Tuesday, April 20, 2010


My Journey: The Nature and Design of Compelling Experiences

Throughout taking the MSU course The Nature and Design of Compelling Experiences, I have been using this blog as a place to reflect and make connections between the work or art of teachers and the work of art of experts in photography, film and television, architecture and interior design, music, and fashion. Of course one of the main goals of educators is to create compelling experiences for our students. We want to create meaningful learning that moves our students and causes them to see and feel their learning. Educators want to inspire students to respond in new ways to their learning. Similarly, professionals who work in the arts, inspire, provoke, and make us think and feel. Many times because of the standards packed curriculum, educators have neglected the importance of integrating the arts and have not provided experiences that move the students to feel their learning in a different manner.

I have always been interested in photography, and felt that it was a great learning experience to create the video that illustrated both a photo that I felt wasn’t compelling and one that was. In the past I would just take photos because I enjoyed taking them. After reading, “Elements of a Great Photo,” by Gwyn Calvetti, I came to understand a number of elements including composition, lighting, and various technical aspects. For example, I had never heard of the rule of thirds before. As I took my photos I took many of these elements into consideration. Photography is everywhere in our world. It is in books, in magazines, on signs, on webpages, and on our walls just to name a few. Because so many professionals make use of this type of art, I think the teaching of photography and the forms that go in to making it a work of art cam be justified in our schools.

During the course, as I studied the art of film and television, I realized the many elements that go into the creation of a film. In “First Cut Chapter 11: Conversations With Film Editor Paul Hirsch,” he discussed the importance of creating an intellectual, emotional, and visual climate as well as how you can use film to span thirty years in one and a half hours. He illustrated that suspense can be created by presenting the audience with a threat that something so awful will happen within a given time. He discussed how reshuffling scenes can make the audience have a better connection with the film. I think that in making students aware of the forms that go into the creation of film, it can help them to think analytically about film in the classroom. If students are challenged to create a film that makes use of the elements that they have learned about, they will be challenged to use their creativity and use the forms studied. One of my favorite assignments for this course was analyzing the Super Bowl Doritos commercial. This assignment challenged me to analyze the work of art that was put into the commercial.

It was very interesting to study interior design and think about ways of connecting this art to education. In this module my favorite readings were those written by Sarah Susanka. Her book described how space, light, and order can be used to define the elusive quality of a home. Of course these elements can be utilized as teachers set up their classrooms. Students can also take part in lessons that integrate math, art, and interior design. By making connections between the art of interior design and curriculum, students can appreciate the aesthetic value of the design as well as obtain knowledge.

My most challenging module was the music module. I do not have a musical bone in my body. However as I listened to some of the interviews with Robert Kapilow, music conductor, interpreter, and composer, I began to understand some of the forms that go in to creating compelling music. I had never really noticed what it was that made me like a song. Now I seem to notice if there is a specific rhythm or if there is a compelling story within the music. As Kapilow discussed holiday music in one interview, I came to view “We Wish You a Merry Christmas,” in a new way. Really the words alone are not that compelling. However when there is a catchy rhythm, a twist of momentum, a combination of a message, and the repetition of a pattern that continuously gets higher, then the song conveys a message.

The fashion module was also a favorite of mine. After watching the “What Not To Wear,” television episode, we then created a “What Not to Teach,” video. I enjoyed making this video partially because I tried a new method of creating video by creating a cartoon using ToonDoo, which I incorporated into the video. Students are very in touch with new fads and seem to have a natural interest in fashion. Therefore if teachers use this as a way to motivate student learning, then students will be engaged in their learning.

The project that I am most proud of and that I put the most work into is my Work of Art video. As I made the video I took into consideration the elements that we studies in each module that made up a work of art. The article that led me to my work of art plan was, “Learning and Teaching the Ways of Knowing,” by Elliot Eisner. He wrote, “We often recognize, in our conversations at least, that mathematics has an aesthetic dimension. What does it mean for designing curriculum and teaching? Are students aware of the aesthetic aspects of mathematics, and if not, what can we do about it?” Therefore in my video, I wanted to demonstrate the aesthetics that can be created through the understanding of mathematics with a connection to technology and art.

My experiences in this course have inspired me to teach in a new way. I am now seeing the many artistic elements that can be integrated into the classroom. I am eager to put my learning into practice!

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