Artful “Teching” at Hopkins School

From where does inspiration spring? For Mrs. DaRosa, it comes from imagining ways to engage her students and transform their learning of and appreciation for art. A quick jaunt into the Hopkins Art Room revealed her passion on exhibit as 5th grade students thoughtfully toiled away on their projects. Perusing the space, I noticed the typical drawing paper, colored pencils, markers, and oil pastels juxtaposed amid the not-so-traditional sculptured animal skulls, earbuds, and ipads. The young artists moved fluidly between low and high tech as if such tools have always been part of the visual artist’s landscape.

On this visit, students were in the midst of a self-directed artist study of Georgia O’Keeffe. The unit began last week with a brief overview from Mrs. DaRosa, who invited students to watch a BrainPop video about the life and works of Georgia O’Keeffe, use the iPads to explore the artist’s various styles, and then find their own inspiration to create an original drawing in one of O’Keeffe’s styles. Consequently, twenty-three students were laser-focused on their individual artwork, a level of engagement that is sometimes difficult to achieve in a room full of diverse talents.

Young artists finding and following their inspiration

Young artists finding and following their inspiration

To what does Mrs. DaRosa credit this feat? It boils down to one word — choice. When contemplating the project, her first instinct was to curate a slideshow to introduce O’Keeffe’s work. However, she realized that her own bias could influence how students viewed the collection and worried she would end up with a gallery full of animal skulls. The iPads allowed her to release the learning experience to the whims of her students and allowed her to hone in on skills as she follow each student’s lead. Watching the BrainPop video on the iPad initiated students’ personal journeys, and the research grew organically from there. As a result, the classroom is blossoming with larger than life flowers, uniquely perspective cityscapes, and beautiful Southwest landscapes, some peppered with animal skulls.

“I liked how we could do anything it [Georgia O’Keefe’s artwork] inspired us to do. I liked the freedom.”

– Grace, Grade 5

In addition to working on the artist study, a handful of students were wrapping up the previous project. Again, iPads were at the ready as students captured photos of their self-portraits and uploaded them to the Artsonia website along with their artist statements. Publishing their own portfolios is yet another way that technology helps give students choice and ownership of the art process.

Student publishing her self-portrait to Artsonia gallery

Student publishing her self-portrait to Artsonia gallery

You can take your own virtual trip to the Hopkins Art Room by viewing student portfolios on Artsonia or by following Mrs. DaRosa @HopkinsArtRoom. The Georgia O’Keeffe inspired artwork should start cropping up in a couple of weeks!

by Stephanie Doty, Technology Integration Coordinator, Elementary

Reposted from


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