Saturday, April 29, 2017

Fighting the CREATIVTY CRISIS In Our Schools

BELOW: a powerful page from Project Art. BUT... while I admire this program's dedication, mission, and effort; I have mixed feelings about all After School Programs. Yes, it's great that Art can be shoe horned into the school experience we offer our young people by extending the length of the school day. However, by doing so, it relegates Art to what is perceived as the realm of The Trivial... Worse, it evades the fight to right the wrong of excluding Art in the first place. In effect, such programs are  magnificent bandaids. And in the end, we will have to fight that fight - the fight to re-examine our understanding of Education and re-target and re-direct it to reflect more informed and humane goals and methods!!! Until that fight begins, though, I'll be a fan of Project Art and similar efforts!


Visit this page at its source:

Today, over 4 million elementary school students do not get any arts instruction. If you were born into a family of low socio-economic status, these are two possible pathways on how access to arts education can affect your life. These are based on findings from research institutions.

Improved Academic Performance for Students with High Levels of Arts Involvement, Americans for the Arts (2013)
The Arts and Achievement in At-Risk Youth, National Endowment for the Arts (2012)
College-Bound Seniors: Total Group Profile Report, The College Board (2005)
Survey of Business Owners, Census Bureau (2007)
Arts and Crafts: Critical to Economic Innovation, Economic Development Quarterly, Michigan State University (2013)
Research Talking Points on Dropout Statistics, National Education Association (2006)
The Silent Epidemic: Perspectives of High School Dropouts, Civic Enterprises in association with Peter D. Hart Research Associates for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (2006)

Friday, April 28, 2017

Machine Learning to Support Student Artists? Google's New Resource: Auto Draw

(below) Good piece form Tech & Learning...

“AutoDraw is a new kind of drawing tool. It pairs machine learning with drawings from talented artists to help everyone create anything visual, fast. There’s nothing to download. Nothing to pay for. And it works anywhere: smartphone, tablet, laptop, desktop, etc.”
"Google’s AutoDraw: Creation Made Easier
4/21/2017 6:00:00 AM

See the icons in the logo image above? The pants, leaf, megaphone, light bulb, apple, and stethoscope? I drew them with Google’s new AutoDraw tool.

Maybe some of them look familiar, faithful reader. If so, it’s because I attempted to redraw the very same icons I’ve used in recent logos on #Schoenblog posts: a pen, fire, arrows, a lightbulb, apple, and stethoscope

AutoDraw uses machine learning to predict what you are trying to draw and match it to artists’ submissions. So while my pen and fire might have turned into pants and a leaf, my quick sketch of an apple matched perfectly. AutoDraw gave me options to choose from as I drew each image, predicting and matching my movements.

The tool’s about page explains, “AutoDraw is a new kind of drawing tool. It pairs machine learning with drawings from talented artists to help everyone create anything visual, fast. There’s nothing to download. Nothing to pay for. And it works anywhere: smartphone, tablet, laptop, desktop, etc.”

This GIF is from Google’s blog post introducing AutoDraw, Fast Drawing for Everyone.

AutoDraw in Education

How often do we ask students to represent things visually? AutoDraw is a great tool to help students develop visual iconographies. Whether it’s used to help develop sketchnotes, depict scenes from literature, represent a cell, or storyboard historical events, I can think of so many uses for the simple visuals that AutoDraw helps create.

While it’s machine learning features may take away from some elements of student creativity, it provides a valuable and easy way to get students started in creative or visual tasks online. Plus, it’s free and works on every device. You can also use the basic drawing features, add text, change colors, and more.

In an age where more and more we need to teach students about digital citizenship and acceptable use, AutoDraw helps us create. Although the tool matches our sketches to other artists icons, these creations appear to be copyright free. On the Control Alt Achieve post, Using Google AutoDraw for Sketchnotes, Infographics, Drawings, and More, Eric Curts notes that when artists submit their artwork to AutoDraw, they have to agree that "Drawings are my own and Google may use my drawings for any purpose." The AutoDraw about page also describes the tool as free and for everyone. I’m eager to see more clarity on copyright and fair use here, but this has a lot of potential for our students--and beyond.

Blogging & Branding

I spend a lot of time--too much probably--thinking about how this site looks and feels. In fact, a huge update to the #Schoenblog is coming very soon. One of my intentional decisions over the last year has been to brand my blog posts with a title image; each one is sized for Twitter, and they follow a similar aesthetic. In the beginning, I worried about finding other people’s artwork or ideas to help influence my look. Lately, though, I’m much more interested in simple visual iconography--just like I attempted in this post’s title.

I want to be more aware of the visual branding for this site and for how I use images or art from other sources. A tool like AutoDraw helps me be in control by evolving my ideas into simple open source icons that are easy to use. I can download them as .png files and import right into my favorite image editor. It’s free, easy, and efficient.

There’s a lot of potential for AutoDraw, and definitely room to explore more tools for creation, visual aids, and graphic design, both in and out of the classroom...."

Read the full article at its source:

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Robotics Promotes a Culture of Creativity in the Classroom

A VERY worthwhile piece from Tech & Learning:
"3 Reasons Why Robotics Promotes a Culture of Creativity in the Classroom"
4/14/2017 5:50:00 AM
By Guest Blogger Lynne Boucher

"To meet the challenges of the modern workplace, today’s education is calling for curriculum that integrates STEM learning and creative problem solving in the classroom. I have found that creativity in the classroom is better harnessed when it is encouraged and is critical for today’s students, particularly when using robotics.
Below are the top three reasons I believe robotics can promote a culture of creativity in your classroom, ultimately helping propel the next generation of innovators forward:

1. Robotics offers a new idea of what creativity looks like
One common misconception about creativity that many of my students have is that to be creative, you need to have a knack for drawing, painting or storytelling. What I try to teach through robotics is what I believe the true definition of creativity is: doing or thinking about things differently. I recently needed to help my middle school students understand what a two-stage rocket is and why it is important to modern rocketry.  The challenge I gave them was to get a marshmallow as far across the floor as possible using a two-stage concept.  Students had to build a device that could be robotically activated for the first stage which was a 5’ foot distance, the robot then had to deploy a second force to continue moving the marshmallow to the greatest distance possible.  

By being creative as teachers and incorporating robotics into our lesson plans, we can show students that it is possible for creativity to go hand in hand in math, science, coding and more.

2. Open-ended challenges reveal there can be multiple solutions for a given problem 
Robotics frequently present open-ended challenges that do not lead to single solution. Forcing students to experiment changes the way they think about approaching problems, and encourages them to get creative. Another challenge I conducted in the classroom involved moving tethered robots across a finish line without the use of human force. One group in this challenge created straws with the available materials so they could blow their robots across the finish line. This prompted an interactive discussion and “light bulb” moments where students think creatively within the parameters of a problem.  

3. Students learn the importance of taking risks 
Students who are not exposed to open-ended challenges can struggle with going against the conventional structure of a classroom, and will often search for what they perceive to be a single “correct” answer. It is important to reinforce to these students that the core of creative thinking involves an element of risk. During a study of famous artists I did with my 4th and 5th graders, students had to choose a work of art and then problem solve how to make that art work move using gears, servos, and programming.  These students had very little to no experience with robotics so this was a bit frustrating for them at first as they learned the basics of robotics engineering.  We had many of what of my students called “epic fails,” but the key was that they kept trying new things. This is what risk-taking is all about!.."

Read the full article at its source:

"Lynne Boucher is the STEAM Director and Educator at Viera Charter School and a LEGO Education Ambassador Program (LEAP) teacher."

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Great Project Ideas to Foster Student Creativity

This appeared in my In Box this morning... Creative Educator always comes through with great project ideas to foster Student Creativity 
Technology project ideas for your grade level
If you are looking for great technology project ideas to engage your learners through the end of the school year, explore these high-level lesson plans for:
Happy Creating!

Choosing Maker Space Resources to Ignite Student Passion and Support Creativity and STEAM Learning

Here's a table created by ISTE colleague, Karey Killian, who came up with a 'wish list; of possible Maker Space resources, categorized by ISTE Standards (and some Common Core Math/Language Arts Standards). She states:

“...Our purpose with these (Maker) spaces is to ignite the passions within students to discover their unique talents and abilities.  We want spaces where students can explore, be creative, work collaboratively, and make new inventions along the way…” 

“…Here's a link to the Word document that should be viewable to anyone with the link. You're welcome to use any of this document if it can strengthen your program in any way.
 Click on the above to access the full document...

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Robotics Impacts Student Ability at Innovation and Creativity!

Are there ways to impact students ability to be more innovative and creative?
Using these techniques will make a profound difference in your class.
"By the time a child is 10 or 12, he or she has figured out that it's much more important to get right answers than to keep asking thoughtful questions",  according to research for Tony Wagner's bestselling book, Creating Innovators: The Making of Young People Who will Change the World. 

Wagner says "a child's innovative framework is strengthened when teachers bring a sense of play to the curriculum; taking offbeat approaches and making whimsical connections to the course material." This allows children to think creatively-opting to think in new ways.

2. Curiosity
Programs that allow children time to interact with various technology-related materials, and engage in a variety of individual and team projects create greater understanding and a desire to learn more.

In conducting interviews with hundreds of innovative people for his book, Wagner also found innovative people were shown how to connect their passion to success. The best teachers and parents always supported what the students' passions and natural curiosities were, and made an effort to connect what needed to be learned to satisfy that curiosity.
They let children choose the subject matter they wished to study or design their own investigations to learn more. This connected success leads to a larger purpose-children's individual motivations and interests, he says.

Increased fearlessness, especially when it comes to taking risks and trying new ways of doing things, makes children better at creative problem solving. If you can name effort as the thing that you want to encourage, effort creates ability.

Having a greater sense of purpose makes finding solutions more urgent. This gives innovators greater incentive to take risks, and look for new methods of solving challenging issues."

Digital Story Telling to Foster Student Creativity

Good session on Creativity and Digital Story Telling (details below)... I found these slides on the web...

"Technology resources provide opportunities for engagement, problem solving and critical higher-order thinking."

Presented by the ISTE Digital Storytelling Network / Author / Julie Jaeger Bio

Paper Circuits: Support Contemporary Student Creativity Projects

Here's a good one that I found in my In Box... I like what offers... If you're not familiar with Paper Circuits, I recommend you peruse this for a few minutes to get yourself informed... They seem to me to be a powerful invitation to put the ART in STEAM Education...
light saber GIF

Paper Circuits In Makerspaces -  One of our favorite makerspace projects (so far) have been the creation of paper circuits.  It's an affordable, easy to learn project that can be completed in 30 minutes which is great for schools. There are countless project ideas that incorporate the paper circuit concept which can be added to most curriculum.  For example, you can combine the ARTS with Technology and make interactive circuit artwork or popup electronic greeting cards. 

If you want more info, check out our step by step paper circuit tutorial that includes 5 free project templates to get you started."

WARNING: The BBC Micro:Bit May Inspire Creativity! :)


Coding and Creativity for Today's Students

Here's a good session I came across... Click on the screen capture, below to launch recording (may take a short while to load. I think that if used in an informed way, this resource can support kids in their creative efforts!

Creativity is Essential to Student Success

Good piece from ADOBE 

Closing the skills gap: Why creativity is essential to students’ workplace success

The compensation data provider PayScale recently published its 2016 Workforce-Skills Preparedness Report, and the findings were eye-opening for schools and educators.

The report details the responses of almost 64,000 hiring managers across a wide range of industries who were asked about the “skills gap”—the disconnect between the skills students have when they graduate from college and the skills companies need. Here are a few of the stats that stood out for us:
  • 60% of managers said new graduates do not have the critical thinking and problem-solving skills necessary for the job
  • 46% said new graduates lack the necessary communication skills
  • 36% reported new graduates have inadequate interpersonal and teamwork skills
Similar findings are appearing everywhere. Here’s just a sample:
  • The World Economic Forum reports that students with social and emotional learning (SEL) skills like critical thinking and problem-solving, creativity, communication, and collaboration are better equipped to succeed in the evolving digital economy.
  • Bloomberg analyzed the skills gap among MBAs and found that the skills managers want most but have the most trouble finding include strategic thinking, leadership skills, communication skills, creative problem-solving, and working collaboratively.
  • Fast Company describes 2016 as the year of the hybrid job, in which employers want multifaceted employees who have both hard skills like database technology and soft skills like communication and collaboration.
Dan Schwabel of Millennial Branding, which partnered with PayScale on their survey, summed things up this way: “Graduates need strong communication and problem-solving skills if they want to interview well and succeed in the workplace.”

Closing the gap with creativity
So how can educational institutions help students close the skills gap? It’s clear to us that they need to go beyond teaching traditional skills and make fostering creativity and developing digital skills a priority in the classroom.

Many of the skills current grads lack are associated with creativity, from critical thinking to communication to collaboration. But when schools teach students how to create digital content, they help them develop these in-demand skills.

Here are just a few examples:
  • Through digital storytelling with video and illustration, students learn how to communicate ideas clearly and effectively.
  • Through data visualization with animation and digital imaging, students become better at understanding, simplifying, and explaining information.
  • When students work on complex creative projects like designing apps and websites in partnership with other students, they develop critical collaboration and interpersonal communication skills.
  • And as they work on creative projects of all types, students develop the creative mindset employers crave.
In an education documentary, Tony Wagner of Harvard’s Innovation Lab was quoted as saying: “Employers say over and over ‘I will teach them (graduates) the content. What I can’t teach is how to think, how to communicate, how to collaborate, how to initiate.’”
But our schools and educators can certainly teach these things. And Adobe can help.

For an in-depth look at what forward-thinking educators are doing to close the skills gap, visit the Adobe Education Exchange.