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Lesson Plans

Fwd: computer art curriculum

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Wed, 23 Jun 1999 18:18:14 EDT

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I had a request to share the information that I received about Computer art
with the group, you go!


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From: Sandra Hildreth <shildret>
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Here is a message I just sent to someone else who requested suggestions
for developing a computer graphics curriculum.

I will offer some suggestions based on my efforts to teach a computer
graphics course with 4 computers! However, I am getting a new computer
lab specifically for computer graphics and CAD (I'm sharing it with a
tech teacher) next year, so these are things I plan to put into action

First of all, I don't see why it's not appropriate to just teach much
the same way we teach regular art courses - following the same
procedures of developing challenging projects, providing instruction in
techniques, etc., critiquing, and doing the kind of individualized
instruction we do with traditional media. One of the things I did in
order to integrate technology into my 7-12 art classes was to develop
alternative computer assignments to accompany projects in traditional
media. So when classes learned color theory and created tempera paint
color wheels, students who finish early, or demonstrate good
understanding of paint techniques, got instruction on the computers and
created color wheels there. That might seem too simple, but they had not

used any computer graphics programs before. The learned how to draw a
single blank shape, repeat it 12 times and arrange them into a circle,
fill each shape with an appropriate color (using visual discrimination
skills to identify colors), type in the names of the colors, and use
lines to connect the 3 primary colors, etc. When the class did a design
project that involved block letters in perspective, again students were
selected to try the project on the computers. I often put 2 people
together at each computer, so they could learn together and help each
other (cooperatiive learning). I think working in pairs will be a valid
strategy even when I have my full computer lab.

One of the main things that I have come to realize about computer
technology is that one can just let the computer do all the work
(software like print shop - all the secretaries seem to think it's the
greatest) or one can learn to use the computer the same way all the
other art media tools are used. I think it's important to master the
technology tools and not just take advantage of all the razzle dazzle
special effects the computer can generate.

So, what I have developed for a computer graphics curriculum is
basically this:

1. Introductory unit. I provide markers and a 6x9" piece of white paper
and ask students to create a simple composition using 3 geometric shapes

and 3 organic shapes; overlapping is fine; background must be filled in;

designs and patterns within shapes are OK. Then I set them up at the
computers and demonstrate the basic drawing and painting tools. In my
new lab, I am asking for Macintosh Network Administrator - which will
allow me to demonstrate on my computer and have it appear on all the
student computers. The student assignment is then to recreate their
marker drawing using the computer graphics tools.

2. Skills Development unit. Here I will come up with various activities
to practice, such as drawing and shading a cube, sphere, and cylinder;
lots of work with text (I have an example on my school web pages, see, such as creating a
composition of words (or a name) repeated in different sizes and fonts,
and arranged different ways (horizontally, vertically, curved, etc.);
drawing in perspective; drawing a face using the right proportions;
drawing a landscape and making it show depth. These are all assignments
similar to what goes on in my basic 9th grade art course.

3. Individual Projects. Once students develop basic skills - draw
various kinds of shapes, fill them in with colors or patterns or
gradations, cut, copy and paste, rotate, scale objects, combining text
and images, importing images from other sources, etc., then I will
develop assignments such as designing an ad for a specific kind of
product; designing a CD cover; a magazine cover; posters for school
activities, like dances, etc.

4. Group Projects. I had students in my earlier computer graphics class
(12 students using 4 computers) create a class calendar - they picked a
theme and then each student designed a specific month; I would like to
have my students work in groups to do things like produce a school
literary/arts magazine; work on designing school internet pages.

5. Other technologies. Digital camera, scanner, CD-ROM clipart,
animation, video, internet page design, etc.

Right now I am planning 1 full year Computer Graphics course as a high
school elective, available after students complete the 9th grade Studio
in Art prerequisite. However, I intend to use the computer lab regularly

in all my classes, 7th grade art as well as my other art electives. For
example, when I teach color theory to 7th graders, we may all go right
into the computer lab for a couple of days, I'll give them basic
instruction in a simple graphics program like ClarisWorks, and have them

design color wheels and color projects there, before they go use tempera

paint in the classroom. I've got lots of ideas about using the internet
to research artists and create multimedia presentations. The more I
integrate technology in my traditional art classes, the more I will be
able to develop more advanced projects for the Computer Graphics class.

I hope this helps you. You will notice I really didn't mention any
specific software - I think that can totally be up to the teacher to use

whatever they are comfortable with. I also didn't make any references to

standards (art or technology) - but if you already plan art projects
related to your art standards, I don't think it will be difficult to
continue to do that with computer media. At least that's going to be my
approach to it.


Sandra Hildreth
Home Page:
Art 7-12, Madrid-Waddington Central School, Madrid, NY 13660
School Pages:
Art Methods, St. Lawrence University, Canton, NY 13617