Getting Started with Adobe in the Classroom A Robert Bourgeois Learning journal

Workshop 3 - Making It Work in Your Creative Classroom

Language Arts Character Analysis Project

After reading a novel (I used a movie), students create a whimsical photo collage representing a character analysis. Students select photos that represent their character and use Adobe Photoshop to depict the character’s traits inside a silhouette. The collage includes a quotation that demonstrates the essence of the character.

I thoroughly enjoyed completing this activity as part of the workshop. Rather than select a character from a book, I chose one from a film: Darth Vader. Granted, an argument can be made that he is in a book as there are many Star Wars novels out there.

For starters, I had to determine what characteristics I would include. I chose: hate, anger, death, passion, selfish, orderly, frustrated, potential, militaristic, hopeful and strong. I then used Pixabay and Pexels to find the images I would use to reflect those characteristics. Next, I had to choose a quote that I feels holds the essence of the character. For this, I chose one from the original film (Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope). Then, it was time to pull it all together.

After bringing all my images into Photoshop, I duplicated the image I found of Darth Vader. Next, I used the Polygonal Lasso Tool to select around the one part of the image I wanted to remain clear: the left hand and lightsaber. I masked out the rest of that version of the image. Then, using the other copy, I used the Magic Want to select the outside and after switching it to the inverse selection, colored everything black with the Paintbrush tool. I then began stacking my items for the collage on top of the newly created silhouette. This took a lot of masking and I did several transformations and scaling changes. When I was happy with everything, I merged those layers into one. I then used the Magic Wand to select the blackened section of my Darth Vader silhouette. Switched back to my newly merged layer, selected inverse and deleted the parts outside the silhouette. Next, I placed a background behind the silhouette and college, lowered its opacity so Lord Vader stood out more than the background image, pulled the arm with the lightsaber to the foreground, added my text and it was finished.

The whole process took a couple of hours to complete, but the critical thinking that went into creating the character analysis collage was clear from the start. From the images selected to the placement and layering of them, and all the way down to the quote selected, creativity came into play. This is a great activity and I can see it being really useful in a high school English class while providing students with opportunities to be creative in their thinking as well as critical.

Character Analysis of Darth Vader

Workshop 3 - Making It Work in Your Creative Classroom Reflection

What impact has this workshop series had upon the way you view creativity in the classroom?

The projects that we were given to select from provided a great example for how creativity and the Adobe products can be used in classes outside the digital arts classroom. It got me thinking about how I can spread the news of using creativity in non-arts classes and gave me a couple of ideas that I can easily convert into activities for next school year or for advanced application of skills this year. This has been a great series of workshops!

Workshop 2 - What Will You Create Today?

Reflection 1 - Finding Inspiration

The first activity for this workshop asked us to find inspiration in one of the three options available through Adobe Spark: Post, Page, or Video. While I truly enjoy working with video and writing as well (as you can see here), I wanted to check out the graphics capabilities of Spark. So, I opted for a Post inspiration.

The first thing I noticed was how simple it is to use. Select a template, add images, colors, text, etc. and download/share you graphic. In creating the image below, I grabbed a poster template. I then replaced the image on it with one I snapped last year while hiking to the top of Hanging Rock State Park in North Carolina. A quick change to scale and position and I was good to go. I changed the text but liked the font already selected, so I left that alone. Next, I changed the colors of both the text and bottom bar to match with a more natural theme of nature and made them a darker shade of green. Once I did that, I played with the image a bit more changing its theme to the Magnolia setting. And suddenly, the core of the image was done.

Then, came the problem for which I found no solution. I wanted to add the NC state logo to the lower right corner of the image. I found a PNG with transparent background and added it to my product but it was hard to see. So, I brought it into Photoshop and quickly added a white background, then saved it as a JPG to upload. When I did this, the image refused to fill anything other than a background portion, replacing my image first, then the color bar. The more I played with the logo in Spark, the more I got frustrated. Eventually, I had to resort to keeping it as a PNG in order to place it where I wanted it to be located.

While Spark seems fine for some graphics, I think I will stick with editing such works in Photoshop. Below is my fininshed Spark Post graphic.

Hanging Rock State Park, North Carolina

Reflection 2 - Making It Work in the Classroom

Where do you see opportunities for this type of creative thinking in your own classroom? Perhaps it’s a unit that students have struggled with in previous years, or maybe a concept that requires students to consider more than one viewpoint. Consider an upcoming lesson or unit you’re planning. Where could you make room for creative thinking?

My classroom is full of opportunities for creative thinking. While I typically have students follow tutorials to learn basic skills and techniques where they create the same product, I always follow these lessons with an independent project that allows them the freedom to create something on their own using the same tools and techniques.

Reflection 3 - Putting It All Together

Think back on the examples of student work that you've seen throughout the workshop. Ask yourself: What did I see in these examples of relevance to my teaching practice?

Workshop participants used the Spark creations in a wide variety of ways. Posts and Pages can be useful and creative ways for students to reflect on lessons or provide feedback to prompts.

Which ideas stand out the most?

I like the idea of using Posts that can be exported and shared with students as reminders of upcoming events or to prompt for some kind of response on their part.

How can I use these ideas in my classroom?

I could use Posts as a quick and easy graphic producer for reminders or updates or maybe as a quick bell ringer. This would allow for a quick turnaround on the part of the students as they are not trying to get into all the different functionality options that are offered by a more advanced program like Photoshop. However, in terms of graphic production by students, I would have them stick with Photoshop to push their creative juices to the max.

Think back on all the creative technology tools you've seen and used throughout the workshop. Ask yourself: Which tools seem to be the best fit for my classroom?

Adobe Photoshop Mix, Spark Post and Page are probably the items that are most useful in a class such as mine.

How might I use these tools for instruction?

With the way my classroom is set up, I probably wouldn't use these during instruction unless I used Post for quick bell ringers. My classes have access to the entire Adobe CC Suite, which provides the students with more options than these items. However, I think these are great tools for use outside of my classroom to allow students the ability to creatively express themselves.

My Creative Vision: Can I envision my students creating digital media projects as part of their educational work?

Most definitely! These tools are useful for all students and I will share them with other teachers who might not have access to the same technologies in their classes as I do. There is no reason these tools can't be used by all teachers to inspire and foster creativity in their classes.

Setting Goals: Define your personal goals for achieving a creative, digital classroom. What are your next steps?

Inspire Other Educators: My classroom is based on digital creativity. So, my goal is not so much to add more to my classes but to share information I have learned through these workshops on Getting Started with Adobe in the Classroom with other educators and hopefully inspire them by the flexibility and creativity these free mobile apps offered by Adobe can allow for their students. My hope is to inspire them to make a more creative experience for their students.

Increase Access: One classroom goal I can add is to identify the Adobe mobile apps that students can use on their own devices outside of my classroom to be more creative and not solely focus on their creativity during class time.

Create Personal Familiarity: One personal goal I can add is to grow in my own personal understanding of what the mobile apps can do for me and allow me to inspire students through my own creativity. By using them on my phone when I am out and about, I can create quick and easy digital works and share them with the world via Twitter.

Workshop 2 - What Will You Create Today? Reflection

What is one idea you’re most excited about right now? How will you make it happen?

The one idea that excites me the most after completing the second workshop is how I can provide students and fellow educators with access to free mobile apps to increase their ability to be creative both in and out of the classroom. My plan to make this happen is to share both this workshop on increasing classroom creativity and the mobile tools I am learning about while participating in the workshops with both my students and coworkers. Knowledge is power and I need to make sure they know about these tools before they can be used productively to boost student creativity.

Workshop 1 - Creating the future

Reflection 1 - Why Creativity Matters

It always astounds me that many educators and educational policy makers do not consider the importance of creativity when it comes to their classrooms. Creativity is essential to the growth of our youth and the future innovations in our workforce/nation. Often when there are budget cuts, the arts are one of the first areas to suffer. I found the study done by Adobe on the importance of creativity to Gen Z students and how employers are looking for creative individuals to be very useful and even incorporated it into a piece on my teaching philosophy when I submitted my school teacher of the year portfolio. Fostering creative thinking in students is more essential now than ever before!

Reflection 2 - Share Your Story

​I teach high school students tools and techniques used in game design, so my curriculum is full of creative thinking. But, one thing that stands out is when they learn about Foley work. I provide my students with a short, silent, 3D animation and it is there job to create the sound effects as well as find background soundtrack for it. This requires them to think outside the box in how they can make various sounds such as car engines, assembling a rifle, and the sound of a gunshot without having access to any of those items to record from. They ALWAYS amaze me in what they come up with!

Reflection 3 - Getting Creative

I had no idea Photoshop Mix was free for use by students and how many of the basic Photoshop tools it offered them! I have my students work on developing their digital artistic skills at home as part of their portfolio requirement in my classes. Although we use the Adobe CC Suite in my classroom, most of the students don't have access to it at home. So, I typically refer them to open source solutions that have the same features but slightly different tools, such as GIMP. However, as a result of this workshop, I will start pointing them towards Adobe Photoshop Mix as another option. Below are a couple of items I did for this workshop. While the example below is nowhere near as clean as it could be in Photoshop, I think it could be if I got a little more acclimated to the app and was not working directly on my phone but on a tablet instead. One thing I found useful for editing with was to use a pen with a rubber tipped stylus instead of my finger. Much more accurate and I could see what I was doing.

First attempts with Photoshop Mix

My first attempt was on the left where I used it to simply composite two images and I edited the upper layer of myself using my finger on the screen. The second attempt on the right involved a picture of my laptop keyboard composited with another shot of myself. I changed the look to Natural+, adjusted both the exposure and clarity and finished it off by blending the picture of me into the keyboard. The second attempt was edited using a rubber stylus instead of my finger and I think there is a noticeable difference in the masking quality, though still not perfect.

In short, I feel this is a GREAT tool and resource for students to practice their art skills without having to purchase the entire Photoshop application or CC Suite! Especially if they have a smartphone but no access to a computer.

Reflection 4 - Creating the Future

"It's difficult to teach creativity. It's about giving them the tools to allow them to be creative."

Reflect: What are some of the challenges you might encounter when teaching creativity? What are some advantages of using technology as tools for creativity?

The largest challenge for me in the classroom is student access to technology outside of school. Being a digitally creative CTE teacher, my classroom is stocked with a computer for each student to use along with the software they need to be creative. But, many kids don't have access to the same tools at home for practice. The other day, a student asked me how we can provide them with access to the Adobe CC Suite at home and the only response I could give was that the school system couldn't. Allowing students access to these tools at home would dramatically alter the quality and thought put into their classwork.

Using technology in the classroom has nothing but advantages. It allows students to freely express themselves in ways they otherwise would not have the ability to do. Creating digital graphics and videos is an amazing way for them to express themselves and how they see the world around them. By creating their own products in association with using royalty-free online resources, they also learn creative responsibility. Students always hear about plagiarism in English classes but rarely about plagiarism of creative works. By creating their own artistic pieces, they learn what goes into making those items they see online and gain a new respect for not simply taking and altering whatever they want because it is generally not permitted.

"Technology's not always embedded in education. I think that it should be, and I think it's a student's right that it should be there."

Reflect: To what extent do you agree or disagree with this teacher? How do your students respond to technology in your classroom?

I fully agree. At our school, which is an arts magnet school, we have grades 6-12. While we offer two digital arts concentrations for high school students, we have nothing regarding technology for our middle school students. And, although schools say they want to increase student access and use of technology in the classroom, most teachers are unprepared for such things. Often, the use of PowerPoint and a digital projector, sometimes in combination with a smartboard, is all the technology that enters their classes. It is not that they don't want to incorporate technology but more a lack of funds allowing them to do so in terms of equipment along with a lack of effective training in how to do so.

"Getting hands-on is definitely the best way. By doing stuff, you learn faster."

Reflect: Mobile technologies are native to many of today's students. How do you plan on using apps to introduce creativity into the classroom?

As a digital arts teacher, we use apps every day. On my computers, student access the Adobe CC Suite daily and use a different app or set of apps depending on the current lesson, they use 3ds Max for 3D modeling and they create games using the Unity game engine. But, with the new understanding of the Adobe mobile apps, I will definitely be pointing students towards them as resources for practicing outside of my classroom!

Workshop 1 - Creative Vision Reflection

What is your creative vision for education, and how can Adobe help you get there?

My creative vision for education is one where students have the resources and freedoms to express themselves using the tools and techniques of technology. This is common in a class such as mine that focuses on the artistic side of the game industry. But there are so many other classes where this can also be accomplished but are still using old and relatively uninteresting techniques to prepare students for their futures. It is important to allow students the freedom to interpret what they learn on a daily basis. All students need are the tools to accomplish this.

If I was able to do it, every student would have a laptop or tablet with the digital artistic tools to express themselves pre-loaded on it. Front and center would be providing each student with a copy of the Adobe CC Suite. And, just like in the early years of education when they required reading, writing and math, I would require schools to provide mandatory classes in technology and creativity for all students.

Credit: rmac8oppo on pixabay.com

Created By
Robert Bourgeois


This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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