Monthly Mentor

Natalie C. Jones (February)
Each month, a different member is the guest writer for the NAEA Monthly Mentor Blog. Natalie C. Jones is an artist, small business owner, and the director of education at the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture. She has 10 years of experience working as an art teacher and teaching artist throughout the east coast and the Midwest. Click "GO" to read her full bio.



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Thursday 09.20.12

CREATE: The Highest Level of Thinking

CREATE: The highest level of thinking from Tricia Fuglestad on Vimeo.

Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy puts CREATING at the highest level of thinking skills. Creating is defined with words such as: designing, constructing, planning, producing, inventing, devising, making.

Isn’t this what happens in our art rooms everyday?

The art room is a place where students are challenged to use their highest level of thinking skills to creatively problem-solve and effectively communicate ideas.

Art is the last thing that should ever be cut from a child’s learning experience when it can very likely be the most intellectually beneficial part of their day. However we are in an era of cut backs in school budgets with an ever increasing emphasis on core subjects which are both harmful to a healthy art program.

I’ve learned from my art team leader many years ago that an art program is never safe from the cutting block and a dedicated art teacher must always promote its benefits to the school community, administration, school board, and beyond. Whenever I’m given a chance, I try to speak up for art education as in this interview with Anthony Salcito’s 365-day look at global heroes in education.

There are plenty of ways to advocate for your art program including; movie-making with your students, blogging about your program, maintaining an online digital art gallery, publishing lessons in art magazines, presenting at conferences, finding community venues for art exhibits, hosting community art nights at school, offering parent-child art making experiences, writing newsletters, recruiting volunteers, inviting artists to Skype or visit, help students make a mural in your community, podcast about student learning, submit student projects/art into contests, festivals, exhibits, etc. See some of these ideas on my blog.

Take whatever steps you can to promote art education. Your students need a strong art program and YOU might be their only art advocate.

Art-iculation from Tricia Fuglestad on Vimeo.

A while back, a group of my 5th grade students made this video as an advocacy tool for art to post on my website. We later entered it into the Illinois Computer Educator’s Student Video Contest and it took first place. The real prize was winning a larger audience for our pro-art education message.

-Tricia Fuglestad

Thursday 09.13.12

Creating on iPads

At the beginning of last school year I was told that my school building had begged, borrowed, and bargained for enough iPads for a grade-level set (about 100) and that they would rotate through the school for one month per grade level. I quickly adjusted my plans and determined to do a digital art project with every grade level during their turn with the iPads.

This was a relatively new frontier for me. I didn’t know what students were capable of on the iPads, how quickly they would pick up my instructions, and if some of the ideas I had would even work. My first plan of action was to write a grant for a class set of iPad drawing styluses and enough copies of the Doink App for our 100 iPads so we could try animation. I already had the Brushes app for each machine so I started from there. The next step was to modify some old digital projects I had done on the laptops for the iPad in the Brushes app. Then, I had to figure out a way to teach from the iPad, share files with students, and learn the ins and outs of the apps to make it all happen. I went through many stages of discovery for how to do all these things.

1. Teaching from the iPad:

A) I hooked up a VGA dongle to my iPad and mirrored through the projector. Some apps don’t project a true view of what is on the iPad screen which was the case with the Brushes App. I couldn’t teach the tools to my students this way.
B) Used the iPevo USB webcam to show the iPad through my desktop and projected this through the projector. This method worked but restricted mobility. See my post about this.
C) Apple TV allows you to wirelessly mirror your iPad. When I learned about this I researched it, bought the necessary gadgets, and used this for most of the school year. The network people had to set up my device and it dropped unexpectedly from time to time at school if the wireless connection was lost.
D) Reflection App was released in the Spring of 2012. I bought this desktop app which allows you to wirelessly mirror the iPad through airplay. It works just like magic and this method is perfect for creating iPad tutorial screencasts. (Bonus!) See an example here.

2. Sharing images with students: 

A) The Dropbox app allowed me to very easily load images into the folder on my desktop and share them out to my students when they login through their iPad. View my tutorial.
B) The “Magic touch” method was when I uploaded a template to my website and asked students to give it the “magic touch” until a text box appeared asking if they wanted to save it. This would go into their camera roll. Here is my tutorial showing this method. I liked this way of sharing files with my youngest students (no logins).
C) Emailing was fast and efficient. When students wanted to turn their artwork back into me, uploading to the Dropbox was clumsy because the file couldn’t be renamed in the apps we were using. I would have to do a “name and claim” session where I renamed each file on my desktop in a panic before they left the art room. Emailing me their artwork meant that they could use the subject line for their name, class section, etc. and I could deal with the file later. I would pull up my Gmail account and we would make sure their email came through before they left the room.  See the picture above. (Our iPads had a generic email account that could send email but not receive. This simplified everything.)

3. Creating on iPads:

We had a blast creating art on our iPads in the art room all year long making:
A) Digital versions of art projects like these self-portraits.
B) Graphic designs like this Rene Magritte Spoof and The Scream Spoof
C) Digitally entering the artwork like Wyeth’s Christina’s World
D) Doing studies with contour line drawings over photos
E) Abstracted versions of our art with artistic apps like these percolated Santas or Our Wish for the World in Wordfoto.
F) Animations like those we made when I received my grant for styluses and the Doink app. Take a look at the animated aliens my third graders made in this video below.

Making an Animated Alien in Doink from Tricia Fuglestad on Vimeo.

4. More resources for learning to create on iPads:
This Fall I began teaching iPad workshops with teachers to share techniques for creating on ipads. I built a webpage full of links, files, and other resources for teachers to use for this workshop including handouts and tutorials. Feel free to explore here. Suzanne Tiedemann, Theresa Gillespie, and I will once again present at the NAEA National Convention in Texas this Spring and share our most successful iPad lessons and strategies with attendees. Meanwhile, please explore our iPads in the Art Room website.

-Tricia Fuglestad

Monday 09.10.12

Putting STEAM in STEM

You may have heard about a push in this nation for schools to strengthen their Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math programs to make US students score higher in these subjects on international standardized tests. The thought is that it will make our nation more globally competitive. However there is a growing movement to put ART into this equation. The STEAM not STEM website explains that their “mission is to have business leaders, arts professionals, educators and others work together to educate governments, the public and the media to the need for returning Arts to the national curricula.”       
They hold that:
* Arts education is a key to creativity       
* Creativity is an essential component of, and spurs innovation
* Innovation is agreed to be necessary to create new industries in the future
* New industries, with their jobs, are the basis of our future economic well-being

Dr. Yong Zhao, researches, writes and speaks internationally on Creative, Entrepreneurial, and Global: 21st Century Education. Zhao argues that high test scores may actually hamper creativity. The nations with the highest test scores, he says, do not produce high levels of entrepreneurial activity. American policymakers were shocked and awed when Shanghai took the top place in the latest PISA ranking, and both President Obama and Secretary Duncan spoke about “our generation’s Sputnik moment.”  But Zhao says we should not be impressed because the Chinese have mastered the art of test-taking, but not the mindset that promotes creativity. (excerpt from Diane Ravitch’s Blog post)


As art teachers we know that creative thinking, innovation, and problem-solving are happening everyday in our classrooms. We need be leaders in education reform. Share your students’ learning with your community, administration, school board, and online for all to see.

I felt so strongly about putting STEAM into STEM that I entered my students’ art and technology classroom project into the McGraw-Hill STEMie Awards last spring. We are currently finalists in this national competition for classroom grant money. Take a look at our entry and (vote if you like it) while you’re thinking of how you want to demonstrate your innovative & creative learning in the art room.

-Tricia Fuglestad

Saturday 09. 1.12

Who Owns the Learning?

When my school district sent out their annual “welcome back to school” letter in early August I read that the theme for the school year would be Who Owns the Learning? This question was first posed to our district from our Keynote speaker last year, Alan November. Listen to his message here.  He focuses on students becoming independent, taking ownership in their learning, and ultimately be the ones working the hardest in our classrooms to achieve success.

What does this mean for me as an elementary art teacher? Sure, I want my students to be invested in the learning, to get enthusiastic about art, and take pride in their work. But, even if I see evidence of this already, I’m sure there is plenty more I can do to help my students Own Their Learning

Here are some strategies I want to implement in my classroom this year to help move towards these outcomes:

Creativity Challenges: I want to give groups of students open-ended creative challenges without directed instruction where they are expected to collaboratively figure out solutions. I tried this with some second graders during lunch recess last year when I asked them to make an inflatable spooky ghost sculpture out of some garbage bags, markers, tape and a box fan.  Here is what it looked like: (They even filmed this video).

I have 3 voice recorder devices attached to images in my classroom. When students push the button the recorded message gives them advice, tips, or reminders. When I say these things it sounds like a nag, but when the Nag-O-Matic says it, they laugh and listen. I have one, for example, that reminds students to use Light Sketchy Lines while drawing instead of pressing so hard that you can't erase and change mistakes. The voice recorder features the actual voice of Mr. Pencil, the star of Interview with Mr. Pencil and spokespencil for sketching. See it in action here.  My hope is that my gimmicky devices will translate into more ownership in learning now that I don’t have to offer advice (nag) since they are seeking it out on their own.

Problem-Based Learning: I love asking my students to make songs or videos that help solve classroom problems. This gives them a chance to own the solution to the problem and teach it to their classmates. I know that they tune me out when I say the same thing over and over, but they listen when it’s an entertaining video by kids. Last year I asked a group to make a song about the proper way to enter the art room. Their song turned out so cute that I asked them to make it a video. I plan on using it often. Here it is: Push up Your Sleeves.


The question of who owns the learning leads to a shift in pedagogy in the classroom that I hope to work incrementally towards. Teachers love to control the learning environment. They’ve been taught that it’s part of good classroom management. Teachers plan, prepare, and deliver content all day. They work very hard.  Now, let’s see if we can get kids to work even harder than the teacher. Please share your ideas and strategies for helping students own the learning.

-Tricia Fuglestad