Have you ever seen an elementary school art room? If you haven’t then it’s something I highly recommend seeing, with the short amount of time we see the students we’re often running around and shouting orders like some sort of army general rallying their troops into a messy and seemingly losing battle. Despite the lack of time, lack of resources, and sheer chaos the students almost always impress us with the beautiful and thoughtful things they create. I know I compared to a battlefield, but in all reality it's a community of expression, collaboration, and constructive criticism that must be carefully tended to.
In this weeks blog post I’ll be talking the idea of Participatory Cultures in the art room but first let's talk about what a Participatory Culture is.
Jenkins (2009) highlights a few import attributes of a Participatory Culture…
The community should…
I did put these in simpler terms so if you do some research it may be worded differently but this is the basic gist of it. If you added mutual respect for the space, leader, and rules then I would consider it the perfect outline for a classroom motto! These Participatory Cultures can take many forms but the reason they’ve been discussed within the education field recently is because of the rise in these cultures through technology. They can be everything from web pages, online clubs, and forums to online video games. Depending on the culture these can have very positive or negative results on a person's development. For instance Pinterest can be a great site that promotes recycling and making new things, while a web forum that preaches hate could also be a participatory Culture with very different effects on it’s members.
The real question is “HOW IS THIS GOING TO HELP IN RELATION TO MY CLASSROOM?” Which is a very fair question. Like I said before many of the parts of a participatory culture are the same as our desired classroom cultures, especially in the art room. Aside from technology there are a few forms of creating/promoting a participatory culture that I use in my own classroom. The first of which is collaboration or group projects, every year my 4th graders get together and write/illustrate their own alliteration A-Z book. Each student writes their own alliteration for a letter and does the illustration to match and then all of them get added together so we have one large book that contains work from every student. This promotes the idea of self expression, makes students feel like their work is contributing to something larger, requires individuals to socialize, and allows students to work together to come up with alliterations and their matching illustrations.
I could talk forever about using curriculum to help create a positive culture in the classroom but I would rather offer you a technique in which you can combine a participatory culture that exists on technology and the content your covering in class. One really important aspect of art education is that we aim to teach students how to talk about their own art, offer advice, and accept and apply criticism in a positive way. This is something that can be very challenging especially in upper elementary school and middle school when students are growing and changing and becoming very self conscious and nervous. In my district we use an app called Seesaw that allows students interact via their cell phones, computers, or tablets in a closed group that can monitored by the teacher. It allows students to upload things and respond to posts on the discussion board and comment on other students work. For instance while I was teaching middle school I would have a weekly assignment due on the app and it would be a creative prompt such as Photograph something that contains two complimentary colors and comment on two other’s photos. The app makes this VERY easy to do and the students enjoy taking pictures and conversing on the discussion board. This is just one way we can use online participatory cultures to promote and transfer learning!
How do you use Participatory Cultures in your classroom?
SeeSaw - https://edshelf.com/tool/seesaw-the-learning-journal/
Social Media - https://www.theedadvocate.org/22-ways-use-social-media-classroom/
Jenkins (2009): Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture. Retrieved from https://www.macfound.org/media/article_pdfs/JENKINS_WHITE_PAPER.PDF