Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Following Directions is a Good Thing | Reading in Art Education

A little more than a year ago I proudly proclaimed the fact that I, too, am a reading teacher no matter how it much it might seem that reading in visual art and design does not naturally exist or belong. I'm happy to report that later I am still insistent on teaching reading in my content area!

One of my favorite ways to do this is to teach students to read directions and how to follow them exactly as they are written. I do this in graphic design by requiring them to do tutorials from one of my favorite photoshop reference books called The Photoshop CS3/CS4 WOW! Book. I have used this book for four years now and though that might seem like what it offers would be dated, I still feel like it's a great text to teach with. It offers all sorts of useful tricks, tips, and teaching of techniques in clear and concise ways that also include screen captures alongside the very technical but also user-friendly language.

It is chock full of ready made "lessons" for the purposes of teaching the student artist designers in my graphic design class not only how to follow directions more intentionally but also why it's important to follow directions more intentionally. I often draw a comparison of how getting through a photoshop tutorial is very much like following the order of operations in mathematics because if you miss one keystroke even? It can throw the whole rest of your photoshop process off either by halting the design and creation all together OR producing something far from what was intended from the beginning of the tutorial.

Anyway, the WOW! book is amazing so much that I have found we can even use the CS/CS2 version of the book and it still works reasonably well with the latest version of photoshop. I mean, it's not ideal but it still works fine which is nice since it saves my students and their parents/families money since that's one less book they have to buy brand new (unless they want to).

It's pretty standard that I have to indicate photoshop tutorial assignments on the different pages that they are found in both versions but that's hardly something to fuss about considering all that both versions of the book offer that are pretty much the same thing. If anything the slight differences within the same basics of the tutorial offer a little bit more student-centered learning so then I can tell them that they have two different versions (of the same tutorials) to choose from which makes it that much more interesting to them since they feel like they have a little more choice in how and what they are doing. I have found that the more I can help the students to feel like they are helping to steer what they create, the more invested they are and the less pushing and shoving I have to do to get them to do things like READ in a content area like mine where they don't expect to have to do so.

Something else I do with the tutorials is that I would have them do the tutorials and then have them go back and use the tutorials to do a "personal" version of it (with images of their own choosing) using the original directions that they learned from. They are usually very motivated and excited to do this and it's always fun to see how much they learn even in just a week's time total of the tutorial and then they personal spin they put on the tutorial.

I always expect there to be fussing when it comes to them being "forced" to read in order to be more effective, able, and intentional designers and artists but even in the midst of all of that, I will gradually start hearing them say, "This is so easy! You just have to follow the directions!!!" (Go figure, right?)

Currently the graphic design students are working on taking photographs and turning them into digital paintings - a favorite project that I always keep around because it's just that popular and fun. I will try and post pictures of some of the really standout ones once they are all finished in about a week and a half.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...