Saturday, November 9, 2013


From the Massachusetts Art Education Association Conference! 
Actually, I am at home in my sweats blogging from the couch again. The conference is taking place at my Alma Mater, as you know if you are a frequent reader, of the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. Its only about an hours' drive away, so I have opted to commute. Today's workshops were in Group VI pictured above. Tomorrow we'll be at the Star Store in New Bedford.
The campus was designed by Paul Rudolph. Some group or another recently voted it one of the ugliest campuses in the nation. The architecture style is called Brutalism. As a student, the winter months definitely felt "brutal" and to be honest, I initially didn't want to go to school here because of the coldness of the concrete (among other things.) Pictured above is the recently renovated library. The design has won awards for bringing Brutalism into the 21st century. Had this renovation been done while I was a a student, I would have been there way more often! It is a beautiful combination of color, glass, and concrete.

Check out all the swag!
Really, there are a lot of flyers... information about Sargent Art, including an opportunity to get to other conferences with funding from the company, Youth Art Month information, a brochure for the College of Visual and Performing Arts, a New Bedford Tour Guide and most importantly, a certificate of attendance. With our new evaluation system, that piece is like gold. Not only does it have the number of PDPs you have earned, but also counts as evidence to be documented for the evaluation...

I really wanted to attend this conference because there was a workshop about DDMs or District Determined Measure, which is tied into the new evaluation system. My department has been creating and implementing a pilot this year and I was looking forward to more information and discussion points. And I think everyone else was too. I didn't get into that session.

However I was very happy to be in a session about divergent thinking and middle school. Really, divergent thinking can apply anywhere, but it was rewarding to hear about how it works in an inner city middle school. I came out of the session rejuvenated and looking forward to implementing many of the ideas, including written reflections and artist's statements as a part of a rubric that can be applied to every assignment, in my own classroom.

The last session I went to made me really want to get my MFA... at UMD. Or at the very least take this new class that was created out of the realization that teaching practices are better, and teachers are happier, when they are creating. The class is inquiry based and an individual experience for each student. In the beginning, students generate a list of questions to explore in their work. Then, through guiding questions by their peers, create and assess. Thanks to wikispaces, students have a place to share and gather feedback, almost in real time. The professor acts as a facilitator and participant, creating and acquiring feedback just as the students. I've noticed personally this year, that it is easier for me to approach students and give feedback, as I am engaged in creating outside the classroom. (Or at least I paint and draw with a much greater frequency than I have in the past) I also thrive on the energy of my students which makes me want to go home and create. The structure of this particular class could totally be adapted for upper level high school. Its a great lesson in how students can help each other and how teachers can help guide discussions... I am always the teacher who answers a question with a question, so often that students now anticipate what I am going to say. Teaching students how to think this way will foster collaboration and more authentic engagement and creation.

So overall, a great day.
I am really looking forward to tomorrow. All of our sessions are 80+ minutes since they are studio experiences. My first session involves printmaking and is taught by a professor whose class I thoroughly enjoyed. Check back soon for more conference goodness!

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