Podcast…errr…Tech Video!

Sketchbook Pro VS. Drawing Carl


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Did you say, “Machu Picchu?”

My first attempt at a Machu Picchu…errr…I mean a Pecha Kucha was interesting, to say the least!  I felt that I had good material and I was ready to present 10 slides in 200 seconds.  I was able to put in enough practice time that I figured it should be pretty easy?

On game day…slide one was smooth.  Slide two, so far, so good!  Slide three, spoke too long…time to catch up….whoops, missed a few points….time to ad-lib….there goes that slide…”crud!” Can I sit down yet?!

Screen Shot 2016-02-21 at 11.55.52 AM

I found out that it is much easier to practice on your own rather than actually presenting the information that was once so neatly compacted and organized?

ADVICE when attempting to present one:

  • Practice.
  • Choose a topic that you don’t know too much nor too little about.
  • Use Powerpoint and set your timer!
  • Make your images large!
  • Keep your design layout simple – limited color palette.
  • Use contrasting and simple lettering.

USC gives some solid advice and resources….click here!

OKAY…So, can I really use this in the Middle School classroom?

My initial reaction is YES! Maybe too hard for the Elementary classroom?  High school students would have a lot of fun with this and find it easy to create.  Hence, we have Middle Schooler’s – stuck in the center! It wouldn’t be easy for them, but I think this would be a great group project if they were trying to document a building process or if it were based on an artist.  I think breaking down the overall concept into pieces would lead to some deeper learning and self-expression.  Jobs within a group could look like…

  • The Photographer?
  • The Slide Creator?
  • The Writer?
  • The Presenter?

There could be more options with this format as well…each student has particular interests and strengths…I feel good about trying this out?  I’m sure they will perform much better than I have for my first Machu Picchu 🙂





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Sketchbook Pro: Art App…Any Classroom!

One of the units we cover in Grade 5 (and an extension in Grade 6) is based on computer graphics.  I treat them as if they were graphic designers and I am the client who has come to them with a problem to solve?  In this case, I am in need of a new company logo for my business.  Students brainstorm, plan, and create dozens of variations.  They narrow down their ideas (in their sketchbooks) to one outcome.  They redraw their final image with detail and accurate colors in preparation for the digital design.  Students are able to use the Ipad application called  Sketchbook Pro for this final process.



Student’s find this “app” quite easy to use.  I feel it is suitable for all ability levels.  It provides enough tools to challenge even the most advanced students.  I have students save copies of their progress to document the creating process.

Students really find this assignment easy…likely to the simple controls.  It also allows students an opportunity to practice their refinement skills (while viewing on the screen).  The Reviews of the program seem quite positive.  I’m sure that there are other applications and computer graphic software that would be equally if not far superior. However, as an introduction to graphics, this is a great startup tool for kids.

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Glogster’s Revenge: A Reflection Tool

I was reading a blog post by Andy, a colleague of mine.  I was very interested in the visual of Vito Corleone (which is slightly repeating a 3 second clip).  I have seen these for years and never found out how they were created?  Until today!

This is from a website called “Giphy.” You can essentially find expressions and everything visual from this site.  The one I chose is from  Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure.  I tried to give proper credit to the movie, but alas, we are behind the times in technology.  It is moving faster than we can keep up!  There are many ways you can use Giphy but I’m not so sure it is a tool that would be considered a tool for students to use in the public setting, which could lead to copyright infringement.  However, in a private domain…it might be allowed?  If used in the classroom, I’m not sure that we would be promoting good digital citizenship to our students?

Students can create their own Giphy using a selection of video clip…this could be pretty cool to use in their presentations on Eportfolio.  They could have someone take a video clip of them working, they make it a Giphy, then they can use it as “fun” evidence for their creating process (assessment criteria).  I also think this could be fun tool for our graphic design unit. They could film their work as they are making it (on an Ipad) and then create a Giphy and have them scrolling on a television screen, visible for our semester ending art exhibition.  It would be nice to have the flat, printed work complemented by an actual moving graphic?

It is real easy to create one —->                  Screen Shot 2016-02-02 at 8.08.08 AM

In addition, I found out that you can use Glogster in conjunction with Giphy. Essentially, I was thinking that students could use Glogster as a reflective tool?  However there are many other uses it could provide according to this Blogspot posting and here are some highlights for the Art classroom:

Flipped Classroom
When students are absent, or YOU are absent, or when you need to spend more time helping your students work the work rather than learn the material in the initial lesson, flipping the classroom is all the rage!  With Glogster EDU is it as easy as 1-2-3 or click, embed, click.  Glogs allow for videos, links, audio, podcasts, information, interaction, and photos.  You can embed an entire week’s worth of lessons into one glog and have kids work at their own pace or on a schedule.

Art Gallery
Have students upload their artwork into a glog facilitated art gallery!  This is a great way for them to add commentary about their projects, the techniques being used, and even the historical impact of artists who pioneered the techniques!  This idea creates much more than a visually appealing gallery experience.  It becomes a digital interactive experience!

This would be super to incorporate with videos made from Youtube or imovie.  Take photos of artwork made in class and/or pages from a student sketchbook.  This is another instance of how students can not only reflect, but also document their learning.


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Screencast as a Bonus Tool

In my last post I covered the use of Eportfolio in the Art classroom.  For unit reviews, students have options to create an overview of their learning experience using imovie, Google Slides, PowerPoint, Youtube, or apply images (and captions) to the Google Site page.  I thought that it would be interesting to add Screencast to the mix.

Image Courtesy of Creative Commons

Image Courtesy of Creative Commons

Screencast would be an awesome bonus tool for kids who want to:

  • To enhance a PowerPoint presentation, by adding their personal voice – This would allow students to strengthen their reflection, especially if they are having problems expressing their main ideas and points from a unit.
  • Do not want to make a video (where they would have to be in it).
  • It could be a fun reflective tool if students were asked to analyze an image of their work, a peers work, or an artist of interest.


We could learn much more about the students experience with the Sculpture Unit from a verbal firsthand account, rather than a written only format.  This could also allow the student to mention small details that might be missed otherwise?

There are drawbacks, but if time is allotted for students to give this a try during a particular unit – I would suggest, “going for it!”

Furthermore, students could apply simple design elements to their presentations and focus more on content when speaking and placing less words on each slide.  We discussed this in our last meeting when discussing Zen Aesthetics. This could cross over into other subjects such as English, and focus on concepts such as Speaking, Main Ideas and Supporting Details.

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Eportfolio in the K-12 Art Classroom

Technology has totally immersed the Art classroom of late.  When I was applying for Art school (a very, very long time ago), I had to lug my heavy slide projector (with carousels of slides) and several “arm slung” cases of drawings.  This is no longer the case with students in the Art classroom.  What students now have available makes this a primitive practice.

Google Sites (Eportfolio) is what we use in the Middle School classroom at ISM.  The High School uses Teacher Dashboard and it can be used in conjunction with Google Sites.

Google Sites is “cool” for students because…

  • It is a platform for them to post their final studio work for each major unit.
  • It provides them an opportunity to post a reflection of what they have learned from the unit.
  • There are options to post as many images as they would like and they can add captions to describe each image.
  • Students have options to create a video from Youtube, imovie or Google Slides listing the entire learning process.  Starting with their brainstorming solutions, to the planning and right through executing the final studio work.
  • They can extend what they have learned in class to enhance the multiple pages in their portfolio for personal “flair.”
  • This could encourage students who love technology, yet struggle with Learning Habits.

Screen Shot 2016-01-25 at 6.18.35 PM Sample of Student page discussing the entire unit with image of process.

Screen Shot 2016-01-25 at 6.18.11 PM

 Sample of Student Youtube video as presentation.

How does Google Sites help the teacher in the classroom?

  • It provides one central place for students to upload their information and studio work.
  • Teachers can add comments to phrases to help the student with clarity to responses.
  • Administration, parents and student peers can access each portfolio (with permission of the student).
  • Students can critique the work of their peers and it is easy for the teacher to follow up.
  • Teachers can check for students making connections to prior and future units.

What are the disadvantages to Google Sites?

  • Students who are not comfortable with technology might find it challenging.
  • Students and teacher misconception that it replaces the traditional sketchbook.
  • It can be seen as an “extra step” in the reflection process which takes time to maintain.
  • Vertical images might need to be condensed to properly fit on page (they tend to upload too large and appear horizontal).
  • If you teach in China, Google does not exist.

While attending workshops, I ran across many teachers from China who would love to use Google, but it is not available.  To better serve them and others who might want to try something different. There are other methods available that teachers use in portfolio format.  The link below gives some suggestions and could be used in more subject areas than Art alone.


To be fair, nothing replaces actual studio work.  It is not the same as viewing artwork in a gallery – try it sometime (that is another conversation)! I find Google Sites reliable and user friendly for the average Middle School Art student and it can be usefully applied to any classroom.

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Click the link below to have your mind blown!

Welcome to the world of Ceramics…

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