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Teacher Spotlight: How Chromebooks are transforming Art at Middle School

Anyone who is still pondering how technology can be used in visual arts should spend 5 minutes in an art class at Alderwood Middle School.  Since her arrival, teacher Amy Barnes has transformed the curriculum using 1:1 Chromebooks, giving students more choice and control over their learning, and giving classic techniques a techno-spin.

While learning single-point perspective, students use an online tutorial program to help them review techniques that they have learned in class, as well as push themselves by attempting new and individual challenges given to them by the program.  By end, each student has mastered the concept, and produced an original design for a room.

Once their initial designs are complete, the students use Planner 5D on their Chromebooks to translate that design to a 3D computer-aided-design environment.  Students I spoke to said that this helped them to find mistakes in their original drawings (e.g. when an object was too short, or too long) and to try different colour schemes before committing them to their drawing.

From there, students could expand on their initial design on Planner 5D and create designs for an entire house.  Not all students chose the Chromebook option, though, and some translated their designs to 3D cardboard dioramas, or further perspective drawings.  Even those who went "offline" still used their Chromebooks for photo references, or YouTube tutorials to refine their skills.

By offering her students such a diverse choice of activities, and supporting their learning through technology, Barnes is able to become a one-on-one coach in the class.  Students really appreciate the amount of freedom that they are afforded in class, and also the amount of individual attention that they are able to receive.  It's a great model of how effective tech integration can enhance a classroom!


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