Monthly Mentor

Aaron Knochel (October)
Each month, a different member and NAEA awardee is the guest writer for the NAEA Monthly Mentor Blog. Aaron D. Knochel, PhD, is Associate Professor of Art Education in the Penn State School of Visual Arts and an Affiliated Faculty at the Art & Design Research Incubator (ADRI) at The Pennsylvania State University. His research focuses on intersections between art education, transdisciplinarity, and social theory. Aaron was named 2019 Eastern Region Higher Education Art Educator by NAEA. Click "GO" to read his full bio.



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July 19, 2019

Summer Art Challenges

By Rachel Valsing

Every summer our art department provides summer enrichment assignments for the students who are advancing into AP art courses. The assignments are designed to keep students engaged in making and working independently with prompts for sketchbooks, material investigations, and creating finished work. This year we have invited all of our students to return with a personal collection of items that will be used to create a series of artworks when we begin school this fall. We are using our art department Instagram account (@towsonhighschoolart) to regularly post updates throughout the summer and keep the conversation going about creating and engaging in art throughout the summer.

Instagram has become a favorite platform for teachers and students to share their work. Here are two impressive assignments developed by my colleagues that use the app in different ways to share prompts and keep the creative conversation going through the summer months:


Rachael Hulme



Edgewood High School, Edgewood, Maryland

The tradition began with Edgewood photo teacher, Craig Llewellyn (@llewellynsc), in the summer of 2015 and was continued by Rachael Hulme, when she took over the position that year, “because it had become something that kids really looked forward to doing. Now five years in, siblings of former students are participating, along with district administrators, and teachers from other states including Kentucky and Massachusetts.” Hulme, who follows the challenge herself (you can see her posts @balloonsatbreakfast) continues,  “I love how the exercise puts me back in the shoes of my students, by receiving, interpreting, and turning in assignments. And it’s been especially exciting to see the participants interact with each other as they post photos. Natural critiques form and students begin to follow each other.”


Be sure to follow @ehs_photo and some great art educators who are also in on the challenge including Gino Molfino (@oniflomonig) and Caro Appel (@appelrhhs) in Howard County Public Schools.


Heidi Miller


Robbinsdale Cooper High School, New Hope, Minnesota

“After my IB students noted they would miss having their art community over the summer, I decided to post 12 challenges, one for every week of vacation, on our Instagram and Twitter pages. Students helped come up with the prompts- ranging from Land Art to trying a new medium to using their clothes as a canvas. Challenges are 100% optional and don’t have to be completed in a certain order, but give students a way to challenge their creativity and continue to be part of our art community over break.”



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