Professional Learning

Previewing the NOW Conference (Ep. 196)

The NOW Conference–coming up on July 29th–is always a great day of professional learning. In today’s episode, Nic gives you a preview that comes directly from the presenters themselves. Listen as a handful of teachers from across the country tell you about the topics they are passionate about, why you should learn about them, and the best ways to take away learning from the NOW Conference next month.  Full Episode Transcript Below.

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Nic: As promised last week on the podcast, we’re going to hear from multiple participants in the Art Ed NOW Conference. These are people that will be presenting in the summer 2021 Art Ed NOW Conference with the Art of Education University. This conference comes up July 29th, and I thought it would be really fun to just hear from some of the different voices, hear about what they’re presenting and hear about what you can look forward to in the conference. This is and this is Nic Hahn, and this is Everyday Art Room.

As I mentioned, this podcast today is going to be just focused on Art Ed NOW. That is our biannual conference that we have with the Art of Education University and we have some great speakers. I decided to reach out to just a couple of them to ask them to give us a little preview of what they will be presenting on during the conference. Let’s get started up in Canada with Rachel Albert, who’s going to tell us about her virtual art show. She’s presenting on this, but she’s willing to give us a little preview today.

Rachel: Hi, everyone. Thank you so much for having me on the podcast. My name is Rachel Albert and I live in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. A little bit of background information about me. I have my bachelor of fine arts in photography studies from Ryerson University and of course, I have my bachelor of education as well. I’m about to finish my ninth year of teaching grade six and seven art at the Danilack Middle School, which is a private Jewish school here in Toronto, Ontario. I’m also the student activities coordinator there, so I plan and I facilitate a lot of the programming and events within the school as well as the student council.

What am I presenting on at this year’s conference? Well, this past school year was really hard for me, as I’m sure it was for a lot of people. For the first time, since my very first NOW conference presentation, many years ago, I was unable to present at the most recent winter NOW conference. I didn’t feel great about that, but I was really struggling with all of the new that I was faced with this year. I found myself forced to take risks by trying new projects, new instructional strategies, new organizational methods, teaching art on a cart and so much more. I’m used to taking risks, but usually these risks are on my own terms and this year I was really being forced. It didn’t feel great.

I chose not to present at the most recent conference, but as the year went on, I got used to being on art on a cart, and dealing with all of the COVID precautions and my own fears and anxieties. I decided that I was ready to come back and give my all to the next NOW conference presentation, so here I am. I really wanted to present about one of the challenges that made me the most uncomfortable this year and that was figuring out how I was going to do a virtual art show. Now, I know that many schools around the world have been able to move back to in-person learning. I’m assuming that my school will in the upcoming school year as well, but moving forward, I’ve decided that I’m actually going to keep doing a virtual aspect to the art show, even if we’re able to have in-person events in the future for a variety of reasons.

Firstly, the legwork that the kids had to do to prepare for the virtual art show ended up being the perfect early finisher activity that the kids worked on throughout the entire school year and they were really proud of their work. Secondly, and more importantly, it actually opened up the show to people who wouldn’t normally be able to attend, to family and friends who were coming from out of town, or to people who had other plans that evening, or even people with mobility issues, grandparents, great-grandparents. That was really the silver lining of the situation that we’ve been faced with for the last year or so, but whether you’re in-person next year, or online, or hybrid or teaching elementary, middle or high school, I’m hoping that everyone will be able to take away some new ideas and some inspiration for giving some of the tried and true activities and event events that we’ve been doing for years, a facelift, even if it makes us uncomfortable.

What did my virtual art show look like? Well, in a nutshell, my middle-schoolers each created their own virtual art gallery using some tips and tricks in Google Slides. Within their virtual art gallery, they created a lobby. They created some gallery spaces and in those gallery spaces, they curated their own artwork from throughout the year. They even had a chance to add some of the artwork for previous years. They included furniture, accessories, food, Bitmojis of course, and so much more. I then took each of their virtual art galleries and I linked them into one large database that was shared with the entire school community. Parents, teachers, students, family friends were able to click through and glance at everyone’s amazing virtual art gallery.

There were some other really exciting features to the event that I’m also really thrilled to share like a virtual guestbook, a guided painting activity and so much more, but you’ll just have to tune into my presentation if you want to hear more about it. I look forward to seeing you all on conference day. Thanks.

Nic: I have seen Rachel present before and she’s phenomenal. I cannot wait to actually see what she described. I know that she’ll be giving us some examples of her student work and how this whole virtual art show ended up looking in her classroom. That always helps me provoke new ideas of what I can do to adapt it to my circumstance and just get some good ideas. I love this conference. I don’t know if you’re figuring that out yet. Another real classic presenter that we have with the Art of Education University is Matt Young. Matt Young is going to be presenting on some sculptural ideas and projects for our high school, maybe middle school teachers. Let’s listen to what is presenting in the conference.

Matt: Hi. My name is Matt Young and I’m a high school art teacher at Pickerington Central High School. For those of you don’t know where that is, that’s near Columbus, Ohio, O-H-I-O. I am the 3d teacher. I teach sculpture, ceramics, jewelry. I also teach computer graphics and AP art. This is my 26th year of teaching and I’m also the president of the Ohio Art Education Association. I’ve presented before for the Art of Education Conference. I don’t know. I think this is my sixth or seventh time presenting, but this time I am doing a project on monster battles. This is a fun introduction to sculpture project that involves sculpting. Even if you don’t have a kiln or something like that, you can finish this project with simple toaster oven for all that matters, but it’s a fun way to do a sculpture where the students actually do a battle.

They roll the dice. It’s going to determine how they’re going to make their creature. It’s a fun activity that all the students can participate in as a class. Then after the creatures are built, they again roll the dice to have a contest. There’s a couple of different contests that you can do. You obviously battle against each other’s, not really, but it’s kind of a dice Dungeons and dragons type battle. Then there’s another one that’s a craftsmanship critiquing voting battle, so it’s a fun way to do an intro to sculpture project if you’re not a 3d person. I’d say this would be good for mainly high school or middle school students. Might be a little too much for the elementary, but there are different levels, so you can definitely do it at a lower level sculpture intro, or I’ve included some notes to make it a higher level project that I have done with the more advanced students.

I am also presenting an after pass of a graffiti sculpture. Now, this is a take on your classic graffiti drawing except done in 3d. It’s a subtractive clay sculpture, another fun intro to sculpture project. I’ve been very successful with this with my students because it’s a good way for students to get used to using clay and learning about art terms in graffiti as an art form in a completely sculptural medium. It allows the students creativity to create their own letters, their own themes, their own walls and things like that. Atypically, instead of painting it, they’re going to be actually building this so you could see it from the front and the back. It will include fun, little things like 3d printing and different textures that you can do that you couldn’t really do in a 2d surface.

I hope you guys enjoy my presentations. The graffiti one is probably also a middle school to high school project, but again, maybe a higher level elementary student would be able to do it. I hope you guys enjoy my presentations. I tried to make them fun like I always do. I appreciate this opportunity to present at conference again.

Nic: Matt is not exaggerating at all when he says he’s going to try his best to make it entertaining for us. I’ve never seen a presentation from Matt, or even met him where I wasn’t smiling afterwards because he really does give his all, usually in a very creative and entertaining way. Thank you, Matt, for explaining what we are going to be hearing from you and to know that there’s an after pass as well. What he’s describing there is we have presentations throughout the day. It’s jam-packed full. Every 15 to 20 minutes, there’s a new person speaking on a new subject for a new grade level or a new… I mean, it’s just really fun because you’re going to hear things for high school as Matt was describing, and then you’re going to hear things for elementary and everything in between. Then of course, every subject.

Beyond that, you’re going to even hear additional things that you won’t see throughout the conference. That’s called the after pass and the after pass is going to allow you to see all of the presentations again, but it is also going to let you see extra presentations that you can watch on your own time. That’s what Matt was describing right there is the after pass. We talked to Matt, who’s going to be presenting for high school teachers. Now let’s talk to someone, or hear from someone who is going to be presenting mostly for the elementary. Yvonne Lopaz-Taylor is going to speak with us right now and give us a little insight of what she will be talking about in the conference.

Yvonne: Hi, everyone. I am Yvonne Lopez-Taylor. I am an elementary art teacher from Houston, Texas in Aldine ISD, #Aldineart, #Aldineanywhere. I just completed my eighth year of teaching and I also celebrated my 2021 Texas region for elementary teacher of the year win, so that was a nice addition to a crazy year. I’m glad that I got to advocate for art education because art has always been a part of my education journey. I studied art all the way from elementary to graduating from MIAD, the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design. I am so excited that I get to be back presenting at the NOW Conference. It’s honestly one of my favorite time of years to present and to learn from people from all over.

I’m going to be presenting printmaking, collagraphs to be specific. We’re going to be looking at and inspired by the works of Dr. Margaret Taylor Burrows. I’m going to be honest with you, I had no idea who this woman was and I wish I would have known who she was because I would have visited her museum in Chicago when I was there a year ago, but she’s so powerful and so inspiring. My students and I fell in love with her, with her prints and the power of using your voice. I think as art teachers, it’s really important that we help our students find their voice. We can do that by doing our own research and finding new artists, finding new techniques, always doing our research, always learning so that we can bring it back to our kiddos.

Well, she does a lot of linoleum block printing, but we’re taking a different route because it’s not something I can necessarily do with my elementary students, but just because my lesson is for elementary students, it doesn’t mean that you wouldn’t be able to easily adjust it for middle school or high school students. You, as the instructor, can switch it around and use different materials, different sources, different inspirations. I’m going to show you all of that in the presentation. We created and connected with her portraits. We created our own stories. We wrote our own stories and we made our own portraits. I hope this presentation sparks new ideas, that you have another artist that you and your students can connect with, and I hope that you make lots and lots of prints. I would love to catch up with all of you on Instagram and Twitter. You can follow me at Ms. Lopaz. That’s Ms L-O-W-P-A-Z. I cannot wait to meet all of you and hang out with all of y’all at the conference. See you soon.

Nic: I love printmaking, so I’m really looking forward to Yvonne’s presentation. Also, I was unfamiliar with the artist that she mentioned as well, so I’ll be checking into that right away. Maybe getting a little bit of background before the conference, so I’m really glad that we got to hear from you Yvonne ahead of time so I can do my research. Now, Yvonne and I think everyone that we’ve spoken to so far is going to do a prerecorded conference. They’re going to prerecord and they’ll be there at the conference. They’ll be answering questions digitally. You’ll have some interaction with these presenters. However, the Art Ed NOW Conference has something very unique. It has presentations that are prerecorded, but it also has every once in a while, say every hour, you’re going to actually see a live presentation. Generally, that’s going to be an interview between Tim Bogatz or Amanda Hines, the co-hosts of the conference. They’re going to be having this live conversation with different art teachers.

The next person that we’re hearing from, Karen Kiick, is going to be doing one of these live sessions. Let’s hear a little bit more about what she’ll be presenting on.

Karen: We decided to do a live interview at the NOW Conference on July 29th. I’m super excited to talk with Tim and reflect on the hybrid teaching experience. This year has presented us with many challenges, but also many opportunities. It’s also given us new ways to express ourselves. As I reflect on this year, I wrote a poem. We’re doing what? Teaching in person and online simultaneously, masked, distanced. Two separate cohorts rotating half days, fully remote, Google meets, Zoom, plastic dividers everywhere. Can’t see, hear or touch. Don’t get close. Distractions all around. Gray rectangles, muted and alone. Art creates connections, calming our minds, our hands do the work, helping us feel. Creativity grounds us, keeping us sane and safe, letting us heal. Far from perfect teaching in a global pandemic. We begin again.

I asked my students for their thoughts about what they’ve gone through during this whole year and asked to say it in three words, say it in five words. That is a combination of some of their thoughts and their ideas. Like I said, I’m looking forward to talking with Tim. If you’d like to reflect on this unique teaching year with me and Tim, please join us for our live conversation, Reflections on Hybrid Teaching. Until then, you can find me on Instagram at Art Room 14. I hope you have a wonderful and restorative summer. Stay safe.

Nic: After listening to all four people in this podcast present, you really should get the feeling of what the Art Ed NOW Conference is like. This was just a little, tiny taste of some different voices of presenters that will be joining us on July, 29th. Did you notice that there are many different styles of art educators, even in this podcast today? There are people that are going to be super organized and have everything laid out for you in such a beautiful way. Then there’s going to be another person who’s super reflective like Karen, what she was discussing. I think that she’s going to reach people in a way that will be unlike anyone else that’s presenting. You’ll have very fun presentations like Matt’s. I mean, a monster battle. Yeah, that’s going to be pretty fun. You’re also going to see a lot of projects, just hands-on projects like the collagraphs that we were talking about with Yvonne.

I think no matter what you are looking for or what you need, I’ve always been able to find that at this conference because we really seek out the best art educators, or a handful of the best art educators in the nation. We have them present on their favorite thing for 10 minutes. Man, you are guaranteed to find something that you can relate to, something that speaks to you, something that excites you. I hope to see each and every one of you at the Art Ed NOW Conference because it truly is one of my favorite ways to collect professional development.

How do you sign up for the Art Ed NOW Conference? Well, that’s easy. You’re going to head to the website, and in the menu, you can click on conferences. Our conference is going to be July 29th, 2021. You can go ahead and check out all the things that you will be getting with this conference on that webpage, but included, you will see that there are sponsors. A lot of times, those sponsors are the people that provide the swag. This conference, even though it’s virtual, you’re going to get some swag sent to you if you are one of the first people to sign up for this conference, so get on it right now. Seriously, right after this podcast, go ahead, go sign up.

We start releasing like who’s presenting slowly on the website and then we will be announcing our keynote speaker. Possibly by the time that this airs, we will have already announced that. It’s usually someone pretty cool. Actually, it has always been someone pretty amazing to listen to. That’s what you do. Head on over to that website. Get signed up. It’s not only a great way to collect professional development, but it’s a great way to connect with other art educators from our nation and our world. Thanks for listening today. I’ll see you at the conference.

Magazine articles and podcasts are opinions of professional education contributors and do not necessarily represent the position of the Art of Education University (AOEU) or its academic offerings. Contributors use terms in the way they are most often talked about in the scope of their educational experiences.