Middle School Art Teachers Help Students Connect, Create, and Share Their Art

MS  Art Work
Shawnee Mission School District

Students at Hocker Grove Middle School participated in a virtual art show with the help and support of Alyssa Passmore, art teacher. The students were challenged to use art to help tell their stories about their experiences during the pandemic.

More students incorporated unexpected ideas into their artwork, demonstrating they see the world in a different way through Continuous Learning Passmore noted.

Kaitlyn Spencer, a first-year art teacher at Hocker Grove, challenged students to redesign the Hocker Grove logo.  Spencer uses the SeeSaw platform to connect with her students. She likes the platform because students can turn in visual work and receive immediate feedback from Spencer. 

Spencer has really appreciated the collaboration with the middle school art teachers who gather for a weekly WebEx to discuss projects and student work and she enjoys seeing artwork from the other middle schools.

Passmore and Spencer wanted to recognize and honor the success of their students in an online art show that may be viewed at this link.

Audrey Gilroy and Amy Traylor, Westridge Middle School art teachers, provided their students with many choices for each art project. It was interesting, Gilroy noted, to see which process and material students decided to use for creating.

“While I missed getting to see my students and their learning that occurs during the artmaking process, I discovered that ‘turn in day’ during distance learning was a highlight of my week,” Gilroy shared. “I looked forward to seeing how students resolved their weekly project and the resulting artworks. For some students, I noticed their interest in certain art approaches grew.”

Gilroy implemented the Getty Museum Twitter Challenge where students were asked to recreate their favorite masterpiece using only materials they had in their homes. They researched historical artworks and applied their creativity into utilizing materials they already had in order to recreate a favorite artwork.

At home, students were working with food instead of clay, painting with a scrunchie instead of a paintbrush, and painting with makeup instead of paint. While it was challenging to plan art lessons, Gilroy found that it actually provided students with opportunities that they wouldn’t have had in art rooms or in traditional times Gilroy noted. Westridge artwork may be viewed here.

Gilroy was impressed with how teachers came together to collaborate, problem solve, and share inspiration.

“Our middle school art teacher cadre is amazing and continues to be so supportive and encouraging, Gilroy shared.  “With all of the ups and downs of distance learning, including really missing my students, I am grateful that I had the chance to continue to provide opportunities for students to create and express themselves.”

The middle school art cadre assembled a middle school art show for all five middle schools. The art show may be viewed at this link.

Gilroy hopes that students have found an outlet through their art in these unprecedented times to help them process what is going on and to allow them to continue to connect with others.  

Passmore has this advice for student artists over the summer: keep making art. “Making art helps me feel less stressed, sort through my feelings, and feel like I’ve accomplished something,” Passmore explained. “So even if you hate what you are making, keep going, sometimes the biggest take