TDSBCreates FESTIVAL 2021: ARTIST RESIDENCY RE-CAP!
Photos by William, Grade 6 (LC1 Virtual School)
For the past 6 years, I have participated as a resident artist/photography educator in the TDSB Creates Festival, a school-based arts festival running since 2014 that connects local artists with classrooms to foster creativity and explore the art forms of dance, drama, spoken word, media arts, film, visual arts and music.
Due to the pandemic, the festival ran as a virtual project this year 2021.
Typically, I work with one public school and visit with two of their grade 5/6 classrooms. This year, I was able to meet with six schools for a total of 4 one-hour online sessions.
For a teaching artist, the differences between meeting a group of awesome kids in-classroom as opposed to working with them online are many, to say the least! The initial sentiment for many resident artists, is that online we won't be able to share our craft or artistic process as well as we could face-to-face. However, what I've discovered while teaching mainly synchronous classes throughout the pandemic is that technology lends certain affordances that sometimes makes online learning more advantageous than teaching live. Hard to believe, but true nonetheless!
Here are few affordances I've observed while teaching in a digital sphere and ones in which will now inform the way in I design my online, and to some degree, my in-person photography classes and workshops for kids:
• enhanced learning environment (less distraction, less restlessness or student dissonance)
• enhanced student participation (most students are adept at using the technological tools to support multi-modal thinking, i.e. text, images, animation, diagrams)
• less classroom management (equals more time sharing of knowledge)
• enhanced social learning opportunities for students resulting in a more collaborative intelligence (social learning, active learning, problem-solving, non-traditional classroom)
• constant peer-to-peer feedback resulting in multiple student perspectives and a more formative assessment approach for teachers
This year, I'll be exploring these affordances in the hope of developing a series of hybrid programming that will blend the best of both worlds, the in-person and online, and will be observing closely how best practices in both of these realms can help me meet and teach even more students than I could pre-pandemic.
I hope to share these discoveries with you along the way.
Grade 5/6 student, Walter Perry Jr, Toronto
Photos by Alek, Grade 4 student, Perth Avenue JPS
Photos by Casey, Grade 4 student Perth Avenue JPS, Toronto
(Close-Up) Photo by Maya, Grade 5/6 student (Perth Avenue JPS)
Photos by Dylan, Grade 6 student (LC1 Virtual School)
Besides working with kids, another highlight for me during this residency is collaborating with participating school teachers. At Project Kids & Cameras, I design programs with teachers in mind as well by providing them with resources, tips and methodologies they can integrate into their lesson planning and in accordance with their curriculum objectives.
Much of the success I experienced with this year's TDSBCreates Festival classrooms can also be attributed to the classroom teachers I worked with. Out of the participating 6 teachers, those who embraced the new and emerging possibilities of online learning were the ones with the most engaging students. And as I mentioned earlier, online versions of my program make it easier for teachers to summarize in real time the topics, themes, and goals for each session, as well as assess their students learning as it's happening (formative assessment). More thoughts on this to follow soon!
I'll be unraveling, in upcoming blog posts, some of the affordances I listed above with you soon. Stay safe, stay tuned!