The following is a guest post written by Bo Gorcesky, a Middle school Media Arts teacher passionate about sharing educational technology findings. Once an independent filmmaker, Bo now touches lives with technology.
Minecraft is a $7 app that I use with a class set of iPads during my media arts class. (There is also a free version, but you can’t save on it.) If you don’t have access to iPads, Minecraft Edu is another option. When I first started using Minecraft, I had no idea what this game was all about or why it was so addicting to my students. What I did know was that I had to capitalize on my kids’ interests while also creating the perfect opportunity for me to do a Flipped Class Project.
Since I was new to Minecraft, I asked a few students to lead class demonstrations. We started the project by just letting the students play in the “creative mode.” In “creative mode” the player has unlimited resources to build any three-dimensional form.
Minecraft Project #1: Convert a drawing to a Minecraft
I started off the project with my students creating a grid drawing on Drawcast. They would then re-create that drawing out of Minecraft blocks in the form of a dilation. The students got to experience the world of Minecraft with no worries of losing or messing up – it was all about stretching the limits of their creativity.
Minecraft project #2: Connect architecture with other subject areas
After about three to four days I felt the majority of the students had a firm grasp on the Minecraft material – I was ready to move onto the next part of the project. Inspired by some resources at Minecraft in Education, I connected careers in architecture with other curricular areas.
My 7th graders were studying medieval castles in their social studies class, so I thought it would be an awesome way to collaborate with an interdisciplinary plan. To help my students get started I used a great web site that showcased blue prints of castles. Then, I gave my students five days to build their castle in the Minecraft environment. Other grade levels made architecture connections with colonial homes (8th grade) and Pyramids integrating the study of Ancient Egypt (6th grade).
Minecraft project #3: Play together using virtual structures built by students
In a Flipped tradition, one of my students suggested that we capitalize on the use of the Minecraft server (which allows up to five players to play on the same world at the same time) and do a mock version of the Crusades where we have to invade each other’s home. Everyone loved the idea, including myself – so a tournament started up. Server set-up tips here.
I didn’t want the students to just go crazy playing Minecraft every day; instead I wanted them to reflect upon what they were learning and share their findings within the small group function on Edmodo.
Want to try Minecraft in your art curriculum? Here are a few tips and observations:
I was AMAZED to see the collaboration between students as they started to build their structures. One person would be the main builder, while the others would gather resources. However along with some great teamwork, I also ran into some difficult management issues. In one situation there was a student who just liked to cause trouble in the game by killing their own teammates. In another situation a student would just go off and fight Zombies and Creepers (not to mention other enemies that attack you during Survival Mode of the game).
Did I forget to mention “survival mode”? Unlike “creative mode” mentioned earlier, “survival mode” gives you a health bar and you have to actually mine for resources. For example, If you want to build tools, you need a crafting table – if you want a crafting table, you need wood. You also want to get to a shelter by night time or monsters come out to get you. If you die, you lose all of your resources. After the five days were up, the students would then go into “attack mode”. Basically, the King/Pharaoh/Plantation Owner would host the Minecraft server, and four people from another team would invade and attack. My point system was pretty messed up, as some times they could find each other and fight, some times the King would just hide and others – the monsters or the team mates would kill each other.
When I do this project again, I will make CLEARER guidelines and expectations. Surely there is the chance that somebody could accidentally “hit” their teammate, but I was getting into issues where students were just wasting time. I would encourage teachers to be constantly roaming around and talk to the students. If somebody complains that a partner is killing them, I would send them out for a time out. ANY time that a student is taken away from Minecraft seems to be one of the harshest punishments. When a student is sent out, it hurts the team but I think it shows them that they must all work together at all times in order to succeed.
Overall this was a GREAT project. Students that never played this game soon found out how addicting it was. I had students come into my room to record a tutorial for future players and others that were eager to share their findings with the program. We still have “Make Up / Free Time Thursdays” where the students still like to battle and brag to see who is the best crafter around.
Ultimately, by introducing the Minecraft project into my art curriculum students learned:
- basic programing skills, tools and principles for creating interactive digital art in an engaging environment.
- how to work in a creative collaboration and the consequences when collaboration fails.
- how to take two-dimensional drawings and turn them into three-dimensional digital forms.
Watch additional video footage from this Minecraft project on this YouTube playlist.
Since the launch of the iTunes App Store in July 2008, over 1 billion apps have been downloaded for use on the iTouch and iPhone. Currently, the App Store has 63,000 apps to choose from and it is no surprise that many of the iPhone/iTouch applications have educational value. Over the last few weeks, we sorted through our favorites to create The Teaching Palette’s Best Apps for Art Teachers, along with some tips and suggested uses.
- Love Art-Natl Gallery London This is an absolutely beautiful museum app that integrates audio and video presentations based on the collections in the museum. A great learning tool containing snapshots of a wide range of art history.
- Brushes Familiar with the New Yorker Cover that was created using an iPhone app? It was created with the Brushes painting app and tops our list. Easy to use beginning with the very young. Watch a speed portrait here.
- TypeDrawing Draw with text. This fun app uses a single letter or phrase as the drawing tool. A completely new way of drawing (and thinking about drawing). See some examples in this Flickr pool.
- TanZen Familiar with Tangrams? This app combines math and art concepts together. Move, rotate, and flip shapes to form a larger image. Great for improving spatial intelligence.
- Art (Lite version) This art history game features five famous artists. Can you identify which artist created each work of art? Master this app, then upgrade to the paid version of Art. Another nice feature of this app is the option to load images into your photo gallery for use in other applications.
- Art2Go This app is an engaging and useful presentation of 19th and early 20th century artists and their work using audio commentary. Useful for all grade levels and art backgrounds.
- Color Splash This is an extremely simple app to use with some amazing effects. Teach the principle of emphasis by isolating a single image in color while the remainder of the photograph stands in black and white. See how easy this app is to use in this video tutorial.
- Animoto Near identical to the traditional web-based version, Animoto coordinates your images to the beat of music. Great for artist presentations or student portfolios. Completed presentations can be downloaded or emailed.
- FlipBook (Lite version) This is one of the best animation apps available. Features allow for replication of images and transparency effects to see previous slide. Click here for a guided tour of the app.
- PixPop Art – This is a challenging and very fun detail detective game. Utilizing fine art, detail images line the right side of the screen while you search for the match. Work in competition mode timing yourself or work at your own pace in Zen mode.
- 3D gallery Be a curator of your own museum. Enter this 3-D room and rearrange the paintings or choose your own images from photo gallery. This would be a great tool to display artwork created throughout the year or to focus on an art time period or genre. Note: There is currently no “save” feature, but if you click your on/off button at the same time as the menu button, you can create a screenshot that saves in photos on the camera roll.
- Comic Touch (Lite version) Add some humor to art historical images or commentary to student artwork with this single pane comic creator. Save to photo library or email. Upgrade to the paid version of Comic Touch and get interesting special effects and fonts. Watch an intro video here.
- Life Strips This is a great tool for creating comic strips. Utilizes a wide variety of comic strip templates and speech bubbles. Add photos and utilize filters to for adding special effects. Even add a Google map!
- Light Painting Have you ever created a photographic light painting? While standard flashlights and LED lights work fine, this app offers additional light features otherwise hard to replicate. Use these tips and tricks to get started.
- Open Culture - Find a nice group of audio and video podcasts from well known art museums in the “ideas and culture” category. The same category also contains animated New Yorker cartoons.
- AP Mobile Create a search for “Art” and get the latest news articles from around the world. Useful app for older students to reflect on culture and current events.
- Jazz Sculptor Utilize a wide variety of virtual materials and textures to carve a sculpture from a variety of forms. Rotate image to view at a 360 degree angle. Nice exercise to understand the subtractive carving process. See the Jazz Sculptor gallery for inspiration.
- ScuptMaster3D Create three-dimensional art using a variety of colors with this virtual material that appears inspired by Henry Moore. Great way to introduce and reinforce positive and negative space concepts. View this video tutorial for an overview.
- Architect Envi Deluxe – This app organizes architecture by building name, architect, or century created. It is presented in a slide-show format with the option to learn more about the building and save in the camera roll for use/manipulation in other applications. Yet, the best feature of this app is the option to view each architectural structure in Google Maps.
- Color Sudoku Forget the numbers – this is Sudoku in color! Game has a different levels of difficulty and color schemes.
- Eyetricks This app has a nice collection of optical illusions. Good for early finishers or as intro to an OP Art unit.
- Color Wheel -This color wheel uses advanced color theory concepts to reinforce color understanding. Useful interactive app for older students.
- Brooklyn Museum Tour the collection of art at the Brooklyn Museum. ”Randomize” is a nice feature to view artwork you might otherwise miss.
- Symmetry Useful tool for teaching symmetry to younger students. Watch this video for a quick demo.
- MovieMaker This is a great tool for creating stop-motion animations and time-lapse movies. Since it requires the camera on an iPhone, this app is perhaps most useful as an extension for students who have access to iPhone technology.
- PotteryWheel While this is certainly not a a replacement for the hands-on wheel throwing experience, this pottery wheel gives the basic idea of the cause and effect.
- Artist’s Touch This app requires little artistic talent but is useful when teaching about abstract art. Non-objective to representational- reveal your image using a variety of textures and paint tools. Be sure to watch video tutorial to get started.
- Google Earth This is a great app to integrate geographic locations of artists or cultures. Watch this video tutorial to get started.
- Gallery of Painters Contains a large collection of artists that can be searched alphabetically, by century, or nationality. View basic information or link directly to Wikipedia for detail information. Useful for research.
- Juxtaposer and Juxtaposer Lite This is a fun tool for teaching about Surrealism. Reinforce juxtaposition by taking a photo of your classroom and a selecting objects from a second photo to create a Magritte-like composition. Watch this video review to see what this app can do.
Ok . . so now what? Here are some additional tips and considerations to start using the apps:
- Not all the apps are free, but once purchased, an app can be used on multiple iTouch’s with no additional charge.
- Most schools do not have access to multiple iTouch’s (yet). But even just one iTouch can be used as an extension for an early finisher or projected on a screen for the entire class to view using a document camera.
- Some students may have access to a personal iTouch or even a parent’s iPhone. Create a recommended app list for these students to try out at home. You could even tie it into an extra credit option.
- Use it yourself to create your own art or brush up on art history.
- Find useful tips, reviews, and connect with other educators using apps in education at IEAR.org
What are your favorite apps for art education?