Stretching body, mind and ideas

There are so many new ideas for what eLASTIC means to art, education and now, life coming into focus for me this year. I feel as though I am stretching my reality and mindset as I move beyond my academic and university identity. What does it mean to learn and know outside or on the edge of the academic institution? What happens to that academic identity? I’m not sure how I feel about terms like independent, freelance, consulting, guest, and the like. And yet, I am thrilled by the possibilities of it all (and somewhat aghast that I am, quite frankly).

I am sure I will be struggling with this for some time to come. In the meantime, I am bending and pulling this blog this way and that by adding some alternative areas such as “Stretching the body and mind” and “Arts-based yoga ideas and sequences.” Take a look and let me know what you think.

Exciting times at Penn State 6/22/2016

Shared some data viz plugged and unplugged with teachers at the Penn State Teacher Institute on Contemporary Art.

https://www.periscope.tv/w/1OdJrwbLgRlxX– Link to video excerpt!

It was especially exciting to me that the teachers were so interested in the original research (hypertext) and the eLASTIC research. I suppose I felt that no one was particularly keen on that anymore. Perhaps more explanation and sharing is needed!  I can always hope.  So, I’ll follow with a recap soon!.

We can let Numbers or Excel do the basics for us!
We can let Numbers or Excel do the basics for us!

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Then search, manipulate, and artistically toy with the charts to see and portray trends and patterns of learning.....
Then search, manipulate, and artistically toy with the charts to see and portray trends and patterns of learning…..

What does it look like?

When they said one of their goals for their students was developing confidence as an artist, I asked the art teachers in Doha what that might look like? She put her head down on the desk, raised it slightly up, then higher with a hint of a smile, and ultimately all the way up with a beaming grin. Confidence? Satisfaction? Delight? What does that look like in a work of art? In a journal? In a sketchbook? There is an obvious difference between a confident sketch and a tentative drawing, right? But, tentativeness may often be a necessary technique for a specific meaning or portrayal. There again…..is the need for artist reflection, student-artist assessment…. I believe the work of art is what their learning looks like, but some sort of translation through reflection could serve multiple purposes: 1) critical reflective practice for the student that contributes to their learning process; 2) a reflective gauge via student voice for the teacher regarding effectiveness of the plan, self-efficacy  etc.; 3) illustrative device for teacher effectiveness; 4) art program learning and knowing; 5) district art programs and so on……

I am imagining an effective and indeed, beautiful and maybe interactive display of student learning and knowing in the visual arts online, in the school, and in the classroom.

Who can assess?

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Have you ever watched an artist create? A musician compose? A poet play with words? They dab, sketch, play a note, make a sound, toy with a word. . . then stand back, look up, ponder, wonder, add another and start the process again. Working, going back…..moving forward…sometimes way forward and some times going all the way back to the beginning and changing everything and often just enjoying the process of reflecting on the entire process again and again and again.

 

I often read books this way, some times even novels. I make notes, go back and read a passage again…..sometimes I go back to the beginning. I may even jump way ahead just to calm myself. I particularly like to pick up a book I have already read and check the notes I left for myself in the margins.

 

Looking at paintings, drawings and other works of art that I have created are like this as well. I can remember what I was thinking about, reading, watching, and/or what was going on in my life when I was working on particular areas of the painting. Looking at the art is like reflecting on my life, my history, indeed my learning. . . story.

 

And journaling, of course is like this…even more so.

 

The point I’m trying to make here or that I am getting to is…..when we look, read, reflect as artists do….we are reading the story of the life of the work…..and the life of the maker….the learning of the artist in the process of making/creating/thinking

 

But, the issue is—-the only one who can truly decipher the indications or data of these stories is the maker, the artist, the poet, the writer, ……….the student artist, the student poet, the student writer………

RE-Reflecting as Service-Learning Data Mining

KiarraThe students couldn’t help expressing how overcome emotionally they became with this process of RE-reflecting for the sake of gathering data from their service-learning reflection journals (even though they did not enjoy the “counting” aspect of hand-coding).  I suppose much like reminiscing special times when looking through photo albums or reading diaries, rereading was like retracing their personal journeys of many of their realizations. So many of the students had no idea that just two blocks away there was such poverty; or that there was such an apparent need even with well-meaning parents and teachers; or that their attention, their attendance, and their responsibility to their young mentee were hugely valued on both sides; or that just by being there, they revealed a possibility that was not seen before; and the list goes on. Here’s one artistic data visualization done in the form of a handmade book that I think may speak to you.

 

Book as Data Visualization of Service-Learning Experience - Book Cover
Book as Data Visualization of Service-Learning Experience – Book Cover
Book as Data Visualization of Service-Learning Experience - Accordian Book visual metaphor side
Book as Data Visualization of Service-Learning Experience – Accordian Book visual metaphor side
Book as Data Visualization of Service-Learning Experience - Close up
Book as Data Visualization of Service-Learning Experience – Close up
Book as Data Visualization of Service-Learning Experience - Accordian book - text side
Book as Data Visualization of Service-Learning Experience – Accordian book – text side
Book as Data Visualization of Service-Learning Experience - close up
Book as Data Visualization of Service-Learning Experience – close up

Speculating. . .

PGTaylorOne of the things I liked about eLASTIC and hypertext in general is the entangling of links. I know that not everyone is keen on the messiness of visualizing those kinds of connections, but just give me a minute to speculate on the possibilities. (See TaylorDataVizSpeculative) What if the point of visualizing the learning (or “assessment”) was not to illustrate to others (teachers, principals, parents, administrators, state education departments, etc.), but rather as a reflective/learning activity in and of itself? The messiness (or not) would then be up to the student. For example, students in a recent class were tasked with mining data from their service-learning experiences, specifically using their journal/sketchbooks. Pulling from sentiment analysis design, most of the students read carefully through their journals and marked (coded) areas and pages with colored-specific sticky notes related to certain topics, goals, objectives, and/or issues (determined important according to class and/or student aims. They then created artistic data visualizations to represent their findings using traditional and digital artmaking processes.

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I didn’t realize what a dirty word “assessment” was until I started using it with my artsy buds

OK. I spent so much time (and grant money) on assessment and made some good progress, I thought. So, why didn’t many people come to the conference presentations? The articles were dutifully written and published and I was even chosen as a somewhat expert on the subject to speak recently—–so why are we not doing more with assessment? Why is it not cool? Not “in”? Not fun? Could it just be that we can’t get beyond the word and the horrendous connotations that come with it? What can we call it then? What does it mean to learn and know in art? in anything really? What does learning look like? Why does it matter?

Specifying specifics

In preparation for the meeting yesterday, I reviewed the beginnings of the eLASTIC project—Advanced Placement Concentration development for high school visual arts portfolio. I decided to begin the process of mining information that might relate to the AP Concentration area concerns and scoring guidelines. I am attaching an image or two to share what I mean.

Working to relate AP guidelines with student text within eLASTIC

Catch up. . .

I had a wonderful meeting yesterday at the National Art Education Association headquarters in Reston, Virginia. Thank you NAEA, Kathi Duse, Lynn Ezell and Dr. Deborah Reeve for sharing your fabulous new space with us. I so need a chandelier in my office now! It was a pleasure to meet and share eLASTIC with Dr. Nancy Rubino, Senior Director in the Office of Academic Initiatives at the College Board, Pam Paulson, Senior Policy Director, Research , Assessment and Curriculum Center (RACC), Perpich Center for Arts Education in Minnesota and Dr. Sarah Cunningham, Executive Director of Research VCUarts. Everyone was very supportive and also shared challenging and good advice. Reliability, of course was everyone’s first concern and, as Dr. Alan Gershenfeld challenged, we simply must address sustainability.

There was a great deal of talk about how something like eLASTIC could drive integration of disciplinary teaching and learning-something we are all passionate about. I look forward to more conversations, perhaps a pilot study with AP, a discussion with the SAEDAE (they were meeting at the time, but are so busy working on standard of learning revisions that we did not intervene. Maybe another time.  I also hope their work will greatly inform the next steps of eLASTIC as I understand they will have criteria and benchmarks.