The Real Deal: How Three Teachers Use Artsonia in their Classrooms
Editor’s Note: This week, we’re talking all about the fantastic site, Artsonia. Artsonia is a powerful platform for art teachers that combines aspects of advocacy and fundraising. This week you’ll learn why you should give Artsonia a try with tons of tips and tricks from the experts. We also have a very exciting give-away to announce! Jessica starts us off with a fascinating look at how three real art teachers are using Artsonia in their classrooms.
Art teachers are using Artsonia in so many different ways! Just because a teacher is an Artsonia user, doesn’t mean it’s a one-size-fits-all experience. I had the privilege to interview three teachers with different age levels, locations and motivations who are successfully using Artsonia to benefit their students and art programs. You will be amazed, as I was, to see the fabulous things they are doing.
First, here are the profiles of the teachers we interviewed:
Tell us in a nutshell how you use Artsonia in your art program.
Sara: I use Artsonia to upload the majority of my students’ art projects. Once the artwork is there, the artwork can be seen by parents and grandparents. I have one student who has family in India, and because of Artsonia, her grandparents are able to easily keep up with what is going on in art class. Because I keep all of my artwork for an end of the year art show, the platform allows parents to see what their students are doing in art class all year long, despite the fact that I keep the originals. I also use it to grade the artwork from home, which is very convenient.
Billy: I use Artsonia to create an online classroom community for both my students to interact with each other, and for parents and the community to see the artwork. Artsonia at the High School Level has really helped promote literacy skills for my students. Our school has a large number of ESL students, and students are learning how to write and communicate through the Artsonia platform. My students write artist statements and comment on each other’s artwork as part of our assignments. We start with new words, expand into phrases, and soon students are writing full paragraphs about their artwork. The public nature of the platform really helps to motivate reluctant students.
Kathy: I upload every piece of art my students create, not just their best or favorite work. I want my students to understand that every artwork they create is important and that I value what they do. If we have any extra time at the end of class, we take a virtual trip to Artsonia and check up on our gallery. Students are so proud to see their artwork online. They really begin to have an understanding of the Internet and to feel a connection to the world. It is a relevant use of technology in the art curriculum. Artsonia has been a great vehicle for promoting the importance of art education and strengthening the art program.
What is your favorite feature?
Sara: I really like using the Newsletter feature. I send an update to parents though Artsonia about once a month. The artist statement feature is also one of my favorites because it gives me insight into what my students are thinking about their artwork.
Billy: All of the features work together, and I like them all. In our school, we use the artist statement and comment features the most to create a classroom community online.
Kathy: I love the fact that everything my students do is collected and stored in their digital portfolios. It is an excellent tool for parents and students to see growth in art skills and artistic development, whether from the beginning of the year to the end of the year, or from kindergarten to fifth grade. I also appreciate that I can reference all my lessons from the past years.
What is the greatest benefit you feel Artsonia has given to your art program?
Sara: First, Connections. Parents at our school know my name, know what our art program is all about, and see art as something beyond ‘fun’ and ‘extra’ because of how Artsonia connects the school to the home. Next, Fundraising. I’ve been able to bring in special traveling artists and other programs to supplement my art program beyond my budget from the funds raised through Artsonia. Parents can choose their students BEST artwork, not just one piece when ordering, which is wonderful.
Billy: Artsonia has proven to be an important advocacy tool and has even helped to improve test scores in our school through all the literacy ties I am able to bring into the art room.
Kathy: Definitely, it is involving parents in their child’s art education in a positive and enthusiastic way. It also brings in the child’s extended family of grandparents, relatives and family friends, who are consistently updated on the child’s artistic achievements. Communication is reinforced through comments and compliments left for the student in his or her guestbook. Artsonia gives me the ability to send newsletters digitally to all my Artsonia parents, keeping them informed about classwork and any new Artsonia news. Whenever I meet parents, and especially grandparents, at school or in the community, the first thing they do is thank me for having the Artsonia gallery.
What would you like other art teachers to know about Artsonia, from your experience?
Sara: You can put as much or as little time into Artsonia as you wish. Yes, it takes some extra effort, but it’s so worth it when you see the self-esteem that grows from students getting positive feedback on their artwork. I can’t imagine my art program without Artsonia.
Billy: I wish more schools would use Artsonia. I started using it 10 years ago when it first came out. Over the years, I get better and better with my processes and I would recommend for you to just give it a try and see how it can benefit your art program.
Kathy: When you become an Artsonia teacher, expect the unexpected. So many surprises and opportunities have come my way since I started our online gallery. It is a big, time consuming commitment but it comes with rewards.Through Artsonia I have had the opportunity of showcasing my students’ work in the Big Screen Project in NYC, various art exhibits, and contests. I was asked to be a presenter at our State’s Art Education Conference teaching other educators about Artsonia, and leading district in-service. Due to our school’s ranking, I have been honored in my school community. These are experiences directly related to my participation on Artsonia.
Thank you all for sharing your experiences with us! In a nutshell, I think we can say Artsonia is: one website. infinite uses. powerful results.
AOE Readers, weigh in- What other questions do you have for these top notch Artsonia users?
Any new ‘Ah ha’ moments you’d like to share from the interviews?