Am I Preaching to the Choir?

When I was taking my ESL Part One course this fall, one of the questions we were asked to consider was, “Are students who may be reluctant to talk in class in front of others more comfortable engaging in electronic “conversations”?”

As the Technical Resource Teacher in our school, my answer is a resounding, “Yes”. Computers do assist with learning on many levels, from delivering a variety of content, to practicing skills, to enabling communication, to teaching responsibility. Computers do not teach, nor do they solve all problems, but they can help us to look at curriculum in a different way; they also encourage us to create a layered way of thinking.

Computers, on a very basic and practical level, force us to think sequentially. Just think about all of the steps you go through to find that file you need to upload to your blog. For ELL’s and every other learner, using a computer requires that you can follow written, oral or visual instructions. Often, the path to creating a document, editing a photo, or finding something online is not always as straightforward as you would assume if you knew nothing about computers. Simply creating a document in Word is a good way to test students’ comprehension. Either they do it, or they ask for help.

While on vacation this Christmas, I’ve had ample opportunity to consider how computers can also assist with the creative process. The question came up when my sister asked me what on earth I was doing on my laptop, iPad and iPod for so many hours in a day. (Honestly, I didn’t realize that I was glued to my devices for that long. I have gone skiing, attended 2 bonfires, a book making workshop, made 5 wreaths and several other gifts, watched a couple of movies, indulged in many interesting conversations with real people, and even gave my dog a haircut.) However, in comparison to a sibling who spends relatively little time on computers, I guess the question is valid.

As a writer, I can honestly say that I would not want to go back to the pen and paper method of recording my thoughts. Yes, I do jot notes and sketch diagrams of ideas but when it comes to the nitty gritty of painting an image or developing an idea it’s the computer and nothing else for me. I love the swiftness of recording my thoughts, the satisfying click of the keys and (a little anal here) the cleanliness of the white screen. Unless I choose to use mark-up in Word’s review pane, I experience the absolute joy of an untouched document. Visual perfection.

Another added benefit to working on a computer is, of course, the value of saving multiple drafts. Of course, with that privilege comes great responsibility. Experienced drafters will shake their heads when I admit that I committed the ultimate sin when I first started work on my novel last year. Yes, I created more than one draft but if took a while for me to remember to number and date my work. It didn’t seem like such a big deal until I took a 6 month break from the work, and then tried to pick up where I left off yesterday. Needless to say, I spent a fair bit of time sorting my files into folders. I know. Computer Survival School 101. What can I say except that I was so caught up in the creative process that my usual neat-freak went on vacation.

Lately, I’ve been sampling and following a lot of blogs. Also, to my pleasant surprise, I have found that people have been following me. In spite of my sporadic posting it would appear that I have something to say that other people want to hear. Although I do enjoy a great dystopic novel, I must admit that I am a fan of a computer driven society. Where else would I be able to meet, carry out a conversation, share ideas, and learn from others with the click of a button?

Essentially a logical/sequential platform, computers teach layered strategies of thinking, creating, communicating which can add to our understanding of being.  I would even go so far as to say that my imagination has grown because of the interactive nature of computers and the internet.

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Art Journaling

Why Journal?

  • to personalize or internalize new information
  • to process ideas and feelings
  • to create stronger connections between new ideas and things we’ve already experienced or learned
  • to retain information for longer periods of time
  • to build understanding through a symbolic process

Is There a Right Way or a Wrong Way to Journal?

  • No — Because an art journal records your personal journey to enlightenment, there is no one way to journal. Check out how these Pinterest Examples use colour, objects, texture, words in different ways.
  • HOWEVER — The more that you put into an art journal, the more you will get out of it.
  • Art journals are layered – with colours, textures, media, and meanings.

The medium is the message, and the thoughts / attitudes / actions of the journalist will affect the outcome of the journal.

 

GETTING STARTED:

Ask yourself, “Why am I creating this journal?”

  • to reflect on an experience
  • to express an idea
  • to balance 2 opposing thoughts
  • to argue a position
  • to tell a story
  • to persuade
  • to explain

Ask yourself, “Who is my audience going to be?”

  • myself
  • friends / family
  • colleagues
  • anyone

The answer to this question will guide you in how personal, experimental, RADICAL you want to be with your journal.

BASIC MATERIALS:

  • Colored pencils
  • Gel pens
  • Markers
  • Crayons
  • Magazines or other image resources
  • Decorative papers (wrapping paper etc.)
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Glue sticks
  • Double-sided tape

ADVANCED MATERIALS:

  • Water color paint
  • Water color pencils
  • Acrylic paint
  • India ink
  • Acrylic inks of different colors
  • Oil pastels
  • Linseed oil
  • Chalk pastels

FOUND MATERIALS:

  • coffee
  • tea
  • salt
  • leaves, sticks, shells, stones
  • lint
  • candy wrappers

SOME ARTY THINGS TO CONSIDER:

The Elements and Principles of Art when combined can help you to express your ideas and your emotions. Over time, as you experiment, mix, and match line, shape, form, space, texture and value with pattern, rhythm, movement, proportion, scale, balance, unity and emphasis you will find yourself becoming more conscious not only of your choices but the reasons behind your choices.

You may even find yourself becoming …. an artist.

 

A local artist and ardent art journalist can be found in Terrace, BC at Green Blossom Studio. She is a published poet, and artist. Her work can be found at greenblossomstudio.wordpress, where she also writes extensively about the process of art journaling.

“Ji siix-mukws n̓iin”

My clearest memory of school when I was a child is the yearly project on culture. I say, yearly, because it seems like every teacher in the world thinks that they have developed the “BEST IDEA” to get kids to not only explore their personal histories, but to appreciate the cultures that they come from. I wouldn’t say that I was a cynical recipient of the ever-present “culture” project, but I wouldn’t say that I was enthusiastic either. In fact, my general thought was that my culture was pretty boring, and I’d really rather study someone else’s culture. Any culture.

Paper That Makes You Want To Do Something

Dutiful, obedient, compliant – I would trudge to the front of the room to collect the large sheet of white paper that my teacher wanted me to fill with the patterns of my cultural background. Then, there I would sit, wondering just what was my culture? As I had already done this project the year before, and the year before that, and the year before that I already knew what my mother would tell me when I asked her for help. “You are Canadian,” she would say, “just show what it means to be Canadian”. And I would sigh and stare at that big piece of white paper. Are we Scottish? Irish? English? Continue reading

The leaves of fall

The Literacy Tree grew into an actual idea, although not the same idea as I originally began with. We ended up using a real tree which I spray painted gold and strung with white LED Christmas lights. Then the students created Haiku leaves with wire stems. We hung the leaves on the branches of the tree like decorations. The effect was pretty cool, if I do say so myself. The leaves were able to sway and move which was a better effect than if they had been fixed. The students who made the leaves created some really interesting texture and colours within the range I gave them. I managed to restrain my nit-picky ways, and held off on insisting people with nice handwriting copy the poems on to the leaves. In the end, I figured it was more personal to see the individual “hands” rather than obliterating those voices for the sake of art.

The Literacy Tree

I’m working on a creative idea (imagine that) of creating an installation piece at the school. It would be a literacy initiative within the school and I’m hoping that all of the teachers will want to get involved. My idea is that the classes will create textured papers (from found papers, and media experimentation) which they will use to create leaf cutouts. The students will write a haiku or short poem on one side of the leaf in English, and provide a suitable translation in Nisga’a on the other side. The classes will give the leaves to me (and hopefully a group of enthusiastic and interested artists) to attach to the tree that we will build after school. My wish is that the project will get people thinking about how much fun it is to write, as well as to think about how literacy works across subject areas and after school hours too. I am going to work up a proposal for the teachers to see what kind of interest is there. Then, I’ll keep you posted!