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Making Way for Electives in the New Normal. During the initial COVID19 lock down in the Spring of 2020, I was informed I would not be teaching in-person any time soon. This is because my role as a Visiting Fine Art Specialist could increase risk of transmission across groups of students. I certainly understood the wisdom of this precaution. But I wondered, how would schools grapple with this? Would students lose access to subjects like art, music, foreign language and P.E.?
I worried for students like Becca Graves, profiled in USA today as she explained how art class played a key role for many students at her school. Art class is vital for a lot of kids. It represents a space for introspection, originality and calming, hands-on expression.
In response, Artful Kids Club Co-Founder Ben Faubion and I got to work. Our goal was to create online arts education that matched, as closely as possible, the rewards and rigors of the art room. We first developed online art curriculum for Acton Academy West, continuously reviewing student responses as we fine-tuned the lessons.
We were surprised to learn that in a few aspects, online, video-driven art curriculum can be superior to an in-person class:
You can take time to guide learners through each step of the process. In the studio, kids are eager to get to work, with limited attention span for a step-by-step demo. But with an overhead camera, that's not a problem. Kids actively draw or paint as the video unfolds; attention is retained and quality instruction is up-close.
Learners can customize the lesson. In a classroom setting, I circulate the room, offering tips and guidance. But no matter how fast I book it, I can’t reach everyone in a class period. Some students are able to keep up while others need more time. Some students need a review of the technique while others have it down. With a video, each student can pause, rewind, fast- forward, or adjust features like the audio and brightness.
Complex art projects are broken into manageable chunks. When we designed the Soaring Eagles Series, we wanted to culminate with something large and majestic. This way, it could be appreciated in a drive-through exhibit or equally “socially distanced” venue. We planned printable, jump-start templates to cover four 8.5”x11" pages. Together, these pages formed the final product. By breaking this project into four lessons, we were able to instruct learners in a variety of techniques while also allowing freedom to experiment with color and/or shading. The final result (which we got to see from photos) was terrific. Students grasped the concepts, persisted to completion, and created sophisticated artwork for their school community.
The lessons work equally well at-home or on campus. Schools using our curriculum are seeing engaged kids working on artfulkidsclub projects in both settings. This means, there doesn’t need to be an interruption of the art program, no matter the current CDC guidelines.
We can offer more value at a lower cost. In the uncertain times we live in, the cost of high quality specialist teachers may be off-limits. When Ben and I created artfulkidsclub.com, we were excited at the possibility of creating rich content that could be more accessible and lower cost, as compared to delivering the same lessons in-person.
Visit artfulkidsclub.com to learn more about us and view our curriculum for Prek-Elementary-Middle/High Schools. Follow us for more insights about creativity! We’re on Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram.