Wednesday, October 28, 2015

We All Start Somewhere.

This is a guest post by Abbey Obrist, an eighth grader at Weaver Middle School in Hilliard, OH.  

Abby has an insightful take on practice and how we can each learn from our experiences. In fact, she is embracing our work at WMS as we talk Growth Mindset to our teachers, to our students and to our community. 

Our motto this year as a community of learners is when we are faced with a task we feel we can't accomplish, we simply add, "Yet". Abby is a great example of living by this motto and displays her talents through her writing and sharing of ideas.

We All Start Somewhere

My fanart for a webcomic called Homestuck by Andrew Hussie
 Lyrics are from The Bird and the Worm by Owl City
Just like the title says, we all start somewhere.  Art is like learning to ride a bike or starting to learn to play an instrument.  You're not going to be the best at first.  You have to practice and practice and practice.  Sure, it may seem hard but if you keep working at it you'll be able to make a semi-quality sketch in about a minute.  I had always loved art but didn't really start drawing until two years ago.  I look back on my old art and cringe but at the time I thought it was good then.  That's what kept me drawing.  The encouragement from myself and others helped me keep practicing and wanting to get better.  You are not going to start out magically being able to draw.  If you keep working you can get better.  I often think about how much I've improved in just two years.  But like I said, I only improved because I tried and practiced.

Enough about me.  Let's focus on you.  You're wanting to start drawing.  "How do I get good?" you ask me and other artists.  Practice.  If you're starting out, here's a list of things that are okay to do.
  1. Use references.  It is okay to use references. Use them as much as you want.  Now this doesn't mean just go ahead and copy the work. Use it as a reference though. Use it to help draw the pose, feet, hand, whatever you need it for.  
  2. Find artists you like. Is there an artist you like? Love, love, love their style? Try it out. Find a couple artists you like and try it out. Mix and match different things and bam you got your art style. Do not just go and completely steal another artists style.  It's okay to draw alike or similar to them but do not just go and steal their style. It'll take a bit to finally find it though. In fact, I use what feels like 500 different styles all throughout my sketchbook. 
  3. P r a c t i c e.  Practice is key. Art will not just come easily to you. Especially if you're not very familiar with it. Like learning violin. You're not just going to become Lindsey Stirling or David Wong. You have to start as a beginner like everybody else and practice.  
  4. Nothing is set in stone. Your style is not permanent and there is always room to improve. Change your style up and try different or new ones every once in a while. You can always revert back to your original style if need be. Like I said, I feel like I have so many different art styles and that's okay. That will come in handy too. Something may look better in one style than it does the other style.  
There you have it. I could probably go on and on about tips and tricks but I don't have that kind of time. I feel like I've said practice and style way too many times but they're important words when it comes to art. Congratulations if you made it to the end of my rambling about starting to draw. I'm sure there'll be more in the future so stay tuned.  

Thursday, October 15, 2015

The #AMLE2015 Experience – The Middle Level Learner

Day one of the AMLE Conference is nearing an end in downtown Columbus, OH. Educators from across the country and beyond have spent the day focused on middle level best practices. Whether it was the impressive keynotes this morning that delivered a passionate and resonating message of teaching and learning or the countless breakout sessions embedded throughout the day, the collective passion for young adolescents is alive and well at the convention center.

With day two only a few hours a way, there is an abundant amount of information to be shared by both presenters and participants. The sharing of knowledge that will occur on this second day will mirror day one and be as mind-boggling and professionally rewarding.

So, what is your plan for day two? Get some sleep and set your alarm for #AMLE2015 and Friday’s line-up. Here is some advice as you head off to enjoy your evening:

Birds of a Feather Flock Together – As tempting as it is to travel from session to session with those you know, push yourself to break off and set your own path. Take notes, ask questions, meet new educators and make the learning interactive. Grow your Professional Learning Network.

Don’t Put All of Your Eggs in One Basket – When we head off to conferences many times we go with a specific goal in mind. All be it goals are extremely important to have. In fact, they are essential to measure growth.  Make sure you get to sessions that have you thinking about who you are as a leader and learner. Goals take form based on your experiences. Branch out.

Don’t Judge a Book by Its Cover – Often times we select sessions to attend based on title alone. As we have heard countless times, make sure to peel back the cover and read into the description and the presenter. Some of the best learning moments can come from the most unlikely of places. Explore your options.

Actions Speak Louder than Words – When all is said and done, the real test is taking the knowledge you have gained from the AMLE Conference and apply it to your everyday world. Take the time to reflect, formulate a plan to implement and set your actions steps. Be courageous.

I would encourage you, and challenge you, as attendees to push yourselves the entire conference. You have a unique opportunity to grow yourselves leaps and bounds. By participating in these professional experiences, you are that much more in tune with the world of education and the passion and patience for the middle level learner. Stay committed to your students and each other and know that our work is essential to their development.