Digital Art Ramblings will rodriguez

The point of this page is to record what I learn as I learn it in the Digital Portfolio class I am taking with Adobe Education Exchange. The hope is that I will be able to track my strengths and weaknesses as a learner.

Assignment One: The headshot.

Reflection: We are required to take a photograph and augment it in Photoshop before posting it to Behance. The final image is supposed to be 400 px X 400 px when all is said and done. Honestly, I have been working with Photoshop for over two decades and, while I certainly don't see myself as an EXPERT, per se, I do see myself as an accomplished user (so much so, that I teach Digital Art on my campus). My first order of business was to procure a good photograph with the help of my wife and her lovely cell phone. After that, it was a hop into Photoshop with my trusted Wacom tablet and away I went! One of the first things I did was use the Clone Stamp to obliterate my disheveled living room from view, then smudge the lines in a radiating blur around my head. After that was complete, I went to work on my face, removing shines, a few furrow lines between my eyebrows and some dark circles under my eyes. For this, I used the Healing Brush tool, exclusively. I then went into "Canvas Size" settings and set my dimensions to the class requirements.

The final result from Assignment 1. Not a shabby looking boricua, if I do say so myself.

Assignment 2: This week, we are asked to take our outdated resumes and breath some creative pizazz into our documents. Initially, I found that my day schedule as a teacher was, once again, my largest hurdle. The natural interest I have for learning new creative software allowed me to hungrily devour the tutorials for InDesign. It was beneficial to me that InDesign is so similar to Illustrator, since these similarities made using InDesign a bit easier for me. Learning where the tools and menus were located proved to be the biggest challenge (seconded only by the hunt for time to actually put into completing the assignment). The additional bonus that some keyboard shortcuts were equal in both programs cut down on productivity time. I am hoping that this training with InDesign will benefit my year book classes, as well as the desktop publishing club I sponsor. I intend to gorge myself on InDesign tutorials over the summer in an attempt to immerse myself in using the program. I find this be the most beneficial method of learning a new program.

I changed up my headshot because I seem to be a vain, vain person.

Assignment 3: Personal Branding. Really, this is the nut I have been trying to crack since I dove into freelance illustrating two decades ago. I have been making logos for years and the skill was certainly not an issue. My problem stemmed from trying to discover WHAT my brand actually is, beyond the tried and overused "Wacom stylus." Since becoming a teacher, I feel that my classroom has become my "brand," and thus decided to utilize a photograph from my room with a power button icon, stylized to look like a brush stroke, overlaying the photograph of the Wacom tablets in my classroom. Using the Type on a Path tool, I typed the name of my classroom, "Digital Dojo" in a font called "Manga Style." Since I call myself "Rodriguez-sensei," it all seemed to fit. I then took a photo of my face and traced the colors, shadows, and highlights to make a monochromatic vector image to use as an icon for my class Twitter and Youtube pages.

Never a more welcoming poster to a classroom hath existed... verily.
I think I will be hunting for a better brush effect that this for the power icon.

Assignment 4: E-Portfolios. Ha! Fantastic assignment! I was actually in the middle of gearing up my students to create their final portfolios for my art class, when I came to this assignment. It was so awesome to see that my idea of incorporating Adobe Spark Page as a presentational medium was validated by the instructors of this course. I was able to pull information from my existing Deviant Art portfolio and update it using the products from this course to bang this out in a second! When I went back to my Deviant Art account, however, I realized that a LOT of my work, there, is horribly outdated and in desperate need of updating. I must make a mental note to do so, when this school year is completed.

Assignment 5: Formative Assessments. Pt 1. I have always wondered about making quick videos or quick audio recordings to assess student work, since it goes much quicker than typing up thoughts for me, in most cases. Where I teach, there is an option to record a video response to assignments that I have been using sparingly, since I am still learning to use it. For the sake of this assignment, I know I was a bit uneasy about critiquing a portfolio that I had no hand in molding through my class. I guess I am more at ease when I have already built a rapport with a student that I've taught. I tried to keep in mind that I wanted to roll through the traditional stages of critique (description, analysis, interpretation, and evaluation), but as I began recording my voice, I found myself flubbing my thoughts and using an abundance of filler words. Naturally, this would cause me to stop recording, swear, and begin again. I must make a mental note to get that swearing under better control. Still, as I imported screenshots from Ashley's portfolio, I remembered that I had grabbed a pen and scratch paper to take notes about what I saw, artistic quality, creative interpretations, and what I liked, wondered, and would have changed. Ultimately, Ashley was well taught about putting his work together and, aside from what was already covered by Greg in the assignment introduction regarding Ashley's font coloring and background photos washing out the white, thin font, I found little to offer by way of improvement. I do not see any issues with making video assessments, moving forward, though.

Assignment 5: Formative Assessments. Pt 2. Now, when assessing students with which I converse on a regular basis and, more importantly, I have had the honor of watching grow, creatively and professionally, I find myself in a much more comfortable atmosphere. This assessment of a comic cover assignment I set for a senior student in my advanced art class was much easier to record not just because of my familiarity with the student, but also because I was familiar with the assignment, itself and I had conveyed to the student exactly what I was going to be assessing when she brought me her final product. For this video, instead of using Spark, I just opted to record my voice and screen, in order to synchronize my thoughts with the input in real-time. This certainly removed the flubbing and verbal fillers I experienced in the Spark Video option of assessing work. I uploaded the assessment to Youtube, for the sake of this assignment and will link it to this journal long enough for this class, before removing it from my class Youtube page.

Final Reflection: I believe that the creativity put forth in these awesome Adobe classes fits perfectly with the PBL model we use at our New Tech school. With the myriad of lessons and training I have been able to amass, I feel more prepared than ever to train the newest batch of teachers and students that will be joining our staff next Fall. I look forward to incorporating the ePortfolio into my curriculum both as a full semester lesson and as a final grade for my advanced art students. More than anything, my hope in the next year is to improve my understanding and implementation of differentiation in the classroom. I believe that this will be crucial to ensure that a much wider range of students is able to grasp an appreciation for their own creativity as well as finding a means of expression that may have eluded them before.

During my time in this class, I certainly found a stronger online presence by flipping my classroom and adding more tutorials to my classroom Youtube page. Having sat through quite a few similar tutorials in these Adobe classes, I was reminded of previous training that taught me the benefits of flipping my classroom for the sake of my students (a fledgling understanding of differentiation, I am certain), and for my own sanity. I am eager to begin hashing out my plans for next year and putting what I have learned, here, into action.


Created with images by Clovis_Cheminot - "stylus pen wacom"

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