2015-01-28

Diffusion Portfolio Submission

Dear Blue,
Here are my 5 images for consideration.





2015-01-20

Well here we are in the new year 2015 January.  The end of the first semester and finals under way.
I haven't said much this term, access to blogger and other sites I like to use is not so easy here in China, yes there are ways around the commies, but not convenient ones.
I taught a full load of classes plus fulfill the role of department head for Arts & Electives.
Visual Arts 10 three blocks, each block 70 minutes long with an average of 30 students per class.
Then there is Arts Foundations for grades 11 & 12.
Next semester I have the same courses, which is alright by me.
Classs are all in my studio and my office is conveniently just around the corner.  Very quiet up here unlike the other departments where offices are filled with teachers.  In my area, its just me, the other teachers in my departments are spread out a bit in different offices.
I've had both the informal and formal observations forced upon me by the school, with one more unfortunately in March.  The vice-principal came in a couple of times; he has given me good reports, but I still don't like being judged!   I hate being judged and am quite upset by this lack of trust.  Have I not successfully already proven myself over and over again through teacher training and the practicuum?  Does this kind of stupidity happen to doctors, nurses, dentists, lawyers on a regular basis???
This term I've organized my individual teaching into their own folders, which allows me to keep better track of where I am in the semester and insures I'm providing the same knowledge and skills practice to all grades.
I try to have the following components in each topic folder:  Lesson plan with PLOs, student hand-out(s) with rubric, Ppt, and at least one short video.
I thought it would be common sense that when students have a grading rubric right before their eyes, right in their own hands, they would all be able to score an A - not so.  Anyway, I'm endeavouring to be as explicit as I can and reinforce the materials by repeating several times orally and visually.  But it doesn't matter how hard I work, there always are some who don't listen.  It isn't the language that is a barrier, its sheer laziness and not attaching much significance to the class!
Reflecting back upon the semester some questions come to mind.
How do I keep students engaged if they finish their assignment early?
Should I let them always select their own group partners, or randomly assign them myself?
Should I let them keep their cellphones or collect them at the beginning of each class?
Should I have vocabulary dedicated quizzes or just keep them within main quizzes and the midterm?
Should I give exams & quizzes?
Anyway, must finish marking and entering in grades and get ready for the next semester, hopefully I will be able to incorporate what I've learned this semester and continue to learn along the path of a teaching career.
On a slightly different tangent, I'm also slotted in to teach at China's premier photography centre:  Three Shadows in the Beijing art district later this year, something I look forward to.

2014-09-23

Autumn's First Day 2014

A little over three weeks now into the new school year, unlike British Columbia where they will be just starting after a long teacher's strike!
A picture of me in China
I find that as department head and head of the Electives, to be interesting.
I feel I have a better systematic approach to teaching the elements of art and design this year.  I'm working with a booklet and some wonderful materials I found online.  Interesting note:  the former art teacher of a few years ago has returned this year.
I sure miss home sometimes, not having to use a VPN every-time I want to get onto Blogger, use Google, Facebook, and such.
Weather is so much superior in Western Canada as well.

2014-07-05

First week back

Well as of today, I've been back home in Canada for one week.  It started with a big thud - literally my daughter got a concussion and fractured her wrist in a figure skating accident.  She is okay and making a recovery.  But no sooner than I got back and was trying to adjust my sleep schedule, I had to wake her every two hours that first night.
Visited UVic to touch base with my boss and see the office staff - get my bearings and start to prepare for the following week when I'll be teaching a morning class of Chinese post-secondary instructors.  Thankfully I have QQ and have been invited to join the group they have created just for this programme.  Hope the next 3 weeks and 30 hours of instruction go well.  I've got the research librarian booked for two sessions next week and most of my photocopying is completed.  Today picked up some coloured string, stick-on letters/numbers and popsicle sticks - a way to make pairs of students.
Wednesday morning happened to meet Jim S. at Camera Traders, I handed over a cheque at his SUV and he gave me the large format sheet film I ordered several months earlier 150 sheets of ILFORD Delta 100 and 50 sheets of HP5+, two of my favourite films.
It was so nice to drive to Tim Horton's get my coffee, and then drive off to Gov't House where I like to sit with my Mamiya C330f on the high terrace overlooking the Strait of Juan de Fuca to the snow capped mountains in Washington state USA.
I was quite pleased to work through two rolls of film Pan F and Acros 100 and I found two new and interesting subjects:  a dead tree that up close through the TTL viewfinder looked like an elephant with tusks and close-up of spiny green plant.
Since I don't have a darkroom/studio anymore, I may be able to process film here at home, but printing images will be a challenge.
Monday the start of three week teaching assignment 0830-1020 at UVic

2014-06-29

School Year End for New Art Teacher

I just finished my first year as an art teacher within the British Columbia education system at a private school in TEDA-Tianjin, China.  I enjoyed it and judging from my class assignments for the beginning of the next school year, I'll keep on teaching art classes for which I am grateful.
I should probably write more often, but with the need for VPN in China because it blocks blogger, and the terribly slow Internet, kinda acts as a deterrent for me.
Some things I have learnt.
Don't get into a rut with respect to student expectations.  Working diligently to prepare lessons that meet the PLOs while providing creative and expressive activities are only a part of this vocation.  Ensuring that student projects are properly labelled for display, holding students accountable to hand-in things on time and having a debrief or reflection time may be things I should incorporate into my practice.
Students (some) may become complacent with finishing up projects on time and spending allocated class time on task.  Do I give them too much time in which to complete a given assignment?  For some students no, in fact they could use more time.  But then why do others idle away the time on their cell-phones, or misuse their cell-phones during class.  I allow them their cell-phones as this is a part of 21st century life and they are encouraged to use them for school work.
But hearing other teachers talk, I know this is not a problem unique to my classroom setting.
One way, I have proposed to deal with the tardiness issue is to award part of the project mark to getting an assignment in on time.  So included in the marking rubric, which students receive a copy of with their assignment, will be a category for due date compliance.
I've got a bit of a head start for the next term, although with some new types of art classes, I'll have to develop a whole set of projects - the learning never stops :)

2014-06-03

Post updates

Check below over the last several posts for picture updates.
Sometimes I don't get the digital files uploaded at the same time as the text.

2014-06-02

Into the Home Stretch and The Decay of Art

Middle of last week launched the last major projects with the grades 10~12 students.  We have about two weeks of formal class time left before final exams.
In Art Fdts we completed Art History Booklets and kinetic art based on the work of Sandy Calder.  For the finale I thought I would offer the grade 11 and 12 students the freedom to do an independent art project - with my consultation of course.  Feedback to this daring idea has been surprisingly favourable.  The grade 10s are doing some art research which will culminate in them producing an actual painting upon a canvas.

One other thing I have noticed about student art work in public spaces is that they decay over time, i.e., fall apart.  A team of academics from Lakehead University was here a few weeks ago and one of them commented about the artwork decaying in the natural course of time.  I never thought of art in this way before, but I guess it does happen.  Perhaps it is the poor quality of goods available here, but it does make me think in a way I would not have considered before.  The decay of art is a random action beyond human control which makes it even more exciting as I think about how it falls apart and at what points it breaks.  What can we learn from this process?