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Teaching Art in the Time of COVID

“What is the difference between a pattern and a design?” said Persell Middle School art teacher Michela Tehan to her all-virtual seventh grade classroom through Zoom.

            “A pattern is something that repeats itself and design is one thing,” said a student.

“What are we doing for this assignment?”

            “A pattern,” said another student.

“How many do we need to create?”

“A minimum of four patterns,” said another student.

“What happens if you can’t think of any patterns on your own? What do should you do?” asked Mrs. Tehan.

“Look at the reference sheet in Google Classroom.”

“That’s right. Let’s see a thumbs up that everyone understands the assignment for Wednesday.”

Mrs. Tehan was assigning their next at-home art project to create leaf drawings with individual patterns on the leaf. The minute Mrs. Tehan completed her on-line class, she gathered her rolling cart and headed to her next class, an in-person seventh grade class doing the same assignment. JPS art teachers are conducting in-person and virtual classes to ensure students in the district receive art instruction.

“As an art teacher for over 20 years, I have had to really change my mindset starting out this new model of school, '' said Mrs. Tehan. “I teach both hybrid cohorts of students and total remote cohorts of students. We have to focus on the most critical standards and elements of art, while still having fun, hands-on, projects.  The biggest challenge so far is making sure that all students are engaged and experiencing the same standards and main concepts.  It seems like students are really enjoying creating their projects on their own with remote guidance and also in-person. It gives them something a bit different to work on, and a creative outlet to express their ideas. Students are completing work both at school and at home with success.”

Washington Middle School art teacher, Kevin Kyser is using videos to help teach both his in-person and virtual classes. In his videos, he demonstrates making the projects step-by-step and introduces new art terminology. His students access and play the videos from Google Classroom. Students who attend in-person classes test the videos with Mr. Kyser to ensure they make sense prior to distributing to the all-virtual students.

Jamestown High School Studio in Crafts teacher, Stephanie Baker, recently held a virtual class using Zoom and an “ELMO,” so that she can project an art demonstration into the Zoom meeting with students. She demonstrated to students how to create calligraphy lettering. Mrs. Baker is also teaching a virtual Studio Art class to 10th, 11th and 12th grade students and a ninth grade Studio Art in-person class. Mrs. Baker makes it easier for on-line students by posting lesson resources to Google Classroom. Videos of demonstrations, handouts, reference images and slideshows are also posted online for students to reference.  If a student has a question outside of the Zoom meeting, they can reference these resources and also message her on Remind or Google Classroom with questions. 

“It is still very important to have art classes offered to our JHS students,” said Mrs. Baker. “It helps students work different parts of their brains, gets them thinking creatively, and it gives them an outlet to release stress and anxiety.”

Jamestown High School teacher, Brandy Fuller, is using an on-line art journal in her Studio and Advanced studio classes. She purchased the visual format for the journal and has modified it with Google Slides where she uploads projects and reference material. Students then upload and turn in their work to Google Classroom. At the end of the course, they will be able to put all the slides together and present everything they have done in a Google Slides presentation. There are three components currently included in the on-line art journals: art prompts, which are quick art activities they do each day, a section for projects and assignments with all work photographed and uploaded and a reference and enhancement section. Here, students can find links to things they may need additional help with including video links on how to upload photos, PowerPoint presentations from class and reference images for things they are working on. 

“I really like the idea that at the end, students will have a full presentation on everything they have completed during the course, something they can share with friends and family,” said Mrs. Fuller.

Fletcher Elementary School art teacher, Darryl Mallanda, is teaching in person by taking a cart with supplies to each classroom for the start of this year. Mr. Mallanda has set up a TV and laptop on his cart so he can easily integrate videos, songs, cartoons, and step-by-step instructions to the students. Mr. Mallanda has also coordinated a webpage to list all the links, videos, and resources for students that are learning from home so they can follow along with the in-person students. His students will see links in traditional form as well as an interactive Bitmoji classroom that includes links to videos, examples, files and web resources.

“Since I create a lot of my own teaching content (instructional videos, handouts, examples) it will be seamless for art students at Fletcher to adapt to what we are doing in person when we all return to our normal schedule,” said Mr. Mallanda.