After a long almost 9 hour wait at the Washington airport our flight to Chicago was cancelled, given the weather patterns and scary stories of flights that did go through from other cities and airlines that I heard later, I'm glad it was. I spent an extra night in Washington and boarded a plane to Chicago the following day with fingers crossed hoping for the weather in the skies to change, it was over 30 degrees on the ground and stunning by the way, the pilot turned up almost 2 hours after we boarded the plane though!. After collecting my bags I headed straight for an Uber and off to visit an educator who inspires not just me but all of our staff - Tricia Fuglestad. Tricia is a specialist art teacher, she threads and embeds digital technology within her programme. Another art teacher from a private school, Cassidy, in Oklahoma also joined us. You can visit Tricias blog HERE - but just a warning......if you are a creative like me and technology passionate.....this will change your life.
Tricia teaches at Dryden Elementary school in Arlington Illinois, it's about an hour and a half from Chicago city central and just a 20 minute drive from the O'Hare airport. The school is a public school with the same age students as a NZ Primary School. She teaches all year levels and has students for a timetabled slot, on the same day every week for the whole year eg the youngest students have half an hour and the oldest 45 minutes. Teachers are not present during the sessions, this is their planning time. Projects are ongoing and not finished in one session, eg the older students may take a whole term to produce one digital object either individually or as part of a collaborative project. Tricias animation app of choice is DoInk and I love that she would much rather use one app and know it inside and out that provide a range of apps (and spend countless hours wondering 'what else is out there') when DoInk does everything she wants and more.
iPad plays a role in many of the projects that Tricia facilitates and you can see many many examples, often with lesson overviews and resources on her blog, she is also an avid tweeter.
Here's some photos of the learning environment...
How Tricia stores ongoing projects was of interest to me and even though her school role is 500 she manages to do this effectively - I did notice that many of the class projects are collaborative and done in small table sized groups eg 5 or 6 to a group. In the Makerspace I currently do very few collaborative projects, this is something aI need to give more thought to.
Professional Learning - Rotoscope in a Retro Mutoscope
Tricia has done so many inspirational projects but one that stood out for me was the liner dance animation this was not just for the reason that it looked 'cool' (which every learner that ever sees it agrees) but also for the reason that she extended it to include high tech and low tech and linked it back to the layered processes of new and old. I particular like this. We discussed the why and the how and I explored the possibility of using the same concept across curricula areas.
Another learning opportunity for me was when Tricia shared the story of her progression animation journey.
Click here to read her blog post This is such a simple idea but is layered with opportunities for students to design, create, problem solve and innovate. This is a definite learning opportunity to will see happening in our Makerspace in the future and once I share this with staff I can see it happening across all year levels.
My must have piece of equipment
The images are not great sorry, but this is an animation iPad stand, Tricia had nothing but glowing things to say about it and after seeing it used to get such brilliant results it is definitely on my must have list. I will have to explore the cost of getting one in NZ.
When your inspiration is inspired...
I shared our journey and this blog with Tricia and I love that she was inspired by the way we do things too and we swapped many lesson ideas. I love that she was also looking for feedback on up and coming projects she is designing so we had rich discussion on the possibilities and implications of changing the parameters of each lesson.
This visit will stick with me because as a teacher you take away far more than the focus that you went for, this visit has challenged my thinking on several levels and also affirmed the current direction and thinking I have around STEAM and the importance of art threaded through all that we do. Tricia has given me several links and educators to follow up on so I look forwarded to the new learning that those bring.
I wonder what the kids will call me, today one said "I'm looking for the Apple Teacher"......and another said "Are you Mrs Maker?" ......funny.