Hi all. Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Allison Cusato. I’ve taught primary and secondary Art as well as Instructional Technology in Virginia Public Schools. I am now teaching secondary Art for an international school in Beijing, China. I transitioned to the online classroom 6 weeks ago. I’m a firm believer in not reinventing the wheel, so this post is full of resources for you teachers out there (Art or other) faced with this new normal.
I’m breaking this post into four parts: 1) Begining Considerations 2) Ed-tech Resources 3) Several of My Own Lessons 4) Side Effects of eLearning 5) Mental Health Resources. Feel free to scroll down to whichever section might be most helpful to meet your needs.
If you find yourself needing to jump into eLearning I highly recommend being flexible and adaptable to meet the needs of your school community. It increases the buy-in of all stakeholders. Once you have buy-in you have more engagement and participation of students, and isn’t that what being an educator is all about?
First, keep in mind that this is a very new situation, you are learning as you go. So are your administrators and so are the parents who will now be taking on the role of eLearning facilitator. The initial stages will take great patience with and from everyone involved. Be open, be flexible, be adaptable, be curious, and don’t be afraid to question.
When beginning your online classroom look to your leaders for guidance on how to structure your lessons. Do they need to be live guided learning assignments? Do they need to be uploaded assignments structured for students and parents to follow instructions? Do they need to be prerecorded video lessons uploaded for students to watch at their convenience? And, is there an updated Child Protection Policy that you should read before beginning?
Once you know the format decide on what type of lesson will best suit the needs of your students as they transition into this new learning environment. I chose to start my online classes by uploading assignments that were more of a review with a reflection or meditative theme to them. I decided on this because the first week is like a soft opening. This is the time to gauge how your students are doing, who is needing a little help getting motivated, what type of lessons will work best for them, what materials and resources they have available to them, etc… If you don’t hear from students send them a message. Ask them how they’re doing. I found many of my students to be struggling in the first few weeks because the changes to living and learning were so drastic. A little positivity and encouragement from teachers and leaders will go a long way.
At the end of the first week, you will likely be given new initiatives on changes to be made to your delivery. Remember, this is just the beginning. There are a lot of challenges to eLearning and now is the time to work them out. Begin to set some e-classroom and personal goals. For instance; try a new ed-tech app weekly, work a weekly game day into your class schedule to add a little fun, introduce structure and routine to your classes if it’s lacking, blog about what’s working for you, engage in online educator forums, incorporate meditation or a healthy habit into your planning period, etc…
Step 1: So you’re new to this whole thing and don’t know where to begin. You’re not alone. You’re not even alone in your school. Find a colleague who is also in shock, choose a platform like Teams or Zoom and give them a video call. You can both complain while troubleshooting the new virtual environment together. Win-Win!
Choose one of the applications below and click around to explore:
*Microsoft Office 365 classroom application is Teams
*Google for Educators classroom application is Google Classroom
Create your classes and add your students. Figure out how to create assignments. Need help? Ask the online help provided by the software, ask a colleague or you can even ask a student.
One more thing to consider; if you’re teaching Early Childhood or Primary levels you may prefer to use Seesaw to deliver lessons and communicate with families and Zoom video conferencing to connect live.
Step 3: Develop your lessons. What are your objectives and goals? How will you share your rubric? How will you let your students know if the class each day is live or offline? Who do you need to send your lessons to? Plan for formative assessments. Summative may not be possible right away. Put the SOLs, midterms and final exams out of your mind for now and give yourself time to adjust to this situation.
*To keep your lessons online with ease of collaboration and sharing with leadership get a subscription to planbook.com for $15 USD a year.
*To prerecord your lessons use screencast-o-matic
*To engage your students in sharing short awesome videos use Flipgrid
*Use a digital whiteboard with a free trial for educators dealing with Covid19 from Explain Everything
*To develop interactive games or give formative assessments use a free trial of Kahoot
*Give them an educational brain break with a BrainPop or BrainPop Jr. video that’s related to your unit. Some videos are free. Many of you may already have a school subscription.
*If you would like to show an author reading from their book check out Read, Wonder and Learn
*Take a minute to step outside your curriculum to deliver a timely lesson on digital citizenship with Common Sense Media. You can also find ed-tech PD and reviews here.
If you will be teaching live you will want to familiarize yourself with ways to record your live lessons. This is important if you have students in different time zones or someone out sick. They will still be responsible for the work.
Step 4: Go live! After each lesson, reflect on what worked and what didn’t. Make changes as necessary. You know… just like in your normal classroom. Check-in with your team to see what worked for them.
Other helpful resources:
Free Apps for Art Students: ibis Paint, Gimp (a free photoshop), Blender (for 3d modeling), Sketchup (for 3D modeling), pixlr, photopea.com, Sculptris (for 3D modeling), Inkscape (for illustration), and OpenToonzfor animation.
Resources for Primary Art eLearning:
Jules White’s Website
Ms. Kitlang’s Art Class
And Ms. Kitlang’s Playlist
Google Art Project
An Ongoing List of Sources for online art education
Resources for Secondary Art eLearning:
Video Drawing Tutorials
Over 2000 Free Video Art Lessons
Mrs. Jardin’s Art Room
Ms. Cusato’s Online Art Class
Google Art Project
An Ongoing List of Sources for online art education
Coronavirus Related School Closures
Across the United States
A few of my lessons:
When I first started I was working on an old iPad from a hotel room. I was typing out instructions instead of giving live lessons. They looked like this:
The second week we were required to deliver all lessons live and keep students on for the entire 45-50 minute block. I was back in Beijing with my computer, which helped greatly. Here’s an example of an 8th-grade lesson that worked well. Here is a link to the Zentangles for Wuhan slideshow Feel free to download it and change it to fit your needs.
In the fourth week I started to paint my face to hook the students. My new routine is to start classes on Monday by asking the students to identify the elements of art and principals of design they see on my face, then give them some small hints and send them to a search engine to find the artist I’m representing. What is this teaching them? It’s reinforcing how to use the Elements and Principals to analyze a work of art and teaching them how to use a search engine. And it’s out of the ordinary. Once they find the answer I go on to give them a brief art history lesson about the artist and include links in the chat bar that they can use to discover more information about the artist. Sometimes there is a follow-up exercise. And sometimes they return to a lesson already in progress. Note: we are no longer requiring students to stay online for the entire lesson. 10 to 20 minutes is more than enough to get them started and let them go.
Many of you will be teaching Title 1 students. I know you’re nervous about the resources they have at home because they will have very little. If you’re in this situation start brainstorming materials they may have at home that could be useful. You can do a lot with just pencils and paper. Most will have a smartphone. That’s when those free drawing and photo apps will come in handy. Old mail can be shredded and used for collages (have them ask permission first). Pizza box lids can serve as a canvas. Instant coffee, mud, berries and some vegetables can all be used for stains or paints. And if they can get outside, now is the perfect time for an Andy Goldsworthy lesson.
My freshmen have just begun their IGCSE Component 1 while the sophomores are wrapping theirs up. This transition has been a big challenge for sophomores because much of their work is stuck in the school and many do not have art supplies with them. I have been giving both 9th and 10th graders tutorials on how to use household materials to create art.
My seniors and I have been concerned mostly with meeting the IB deadlines and holding an exhibition, which is part of the IB process. My juniors have just begun the IB process so I am using this time to get them started on their Comparative Studies. They are choosing works of art and analyzing them using Renee Sandell’s Form+Theme+Context method, which can be found here.
Having students at any level journal about how the virus has changed their lives and create a work based on that journal entry has been successful. It’s a spark for inspiration and helps students to process the effects of the event.
Side Effects of eLearning
If you are suddenly having to teach from home and you have a family that is also suddenly thrown into a work-and-learn from home situation it’s going to be tough. Parents will need to assist in the facilitation of eLearning. Talk as a family on how best to arrange your new working and learning situation.
All of this screen time is tough on the eyes. Students and teachers alike will be complaining of too much screen time. Yes, I do see the irony in this situation. My school has found a couple different ways to alleviate this. One, we begin our lessons (following our bell schedule using Beijing time) live. Teachers take the first 10-15 minutes to deliver and record the lesson live online. Then we let students go offline to complete the assignment. Yes, some lessons have to be completed using a screen, but some can be done on paper and often we allow wiggle room. This week we had our very first Wellness Wednesday, a day off-screen completely for middle school students and almost completely for upper secondary. Parents were consulted first. We wanted to make sure they were happy with the situation. With their needs in mind, we developed plans that would allow students to be mostly independent in their day. Lessons were prepared and placed online the day before so students had access to them. Teachers were available online to answer questions during the day but did not have to be active on their devices. As with any of this, we will listen to feedback and make changes before going for another Wellness Wednesday, but so far it feels like it was a success.
Desk jobs are hard on the body. And not having to leave your home each day to begin work eliminates quite a bit of activity from your daily activity. Try to find ways to find balance in your life. Think about setting up an area of your home for physical activities, meditation or stretching.
Can you leave your house and go outside? Great! Go for a walk or a run as often as possible. I mean, make sure to do your job but also go outside.
Try to be social. If you can’t get to see friends or family in person schedule time with them for phone calls or video calls. Even introverts need contact with others beyond their classroom.
Mental Health Resources
Stop Breathe Think is a great resource for students and teachers. Right now they are offering free resources to educators dealing with CoVid19.
Another option is to search for teletherapy. Yes, that does exist. BetterHelp.com is one such place that I definitely recommend. They are not free, but they are affordable.
As CoVid19 started to force closures of places where meetings would take place services like meditation and mental health practices began offering free online sessions. Also, churches began offering call-in support. Look around your area to see what services may have started offering online options. Some may even be free!
If you have any specific questions that you would like addressed feel free to leave them in the comments. I will get to them as soon as possible.
If you would like to collaborate on a future eLearning post let me know.
If you would like to contribute links to your own resources feel free to leave them in the comments as well.
Good luck everyone! In a few weeks, the dust will settle and you will exhale a collective sigh of relief.