Shout Outs: Remote Learning Triumphs
We asked arts teachers of all disciplines to share their remote-learning tips and successes. These accounts show how teachers, students, and their families leapt into learning new skills, discovering digital resources and making imaginative use of materials at hand.
Your students created great things with the help of these remote-learning tools and supports:
- Leif Ericson Scholastic Academy media arts teacher Monique Ferguson used Screencastify to teach her lessons and found the videos were especially helpful for her diverse learners. Monique also received a Donors Choose $1,000 Remote Learning grant, which she used to purchase educational games and supplies for her students. Congratulations, Monique!
- The Art21 Portraying the Black American Experience Playlist engaged Anne O'Malley's Frederick Douglass High School students. Viewing, writing about, and creating artwork inspired by an artist they chose from the playlist, students were able to make connections to their own life and the world around them. After viewing artist Latonya Frazier's work, junior student Toniya Dixon observed that, like Frazier, she "makes artwork that leaves people wondering."
- Music teacher Christian Smith of Mather High School shared, "I found using online music tools such as Soundtrap and Noteflight were invaluable both in the creative freedom that they give students and the ease with which teachers are able to manage and grade assignments. Both of these programs make differentiating for skill and experience easy and provide a robust platform for the motivated student. Each can be used for elementary or high school students." Listen to one of his student's compositions below!
Other teachers wrote in to describe incredible remote-learning projects that engaged students and uplifted their voices, thoughts, and ideas:
Inspired by her students and in collaboration with an NYC dance teacher, Hibbard Elementary School dance teacher and Arts Instruction Specialist M.K. Victorson and her students created movement sentences with actions inspired by birds: float, swoop, soar, spin, flutter, etc. She recounts, "we looked at bird imagery in dance performances, as well as photos of birds. We discussed the birds and nests we were finding in our neighborhoods. Each one of my 2nd and 3rd grade students choreographed their own bird solo. I filmed the solos (performed all together on Google Meet) with Screencastify and then edited and shared on our school platforms for parents to see."
The arts are a powerful vehicle for processing and transforming difficult emotions. Hammond Elementary School visual arts teacher Sue Voss shares, "I tried to make my lessons pertinent to what the students were going through. Projects were designed for the whole school with an emphasis on families working on them together. I encouraged family art time as a great stress reliever. June 1st was a hard day for everyone in the city. The project for that week was, 'What brings you PEACE?' Students could use any materials or medium. I showed them a painting of mine for inspiration. It was great to see all of the beautiful and meaningful works of art."
"What Brings You PEACE?" inspiration painting by Sue Voss
Dance teacher Melinda Wilson of Curie Metropolitan High School gave her students a choreographic project to empower their voices. Thoughtful written narratives helped them to devise and share the meaning of their choreography. View their work below!
Juana Duran of Peace and Education Coalition Alternative High School capitalized on a silver lining of distance learning—developing important contemporary art and college and career digital skills. "My students worked with Google Drawing and Google Sites to learn how to edit, upload, download and digitally display their work. While it was challenging at times, we learned a lot. I am sharing our virtual website created on Google Sites. It is a user-friendly platform and I highly recommend it. We plan to continue updating these sites on our short days (once a week), as [students] enroll in art programs and other creative classes. Students will now use them for their resumes when applying for summer jobs or programs and other academic applications." View the Peace and Education Coalition Google Site below!
During the last two weeks of school, theatre teacher Sydney Ruiz of Baker College Prep High School activated her drama students’ passion for social justice through a series of solo and group dramatic exercises over Zoom and a poster project that encouraged students to experiment (with on-hand media that appealed to them) to create posters that communicated their views and perspectives. Over Zoom, they performed “Grab the Mic” monologues and “Emotion Statues." She relates, “Scholars really embraced these activities! When we combine the invested interests and passions of our scholars, creativity and ART arise naturally!”
Scholars in the Baker College Prep Drama Club freeze in their "Emotion Statue" when prompted with the question, "How do you feel currently in our country?" Top Left: Senior Matthew Arellano demonstrating his thoughtfulness in the moment. Top Right: Rising Junior Anu Sanumi demonstrating her desire to fight for justice. Bottom: Senior Jacqui Logan demonstrating her feeling of empowerment and desire to fight.
Baker College Prep students used Snapchat, Google Slides, and their own materials to create posters that support social justice. Left: Created on SnapChat by rising sophomore Canaya Walls. Top Right: Created with at-home materials by rising sophomore Alicia Williams. Bottom right: Created on Google Slides by rising junior Rihanna Middleton, who wanted to show the solidarity of her home country Belize with the current justice movement.
Wentworth Elementary visual arts teacher Krystal Grover-Webb delivered standards-based arts lessons about the art and lives of South Side community artists. She highlighted artworks of different styles including self-portraits, community scenes, still lifes, and art constructed from discarded items. Students were encouraged to be creative in making their own art from whatever materials they had at home. Writing artistic statements helped them to synthesize their ideas and insights, and they were encouraged during this process to reflect on their inner strength and determination. Says Krystal, "Their artwork makes a connection to how important creativity is during challenging times, as well as how creativity is needed to build strong future communities." Their culminating collaborative project, Our Creativity Continues ... We Are Determined: The Art of Wentworth Scholars, was shared in multiple forms—a PowerPoint, a virtual art exhibition, and a hard-copy manual. These artifacts record their authentic learning experiences during the pandemic. View it below!
Portage Park Elementary School has a tradition of counting down the last days of school using the alphabet. They continued this tradition virtually—families could post their alphabet pictures on the school Facebook page. Dance teacher and Arts Instruction Specialist Gina Spears says, "I jumped on board, developing a dance lesson for every letter of the alphabet. I posted the lesson every morning at Class Dojo, Google Classroom, the school Facebook page, and my personal TikTok and Twitter pages. I offered students the opportunity to share their dances with me through FlipGrid. It was a huge hit!"