In light of my previous post, I’ve done some research on how to make and draw characters that are more believable. The first link that I investigated immediately gave me a lot of insight:
For my art class we have a month to complete our final project. As always, I like to tie my art class into my learning project because I have to really push myself to be better and to try new things. Without naming any names, I’ve noticed a few people in my art experience fail as artists because they refuse to draw anything with character, and they refuse to draw anything new. They draw what they “think is cool,” but fail to realize that every decision the artist makes is fully up to them.
Every decision an artist makes must not be without purpose.
I thought I was working away from this; I was trying to make every decision count in every piece. It started with my keys drawing from this post. I was putting so much thought into every little object and colour choice, and although I was not happy with the end result, I feel as though I succeeded in taking control over my art work. I pushed myself until my brain hurt and I wanted to cry, and the result turned out better than I expected.
However, when I started my final project, I was stumped. This is what I first began with:
Done on Photoshop CS6 with a Wacom Bamboo Tablet!
I watched multiple YouTube tutorials but I’m posting my favourite below:
I find that watching a YouTube tutorial like the one above is the best method for me to learn how to draw. I am a visual and kinesthetic learner. I’ve noticed over the past few years that the best way to get me to learn something immediately is if the person in charge of teaching me thinks out loud. This way, I understand the process and the mindset and what to look for in order to do whatever it is that I am learning to do. I need mental checklists and guidelines, then I replicate what my tutor has done, do it a few more times, then I know I’ve learned it when I can do it on my own. However, this can be excruciatingly painful for some people to do.
When I was little, I quite piano lessons and asked my dad to teach me how to play songs by ear. I learned, but I had to have my dad sit and show me how to play each song note by individual note, and it would take hours. Granted, my father had the patience of a saint with me, so it was possible, but not everybody wants to set aside three hours to grind out a lesson with me until I get it wholly. The next best possible replacement is to watch a YouTube tutorial that essentially does the same thing.
The difference is this: I can pause, stop, and repeat as many times as I would like, and in doing so I do not feel guilty about asking somebody to dedicate so much time to me. What I’m trying to say is that YouTube tutorials and incredibly detailed books accounting for the thought process is the best way for me to learn. For the rest of my learning project I’m going to try to continue to use the book I bought at the beginning of the semester and watch YouTube tutorials so that I can learn on my own time.
However, that is not all that I have to say!
While working on my triptych I just had the image of the blonde woman (I’ve named her Fate, stay tuned to find out why), but there is hardly anything that sets her apart. There are a few interesting things to take note of, like her bare feet, the rosary, the pose itself, but other than that, her actual physical body is nothing out of the ordinary. She fits into the cookie cutter shape of every character I’ve ever drawn. When I came to realize this it saddened me because the whole point of my learning project was to learn how to draw more dynamic but also diverse characters. This means I have some more research to do. I don’t actually know how to create a diverse character, so I feel like some research into this matter would go a long way.
That’s all for now! Thanks for checking in!
Yes, that was a long title, but bare with me here.
I chose to review Screencastify, as it is a tool that I have invested myself in for the purpose of my learning project this semester. I’ve already mentioned it in this post in which I used the tool to record my work on a digital drawing of mine.
Overview: Some basic information
It is a chrome extension that allows users to record everything that is happening on their screens at the time. It connects to your mic as well, so you can provide spoken instruction in conjunction with the recording. It has a free version available, but there are obvious limitations. On the download page it says, “The free Lite version limits recording time to 10 minutes per video, has a watermark, 50 videos per month, and has certain features turned off like mp4 export and editing tools.”
The paid-for version has no limitations. Personally, I think this tool is worth spending the $20-30 on, because I know it will be something that I plan on using extensively as both an educator and an artist.
Pros & Cons
Pros: This extension is really simple to use. It appears as an icon at the top-right of your browser and if you have the full version, it organizes and saves all of your videos and has them up for easy access through the chrome tab/extension. It is easy to edit the length of your video, crop it, save it, and share it, as the app provides all of these services at the click of a button. Another benefit is that the program allows you to annotate what is on your screen, giving you the benefit of underlining or highlighting specific items.
Story time! Here’s another example of how I used the app:
I had my friend record a presentation I did on my mom’s art, and the video was too big to email or send through Facebook messenger. I had her post it to her Facebook page with tight privacy settings so I was the only one who could view the post. Now, I wanted to save it so I could send it to my mom and for whatever reason I couldn’t get Facebook to let me download the video, so instead I just used screencastify to record the entire video. Now I have it saved to my google drive and I can send it to my mom, who can also download the video and actually view it. Neat!
Cons: If you don’t pay for the full app, its not really that great. Ten minutes recording time may be well enough for short little tutorials, but can really limit your opportunities in regards to what you want to share. Another con: The app claims to be “pixel perfect” but in my case I found that it really wasn’t as clear/focused as I was expecting it to be. There is a tiny chance that I am doing something wrong, but the app has such a simple interface that I’m fairly sure I’ve explored all possible solutions to my pixel problem. However, its not bad. Its just not excellent. There are definitely apps out there that could record a clearer picture, but there are not nearly as many screen-recording apps that make it so easy to use, crop, and share.
Why Teachers Need This Tool
You will be doing all of your students a huge favour by using this. If there is ever some kind of visual instruction that students miss due to illness, skipping, etc., you can record the same lesson without losing any of your presentation notes and the like, while making sure students who were not there that day still get all of the information.
Another benefit is that anyone can watch it. If you record yourself doing anything informative really, you never know who could benefit from your tutorial. It is worth it to upload your videos to YouTube, because chances are, another educator could use the video you’ve made.
Another benefit: Students can re-watch it as many times as they want. Some students can remember what the teacher said after the first time it was said, but most students need to hear it twice, or more. With screencastify, you can upload the video to YouTube, email it out, whatever works, and students can watch it repeatedly until they get the lesson at hand. This has many benefits for students of all levels and capabilities. This can be especially effective for students with auditory-learning disorders. Some students that you will encounter throughout your years will have real difficulties processing information that is heard. The information must be accompanied with notes or images for the student to look at later. With screencastify, they will get more than just notes or images. They get the best of both worlds combined, working together to create a solid learning tool that benefits nearly all students.
Another benefit: When differentiating your instruction in this way, it also does not single out any one student. Sometimes when differentiating our instruction, we struggle to find a way to do so in which the student is not singled out, embarrassed, or made to look like they are any “lesser” than students who may not necessarily depend on these extra resources. With this tool, teachers can make it mandatory to watch it once for homework (have you ever heard of a flipped classroom?) but it is up to the students if they need to watch it more than once. Another thing: their peers will have no idea who watched it multiple times to get it. It allows for privacy, in a way.
Another benefit: You can annotate your recordings in a way that highlights exactly what students or viewers should be focusing on. This allows for more precise tutorials, because it adds another layer/style of learning: text. If you annotate your videos, you are providing three different ways all at once for your students to process this information. They will be viewing, listening, and reading. And, hey! That’s three strands of the English curriculum! (See pages 28 and 32 of this ELA 9 Curriculum document to check out what I’m talking about.)
Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, which is equivalent to, I think, 8 out of 10.
It’s pretty great, and I highly recommend that educators use this tool to benefit their students.
Thanks for reading!
For my latest art project, I chose to do a symbolic still life drawing as a form of a self portrait. For my objects, I chose 5 keys that come from varying stages in my life. Take a look at them below.
The first key at the top is from my childhood home. When I see that key, I think of my amazingly large back yard that was filled with plants and bushes and fruit and adventure. I had a playhouse in the middle of what I called, “the woods,” which was an area in my back yard that was sort of “protected” by a wall of trees around all sides. When I ran around in those trees I always imagined myself as Link, the protagonist of the Legend of Zelda game series, battling monsters and always saving the princess. My parents made me a tire swing, a rope to climb, and a pile of stumps to climb around on. It was awesome for a little adventurer like me. The song beside the key is the “Song of Time” from the Ocarina of Time.
The second is from when I grew up in Saskatoon, from grades 5-12. It was the longest I had ever stayed in one place, so I had the opportunity to get very close to my family and friends there. It is home, to me.
The third key is from when I graduated high school and left all of my friends and family behind to move to Regina and start my journey through university. It was a really weird time in my life, because I had never felt so alone. This is when I met my ex-boyfriend.
The next key is from his dad’s house in Saskatoon. It was strange, because he was from Regina and helped me settle into the city. He lived with his mother, but his father and all of his siblings were based in Saskatoon. It reminded me of my home, too, and so I connected with it. The relationship wasn’t a healthy one, so the angry “STOON” scratched into it was included to capture the nature of the relationship.
The final key is most important to me. It was the key to my first place on my own. It was where I learned the most about me as an individual because I was learning to live on my own.
For my still life, I wanted to position and draw these keys in such a way that it would capture the emotion and meaning behind all of these keys and what they’ve meant to me and my life. I thought about this for literally weeks, unable to find a way to portray my keys in the perfect way. Finally, I happened to run into this painting:
I just found it so serene and beautiful that it inspired me, and so I envisioned my keys as a crown on my head.
Posing my keys as a crown says to me that I’m owning everything I’ve experienced and wearing it with pride. To me, it meant moving forward. I started asking myself, “What else will I draw with the crown? Flora? Fauna? What about other objects? I can draw other things. Oh, but it has to have even symbolic weight, so it has to seriously imply something about my life.”
I really wanted to draw flora of some kind, but I needed it to contrast in some way to myself, because I do not view myself as flourishing and I do not currently feel alive in any sort of symbolic way. Rather, I feel as though I’m running out of steam and about to undergo some sort of epic change in my life. So, I made the decision to draw myself as a statue, and my crown would be garnished with live succulents. I then thought, “Hmm, I want to draw antlers around the edge of the crown to protect the succulents, but I also want to keep my ‘alive’ theme up top.” So, I changed it to thorns on branches. The other objects I included were: a bottle of blue fire, a pink fairy, the fairy boomerang, and a daisy in the center.
The thorns are bright red, presumably from scratching up any hands that come near the succulents in the crown.
I also found out through this experience that I have no idea how to effectively use pencil crayons. I feel like I completely ruined it by trying to colour it. I wanted to use watercolour initially, but when I opened my watercolours I found out that they were somehow rotten. They wouldn’t blend well, and there were solid chunks throughout the tubes. The only other medium I had was pencil crayon. I didn’t think of it when I started the drawing, but I worked on a textured surface, and with thin paper, which completely affected the quality of my finished product. The texture made my colouring look quite poor and grainy, when it would have turned out much smoother if I had worked on a perfectly flat surface. I also realized that even if I wanted to work on a perfectly solid, flat surface, I wouldn’t be able to because I don’t have one. All tables I have are marked up or wooden, thus have a grain to it. I really wish I would have had more time to work on this, because I was really proud of my line art before I started colouring it. Oh well.
However, I’ve never drawn any of these objects before, so I was really proud of myself for being able to draw something so new to me. My goal for this learning project is to really push myself, and granted, I certainly drifted away from what I was initially wanted to practice (drawing comic characters in dynamic positions) but at least I’m still doing something that I can officially say I couldn’t do before.
When I was in elementary school, nobody ever used PowerPoint. What even was it, anyways? All presentations were done with poster boards, cue cards, and shaking hands gripping a piece of paper that had all of your presentation notes on it. When I entered high school, PPT presentations became more popular because teachers got sick of listening to the same report on the same topic when they knew we all copied the same information from the same site. The only saving grace for these teachers was a unique PPT presentation that had visuals for them to sadly stare at as yet another student cites Wikipedia as a source. PowerPoint Slides are not necessary to create a presentation, yet teachers so often expect their students to use this tool (or something similar) when they do. Why?
According to this document, which ironically is a slide-sharing tool as well, it lists some reasons as to why PPTs can be fantastic:
- It keeps the presenter organized
- They present the information in a neat and organized manner
- Slides can be printed out ahead of time
These seem like legitimate reasons to appreciate a PPT, but there is nothing saying that students can’t do those exact same things with a handout that they wrote out themselves. HELLO! Students can scan their notes and print off copies of it, too!
Teachers making their students dependent on PPT is my greatest pet peeve. There is a misconception that if students use PPT their presentations will become magically more organized and interesting, but this is not true. Students often copy and paste text, read the text off of the slides, and everybody watching the presentation will be furiously copying down the information off of the slides because they have nothing better to do. There is no point to a presentation of this style. There is no power. There is no point. You couldn’t even call it a PowerPoint at this point.
The essence of presenting is to display and dish out information in unique and amusing ways. Students will not touch Microsoft PowerPoint and magically know how to present.
Teachers, you still have to teach students how to present. PowerPoint will not do it for you.
You have to supplement the PPT with discussion and visuals. In my online class, we did an entire class period using PPT slides, but for every topic there was some form of discussion or train of thought that went with the slide. We would open up a web page to check out the subject, or we would watch a video, and so on. We did more than just sit and painfully absorb mountains of text that were blandly presented in bland ways. This is effective.
There is a reason there is a page full of PowerPoint Presentation memes, and that is because they can suck pretty hard when the presenter doesn’t know how to use it. Such as reading every single word from every single text-filled slide. This is not effective.
Teachers should still create a mini unit or lesson on effective presenting skills. Teach students how to keep their cool. Teach them how to summarize and narrow their topics down into easily consumed bullet points. Teach them how to upload images and gifs to the slides so that they can include some visuals to make the PowerPoint unique. One more thing– PowerPoint (Or prezi or google slides) can be incredibly fun to use. Teachers need to show students that and demonstrate the many effective uses of the tool so that students are not floundering around trying to make a presentation without actually knowing what they are doing.
Here is a Google Slides Presentation I did on one of my favourite artists. It was kooky and interesting, and had shocking photographs/memes in it to grab my classmates’ attention. I got a great mark on that assignment, because I did not read off of the slide. In fact, I hardly even looked at it, because I still knew my presentation and my content off by heart.
My point is that PowerPoint can be an excellent tool, but this does not mean it makes any presentation great. You, as the educator, still need to model, demonstrate and teach how to use the tool. Do not assume that because students are growing up in the digital age that they know how to use the tool perfectly. They may, but most likely they may not. They may know how to navigate YouTube better than you, but this does not mean they have foundational knowledge of presentation skills. Technology is not the teacher; you are.
Something I would like to focus on in my future classrooms is showing students the many different ways that the internet can be used to further their learning. In grade ten I took a German studies class. My teacher was younger, and always excited about implementing different technological strategies to see what worked the best. Sometimes it was detrimental to our learning because simply learning how to operate the rather poorly organized platforms was such a pain that it made learning difficult rather than easy. We created a wiki space but I did not see the point of using the space because we essentially had no use for it. We used it to send in our audio clips of conversational German, but I always thought it strange that we couldn’t just email it to our teacher. It wasn’t like we had public settings so we could benefit from listening to each others’ clips, either. It was just a really backwards way for her to have all of our submissions going to a separate email and being organized on one site. It was useless to us, but useful for our teacher at the time. Now there are resources like Google Classroom (check out this video if you haven’t heard of it before) and other such platforms meant strictly for educational purposes. There is a website called Academia.edu where scholars, students, professors, and passionate individuals can share their essays and articles on varying topics that are organized through tags.
Specifically, I think of our inquiry-based learning project that we are working on throughout this course. I would like to do something of a similar nature with my students but in order to do that, I must first teach my students digital citizenship. I must show them how to narrow the entire internet down so that when they inquire about their topics, they use educational resources instead. No reddit threads, no wikipedia articles. Instead, I want them to learn from other people on the internet who have documented their growth and understandings on topics similar to my students’. The internet has such an abundance of resources and has become such an integral tool in the parts of the world that have access to it. It would be a disservice to my students to not teach them how to effectively utilize the internet in ways they’ve never imagined before. While I see the benefit of the “two lives” perspective mentioned in this article, I think it is unrealistic to ever consider separating digital citizenship from any form of education in communities who have access to such technology.
Another benefit to using the education for inquiry-based learning is that all forms of learning styles can be incorporated. Do you work better when you listen to instructions? Perfect, there’s audio clips for that. Do you work better when you see a visual example? Check out YouTube. Do you prefer step-by-step images that you don’t have to pause videos for? Perfect. Wiki-how has got your back. Do you require immediate feedback in order to feel comfortable in proceeding with your assignment? Join some online communities and forums in which the participants would gladly critique your work! There is something for everybody, and students deserve the chance to experiment with different digital styles of learning so that they can carry these skills forward into their lives.
In this article, the author (Mike Ribble) wrote, “Now everyone has the opportunity to communicate and collaborate with anyone from anywhere and anytime.” It would be a shame to ignore the possible implications of cultural diversity that is present in the online community. We could use this as a way to teach cultural diversity as well. Students would have the opportunity to see cultures and individuals from all over the world in a way that is much less dehumanizing than the typical news stories that typically misinform the masses anyways. For these reasons, I plan on teaching digital citizenship to my students as a means to create efficient internet-goers who can then use the internet to independently further their own education.
Drug education in the school system is poor. Teachers often teach drug prevention but the message is usually something inadequate like, “Don’t do drugs or you’re done for!” That is wrong. What about the students who are already knee-deep in addiction? You’ve just alienated them. What about the students who get addicted in the future? They will think they have no other option. Nobody in my public education has ever talked about the next step. Nobody in my education has properly nor effectively emphasized the options that are available to the student if they are already struggling with addiction. Contrary to the common belief: teaching how to deal with addiction will not make addiction “okay.” It will make recovery believable.
You want kids to say no to drugs? Educate them. Then, educate them on addiction so they have the chance to recognize it when they’re in it and have the power to make the choice to do something about it. Educate them so they know they have people they can turn to. Educate them so that they are not alienated, and educate them in a way that does not crush them with blame, so that shame does not prevent them from reaching out for recovery.
And even after all that: be there for your students when they need you. Give them somebody to turn to.
Educators are role models, and sometimes we are a student’s last resort. Be careful of the language you use, the attitudes you portray, and the way you respond to a student when they bring up drugs in the classroom. Even a passing comment that seems meaningless to you can portray to a student that you are not somebody they can talk to about addiction. If you portray those who are struggling as the ones to blame, or in any negative manner, your students will internalize that. For those who are addicted: they may never feel safe or comfortable enough to reach out to you. For those who are not addicted: they will continue to spread their now-internalized, negative, inaccurate portrayal of addiction.
You never know who might be struggling, so keep the discourse in your classroom open, and safe. Help your students see it this way, so that they too can be there for those in their lives who may also struggle with addiction.
You, as an educator, as a parent, as a friend, and as family, can empower those around you.
I don’t like asking people to share my posts because I’m always worried that maybe I’ve missed the point, that I’ll offend someone, and so on.. but if sharing this helps you let people know that you support recovery in a shame-free environment, and that you want drug education in our school systems to improve, then share this. Or write your own (potentially shorter) post. Or, show your support in your own way.
If I’ve missed the point, or failed to mention something, or if this post upsets you, please feel free to ask me to remove, add, change, or adjust this post. I mean no harm, I only mean to show love and support.
In studying the cyber bullying case of Amanda Todd, there are many things to be considered. One could easily list some of the basics such as, “Teach digital responsibility to students! Monitor your child’s internet usage! Never give out private information!” And so on. Last week in a haze through my cold and ample amounts of Benadryl, I wrote a post on Facebook and made a blog post about the “after-steps” regarding drug education in our schools. Specifically, I addressed that schools teach prevention, but never address how to deal with such complications after they had already occurred. I believe this idea applies to multiple cases and different subtopics regarding anti-oppressive education. For example, in an article by Glenda Aleman titled, “Constructing Gay Performances: Regulating Gay Youth in a ‘Gay Friendly’ High School,” she wrote, “Providing safe spaces for them within the school is important and commendable, it does not sufficiently change the homophobic and sexist culture of high schools” (Aleman 150). As educators, we can do more.
In the context of cyber-bullying and bullying in schools, the widespread message is, “Report bullying to the staff/teachers and we will take care of it.” In most cases, students do not trust the adults nor do they rely on them to fully protect them from the harassment they are facing. In most cases, after a student reports the incident, they are more likely to be the subject of revenge from the perpetrator for “tattling” on them. “Tattling” is treated (among adolescents) as a sign of weakness for the intention of keeping the bullied silent. Most students are trapped by subscribing to this unfortunate assumption. How do we, as educators/parents/role-models, address this in an authentic way that can provide students with the necessary tools and options to combat harassment and bullying?
In a response to the article by Glenda Aleman that I mentioned earlier, I argued that by creating “safe spaces,” teachers are actually avoiding dealing with the problem at its roots. Creating a safe space with the intention of merely addressing bullying only when it happens means that we are only creating a bomb shelter (and a rickety one at that). A bomb shelter does not make the bombs go away. It will not make the opposing field reconsider launching its attacks. If anything, the bombing will only get worse in an attempt to destroy the bomb shelter. What educators must do is teach in a responsive way so that the bombs are potentially never launched in the first place. Better yet, bombs won’t even be considered. Teach students how to identify harassment. Teach harassment policies. Teach students about their legal responsibilities as law abiding citizens. It cannot stop there, for these ideas only address prevention.
After addressing prevention, teachers must also address proper coping skills. Even if the perpetrator has been entirely removed from the situation by an involved adult, this does not teach our students how to independently address these situations in the future. If we educate our students with these interpersonal skills and effective communication skills, and if we teach students about what they can do within their spheres of influence, then we will be preparing them to handle these situations in the future. Teaching these concepts will address the problem at its roots, rather than waiting for somebody to get hurt before taking responsive action.
As educators, we have a responsibility to prepare our students for the future. I do not know if such actions would have prevented what unjustifiably happened to Amanda Todd, or any other victims of hate crimes and harassment. I do know, however, that teaching for the present and the future can, in the very least, reduce some of that stigma surrounding reaching out for help when involved with cases of harassment. Lets do our students justice.
Aleman, G. (2005). Constructing gay performances: regulating gay youth in a “gay friendly” high school. In B. Alexander, G. Anderson and B. Gallegos (Eds.), Performance theories in education: power, pedagogy and the politics of identity, pp. 149-171. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
But, just as is suggested in this video, it is awkward at first, too.
I got really excited about this whole vlogging thing so I made another one. I really want to get into this for my learning project because I think it will be a great way to share the literal, physical process that I am going through.
Just taking a picture of the result does not give an accurate portrayal of how long and gruesome art can be. So, recording the actual process is a lot better in demonstrating the time and care that goes into art. Here’s the new video:
Thanks, and let me know what you think. Give me advice on how to vlog, do art, or even just random advice to help me live my life. Until next time!
Just kidding. For my response regarding digital citizenship and communities, I decided to join the YouTube community. I joined the culture of participation. Check out my brief video below. Maybe join me in joining the community.
Okay, but seriously.
Who wants to try joining the community? What I would like to see is how difficult it is to get into the YouTube community. Will there be reluctance? How much effort on my half do I have to put forward to get people to notice my vlogging? My assumption is that I will be one grain of sand on a beach and it will take either something incredibly disputable or a lot of reaching out to get my videos and posts out there.
Or, something original. Hmm..