Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Art Liaison Yammerings

Like I mentioned in a previous post, I'm the new Art+Design liaison. Art has been a constant in my life since I was a kid, so I'm really enjoying my duties. In fact, I'm pretty sure one of the few ways to shut my usual yammering mouth up is to throw me inside a museum for a few hours and promise me a meal after. (The meal being the essential component where I will commence yammering about what I saw; what I loved, what I hated or what I just didn't understand.)  As for all of the growing online image databases, that is a sure-fire way for me to lose myself for an hour or two, (eeek! job hazard!). Speaking of which, have you seen, Art Project, powered by Google? Brilliant! Love it!

So, given my new duties, I have new classes to teach. Occasionally I've been able to find some background information on what the previous Art liaison did for a class or assignment, however, I've found constructing a class, and paying attention to the needs of the instructor along with her/his assignment is much better done when I come up with something original. All the same, that takes some serious time. I've been trying to curtail this, but I'm super careful and methodical about every single detail I put into every session. It's like a bad OCD thing. I have been driving myself batty this semester with the class planning.  I realize that it's because this is my first semester teaching these classes, but man oh man can I go overboard.

This is what I do. I usually start out with the PowerPoint. It generally includes a cheesy joke or silly image, followed with the agenda. At the same time I start the Powerpoint, I usually begin the handout. I try to create a handout that includes activities that coincide with the PowerPoint and are all skills needed in order to complete the student's assignment. After the handout and PowerPoint are done I put together a webpage on the library site that we call a Course Gateway. It's something like a LibGuide, and is specific to the class and their research assignment. It includes all of the resources we review in class and either links or call no's with information about each item and where it can be located. The in-class activities always require the students to find and use the Course Gateway. Easy, right? Notsomuch.

Here's a course guide I created for a digital art class. Their assignment was to find iconic high resolution images and photoshop them in some way to say something new.  I had a lot of fun with that. For the in-class activity I had them break into groups and find specific images in different databases and then use the reference books to give the class further information about the works. Lordy, do I love making students use books. Especially the ones that walk in and say, 
"I've never been in this building before." (You, my friend, have just become the designated book-information-looker-upper.)

This photograph by Gordon Parks has two titles, one of which is, "Ella Watson" "American Gothic," is not one of the official titles, but a title by which it is often wrongly referred.

I also really enjoy employing strategic trickery (heh heh). I misspell things intentionally or give a common name for an image, instead of the actual name.  I find false information on wikipedia and have them compare that to what the books say.  I can't help it! I know they are going to make those same mistakes on their own, so it's better for them to have that experience in the classroom first. But, in order to do all of that, I have to try every activity from every angle that a student might try in order to imagine how they might land at a given outcome. That takes some serious pre-planning.

Anyway, I'm sure this takes most people a few hours to come up with, but it takes me days. DAYS, I tell you! (And at least one time a whole week of really loooooong days.)  And it is so not worth it when all I get are blank stares throughout and after class. But, it is so worth it when students thank me afterward. It makes me warm in the heart of my body. They learned something, right?

Question: If you mash cooked yams, is the end result, "Yammerings?"

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