Thursday, January 24, 2013

Bringing my GAME plan into focus… And the questions…

This week I move closer to implementation of a project based lesson, for advancing the learning experience of my Advanced Placement art students through blog interaction.  The design of this lesson meets ISTE NETS-T Standards 1.d., 2.c, and d. ( Before-Class Preparation includes student access to the blog site that I intend for them to work with, and setting the stage for loading images that they will post for critical reflection by their peers. This follows prior development of fine art imagery, digitizing the works of art, gaining facility in use of methods of critical review in verbal and written critique.  Once an interschool link is established, students are practiced and ready for uploading specific images for peer review, and critique. This plan’s use of technology provides a continuum of sorts from low-tech means of creation and critical evaluation of visual imagery through and to digital and social networking opportunities for interactive dialogue.
The resources that I have in play will be adequate for the present.  They consist of digital cameras, lighting, and associated lighting and imaging equipment, Adobe Photoshop CS6 software loaded onto student and instructor laptops, and management software Netop Vision software ( This software is one that provides the students and instructor with the ability to be flexible interacting with each other, in monitoring student progress, providing reinforcement, resources, and conducting formative and summative assessment as needed for student learning.  
The issues that have come up are in the nature of the blogging experience itself. Because of a desire to limit student dialogue to provide the necessary learning environment, and to provide a safe environment for this active learning experience I have not yet found resolution to the question of how to limit the blog interaction to those students assigned to the task.  Dialogue with PLC peers, and IT personnel have to date provided limited success. The lack of an adequate fix for this concern has raised questions as to what alternatives might bring accomplishment of the student outcomes. Though originally designed to provide flexibility for the students learning experience, the inflexible nature of the use of the technology, and the systems and regulations in place within the school system have made the need for a back-up Plan, or an alternative solution very important. The next step in the process is in finding resolution to the technical issues, or an alternative approach that will still meet the students learning needs.  Therein lies the question that needs answered. Would any of you in my Walden online learning community have a thought, or response that might provide an answer to this dilemma?  I would enjoy hearing from you.


  1. Hi Jim,

    That is a tricky situation, similar to the restrictions set by my school setting. Without our online school server, it would be difficult to find an environment that my school would approve. Often, I wish I could explore using wikis and blogs, but the answer is always, “no”. What about Google Apps for Education?
    They seem to offer security to control who you share with? They also offer an e-portfolio for work. I have not examined this at length but let me know if it would work.

    I have a few more questions for you regarding your goal to enhance student reflection, since my goals are the same. How many times a week do you see students? What is the length of the lesson? I only see my students once each week for 40 minutes so time for group discussions that require everyone’s attention seems tough to schedule. You mention “instructors” are monitoring the reflections. Does each student have an additional mentor teacher? This is the case with my students, so on their e-porfolio, their personal “content-coach” communicates with the student in a weekly meeting, as well as on the e-porfolio in the written format, as I do. I recently established a peer discussion group, where students discuss topics I post in a collaborative environment. The reflections that are evidenced here are far superior in frequency and depth.

    I think that your goal to develop students’ ability to reflect, in itself, requires creative thought. I bet developing the skill of reflection will transfer to their creative abilities expressed in original artwork.

    Let me know if you found a solution,


    1. Alexi,
      Thank you for your post.
      As to your questions,
      The lesson that I am setting up will consist of two specific groups of Advanced Placement Art Studio students, with one group being my students the other group being students of a peer teacher at another high school within my school system. The students currently meet 55 minutes in my room per day for a year. (Students engage in image development approximately 10-15 hours a week outside of class). Students conduct peer reviews and critiques once weekly during which they analyze their portfolio development and synthesize their images in relation to Advanced Placement portfolio requirements. Image critique to date has occurred primarily in a real-time context. Critiques are conducted at, peer-instructor, and peer-peer interaction levels.
      The desire with the blog unit is to raise student critical review to a level where students will interact with other students at a distance within a social networking context. Requirements will be for students to submit a new piece for review, provide and receive at least one critical response on a weekly basis. My peer and I will monitor and provide guidance and reflection as needed, and assess progress in a formative manner. Students will balance all online reflection with personal written journal entries. These reflections will be used to provide students with an informed understanding of what ways in which they can bring strength to their image making and the process of development.
      The student end-product is comprised of 3 sets of visual portfolio images that will be in both digital and physical form. Students will present portfolios in both forms for review and assessment by the Advanced Placement board.
      You are correct in the importance of reflection on creativity. The ability to review visual work in a critical manner is an extremely effective and important part of student’s image making and overall artistic development. To raise critical review to a level which incorporates peer review at a distance through a blog situation increases its effectiveness, diversifies and extends the circle of learning for the students and the students that they interact with.

    2. Thanks jim,
      I would be very interested to see whether one type of reflection is more effective than another. Do you think online collaborative reflections will enhance their end product more than personal written journal entries? (these are written in an electronic journal or paper-based?). I suspect collaborative reflection is so effective because it involves "feedback" from others.

      Which factors will enhance reflection:
      1. online or paper-based/does it matter?
      2. collaborative or personal/ is it additive?

      And what do your students prefer?

      thanks, Alexi

    3. Alexi,

      In terms of reflective practices in at least my content area with Visual Arts, it seems to be that it takes all of the above. This is not just from personal observation, this comes from other teachers within the Arts,
      Students as we ourselves, have strengths as learners, a variety of approaches supplies options toward strengths and at the same time strengthening weaker areas. Students have personal preferences as well, some love to write physically, others to type, and with reluctance most cases verbal.
      Students also tend to think and communicate in differant ways within each approach.
      For me, and I think any teacher, this can provide the best means for students to increase the depth and breadth of their literacy, and as well provide a more accurate image of student growth.
      Specific to your comments 1a. I believe that online and peer critique provides the interaction and feedback to open the student up to creative possibilities and perceptions of others. It promotes cognitive, and strengthens social and emotional connections. 1b. As to paperbased, the introspective reflection is just as important for analysis and synthesis of the information and essential for the development of quiet self directed approach to learning necessary for the advancement of their visual work.
      1 & 2: Both approaches matter. Individually and collectively both approaches provide a balanced approach to growth accross most if not all areas of learning. This affects growth specific to content and and growth in the broader sense of their lives and futures.
      I really don't think that I have all of the answers for sure (students will second this at times) but the one thing I have learned from our text and other resources, and personal experience, is that creativity and flexibility are key in teaching and learning. And a well planned and thoughtful GAME plan needs and promotes both.

    4. Thanks Jim, for your perceptive response. I have come to a similar conclusion based on my own experiences that all approaches contribute important elements to holistic learning. What is interesting is that we may prefer one style of learning in one situation and another
      style of learning for another scenario.

      thanks again,


  2. It sounds like you have started to make some good strides forward toward reaching your goals. I feel that security is an issue in every technology related goal these days. A few weeks ago I had found a Java applet that I wanted to attempt to use. However, I had been following news that Java was having security issues and their recommendation was for no one to use Java until they were able to secure the server.

    In reading your post, and Alexi's response, I wonder if you would be able to use a Wiki for what you are trying to do. Wiki's tend to have many more security controls than just a standard blog. You are able to restrict the Wiki so that only members can access the information, and you as the teach can control who is, or is not a member of the Wiki page. I am not sure if a Wiki would have the capabilities that you need in terms of the art work, but it is something that might be worth looking into.

    I agree that keeping student flexibility in this project will be very important to how successful the plan goes. However, if there are restrictions, you could take that opportunity to teach students about the restrictions that come with using technologies and how safety and security should come first! Rather than the limitations being a bad things, turn it into a lesson all its own.

  3. Hi Colleen,
    Unfortunately using a Wiki provides the same restrictions plus limitations due to image size and presentation restrictions. Wiki use was a consideration, and is one, for use in my Advanced Placement Art History courses for research.
    One point of note in my search for answers has been that I have found a possible solution for meeting both the needs for student access and meeting security requirements. I have spoken with software technicians since making my original post and found a solution that will provide students with the ability to meet the goals with the active learning experience. It will require a relatively simple fix at the school IT level. This is a great relief and will now allow me the possibility to provide a successful learning experience.
    Thank you for the post and the suggestions,