As educators, we are all about planning and considering student learning outcomes. As the moderators of K12ArtChat, I would say that Matt and I have found a formula that (generally) works for our professional learning network: we find and schedule educators to host (planning) that have something of value to offer (student learning outcomes) they create a creative discourse topic and six questions and it works (generally.)
A year and a half into this endeavor, the community has grown and we’ve had the opportunity to reach out to non-educators such as artists/authors, who have graciously said yes. A few months back we were over the moon to have Danny Gregory. His new book Shut Your Monkey is great! We stuck with the formula and it was not as successful as we had hoped.
The engagement level wasn’t quite what we were hoping for and then Google Hangout FROZE. We hoped we hadn’t blown it for other professional artists and authors. Months went by and we continued with the tried and true formula but Google Hangout still wasn’t working a hundred percent and continued to give us fits. Then Nic Hahn suggested we try Blab with her as she was to host soon. We went for it and the old adage, “technology is great when it works,” was true. Blab appeared to be a good fit and though we could not fully connect, we didn’t give up. After a few more tries we felt Blab might be an alternative to Google Hangout. It offered more interaction of creative discourse for our PLN to have an interview type experience with the host.
Moving forward our plan was to use Blab to start our chats then move into the traditional chat on twitter. We were lucky enough to try it with LaVonna Roth as we discussed S.H.I.N.E. in the art room (Self, Heart, Inspire, Navigate, Exceptional). It worked!
Trying Something New For Creative Discourse
This all brings us to the current week and our host Erik Wahl. Being rogue is what’s Erik’s all about and following our week at Ipadpalooza where were encouraged to take risks, we went completely away from the formula. We were lucky enough to visit with Erik a couple of times before the chat and it was clear he wanted to do it differently. No pre-planned questions for him to ask the group… Instead, he wanted to have a topic and extemporaneous discussion. We can’t lie – we were nervous as all get out! How would this work? But after the failed chat with Danny Gregory, we had to try something different for creative discourse.
The plan was to juggle Blab and twitter simultaneously but as the conversation took off like a runaway train, there was no looking back and twitter was neglected while Blab rolled. We were thrilled with the response from our network jumping into an unfamiliar platform especially without any prior instruction. It was a terrific experience for all who were able to participate. The connection to the artist is one we don’t often have as educators and his insights were so enlightening.
Below is the video to most of the conversation (we were also so into it that we forgot to hit record right off the bat!). You can also see Laura’s Sketchnotes (done from listening to the recording) up at the top of this article.
Reflection is the key to growing and learning and we must ask ourselves questions in order to continually improve. There is a bit of surrealism for us as we think about where we were in October 2014 as a chat and where we are now. We went from a couple of educators trying to bring art teachers together to learn from each other with the initial planning and now we’re in a place where we want to innovate and push the opportunities for the teachers we support (from our living room behind the keyboard).
As we all know there’s not one format that works for all. We have to differentiate the learning and opportunities that allow for various learning styles to engage. As we move into the next school year we would love your feedback. What are your needs? Who do you want to connect with or re-connect with (we would love a re-do with Danny Gregory) but this is about you, not us. Share your needs, via social media and/or in the comments below.
We hope you are having a truly AWESOME summer.
As always, wishing you creativity,
Laura and Matt Grundler
Links for Danny Gregory
Links for Nic Hahn
Links for LaVonna Roth
Links for Erik Wahl
Laura and Matt Grundler are art educators from Plano, Texas. They are also proud parents, bloggers and founders of the popular Twitter Chat #K12ArtChat. After teaching middle school art, high school art and working as an assistant principal, Laura has moved into the role of district Visual Arts Coordinator. Matt started out as a graphic designer; however after finding the commercial side of design to be unsatisfying, he soon found his niche as a K-5 Art teacher. Both Laura and Matt are passionate about raising their three creative kids, sharing their love of art education with their professional learning network and continuing to grow everyday.