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Lesson Plans


Software suggestions needed for lab upgrade (long post)

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teachart
Sun, 28 Sep 1997 09:35:30 -0500

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Hello fellow artsednetters! I've been kinda quiet on the list
lately--barely able to keep up--as I continue to concentrate on my new
(and first) teaching position at an urban middle school. I am the
"computer art" teacher there and am grateful for my own computer lab
that seats 30. The school also employs a "traditional art media"
teacher, but technology is school's focus. (Nine labs overall for 750+
students.)

My principal has asked me to come up with a "wish list" after I
explained that the software we're using is a bit elementary and perhaps
too many steps behind the sophisticated programs being used at the high
school level (I assume they've got Photoshop and other such programs at
the high school)... I want to close the gap.

My dilemma is how to bring my lab more up to date yet not upgrade to
level of sophistication that would frustrate my students...the majority
are at the 4th grade reading level and several (20-30%) lack English
language proficiency. Most have never touched a computer before--they
come to our technology magnet for that reason.

Also, my graphics lab is a huge selling point for the school, yet any
visitor who knows two bits about technology would laugh at it. The
software is fairly elementary: kidpix, easy color paint, print shop.
It's also lacking in that there is no desktop layout program. The fonts
available are inappropriate for the logo and advertising lessons I have
in mind. The hardware is woefully limited and way out of date: Mac LCs
maxed out with 10MB RAM and teeny monitors. I'm lucky to have what I
have, but would love to improve it (high hopes for a grant) so that my
students are better prepared for high school... and happier with their
work in class.

My wish list will incorporate suggestions for new hardware, which I can
confidently choose with the help of our technology specialist, but as
for software choices... I'm only knowledgeable about professional
programs. The programs I use professionally (Photoshop, QuarkXpress,
PageMaker, Macromedia FreeHand, a bit of Painter) these might be beyond
the level of my students--at least that's the message I get from
administration.

So, is there something in between "easy color paint" and "painter?" I
know Claris makes a combination program, but I have found it even more
limiting than easy color paint... I'm looking for pros and cons about
software programs in drawing, painting, and layout that my students,
given their ability and lack of experience, can handle without too much
frustration.(PageMaker, for instance, is probably within their reach for
use in layout.)

What software programs do others think (and/or use) would fit my
situation? What is "SuperPaint" like these days? I haven't seen the
current version, but I didn't like it 4 years ago when I was first
exposed to it... I never knew when I was "drawing" and "painting" the
way the layer system was written in that program.

Any ideas out there? Please share. Thanks.


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  • Reply: Diane C. Gregory, Ph.D.: "Re: Software suggestions needed for lab upgrade (long post)"