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Lesson Plans

Computers in Art

[ Thread ][ Subject ][ Author ][ Date ]
Wed, 6 Mar 1996 17:18:29 -0500

Hi Amy,
I am responding to your comments about computers in the elementary art
classroom. I teach art in East Windsor, CT, a small rural community of about
10K in north central Connecticut. Last summer we installed a brand new
computer lab with a network of Macintosh Performas in our intermediate school
(3-6). I also have a old Mac LCIII in my art room. I have KidPix loaded on
each machine (make sure you have legal copies of the software for each
computer), and have found it to be great for the younger and middle level
elementary students. There are other programs out there, "Fine Artist" and
"Dabbler" (nice for higher level elementary age and even H.S.) are two that
come to mind, but KidPix is my favorite for the younger set! It is available
in PC and Mac versions-single copy, 5-pack and site license. It has many of
the features of high end art programs, but on a simpler and easier to
understand level. I think it is also important that your students understand
the basic Macintosh interface first, however, before trying to teach them a
program. Basic computer skills first, are a must. Once you start working with
the program, you can teach them about the various tools, options, and
features the program has. You may even be surprised when your students find
out some of the "secrets" before you do! Insofar as what to teach, the sky is
the limit. Consider the computer to be another art tool/medium. Create
assignments for the computer just as you would if you were teaching with
paint, pencil, etc.
One very important piece of equipment that I couldn't live without is my
color inkjet printer. I have a Hewlett Packard 560C. There are others
available that are quite good..Apple and Epson make fine printers. Ink
cartridges run about $25 apiece so I really monitor what I print in color.
Order your color cartridges just as you would your general art supplies.
There are also refill kits available for many of the cartridges. Most of our
work is printed on a B&W laser printer which is the main printer connected to
the network. Color prints are for special projects only. Printing on glossy
paper gives the best results. Make sure you check your printer software to
make adjustments for ink quality, and paper type. Check your manuals and
documentation for info. Also, check around for a vendor in your area,
otherwise it will cost you an arm and a leg. Some large local printing firms
can be tapped for paper donations. Don't overlook them since glossy paper is
very costly, up to $50 per pack of 50 sheets (direct from HP). Generic glossy
is usually around $15 per pack of 50 sheets.
This year, at my school, we have a first! The fourth graders have a new
course that I teach....Computer Art! The classes meet once a week just as all
of our special area classes. The beauty is that they still have their regular
art class, so the tradtional art methods do not take a back seat.
In addressing the problem of your administration, you have to continue to be
a "squeaky wheel" if you know what I mean. Perhaps you can use your computer
lab (if you have one) to get a few kids in at a time. Make sure you display
your student's artwork in school, at your town hall, in local banks, the
public library, etc. This can help generate a support base for your program
amongst the town people. Positive actions and positive publicity on your part
will go a long way (over time) to hopefully gain the money for the hardware
you desire. If worse comes to to worse, buy and inexpensive Mac and inkjet
printer yourself and put it into your art room. You'll be surprised how much
you will come to rely on it!
One last note, there are a huge number of companies that sell software for
computers now. Most of them are mail order. I would stay away from ordering
software from your regular art supply catalogs. They really whack you. Order
from some of the educational software companies. Check with your school
librarian or computer coordinator for sources. If you don't have any
available, I can send you a listing if you wish. Best of luck! If I can help,
just let me know. Remember, they used to complain about the camera not being
a fine art medium!
Mark Paradise
Art Instructor (Grades 4-8)
East Windsor CT Public Schools
Adjunct Art Ed.
Central Conn. State Univ.