Art teacher uses QR codes as teaching tools

From Contributed Reports

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An Edgecombe County Public Schools art teacher is thinking “outside the box’ to make technology come alive in her art classroom.

Carolyn Burress, a teacher at Phillips Middle and North Edgecombe High schools, uses Quick Response or QR codes as a way of teaching her students to teach others about the artwork they create in class.

QR Codes are labels that people can scan with their smartphones to display the information linked to the code.

“I can’t take credit for the idea. I took a workshop with the NC Arts Association which keeps me abreast with possibilities in the art world,” Burress said. “When I was going to the conferences, I ran across a workshop with Mr. Peters that gave me this idea with QR codes.”

At the workshop, Peters described how he had students prepare wine bottles, select art they liked and painted it on the bottle. They also had to do an iMovie on the project.

“That really fascinated me,” Burress said. “The students put QR Codes on the bottles so that anyone who saw it could scan it to see their artwork and their iMovie presentation.”

Burress added her twist on the workshop with what she termed “Art History in a Bottle.” Using a spin-off of “A message in a bottle,” Burress had students select an Art movement then choose an artist from the movement. Next, students had to research that movement, creating a painting in the style of that movement.

“When they did that, the students had to create a three minute presentation using their own voice to explain it, music from the time period of the movement they selected, and photographs or illustrations to give the feeling of the time period,” she said.

To do this, students had to know what was going on in the country and the environment at that time and to understand its impact on the artist.

Completing the process, students were assigned a QR code to accompany their artwork and presentation. Technical assistance was provided by MaryAnn Powell, technology facilitator for Edgecombe County Public Schools.

When people scan the QR codes, they hear and see the presentation that the students put together to explain their artwork and the work of the artist they chose.

“This isn’t about me. I got a lot of resistance at first, but I got some great work,” Burress said. “I wanted them to learn from the artists and the world at the same time.”

Burress said her plight is to get students to understand the importance of art to the world.

“When you get up in the morning and brush your teeth, some graphic artist has designed your tooth brush so that you would buy it. Some designer has created your clothes, your car, or your work. You cannot touch nor do anything without art,” she said. I’m not trying to produce a Rembrandt or a Picasso, but if a student can understand what he or she gets from art, then I’m satisfied.”