Thursday, September 22, 2016

Digital Learners: What will work best in your classroom

As I posted previously, my older students in grades 3,4, and 5 are using the 
Creatubbles Ipad app for the first time this year to create a digital portfolio. I recently relocated classrooms into a smaller setting and this seemed like the perfect time to implement this hot format of sharing art work and showing student growth.

We jumped right into setting up our gallery's this week after our school district issued our student log in and passwords for each student in our schools.  This digital cloud is a new way for us to promote our program outside the walls of our school and it allows students to globally share their art work. 
Creatubbles is not the only format available, but the format our school district chose 
after testing a few last year. Each school in our district is participating in digital portfolios.
I was invited to share my experience as well as two of my teaching buddies, Matt Grundler and Tracy Evans here in Plano Texas, by the amazing bloggers and teachers Nic Haun and Hope Knight. 

You might wonder, how does an art teacher decide which app will work for their classroom setting. We thought we would help with this question.  Nic Haun, the author of MiniMatisse will be sharing the app Seesaw in this post.  Hope Knight, author of Mrs. Knight’s Smartest Artists will be sharing about Artsonia. Finally, Tracy Evans @EvansArtHouse, Matt Grundler @Artguy76, and myself, Beth Carter @Bacarter77 and It is Art Day will be sharing on the web based tool, Creatubbles. My Creatubble team are fellow art teachers from Plano Texas and members the #PLN (Professional Learning Network) on Twitter.

Here is our summary of three choices and you will find a chart at the bottom comparing all three.
Part of an art teacher's job is to make sure that their students artwork is displayed.  Brag about the happenings in your class.  Show students that art should be shared beyond the classroom walls. In the past that meant that an art teacher would line the walls with beautiful art to show to the rest of the school.  This is still a practice that many of us do.  However, many art teachers are looking to make the viewers of their classroom’s art be shared beyond the school walls.  Using social media is one way to do that… another ways to share art is through Artsonia, Seesaw, and or Creatubbles.
Artsonia has been such a source of pride for my young artists over the last few years I have loved using Artsonia as a teacher for several reasons - it is an exciting way to show off the cool things we do in our classroom, including writing and integrated subjects. Also, students get a kick out of seeing their portfolio grow from year to year, and it fulfills technology and feedback/assessment requirements. Families love it because they can share with extended family globally and create a Fan Club for their little artists, complete with comments - there is even a fundraiser aspect that is no extra work for you!

This link will take you to a recent post that gives you a step-by-step guide to using the Artsonia app in Classroom Mode, meaning that the students are doing their own publishing; there is also a Teacher Mode.  
You can also find information here on how to download your own Artsonia Station and how-to handouts!

I learned about Seesaw about two years ago.  It perked my interest the minute that I heard of it.  I love that this app was so quick and easy for everyone to use.  I mean everyone… the teachers, students, and parents.  I talked my specialist team into giving the free version a try last year focusing on only our 1st grade students.  This year our whole district, Kindergarten through Second Grade is a ‘Seesaw’ school. Now we are all, homeroom teachers, specialist, and special ed teachers learning together to use this tool for communication with parents and admin, as well as assessment and documentation.

Creatubble Team Here from Texas
    Our district learned about Creatubbles last school year and asked 10 of us elementary teachers to test 3 platforms for digital portfolios. We tested Creatubbles, Discovery Ed, and one more. Our district does not allow Artsonia, so we couldn’t test that program.
 I was one of the teachers that tested Creatubbles, so I chose my 4th graders to test and check for ease of use. When you use a tablet, it is by far the easiest I have used. My students were even uploading their art they made at home, showing their families, and encouraging others by giving “ bubbles” to other artists. Bubbles are like thumbs up on Facebook.
     This app is FREE, encourages students to title their artwork (a great objective) and to write about their art. We review what makes a great artist statement before uploading. In fact a good tip for you is if a student finishes before others, have them turn the paper over and write the Title and their artist statement. That way when it’s their turn to upload, this part has been done!
    This app does not do well on a laptop. We really struggled with uploading and then downloading etc. and became very frustrating.

    Last year I was testing the Discovery Education Board Builder Site for our student portfolios in grades 3 and 4. This site was good for creating but not for sharing with others. The students and I are excited to use Creatubbles on our Ipads this year. I have even incorporated student sharing artwork globally into my professional teaching goal this year.
We have loaded the FREE app on the 6 classroom Ipads and many students BYOD to our school and have added their app to their devices.
I loved Tracy’s idea of having the students write the title and artist statement on the back of their work when finished to speed up the uploading time. I have created a display with tips for uploading also. Our district as of this week of provided the art teachers with all the student login an passwords. As of Tuesday, I began having my older students create their gallery board, avatars, and upload their first artworks to the site. I will say the LOVE the Bubbles. I told my students that I was not the expert and encourage them to explore the app. The excitement was amazing. I loved watching them share what they figured out with other in the class as well as seeing other student art work from around the world.
I have used Creatubbles with my own children at home first. Creating an account was very easy to get going, my children started uploading their art and started getting responses back from others very quickly.

I felt confident to pilot this app in the classroom. I came to the realization that I did not have to get all of the students set up at the same time. I could break it up into smaller chunks and teach groups of students who finish early. Students would write a critique about their art, in which would provide info for their artist statements, then after they understand, they would help others walk through the process and so on until everyone gets an opportunity to post their art if they choose. (Peers teaching Peers)

There you have it! Thanks Nic and Hope for inviting me and my Texas Teacher friends to be a part of this discussion on Digital Portfolios. Please check out Nic's post here, and Hope's post here.

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