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6th graders added Art posts to their digital portfolio created with Google Sites

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Yesterday, I was in Yoshiko Maruiwa‘s art classes to help 6th graders add three posts to their personal digital portfolio (created in Google Sites). Yoshiko takes photos of all their finished work and creates albums on The Gallery. (The Gallery is our internal photo server powered by Drupal.) Kids include an image of their work along with an artist statement that explains their process, idea, challenges, successes, curricular connections, and anything else they want to include to curate their work. For today’s class, the students made a post for their Art Self Portrait, Art Tessellation, and Art Circle Design.

To organize all the posts from their 6th grade year, kids created an Announcements page named 2011-2012. As each post is written, it snaps into place in the sidebar index and is arranged alphabetically. Hence, I have them title their posts starting with the subject. I like this better than creating a new page/section for each subject. This way there are less clicks to get to examples of their work, and there is no danger of having pages without any projects on them.

During the course of our discussion, we talked about:

  1. Their invisible audience – while access to the kids’ digital portfolios is limited to users on our school’s GoogleApps domain, everyone in the community has an account. At any moment, their work could be viewed by students, teachers, administrators, parents, and anyone with access to a username/password. This should influence what they write (informative without being super personal) and how they write (grammatically correct).
  2. Appropriate commenting – write a comment that is specific and/or can initiate a discussion. Something like, “I liked your use of color” or “I see you painted a guitar. Do you play any other instruments?”
  3. Inserting an image by linking to the URL of the image online rather than taking a screen snapshot or dragging a copy of the image to the desktop. By using the URL, students can simply point to something else online. The alternative is to copy/take/steal a version of it which is tantamount to theft (depending on how the work is licensed).

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Showing 6th graders how to independently maintain their Digital Art Portfolios on The Social Network.

6th graders in Yoshiko Maruiwa’s art classes are adding a sub-page to their Digital Art Portfolios on our Elgg social network (we named it The Social Network four years ago). Yoshiko and I want the students to be able to archive their work and maintain their portfolio independently. Hopefully, they will continue to do so for the remainder of the year and into 7th and 8th grades. We also talked about having a physical portfolio of their work and one that exists in the cloud.

I had each class for an hour. These were my instructions:

1. Take a good photo. Without flash if possible. From a straight and center vantage point and not too high/low/left/right.

2. Upload photo to iPhoto and crop/edit/enhance as needed.

3. Add their image to the class album on The Gallery. (The Gallery is our in-house photo server powered by Drupal.)

4. Copy the URL of the full-size image.

5. In a new tab, login to The Social Network. (The Social Network is our in-house social network powered by Elgg.)

6. Create a sub-page in their Digital Art Portfolio.

7. Insert the image by pasting the URL, adjust the dimensions of the image, add border and padding if desired. We talked about how the basic WYSIWYG toolbar is “supposed” to be idiot-proof.

8. Awesome trick by a 6th grader: Remove the last digit of the height and the width to quickly resize the picture.

9. In the body of their page, next to their image, write an Artist Statement about their piece: Discuss what it represents, the colors and design chosen, the process…

10. Add tags as needed : 6th Grade, art, portfolio, painting, self-portrait, mosaic…

11. When finished, comment on their classmates’ pieces. We reinforced appropriate commenting:

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?”

In each session, we had three stations and a pile of cameras available for the kids to take a picture of their art piece. After, a student was at the front of the room demo-ing on the classroom iMac while everone was at their personal MacBooks following along or going at their own pace. Having a gaggle of cameras, enough download wires, and 1:1 laptops was awesome but not necessary.

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