To get students from thinking verbally (or using words) to thinking visually, students are asked to pick one of the elements or principles that most interests them and individually create a visual representation of the concept through the use of collaged materials. Students use magazines, drawings, or even found objects to express their snapshot understanding of the concept. Samples of student work can be seen on our online gallery at www.artsonia.com/
Forming a Collaborative Group
Once snapshots are created of the elements and principles of design, students divide into groups of three or four where they select the element or principle that they would like to investigate further. Students use their individual notes to delineate the choices and once a decision has been made, they send a representative to me to select their concept.
Since I want all elements and principles represented in the student video productions, my policy is that once a single element or principle is chosen by one group that element or principle is no longer available to be used by another group. Even though some students may not always get their first choice, they have various others to fall back on because of the groundwork that was laid in their individual work on the packets and collages.
Writing Scripts and Filming
As soon as groups have selected their element or principle of design, the writing of scripts and mapping out of a storyboard starts. Students are given very specific focus correction areas for assessment, which navigates how scripts are written. For this assignment students are assessed on whether or not they include the following in their script and movie: 1. Definition of the element or principle in their own words, 2. Introduce two artists who use the element or principle in their own work with a specific example of how each uses the element or principle in their work of art, and 3. Explain one way a student can use the element or principle when creating their own work.
As students outline the criteria for the script by using the research gained through the informational packet, they then use thumbnail sketches to map out their storyboard and how the information will ordered and presented to the viewer.
While students are working on the pre-filming organization of information, they are also introduced to the variety of tools available when using Premiere Elements. Students are shown a sample video I created where I put myself into the action with the use of a green screen, use transitions and titles/credits to progress the video, as well as introduce sound and narration. By giving an example, students are able to see the possibilities of the program and create storyboards that reflect exactly what they would like to do with the technology offered.
Soon after scripts are written and thumbnail sketches are complete, students use the tripods and cameras to capture clips to edit into the films.
Although students were encouraged to use a wide range of tools to create their videos, it was interesting and surprising to see the range and scope that students used while editing their clips together.
Some groups created news-style programs, using themselves and the green screen to transport the viewers into a painting or different environment. Some groups used a more simple approach with an emphasis on showing art, overlaying text with information, and then completing it with the right music or voice over.
During this time of creating the videos, students got the chance to collaboratively solve problems, communicate ideas, and create informational pieces to share with others. They also were eager to share ideas and suggestions among other groups, even though they had different concepts they were working on. During this time, the classroom was a buzz with laughter, discussions, intense staring at computer screens and satisfaction once it was time to export videos to their final file type.
After two weeks of work, the videos are ready to be viewed. Students were eager to show off their creations as well as comment on others. As with any assignment, some groups were more successful than others in meeting the focus correction areas of the assignment as well as capturing the viewer’s attention through the special effects offered in Premiere Elements, or the comedic styles of the script, or the images selected by the students showcasing the various artists that display the element or principle being covered.
During the viewing of the work, students kept track of ideas or concepts that worked and that may have fallen short along with a short explanation of why they may have done so. This ability to explain why something is good and critique their work and those of their peers is a Visual Arts Education Content Standard and Benchmark, as well as a skill that students can use in their daily lives when evaluating commercials, advertisements, or other forms of visual communication.
As a result of the MACUL grant, I was able to bring video production and new media to the Visual Arts classroom that allowed students to show and communicate to others information about Art concepts dealing with the elements and principles of design. I was also was recognized for this project on a national level through the 2011 PBS Teachers Innovation Awards 2nd
I have also received an additional grant through the Michigan Art Education Association for the 2011-12 school year to purchase additional materials to enhance this project further.
Now with the videos created, I can use them as examples of elements and principles of design as well as examples of what can be done when producing videos.
In the age of YouTube and the idea that a lot can be said and shown in a short amount of time, students are learning a communication tool that they can use in the Visual Arts classroom, any other classroom, as well as their daily lives. Connecting content and skills to kids’ lives is an important aspect of using technology in the classroom and I am thankful to MACUL for allowing me to enact this project that does just that!
Janine Campbell received 2nd place for this project in the 2011 PBS Innovation Awards. She is the digital editor for the Michigan Art Education Association and teaches Visual Arts for Byron Center Public Schools. You can follow her on twitter @campbellartsoup or see what her classroom is up to on their blog at www.bcwmsart.weebly.com
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