Thursday, November 27, 2014

Pinterest in the HS Art Classrooms

An interview with Shawn Reed, High School Art Teacher

Shawn Reed, teaches a variety of art classes in the HS, from Art 1 to 2D Art & Design to Advanced and AP Art. About a year ago he approached me with the idea of starting a Pinterest site for his students, a social network posting site, as he wanted to know more about the Privacy and Sharing Policy for students.

Today Shawn has 37, 591 Followers and 113 Boards, with hundreds of followers joining his boards every day. These are impressive numbers and his students are taking it seriously. I wanted to know more about his experience with Pinterest in his art classroom.

Why did you start using Pinterest?

A friend of mine told me about it and I started using general Boards for my own professional growth. At the beginning I made the mistake of following Pinners rather than Boards. Now I am very specific on who I follow, as I search for Pins, for Boards or for Pinners. There is a difference between following Boards versus Pinners. If you follow a Pinner, every Pin they pin comes up on my feed. That usually includes a variety of topics and often is a waste of time. The only Pinners I follow are other HS Art Teachers, Fine Art Grad Students and strong artists. I found that actually the most effective method is to search for Boards and once you find a good Board you start surfing within it, open a Pin and scroll down at the bottom for more content; this technique somehow can get you up to 1000 new followers a day!

Why did you want to use Pinterest for your students in the first place?

I was finding that students tended to go to deviantart for their inspiration and ideas. This was problematic because what students were exposed to was monochromatic art with splashes of color and the final pieces they produced were all very similar. Pinterest allows me to guide them in the right direction through my Boards. It’s more likely that they will experience the kind of imagery that will make their investigation stronger and more meaningful. I look for what is cutting edge, but also acceptable art for high school students. They enter through my Boards and see the connections, the Boards becoming a gateway into their own investigation.

How did you get started with your classes?

I started with the Advanced Art classes in anticipation of these students pursuing AP Art.  Instead of using traditional sketchbooks, I saw an opportunity for students to reflect on their work and was excited to try something new, that was faster and very visual, that allows for peer feedback at anytime, from anywhere. It extends the classroom walls. I invited my students to follow my Boards and I needed to follow the students Boards.  To keep our work private, I have set up a shared secret class Board that requires an invitation from me.  I am allowed 6 such Boards.

As you can see from the prolific comments the students leave behind, I found out quickly that it is time consuming to follow all your students, so I only use it for my Advanced and AP Art classes, because the class sizes of my other classes would make it less manageable.
How has it evolved over a year? What are some unexpected results? Are you using it differently now?

It’s been pretty organic.  But now all the Advanced Art sketchbook work is documented on the shared Board.  There are 4 main steps:

  1. Research artist style and pin a stylistic reference .
  2. Take photographs influenced by researched artist work and Pin this as a visual reference.
  3. Create value spheres in the medium and pallette of the researched artist.
  4. Document the progress of the studio work.

At the end of class, the students take a picture of their progress and Pin it to the class shared secret Board. They defend their decisions and other classmates can add to their comments. Throughout this process students are required to comment on ideas, references and studio work.  Their comments are graded.  The big thing is that it brings a healthy competitiveness in the class, as they see each other’s progress and postings.

Looking at the start of a Pin by Advanced Art student Yoon Lee:

Here is a specific example of the development of a student’s piece of work on the class Board. Students capture and see their development day by day. This is a powerful tool for them.

Final piece by Audrey T., which ended up being published in the EARCOS magazine.

Using Pinterest Shawn has successfully made the learning dynamic and borderless for his students, empowering them to express their ideas in a very real, virtual space where they can enrich their learning experiences from the interaction of an authentic audience.  The students are well on the way to becoming the best artists that they can be.

Pia Druggan

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