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Sandy, this sounds very much like my situation. I'm a middle school art teacher
in Shiprock New Mexico on the Navajo Reservation. I started trying to get
computers years ago, more or less took over our school's brand new (at the time)
Macintosh lab, and was eventually granted two "official" computer art classes in
the lab. Last year, I received a couple of grants which put five computers on
security rolling carts for my regular art classes to share with solid subject
classes in order to create interdisciplinary units - a cheap alternative to a
"...in every class I teach, 7th grade on up, I provide computer options for
traditional art media projects. For example, as my students complete various
versions of color wheels, I encourage some to design ones on the computer in
addition to their regular ones..."
I LIKE this idea, and it, too, is similar to approaches I've tried.
"...By the end of a school year, everyone in each class has worked at least once
on the computer and some choose it for a majority of their assignments..."
This is more or less my goal, although I never really achieve it.
"It is my vision to someday have students create visual term papers...original
computer "storybooks"; illustrated journals; class newsletters,etc..."
I HAVE done these things, with the limited and underpowered equipment we have on
hand, and bound the materials together with a GBC comb binder. The results are
still a touch crude in my opinion but impress those not familiar with the
process - and the process is important even without the results.
"Then there's the Internet..."
We are not hooked up - my school will be the LAST in the district to be wired
for this purpose, so I've got to explore my options at home.
"Oh, one last thing. I have also put lots of hours into designing simplified
student directions for the software I have - I don't even make it through the
manuals, so I sure don't expect them to, but they do need some directions. I
don't see any problem with using professional level graphics software, at least
on the high school level. I have no desire to use anything like PrintShop, that
pre-formats so much for the user - it takes away most of the creativity. (It's
fine for non-artists)."
I agree with just about everything you've said here, use some semi-professional
packages in the middle school, and have a few simplified direction sheets
myself... probably not as many as you, but perhaps we could share.
Glad to have made your acquaintence!