Setting up 6th grade Digital Art Portfolios on our #Elgg social network

Selfportrait

Today, I’m with 6th grade, co-teaching with the lovely and amazing 6th grade teacher/artist, Yoshiko Maruiwa.

Like the other members of our Art Department, Yoshiko encourages and inspires her students to produce, critique, and reflect upon art. Students bring home many physical artifacts, and today we set up a structure of digital pages to showcase, share, define, appreciate, and network about each other’s art on our in-house Social network, powered by Elgg (http://elgg.org). Elgg is open-source and relatively easy to maintain, especially as my server manager, Cristina Martinez, does all the back-end work. (Twitter: @cmfinlay)

Students created an overarching “Digital Art Portfolio” main page and are responsible for adding sub-pages for each assignment that will include an Artist’s Statement and a digital photo of each piece.

There is a section to comment on every page, and we talk about appropriate comments being ones that are constructive and inspire conversation:
Not so great – “I like your painting!”
Great – “I like your use of color and symmetry.”
Really great – “I like how you painted your guitar. Do you play any other instruments?”

Yoshiko and I took photos of the artworks for this project, but for later assignments, the kids will take their own photos and load these images onto a shared album on our in-house photo server; It is called The Gallery and powered by Drupal (http://drupal.org).

I ask students to point the URL of their images rather than download/upload to reinforce citing and not copying works from the web. We talked about ownership: Who owns the photo of their painting? Me, the school, the student? They painted the picture, I took the photo with a school camera, and I posted the image onto our school server. This spawned a quick and mildly interesting discussion, considering my ignorance and my audience.

As I do every time I’m with a class, I totally repeated my mantra that whatever they post online is Public, Permanent, and Traceable, and they should strive to use our technology Academically, Responsibly, and Respectfully.

Now I’d like to get the 7th and 8th grade art teachers on board. I asked Yoshiko to show a sample digital art portfolio to her colleagues at their next department meeting. Fingers crossed.

 

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