Thursday, September 28, 2017

Daily Sketchbook 9/28

Today is a little different. I am going to pair you up by going through the note cards you wrote your name(s) on at the beginning of the year.
Once you are paired up I want you to take your sketchbook and "interview" the person you are matched with.
Pretend that you are tasked with making a piece of art about them. What kinds of questions would you ask to get to know them?
Name? Obvi.
Something about their family?
Significant likes/dislikes?
Perceived strengths?

Spend about five minutes (per person) getting to know as much about the person as possible, and make sure to document it all in your sketchbook.
Next question, how do you document your interview?
Words and visuals are a good combo. You'll have about five minutes to add to your "notes" after you spend time interviewing your peer.

Also, after the daily sketchbook is uploaded I will have one more thing I need from you. Stay tuned for that.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Daily Sketchbook 9/26

Spend about one minute to find a CAIRN you think is fairly interesting.
The next question is, what media would be most interesting for you to represent your chosen cairn. It could be pencil, pen & ink, watercolor, colored pencil, crayon, procreate, etc. I care less about the media and more about your use of light/dark/value/texture/etc.
Have fun.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Daily Sketchbook 9/20

Remember that bird you began drawing in ink last week?
Go back to that page and spend some time adding watercolor to it some how to make it look better/more interesting/more complete.
Don't forget to photograph the entire page when you are done (without a shadow) and upload it!

Alternatively, you may continue inking if you don't feel like you got as far as you would have liked. Please just spend at least 13 min. working on this.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Daily Sketchbook 9/18

I have a book at home by Tom Kelley and David Kelley with the following paragraph that I can't help but share.

Please read it and let it sink in. 
"With creative confidence comes the desire to proactively guide the course of your life, or organization, rather than be carried along on the prevailing winds. Roger Martin, dean of the University of Toronto's Rotman School of Management, once told us that what stuck out to him about designers is that they always act with intention. While others may unconsciously go with the default option, design thinkers make everything a conscious and original choice: from how they arrange their bookshelf to how they present their work. When they look around the world, they see opportunities to do things better and have a desire to change them. Once you start creating things, whether it's laying out a new garden or starting a new company or writing a new piece of code, you start to realize that everything has that intention behind it. Everything in modern society is the result of a collection of decisions made by someone. Why shouldn't that someone be you?"

After reading this passage I want you to open up to a new page in your sketchbook and create a large-ish shape on the page. Within that shape, creatively and uniquely copy the above quote. When you are finished, photograph this quote and submit that for today's daily sketchbook.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

The Struggle is Real

I asked my students yesterday if they get stressed out about grades and the resounding response was "yes". I knew this, but it's good to hear it from others as well.
As I stated during BTSN, I want the focus to be on learning and achievement (which looks different for every student), and NOT on grades.

Remember, it's about the learning, not the grade.

With that said, the Canvas grade book has sucked up more than three hours of my life from 3pm yesterday and 8:30am today. Not cool, Canvas. Not cool!

I want the assignments, when they are worthy of a letter grade, to receive a letter grade. The thing is, I'm bound by the constrictions some other developer - that is most likely NOT an educator - created. Frustrating to say the least.

What I have realized is that in order for my students to have a "grade" in the class, the assignments have to be worth some number of points. If I make the assignments worth "zero" points and put a letter grade in for their work, the total in the grade book doesn't exist. The program has no points to average, so it doesn't do anything with the letter grade.
If I make the assignment worth some number of points it does some other weird default stuff that I don't like, and that's what has consumed my time. What's the workaround? I have no idea, but I've found a workaround for the time being.
I think.

I don't know if it will work, but I think it will be ok for now. We'll see.

What I loathe is that it still very prominently displays a percentage for the student to see. The is NOT what I want. At all. I want the focus to be on the learning and not on the grade - but I think I've already said that many times.
I know that the students will still focus on the percentage instead of anything else every time they go in the grade book, so what do I do? I don't know.

I guess for now I have to be ok with an "I don't know". Which doesn't feel good.

Please remind them, and yourself, that the real assessment comes in the feedback for the assignment. There is a running commentary for each assignment, and often for assignments that aren't "graded" - when applicable. Please please please make sure to read the comments.

I know for the projects that are officially at the beginning of assessment, there are a lot of comments. I am even asking some of the students to come in and make some corrections so their work will be better. I am happy to reassess. There are steps for them to follow, but they are pretty easy. I have spoken with them about how to do this and I will continue to remind them as necessary.

Glass Pumpkin Patch Info

Hi everyone, one more quick note here.
The 15th Annual Magical Glass Pumpkin Patch will be taking place on Sept. 22-24 on the front lawn of the high school. This is a great event to peruse, even if you don't buy anything.
However, a portion of all proceeds to come back to the art department to help us do things like repair kilns, buy oil paints, and purchase tools and supplies to keep the classes as robust as they are.
More info can be found at the above link.
Happy almost Friday.

Daily Sketchbook 9/14

It's been a while for some ink for most of you, so that's what today is about. Please get out your small pen and ink, and draw the below bird on the next available page in your sketchbook.
Are you brave enough to go straight to ink without pencil? This is doable, but it takes focus and patience. Though you'll be surprised how much you can get done in 15 focused minutes.
Please don't do anything else on this page as I plan to have you loop back to it at some point.

Please do not use any pen besides the small dip pen in your supply tub. No microns, etc.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Daily Sketchbook 9/12

It's time for our first Artist of the Month for the year, so bring your pencil and sketchbook to my table. I know I was haphazard about this last year, but I'll try to do better this year.

Friday, September 8, 2017

A3/A4 Class on 9/8

While there isn't a traditional daily sketchbook for today, I do have something I want us all to do together today.
To begin with, please have your drawing on your table, and your ipad open to the Canvas app*. Please remove everything else from your table for us to begin.

*Yes, the app. Please do not go on a web browser. If you need help with the app please ask.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Back To School Night (BTSN) 2017

You've already heard some from me, but since we're at the time of the year for BTSN, I, of course, have more.
Over the past few years I have noticed more and more students who have strained under the pressure of homework and grades and college applications and feeling like they need to take certain classes in order to be qualified for certain “good” colleges.
Really, it’s just too much.
What about the joy of learning?
Or learning how to be a good learner?
Or focusing on the learning and content knowledge as the thing and not stressing about points?

Not worrying about “needing” certain classes, but what classes make us happy. Which courses help us learn now AND in the future?

Yes, I get it, you want your kids to go to college, but as Frank Bruni argues in the book Where You Go Is Not Who You’ll Be, there is, largely, an illusion over what are “good” colleges and what aren’t. It is up to the student (your kid) to get the education. They should not rely on the college/university - or even the high school. They have to own it and make it themselves. Everyone else is only offering opportunity.
By the way, I highly recommend reading the above mentioned book. It’s pretty short and is excellent.

School can be played as a game, but should it be used as such? Probably not.
Students thinking they need to have a certain number of AP courses in order to compete for certain colleges isn’t healthy. At all.
And really, if a school has less than a 20% acceptance rate they probably aren’t getting in anyway. That’s just how the numbers work. You can be “perfect”, and a legacy, and not need any financial aid, and still get denied. It’s kind of a crap shoot, unfortunately.
It isn’t the end of the world, it’s just the beginning of a different opportunity.
Don’t pressure them so much. Your kids will be fine. Trust me. We have more than 100 teachers and staff here working really hard to give them as much as we can. As an added benefit, pressuring them about school less will only increase the possibility of a positive relationship between parent and offspring.

Personally, I’m more concerned with them using the knowledge and experiences in this class to make themselves better and to inform the depth and happiness of their life long after they leave my class(es). If you think about it, all of life is influenced by Art and creativity. The ways of really looking in here, and how they have to problem solve...that’s the good stuff, that stuff will make an impact on personal and professional aspects of their life going forward. Not the same can be said for every class they take here, unfortunately.

Which brings me to the big change for this academic year.

I am largely going gradeless. Really that just means grading less.
I still expect them to do the right thing, be respectful, and perform at a high level, but I’m not going to be awarding - or taking away - points for behavior (or as some name it, compliance).
I am not going to worry about projects being late. Yes, there are times when I cannot accept anything any later in a semester because I have to have time to deal with it at the end of the term, but that comes later, right?

I will still be making note online for all of these things, but it won’t negatively impact their grades.

If I prioritize the standards and content of the course, if I really believe that the products we make (their experiences) are where the learning comes from, that is what I need to consider when determining a grade. Those other things matter, but by not giving them points it actually allows for more personal conversations and fewer frustrations and hurt feelings if all is handled well.

We will be focusing on giving a lot (A LOT) of feedback this year throughout the process. It’s amazing how little students constructively talk to each other, or ask for help from each other about their work. I need them to get over this hump and not feel like they themselves are expected to have all of the answers - or that I am the only one with all of the answers. Yes, I have more experience and a broader range of language to offer, but they also have experience and knowledge to offer, so why not?
That use of feedback in an effort to get better is important. I have a peer at another school that has a motto, “Do. Reflect. Do Better.”
You have to admit, that’s pretty solid. If the students do that, if they can constantly make baby steps towards better they will have an amazing experience in this course.
Notice that this doesn’t mean achieving a certain level and then staying there, though. There is a difference. I am going to challenge your kids to continually do better, and I set the same challenge for myself. It isn’t easy, but it is worth it.

I had some great experiences over the summer, some of which I have shared with you through links already, but I thought I would share a couple of books as well.
One is Shift This, by Joy Kirr.
Another is Creating a Culture of Feedback, by Ferriter and Cancellieri.
If you have time, or are intrigued, I would recommend them both to you. It will change how you think about what your kids could have in school as contrasted with how you were taught. You won’t agree with, or understand, everything (especially in Shift This there are some strategies that just aren’t for me), but I like things that are interesting, and both of those books are that if nothing else.

I want the students to know it is about the learning, not the grades. I want them to have fun. I want them to be better.
I also want the same for myself. I want to have an amazing year where I am energized and interested and get to know a bunch of really great people - your kids.
I don’t shy away from tall tasks, so I hope they won’t either.

Here’s to the year, welcome!


Here are some other interesting links I’ve read recently you might find interesting:

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Daily Sketchbook 9/6

I know we will only do a "traditional" daily sketchbook entry in class once this week, but I would like to challenge you do take one of the below bear drawings and begin it in your sketchbook. I don't expect it to be finished in terms of full shading, but you can get the gist of it down in pencil.
Next I would ask that you keep adding to it.
Ultimately I'd like to see a bear with some sort of human element added to the composition.
This could take you several days of daily sketchbook work, really. Between getting the bear and the human element sketched out. Then getting it inked. Then what? What else could make the page look interesting?

Don't forget, Friday when you come to class I will have something for us all to do for the first few minutes of class (even though you won't need to do a "daily sketchbook" activity to upload to Canvas). Please just be at your seat ready to participate.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Daily Sketchbook 9/1

This is a different day than usual. Every Friday you come to class I will have a beginning routine for us, but it will not require you to upload a photo for your daily sketchbook.
For now, until I have time to talk to you, just put your materials on your desk (or where you are working), and give me your attention. I will want to start as soon as the bell rings, or as soon as the announcements are over, so please work with me on this. If it takes too much time, I will have to make up that time that time with you at the end of class.
Cheers and happy Friday!