About the Project

The Digital Visual Culture Project funded by the National Art Education Foundation was located in one school, with one third grade classroom-cohort, during the 2011-2012 school year where students, their art teacher and third grade teacher engaged with university researchers (in both their art classroom and their third grade classroom) in visual digital media. Projects included video production, online communication tools, animation, interview techniques and web building. The DVC Project was a collaborative effort among a university art educator, Patty Bode, a university multi-media specialist, Pearl Emmons, a public school art teacher, Laura Davila-Lynch, a third grade classroom teacher, Jeffrey Timberlake, a university research assistant, Elana McDermott, and 25 third-grade scholars at the Boston Teachers Union School in Boston, Massachusetts. The university research team made weekly visits to the school to plan and co-teach third grade interdisciplinary lessons that blurred the boundaries of art class, technology and English language arts curriculum (ELA). The DVC Project worked from the assumption that most very young students are “digital natives,” who bring inherent knowledge of technology to school. It was designed to build on the voices, experiences and knowledge of the third grade students and their teachers, while providing scaffolding for those who may be novices to some media. Simultaneously, the art teacher and third grade classroom teacher were co-teaching with the university researchers while also building pedagogical and technological skills. The university researchers worked closely with the art teacher, Ms. Laura Davila-Lynch and the third grade teacher, Mr. Jeffrey Timberlake to plan curriculum and implement new technology tools while also supporting the third graders’ traditional studio skills such as drawing and painting integrated with their reading and writing literacy skills. At the same time, the teachers were conceptually expanding curriculum. The collaborative nature of the team made for a highly responsive teaching environment with differentiated instruction and culturally congruent practices guiding each decision. In this way, the support of technologies integrated in the art classroom produced data to be analyzed for the study in teacher development as well as student learning.

DVC Project Goals and Objectives:

The goals were to investigate these four questions by placing new media in the hands of early childhood learners: How does integrating digital visual technology in art curriculum, help meet the needs of multicultural classrooms? What is the impact on student learning and on the broader context of visual art curriculum when digital technologies are integrated into urban art classrooms that have previously maintained traditional studio art instruction? How can art teachers in K-8 urban public schools become researchers and be valued for their expertise, insights and multicultural perspectives? How can K-8 student knowledge and voice influence how multicultural art teacher preparation programs may be reshaped for the postmodern era?

Description of DVC Research Methods and Activities:

Through participatory action research methods with data analyzed and presented in case study format, the activities aim to contribute to use of digital visual technologies in K-8 classrooms in the art education research agenda and classroom practice. Activities included the exploration, teaching and learning of the following projects by third grade students: animated video productions of their personal narrative stories, animated video reflections of their chapter book readings, Voicethread participation in online discourse community, video interviews, culminating with each third grade student built her/his own weebly web site as an electronic portfolio of this work.

Results: Lessons Learned and Preliminary Findings of Research

Preliminary implications point to the power of Participatory Action Research when university researchers work side by side in the classrooms of public school teachers. By collaborating and re-shaping stances on student knowledge and harnessing digital native student-expertise many findings are emerging. Even though the data are still under analysis, it is clear that many of the investigative goals were fruitful in these preliminary findings:

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