step by step instructions through demonstration videos and handouts.

I have adapted my traditional artist trading card project into a distance learning focused one that includes a mail trading session between students. I know students miss each other and writing letters, creating art, and keeping in touch with something they can physically touch can make a huge difference. Check this lesson out here.

My coworker and I have put together four photography focused distance learning packs for you. One is a free pack that includes prompts for students to explore while at home. Two lesson packs focus on setting up and taking pictures at home through constructed landscapes indoors and a social commentary on the COVID-19 crisis. The fourth lesson takes an art historical approach looking at photographs that have changed the world. These packs could cover your class for the rest of the semester if needed.

In addition, I have two art history lessons up on prehistoric art. One is designed for upper elementary and young middle schoolers, while the other is designed for late middle and high schoolers. Art history is just as important to art making and could be a good solution to art distance learning for you.

Check my distance learning category on TPT and follow me to stay up to date with new products I get posted!

Ya’ll I miss my classroom, my students, my routine. Before this all I wanted was one snow day, now I would give anything to be back in my room looking at my kiddo’s facing and talking about art, or whatever topic was important in the teenage world that day.

Good luck to you as you go through this journey. Please reach out with questions, comments, or concerns. Click my social media buttons in the right menu bar to keep in touch.

A week ago I was at the beach (practicing social distancing but in a much more beautiful place) and now am I here. I am here and I am going to do this and soon this will be behind us. Thanks for stopping by!

Check out my most recent visual journal post that explains how to create a tape transfer in a visual journal using packaging tape and printing pictures.

Visual Journal Page 55: Bedtime Bear

A collage with a dog and sleeping zzzzs, made for my Kody Bear a German Shepard, Husky mix.

When I realized what visual journal page I was blogging about today I was equal parts heart warmed and melancholy. This visual journal page is for my Kody Bear who lived a long 13.5 years, but went on to puppy heaven two and a half years ago.

Kody Bear was sweet, snuggly *at his discretion,* so fluffy, a close talker, pushy, stubborn, and so very smart. His stubborn/intelligent combination caused a great deal of frustration in college. But he eventually settled into the perfect dog.

Loosing a dog as an adult was different than loosing a dog as a child. I was so close to my family dog growing up. He was my baby. But, by the time he headed up the white staircase to puppy heaven I was two years into college and didn’t see much of the end of his life. Kody Bear was different because I was there, I witnessed his last breath, which I am forever grateful for, but it was almost impossible to bare. I am endlessly thankful that he was sick for such a short period of time after living a very healthy 13.5 years before that. I am thankful I opted to drive home from the beach just in case this was it. Because it was and I was there for Nick and him.

But, this post isn’t just about losing Kody in the end, it was about the sweetness I witnessed those last few years. Kody was a wild pup who took a lot of discipline and training to wrangle. But, he eventually found a balance that worked for all involved parties. He loved being outside, sitting near you (but never touching), and was 100% Nick’s dog. I believed he viewed me as a bonus, but not his person.

I can’t blame Kody for that. After all, when I met Nick he and Kody were already a pair, they came as a package deal. At 19, a sophomore in college, he had inherited him from his sister. I think Nick was the only one who could handle his wild spirit. I think Kody realized he had met his match with Nick and he developed great respect and love for him as a result.

And although for 11 years of his life it was all about Nick and Kody, those last couple of years he settled into some routines with me. My favorite was every night when I would go to bed he would follow right behind. It didn’t matter who was still awake, if a party was going on, or if it was 5 pm. My bear was right behind me as we headed up the stairs together.

It’s the little things that make you realize you are bonded with someone. It’s the everyday, repetitive, tiny moments that add up to such beautiful things. The moments that Kody showed me he cared, by supporting decisions for an early bedtime or laying nearby when I was upset or simply warming myself next to the fire, I truly felt connected to him.

Today, I have another bedtime buddy named Harper. She is about 80% as fluffy, 25% of his size, and is just as wild. Despite her high energy, as soon as I hit the steps heading up to bed, she is right behind me. I like to think that she represents a piece of Kody, a piece of me, and a piece of my life right now.

Sweet dreams Kody Bear.

SUPPLIES

  • Visual journal
  • Mod Podge or Elmer’s glue
  • Book pages
  • Bleeding tissue paper
  • Sharpie
  • Packing tape
  • Laser printed image

VISUAL JOURNAL HOW TO

To create this visual journal page I started with a printed image of my bear snuggled up and snoozing. I had come up with the idea of having snoring zzzs floating around him as I began developing this visual journal page. It was easy to opt for a tape transfer, so you could see the layers of zs coming from Kody and spreading to the rest of the pages.

To create a packaging tape transfer you need a laster printed image, you can also use newspaper or inkjet but they aren’t as successful. Tape strips of packaging tape directly on top of the image. Flip the image over and rub the back with something hard, like scissor handles or a wood spoon. The burnishing process helps stick the ink to the packaging tape. Next, run the back of the image under water until the paper starts to raise up and peel away. Rub the paper off of the tape, leaving only the ink stuck to the tape.

The end result of a tape transfer is a semi-transparent image. Any white sections are completely see through and any dark sections are semi-transparent or fully opaque. Next, I set aside the tape transfer and started working on the background.

I first glued down strips of bleeding tissue paper I had set aside in my visual journal stash. In a previous project I had wet sheets of bleeding tissue paper to stain paper with color. I then set aside the used sheets to dry, which can result in tie dye looking tissue paper.

Next, I began writing the letter Z on pieces of ripped out book pages. I cut each one into a square then glued it down to the background. I filled the area I knew the trap transfer would be placed and slowly spread them out as it moved away from Kody. Once I was satisfied with the way the background looked, I glued the transfer of Kody on top.

Last but not least I wrote out my text on book pages, cut it out, and glued it to the right page.

Check out more visual journal pages with tape transfers here, here, here, and here.

CHALLENGE

Create a visual journal page about a loss in your life. Use a tape transfer to help illustrate it.

Interested in learning more about visual journaling or introducing them in your classroom? Get everything you need to teach or learn about visual journals, plus a ton of printable resources (including my tape transfer how to handout) here.

Thanks for taking the time to check out my post to my sweet Bear. Help me spread the word about visual journaling by sharing with others! Don’t forget to subscribe to my blog for updates straight to your inbox or follow me on facebook or instagram. Thanks for stopping by!