The official blog of Artsonia.com

The end of the school year is fast approaching.  When you start to feel the students’ energy shifting from school to vacation mode, do you keep pressing through the next lesson, even if focus is lacking? Or, do you come up with some creative ways to keep them engaged in the art program, with less deadlines and assignments? We came up with a few ideas on how you might want to have your students use Artsonia as an end of year or summer-vacation activity.

1. Do-Over: How my skills have changed!
If you have published art for a few years now, why not offer them a do-over! Have them browse all the artwork in their Artsonia gallery and ask them if there’s one they did (last week or 3 years ago) that they’d like to “do-over.” Certainly, you’ll need to take into account materials and supplies needed, but some of the students might thoroughly enjoy looking at their Kindergarten “Blue Dog” and then coming up with their much improved, more detailed version of the same lesson! What an easy way for students to instantly see how much their talents and skills have developed thanks to your teaching and guidance!Do Over_BlueDog

2. Review Guestbook Comments
Ask students to browse through their guestbooks. Do any of the comments stand out as very special to the student? Which ones are their favorites and why? This is a fun way to remind students that other people are excited about their work and love to see them being creative at school. Review_Comments

3. Self Evaluation
Have your students browse through their gallery. Can they find one piece of artwork they wish they had worked a little harder on? Or, perhaps they would have changed something about the process/outcome? If they had the chance to “Do Over” (see #1 above), what would they do differently? (artwork credit: Peyton4697, Wolford Elementary, TX)Self_Evaluation

4. End of Year Review/Art Museum Search
While you might not give students a grueling end of year exam, why not give them a simple take-home (or summer) review on the artists/styles/or periods you studied this year? Rather than browsing YOUR school gallery, have them visit the Artsonia Museum search page  and type in a keyword to find lots of examples of Pop Art, for example.  Have them write down an art ID number of a few favorites and share them with the class.keyword_search

5. Take an Art Trip around the Globe
Students in more than 130 countries around the world have artwork showing on Artsonia.  Why not take a few minutes to have your students see what their peers are creating halfway around the world? Have your students pick a few different countries/regions from around the world, perhaps based on their own cultural heritage or simply a random pick.  Ask them to visit the Countries Represented page of Artsonia  and browse the different school galleries, making note of their favorite pieces.Artsonia_Countries_Flags

6. Get Creative This Summer!
The school year is too short and allotted art periods are few and far between for most teachers.  So, why not encourage your kids to keep learning and creating this summer? Using the projects search page have students use the keyword search to browse Artist’s names or styles. Alternatively, have them search exhibits by specific mediums they like to use.  Have them pick some favorites and perhaps, you can give them some tips on how to try some of these lessons on their own this summer!

7. Publish Artwork from Home!
Be sure all your parents are registered with valid email addresses before the end of the year! Encourage your students to have their parents upload “summer artwork” to their personal gallery. It doesn’t require your approval, nor does it show up on the school gallery, but it’s a great way to keep their families engaged in the arts all summer.parent_upload1

8. Summer Artwork Travel Postcards
Are your students taking a summer vacation? Encourage them to pack a small sketchpad! They can help create the family vacation memory book, complete with their own sketches of what they see and do.  And, if they are up for it, have them submit the drawing to their Artsonia gallery and send you a postcard (maybe have them mail to school at your attention, if you don’t want to give out your home address). How cool to come back in the fall and have an assortment of hand-made postcards from your students’ travels!postcard

9. Published Artist Certificates
Does your school hand out end-of-year awards? How about the art room? If you need a simple way to honor some of your students, you can print out Artsonia Published Artist Certificates! Just add your student’s name and date and it’s ready to go!Published Artist Award

10. Summer Newsletter for Parents
Why not keep in touch with parents over the summer once in a while? Maybe you offer summer camps, workshops or studio hours? Let the parents know what opportunities might be available to their kids.  Are there any special museum days coming up? Are there any arts festivals in your area? Keeping connected over the summer will remind parents that encouraging creativity isn’t just the art teacher’s job, it’s part of everyday life!Newsletter

One of the best features on Artsonia is the way families come together to celebrate the creativity of a young artist. Joining fan clubs, signing the guestbook, surprising a child with a keepsake featuring his/her artwork – all are ways that families and friends encourage their young artists. However, we’ve noticed that thousands of Artsonia artists don’t have any fan club members, not even a parent! So, we have a quick tip for teachers, on how to try and get more parents registered on Artsonia!

First – Consider your own busy schedule.  If you’re waiting for some new art supplies to hit the shelf, would you rather visit your favorite store daily to hunt around for the items, or just get an email that tells you the exact products you’re looking for are available?

Now, consider the parents at your school. If they want to see their children’s artwork, would they prefer to browse to Artsonia, search on their child’s name and then look to see if any new artwork is published yet…Or, would they prefer to simply get an email that announces new artwork in the gallery so they can click one link and see the masterpiece?

Everybody wants convenience, right?

So what’s the easiest way to get parents registered? Print customized take-home slips on Artsonia! All the information they need to get registered will be at their fingertips! And, be sure to tell your students what it is, so they encourage mom/dad to sign up!

Step 1: Login to your Teacher Account

Step 2: In the upper left side, green box, click on TELL PARENTS!

Step 3: Choose Method 2 => REQUEST NEW SLIPS

Step 4: Using the options provided, print customized take-home slips (3 per page) and distribute!

SAMPLE Take-Home Slip for a non-registered parent:

Parent TakeHome Slip

Step 5: Enjoy the new buzz that’s come over the classroom as more and more families get involved in their child’s art education!

Helpful Tip: Guided Access

Do any of your students take advantage of having an iPad or iPhone at their disposal in the artroom? Do they quickly try to access a different app, or (common with younger students) hit the home key and exit out of what they were supposed to be doing? If so, we wanted to share a quick tip on how you might be able to curb any “wandering fingertips” issues. Read on to learn about using Guided Access on an iOS device (Guided access is not an Artsonia feature, but a feature built into iPads and iPhones that can be convenient to use with Classroom Mode and other apps).

“Guided Access” helps your students stay focused on submitting artwork and statements while in the Artsonia Classroom Mode! Guided access limits their device to only using one single app and lets you (the teacher) control which app features are available.

Use Guided Access to:

  • Temporarily restrict your iOS device to a particular app
  • Disable areas of the screen that aren’t relevant to a task, or areas where an accidental gesture might cause a distraction
  • Disable the hardware buttons

Note: Since Artsonia classroom is web-based, students could still incidentally type in a different URL and that would still work, however, they would not be able to hit the home key and/or actually exit the Internet browsing session.

Tap Settings > General > Accessibility > Guided Access to set up Guided Access.

Guided_Access1.2
From there you can:

(1) Turn Guided Access On/Off

(2) Set a passcode to control Guided Access and prevent students from leaving an active session

(3) Set whether the device can go to sleep during a session

GuidededAccess3

Start a Guided Access session

If you’ve gone into the above settings, it doesn’t do any harm in simply leaving the Guided Access “on” at all times. The actual feature will not be enabled unless you actually start/enable an active session.  Here are two thoughts on how to do that:

1) Prior to handing the device(s) to students, browse to your artsonia.com/class link (or open the app of choice) then triple-click the Home button to activate the Guided Access session. If anyone attempts to hit the “home” key a pop-up will appear, requiring them to input the password to exit.

2)If you are in a 1:1 classroom, you could instruct students to browse to the artsonia.com/class link (or open desired app), then triple-click the Home button on their devices. Again, this will automatically “lock” the app (or browsing session) so that no students can accidentally (or intentionally) hit the home button and exit to a different app.

GuidededAccess5

Note: As shown just above, you can disable app controls and areas of the app screen, but in the case of the Artsonia Classroom feature, this would not be necessary. However, it might come in handy if you used Guided Access with other apps of your choice!

To End a Guided Access session, simply triple-click the Home button and enter the Guided Access Passcode.

GuidededAccess4

More_Than_An_Art_Museum

Create a Community around your Art Program
An Artsonia school gallery is much more than just a place to show off your student’s artwork; it’s an opportunity to create an entire community that revolves around your art program. The gallery is a launching pad for art-focused student interactions, family involvement and integrating technology into your art room.  Each fall, Artsonia honors teachers who have done an outstanding job of creating a community around their art programs with Leadership Awards.  Learn more about one teacher’s award and art program in a recent article by the The Record (Wanaque,New Jersey).

Teach Digital Citizenship
As a web-based educational platform, Artsonia provides many ways for students to learn and practice responsible digital citizenship. Online classroom tools give students the means to responsibly submit their own artwork and statements. Leaving comments on another student’s work is another online activity. Often times, these activities are done on school owned computers or iPads. Students will learn appropriate ways to use devices while practicing respectful and responsible digital citizenship in the safe, controlled online environment that is Artsonia.com.  Illinois Art Teacher, Tricia Fuglestad uses Artsonia to teach digital citizenship in her art room and shared the details on her Fugleblog last spring.

Promote Literacy and Address the Common Core
Students are encouraged to submit artist statements along with their artwork. Asking students to first thoughtfully analyze and interpret the work and then write a statement, drives literacy skills. This is especially true when proper use of sentences, punctuation and organization is required by the teacher (photo credit, Art Teacher Janine Campbell).

Artsonia_Statements

Artist statements, much like the Common Core requirements, reinforce the importance of learning to reflect, critique and evaluate work. The Art of Ed recently interviewed middle school teacher, Diane Davis to find out more about using Artsonia to promote literacy.

Organize and Manage Your Art Program
Within the Artsonia teacher section, you will find numerous ways to organize not only your art gallery, but your entire art program. Quickly see who has completed artwork, post feedback to your students…Monitor_Exhibits

Send Art Room Newsletters to parents (Thanks to IL art teacher, Laura Allan for sharing hers)! Monitor student-progress, print reports and request money earned through fundraising efforts. Nearly all the Artsonia features are the direct result of teacher feedback, in an effort to create an all-in-one classroom tool, designed specifically for art teachers.

Earn Funds, Enrich Your Art Program
Artsonia gives teachers a way to earn additional funds for their school via an online gift shop. At their convenience, families and friends of the artists can purchase customized keepsakes featuring the student’s artwork. Artsonia gives 20% of each purchase back to the school to help support the art program. Fundraising_Twitter

At any time, art teachers can redeem earned funds in the form of a check, gift cards (Artsonia/Blick Art Materials/Amazon), technology products (Apple TV/iPad/iPad mini) or as payment for their annual NAEA Membership. With additional funds coming into your program, Artsonia hopes that both you and your students will be provided with enriched experiences and opportunities in the world of art education.

What are YOUR favorite Artsonia features? What do students love about Artsonia? What do your families say about Artsonia? We’d love to hear from you. Leave your comments below!

We know that more than ever before – teachers everywhere are being asked to track progress, provide regular evaluations and practically defend the fact that students are indeed learning and showing improvement.  Art teachers are not being excluded from these new demands, so this summer, Artsonia went to work trying to figure out how to help. After studying a variety of online assessment tools, holding numerous conversations with art educators and testing out a few programs, the Artsonia Student Progress Reports tool was created.

Progress_Report_Create

The new online Student Progress Reports tool (built into your teacher section) gives you an easy way to perform assessments on student artwork and statements after each lesson or at the end of a designated marking  period. Once created, you can print and share these assessments with students and parents.

Progress_Report

Have questions? Suggestions? Comments? We’d love to hear from teachers who have tried out the new progress reports! Please share your thoughts in the comment section below!

Part of ourWhy Artsonia? Because…”  series

Kids love it AND Attitudes are Improving!(3)

Teachers know that the more engaged a student is in an activity, the more likely he/she will be to put the best foot forward.  The art room is no different.  When an art teacher decides to use Artsonia as a way to showcase the student artwork, he/she soon starts to notice a new buzz around the art room. Suddenly there seems to be a more positive spin on each project.  Bad attitudes start to turn around, work ethic begins to improve and students are finding a new sense of pride and self-esteem in their work. What’s the bottom line? Kids love being published artists on Artsonia!

At the heart of of Artsonia’s mission is getting kids to develop a new sense of pride that comes from feeling like a famous artist, deserving of the spotlight and recognition. The various activities such as fan clubs and guestbook comments are actually tools to encourage young people and their creativity. We want personal statements to draw out even more from the artist, getting the visitor one step closer into the thoughts and efforts behind the artwork.  Kids need to believe that both what they create and the thought process involved are newsworthy enough to share with visitors. In a recent blog, Sarah Doane, an art teacher in Reading,MA noted how the family activities provided on Artsonia give her students that boost in self-esteem. She writes, “The more family and friends that see a child’s artwork, the more encouraging comments they receive. When this happens, my student’s self-confidence increases and they become even more interested in art! It’s a win for everyone.”

Another way we hope to give students a positive experience through Artsonia is our artist of the week contest. The weekly finalists are not merit-based selections, but randomly chosen from the prior week’s art submissions. Kids are so accustomed to contests about being “the best,” but our contest is about giving everyone who’s brave enough to create a piece of artwork and share it with the world, a chance to win. In some cases, the contest can mean much more, as we were sent this story from a teacher in California. “One of my 6th grade art students was selected for your artist of the week contest.  His core teacher told me this morning that he is a new student in our school and is having trouble adjusting.  When the teacher called the parent yesterday, she told her that her son has been in tears everyday over going to school.  Since he found out that he has been selected for the contest, he now has a positive attitude and is enjoying his celebrity status. Even if he doesn’t win the contest, he’s seeing himself as more of a winner than ever before.”

One last factor that teachers mention in regards to a better work ethic or changed attitude in the art room is good old-fashioned peer pressure. While we didn’t consider this a factor when the Artsonia gallery was being built, we do see where it might come into play.  Many teachers feel that the Artsonia gallery puts a little creative peer-pressure on students. Now that the art teacher isn’t the only one who will be looking at the child’s finished work, there’s a little more motivation to succeed.  North Carolina art teacher Margaret Moltine seemed to agree with this theory when she said, “I believe that using Artsonia has raised the bar in achievement for my students in that they want to do better work since it will be seen by an unlimited number of people.”

In closing, we thank everyone who takes the time to read these entries and provide your feedback. We hope that everyone who reads this post has an example of how Artsonia has been a positive experience, whether in a school community or in your own family.  We would love to hear more stories from you, so please feel free to post a comment or send them along in an email to tiffany@artsonia.com.

Part of ourWhy Artsonia? Because…”  series

Families are getting involved in Art Education (2)

Old T.V. shows depict the days when a family would sit down at the 5pm dinner table, each person recapping the day, sharing stories and supporting one another.  Now, fast forward to the present. We certainly hope that there are still homes enjoying consistent family meals and spending quality time around the dinner table, however, it seems that the reality of today is much different.

Family life today varies greatly from household to household. Some parents/guardians might not always be in the same household. They might not work the same shifts. They might be overseas. And the list goes on. How then, do families get the chance to connect with one another? Phones? Texts? Emails?  Yes, today’s technology provides ample ways for families to connect, but did you realize that the Artsonia gallery is one of them?  Of course, we’re not a social media site nor are we just a discussion forum or chatroom.  Instead, Artsonia is a platform that allows families to make meaningful connections with kids through their artwork.

An individual artist’s gallery on Artsonia encourages families to take an active role in a child’s art education.  Of course, the families can see the finished artwork and admire the handiwork, but there are also ways to connect with the artists themselves.  With the help of a teacher or parent, artists can submit a personal statement on each piece of artwork. What a great way for parents to encourage their child’s creativity – actually sit down and talk about the artwork as you view it in the gallery! Finish up by posting the statement for all the world to read! Relatives who can’t simply sit down at the dinner table with the artist can now find out what inspired the piece or just get a closer look into what the artist was trying to accomplish.

Each artist’s gallery includes a guestbook.  Here, family members can leave comments with words of encouragement or praise for the artist. Some relatives will even leave questions for the artists, trying to get a deeper meaning or explanation about the piece. These comments aren’t posted for the artist or public viewing without parental review, leading to yet another way that parents are getting directly involved! Best of all, it’s a very simple yet meaningful way for a child to feel supported and encouraged – knowing family and friends are admiring his/her own personal creations.

Art teachers are the first to notice what an impact Artsonia has on the parents.  Melissa, a teacher in Washington, stumbled upon Artsonia a few years ago when she was attempting to find an easy way to create a digital art portfolio.  She published 1 piece of artwork from each 3rd grader as a trial run. Within two weeks, she was overwhelmed with responses from parents.  Suddenly, they wanted more artwork online and not just from the 3rd graders, but from the siblings in other grades.  They wanted to know why the project done yesterday wasn’t yet showing in the gallery today.  They wanted to know if they could help speed up the process. It quickly became apparent to Melissa that this was much more than just a way to keep an online portfolio for her students — for the first time ever, she had parents enthused and asking to be volunteers in the ART room!

School communities certainly vary, but many Artsonia teachers would agree that parents don’t intentionally avoid the art room. Teachers felt that prior to Artsonia, they just didn’t have the right tool to make a more meaningful connection with parents. Take-home slips and monthly school newsletters just weren’t cutting it.  Now, teachers see a significant increase in parental involvement. Many of them check the school’s statistics on a regular basis to see how many new comments have been posted, or making note of how many parents have registered an active account on Artsonia.  Others write to Artsonia, sharing comments or emails from parents who have seen a new confidence or sense of self-worth in their child, thanks to being a “published artist” in the school gallery.

Lastly, teachers who choose to use Artsonia also see an increase in parental support as it pertains to fundraising for arts education. Artsonia school galleries provide a way for teachers to show first-hand what the students are learning and accomplishing on a regular basis.  This “visual” helps raise awareness in terms of supplies, materials, resources and technology needed to provide students with a quality art education.  Through Artsonia’s online giftshop (which provides 20% back to schools), teachers have been able to literally save their art programs when budgets were threatening to cut all funding.  Teachers note that more families are coming forward, requesting that funds be allocated back to the art program. Now that they have a better understanding of what students are doing and the value of keeping arts in their child’s education, they are more willing to show financial support.

As research has proven time and time again, getting parents or guardians involved in a child’s education is of utmost importance. While so many  educators – regardless of curriculum – search for new ways to encourage parent participation or involvement,  Artsonia is proud to provide Art Educators with a safe, educational platform that bridges connections between parents, students and the art room. And, with any luck, when families around the globe do gather around the dinner table for meals and celebrations, there will be a little more creativity thrown into their conversations this year.

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