Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Art Certificates for Distance Learning

This year was a different wrap up than any other. Usually I can give back my students work, I can have a 'fun day' in art where we are outside and creating together. We might watch a movie and clean the room together with shaving cream on the table tops.  We give each other hugs and say, "We'll see you next year". 

Not this year.

If you look at the last couple of months on this blog, you will see that my students created art at home under the idea of exploring different art careers. At the end the students were asked to submit eight different lesson. Kindergarten through second grade sent me their work using Seesaw in the 'Activities' that I created for them. Third grade through fifth grade used a combination of Flipgrid and Schoology.

I assigned art to the 734 students of Hassan Elementary. Students started out excited to learn online. I got a lot of assignments 'turned in' to me. We all started out full of energy, the students, teachers and parents at home supporting the students. In the weeks to follow, the numbers went down. At first I was sad, I felt it was me, or my lessons. We were asked by our district to 'give grace'... 'take our lessons and cut it in half, then cut it in half again'. So, that is what I did. In my lesson options I gave lots of choice, and lot's of ways to create. But if the kids didn't open the lesson, it was never going to be attempted. Again, I was sad. These kids are missing out on such fun. 

Then I did a mindset change. In fact, I did a podcast on my mindset change. I decided that I was not doing these amazing lessons for the students who were choosing OR where unable to participate... rather for the kids who were excited to see what the challenge was each week. I was doing it for them.  Boy, did that change things. 

So, now that we are at the end of the year and all the data was collected... What do we do with it. Our district decided that we (the specialist) did not have to grade. We were asked to share the information about performance with the homeroom teachers and they would then indicate that information to the student and families in a 5 minute Google Meet, meeting and in the written comments that took the place of grades this quarter. 

This wasn't good enough for our Specialist Team. We worked hard and had hard data to back up all the work that the students did. We came together to talk about this and decided that we would try something new. We were going to make certificates for our students. This idea was a spin-off from a Professional Learning Network I have with the Art Teachers of ISD 728. Hassan's specialist team would create a Google Sheet with all the students names on it. All seven of us would go in and mark the students who completed the lessons 70% of the time and put a check by their name. We started another Google Document, a Google Slide and each of us added a slide creating a certificate for each subject and one that was from all the Specialist.  Then we used a Google Add-on in Sheets called Autocrat to populate the names of the students who did the work into the Google Slides that we created. 

This is my Specialist Team at Hassan Elementary
We all new how to edit a Google Slide... but we learned how to do it better with this opportunity. If Slides is new to you, here is some videos of how to edit and change the slides in a more advanced way. I also want to mention that a lot of the background used for our certificates were found on Designs from Freepik.  We knew how to edit Google Sheets but my husband showed us how to add formulas and tabs in Sheets... So helpful. None of us knew how to use Autocrat which is an 'add-on' in Google Sheets. We watched videos and also my husband (who is a Tech Ed teacher) knew the program a bit as well. We were able to populate 294 PE certificates, 216 Music certificates, 198 Media/Tech certificates, and 184 Art certificates. All of these certificates had the first name and last name populated and emailed to each student. In addition to that, a 'ultimate certificate' was sent out. If students did over 70% of all for specialist areas they got an additional certificate. 125 students got that certificate in their email! 

I know there is a lot of bad in this situation of distance learning but I will say, our team has never been more of a TEAM. We have never had the opportunity to work so collaboratively. We have never worked as hard to truly recognize the kids who were successful in all four Specialist areas. I'm proud of our team and I'm proud of the kids who earned this acknowledgment.

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