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[teacherartexchange] Digital Art & Special Ed Students


Date: Sun Sep 12 2010 - 07:48:30 PDT


I teach a digital art program to middle school students. In seventh
grade we begin learning PhotoShop and use Wacom tablets. In the past
I have had two developmentally disabled students, who both found
success in my class. I'm happy to share what works for me - maybe you
can adapt it to your program.

For the first two days in my class we 'play' in Photo Shop - I show
them basic tools (brush, paint bucket, erase, etc) and ask them to
experiment with them while using the pen tool. After this
experimentation, we work on projects. On day one I will demo the
entire project on an LCD screen, going slowly step by step. I tell
the students this is so they can get the 'feel' of the project and
have the ability to ask any questions that they might have. On day
two the students begin their project. In my classes every student has
a partner (teacher chosen); this is the first person they go to for
help AND the person who reads instructions to them. I have created a
step by step book for each pair that explains every project that we
do. We talk about and demo how to interact well with partners
(patiences, good attitude, good working pace, what helping looks like)
and how to help him/her when they are stuck. I try to choose a
patient partner that 'gets' Photo Shop for my Special Ed students to
work with - I try not to choose the strongest performers - the ones
that have Photo Shop at home; instead someone with a very caring
personality. They help their partner by reading instructions and
pointing to the screen where to click and what to do. The EA
(assistants) sit with this pair and help monitor/motivate the Special
Ed student, he/she also helps when it's time for reading the other
partner instructions.

After each big project or after every two smaller projects I
discreetly ask the Special Ed student's partner if they would like to
try a new partner. If they say yes I let them choose who they would
like to work with and then switch those two partners. I tell everyone
(the four students) it's a 'feng shui' thing, blaming the switch on me
not anything else. Sometimes that student's partner says no - they
enjoy working with their Special Ed partner (I tend to think those
students are future teachers.) But I will continue to check in with
them at different intervals in case they change their minds.

I think this system works in multiple ways - both partners get to see
the information up to three times per project. I find that the
student who goes second tends to get done faster then the first. The
written instructions help my audio and visual learners. Lastly ALL my
students get to work at his/her own pace - fast or slow and don't get
frustrated or distracted waiting for others to catch up. If the
'fast' ones get done early they get to open a new page and 'free draw'
with the pen tool (more practice ;-) or finish a previous project that
they didn't finish. I am free to walk around and answer questions,
provide help, and complement artwork.

As a class we can get through a small project in about three days -
demo day, partner one day, partner two day. Longer projects vary.

The big investment I made was in creating those written directions -
boy, that took a long time. I'm made many revisions from student
feedback and my own observations. But it's all worth it to me b/c of
the success I see. Written instructions might also help with your EA
problem. Many (but NOT all) EAs are older and don't feel comfortable
with technology - having written instructions could help them feel
more comfortable themselves. If you still have problems with them
helping after this then speak with their assigned Special Ed teacher
b/c they are not doing their job.

If you were interested in the written instruction idea I could email
you an attachment (off list) of my first project - so you could get
the feel of how they look. Just let me know.

I hope this helps.

Heather C.
Colorado Springs

> Subject: Help fo developmentally disabled students in Digital Art
> From: Claire d'Anthes
> Date: Fri, 10 Sep 2010 22:06:42 -0700
> Hi, all,
> I'm hoping that one of you will have some suggestions in this arena.  I
> have worked successfully for many years in my drawing, printmaking,
> digital art, and painting classes with all types of Special Education
> students.  This is the first year that Developmentally Disabled
> students have been assigned to my Digital Art Class and we are really
> struggling.  Students are supposed to have basic computer skills to
> take the class.  I use an online tutorial and large screen
> demonstratons/presentations to teach tools.  We learn a few tools and
> then I teach an art project  that uses these tools and some art
> concepts.

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