The Key to Media’s Hidden Codes

3 06 2012

Here is a good resource I stumbled across today if you teach advertising or visual/media literacy.
The Key to Media’s Hidden Codes: Colors, camera angles and logos in the media can all prompt immediate associations with emotions, activities and memories. Learn to decode the intricate system of symbols that are a part of everyday life — from media messages to traffic signs. (via TEDed)


Rework, Remix, Mash & Re-use Unit part 2

22 05 2012

Following on from my previous post, I’m still thinking about a “remix” unit for an art class. I’m leaning more towards a still image approach, but am keeping an open mind. The video work of Christian Marclay (“Clocks” info, Telephones video) would be great, but complicated. I’m thinking more about how the combinations of items/images can create new meanings. How do we perceive appropriation? What and how can we “sample?” What and how can we transfer?

We live in such an overcrowded visual culture with advertising, the internet, social media, TV and numerous other experiences. What would be an artist’s intention to sample work? How is it easier or difficult to appropriate work? What are the physical acts involved in creation versus the digital? How are they separate and how can they overlap?

It’s a lot to consider and raises more questions, which I like. So, similar to the tech unit planned, I am leaning towards How can existing works (images/items) be used to create something original?” as a unit question. With the concept I am thinking of including how context and the manner of appropriation is used (i.e. juxtaposition). Naturally, I still need to refine these areas.

Some activities and artists I would include are:

So that’s where I’m at so far.  The title of the unit, “Image Transfer” or “Mashable”. Remember, everything is a remix and Steal Like An Artist.

If you have further ideas/resources for me, please do drop a comment below. I’d appreciate it.

Rework, Remix, Mash & Re-use Unit part 1

9 05 2012

As digital tools transform the way artists find and rework images, the concept of what is fair use—legally as well as artistically—is becoming more complicated 

In the March issue of ARTnews magazine, there was a great article entitled “Copy Right” (read online here). In it they talk about the art of creative re-use. I’ve always wanted to do a remix type of art unit, but have never really had the time to implement it, or had the chance to squeeze it into a year group. That time has come, but in a technology class.

Recently, my co-workers Kim Cofino, Damien Pitter and I had a full day planning session developing new technology units as our “technology as a subject” class moves up from grade 6 & 7 all the way to grade 10. A remix unit was agreed upon, and I immediately remembered the above mentioned article. You see, I’ll be teaching tech again next year to grades 7 & 8, and though this unit would be for grade 10, I’m still thinking how to make it a transdisciplinary unit with my grade 10 art class.

We’re still in the planning phase but we decided to lift the above quote as the unit concept (Digital tools transform the way people find and rework media into original creations). Of course, something like this is also in the works;Intellectual property rights must be respected through the creation of remixed media.” Our unit question might go along something like this:How can existing works be used as building blocks to something creative and original?”

Now, the unit may take more of a video/audio mashup approach, but anything is possible. Which brings me back to the visual arts. As an art teacher, how can I connect and scaffold with this unit? That will be my next post. Stay tuned, and of course, if you have some ideas, drop them in the comments section!

(image credit 1, 2)

Media Literacy: Deconstruct to Learn How to Construct

1 03 2012

Yes, not much “news” or real “blogging” from me in a while. I’ve simply been posting as I’ve been swept off with regular teaching stuff, revamping & revising curriculum, managing a baby and various other school activities. Currently I’m also co-teaching a COETAIL module here at YIS with Kim Cofino, which I am enjoying. I meant to make several posts about this in the past month as the module has been progressing. The current module we’re working on is Visual & Media Literacy.

To start off our first face-to-face session, we looked at how to deconstruct images. I prepared this resource for it (pictured above), which has been developed from the IBO, as well as other resources I have gathered over the years. I’m sure I left something out, so bear with me. Next, we transferred some of those ideas and concepts to various forms of other media (pictured below - resource here). These sheets are questions for the viewer to consider to help understand what they are viewing. The first is strictly image related and the second incorporates film, web, design etc. They are simple prompts to get you thinking. Feel free to download them and use with your students if you find it useful. Deconstructing images will often help students (and teachers) construct their own.

A New School Year, belated

28 08 2011


Well, we’ve been in school with students for a week and a half now and I am a little late in making this post. The first exciting note is that we rolled out our 1:1 laptop program for MS/HS students and set up a Connected Learning Community, which I was a member of drafting, alongside other talented teachers such as Kim Cofino, Adam ClarkRebekah Madrid, admin, some parents, students, our great IT team, amongst several, several others. In regards to this, I am attempting to go paperless (as an art teacher!) in delivering the art curriculum documents to students. I started using this wiki 1.5 years ago but would like to take it further with the introduction of the laptops. Ideally, I’d like the students to assist in building the wiki and think about how to change, enhance and improve my pedagogy. Hmm…skype lessons from home perhaps? ; )

Secondly, we have continued to implement the MYP now into grade 7, so I’ve also been busy restructuring and changing those units as well. Not perfect yet, but getting there. Each additional year will see it creep up a grade level.

Lastly, in addition to teaching art to grades 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 & 12, I am also teaching one class each of grade 7 and 8 drama. I’ll admit I was a little nervous at first but my colleague Shane has done a great job at planning and writing those units with some really fun activities, and I’m learning to boot (even with my drama background!).

Unfortunately, I haven’t had much time to do my own art and have been really slipping on my one “drawing” a day promise for this year. OK, OK. I’ve been slacking since the summer because I got “kind of” lazy and instead caught up on a lot of reading, and have been trying to get into some kind of respectable shape. But, September the 1st would make a nice start to get back at it.

So, in my classes, I’m teaching:

Grade 6 Art: Realist Portrait DrawingGrade 7 Art: Visual Journals, Grade 8 Art: Abstract Painting, Grade 9 Art: Observational Drawing, Grade 10 Art: Observational Figure Drawing, Grade 12 Art: IB (no link)

Grade 7 Drama: Mime, Grade 8 Drama: Characterisation

Here’s to a good year! Oh, and have I mentioned my grade 7 tutor (homeroom) group are great?

(photo credit)






The Drawing Projects: book review

12 08 2011

I recently just finished Drawing Projects: An Exploration of the Language of Drawing. I have a lot of art books that I buy with the best intentions, but often, they collect dust on the bookshelf after a quick initial browse. I find this one a little different as it explores the fundamentals and meaning of drawing with 15 drawing activities that may interest students a bit more, as well as including work by some contemporary artists where you see the concepts in action. It’s not really a tutorial book but may help some to view drawing and expressing line and shape in a different light. Simply, the act of mark making instead of attempting to draw photo-realistically.

In the book, the authors recommend beginners avoid drawing symmetrical man-made objects as more often than not, students will fail to master the precise symmetry. I must say, as a teacher, I am guilty of giving my students bottles the second week of drawing class. I may now change this. One of my favourite activities offered was superimposed drawings (poor quality picture below). Students are to redraw the same subject five times seen from different points of view and superimpose/overlap each drawing. A lot of the activities should help students to get away from drawing with those small hair-like lines that they all start off with (and that drive me crazy) and begin to express themselves and their subject matter more.


“Off Book” series from PBS Arts

4 08 2011

I just stumbled upon this new great series from PBS called “Off Book.”

Off Book is a web-based series that explores cutting edge art and the people that make it. The 13 episode series focuses on the process, motivation and meaning of a new generation of artists. A new episode of Off Book launches every other Wednesday on PBS Arts. Follow Off Book: Twitter: @PBSoffbook Tumblr:

They have 2 episodes so far that are approximately 5 minutes. The first is on light painting and the second is on typography. You can view the videos and subscribe to the Off Book YouTube channel here. A great resource!

Visual Journals?

27 07 2011

I’ll be the first to admit that I wasn’t a big fan of visual journals before. I thought they involved too much “craft.” However, the more I read and the more examples I saw, the more I became interested. I am considering making visual journals as a new art unit of study for my grade 7s. The reason being, it may be a good way to introduce various ways of drawing and various other ways of utilising various mediums and presentation (that’s a lot of various). These activities may further assist the other units the students do on drawing and collage as well. I am considering the summative assessment to be a visual journal for their one week field studies trip that they will do in October. Anyway, as I read, I took some notes on journaling and compiled them into this attractive document to share here. I know you will be dying to read this during your summer vacation by the pool. If you have any suggestions for me, I’d love to hear from you. I’ll also let you know if I decide to go ahead with this idea.

July 29th Update: I’ve decided to give the unit a go. 




What is good art and what does design mean?

11 03 2011

I first stumbled across Scott Ligon via The Carrot Revolution blog and decided to purchase the book Digital Art Revolution: Creating Fine Art with Photoshop. It’s a rather good read and one I’d like to use in class. But, I also like these videos he has posted on YouTube with some good advice for students, and since I had parent-teacher conferences tonight, I wish I showed them to parents as well.


24 02 2011

Nancy Duarte just posted a blog entry on Sunni Brown showcasing her new book, Gamestorming. This book includes more than 80 games to help you break down barriers, communicate better, and generate new ideas, insights, and strategies. I am writing this though for the five month old video she embedded. The video is described as: “Sunni Brown is the leader of The Doodle Revolution – a growing effort to debunk the myth that doodling is a distraction. Using common sense, experience, and neuroscience, Sunni proves that doodling is a way to ignite your whole mind.”

Sunni Brown at Duarte from Duarte Design on Vimeo.