Creative solution: CES art teacher continues lessons online

Published 12:45 pm Wednesday, May 6, 2020

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By JOYANNA LOVE/ Senior Staff Writer

As classroom teachers adapted to working at home, Clanton Elementary School art teacher Julie Harrison began looking for ways to continue to connect with students and offer art lessons.

Harrison heard about some options other art teachers in the state were using from her membership in the Alabama Arts Education Association and a Facebook group for Alabama art teachers.

While reading what others were considering, Harrison formulated a plan she thought would work for her students.

“I knew that our school had a Facebook page, and I thought how awesome would it be if … my daughter, she is a student at Clanton Elementary, and I did a weekly art lesson for those kids who had internet access,” Harrison said.

Each project for a lesson was chosen to be able to be completed with items students would have readily available at home and be fun.

Harrison said she chose a variety of art mediums, so students would not get tired of doing the same type of thing every time.

“This has been a great learning experience for me by teaching digitally,” Harrison said. “I have, for years, (since 2012) made instructional videos to aid in my teaching in the classroom, but now I try to create them to help parents/guardians and students learn from home. My goal was to focus on creating art with materials that most or all students already have at home. I incorporated recycled newspaper, items in nature and even ketchup and mustard to create art.”

The response has varied with each video, based on the views and comments. Some who have enjoyed a specific lesson will post pictures of their completed projects.

“There have been as many as 1,000 views on one video,” Harrison said. “That’s just amazing to me.”

The weekly Facebook lessons began on April 6 and are set to run through May 15.

“The most enjoyable part I think is looking at the comments below the post from the parents and the students showing happiness in a time that is so uncertain,” Harrison said. “I think that was one of my goals, too. Not to make this a requirement … it was just for an opportunity to have something fun to do to keep children engaged academically through the arts and to let them know that I’m still here … and hopefully bring a little joy to their lives.”

Harrison is working on a special virtual art show for what would have been the final week of school May 18-22.

Plans are also being made for an art show of students work from this school year at CES after school starts back in the fall.