"We are living a public life on a global stage, the ones who can express themselves best, will be heard." -Laura Hill Timpanaro, Artist, Author, Educator

Thursday, September 20, 2018

#WHATISSCHOOL Thursday, September 21, 7PM EST


Parents and families are a child’s first teachers, supporters, coaches, cheerleaders, tutors, confidantes, conspirators and advocates. They are the experts about their children and the authors of what they want for their future.

But when it comes to school, families are often left out of the discussion regarding the needs of their children in receiving the best education possible. 

Throughout the scholastic experience many parents can list examples of the positive and negative impact scholastic policy, social engagement, cultural understanding and teaching strategies have had on their children.  These experiences often leave parents frustrated, and they are compelled to advocate for their children but are left feeling shut out and helpless when they do.  

Stress and harmonic imbalance at home can decrease student's ability to enjoy school and perform to the best of their abilities.  So what can we, as educators do?

Join me Laura Hill @candylandcaper this Thursday, September 21 at 7pm EST as #whatisschool welcomes co-host and family learning expert John MacLeod, Community Manager at NCFL, @Wonderopolis. along with ELA Consultant, Wonder Lead Ambassador, #NYEDChat Moderator, Carol Varsalona, @cvarsalona @cvarsalona as we explore ways to increase family, student and community engagement in the learning process.

#WHATISSCHOOL Thursday, September 21, 7PM EST 

Q1 How can you integrate cultural values into lessons learned in school?

Q2 How can family or community input bring added value to in-school lessons?

Q3 How can technology bridge the gap between what students learn at home and in school?

Q4 What role does global citizenship play in reinforcing values at home and in school?

Q5 How can families and teachers work together to create lessons that improve their community?

Q6 How can students lead in collaborative programs between schools and communities?

Monday, September 3, 2018

Contemporary Art In Education Focus

Digital Painting

As an artist I have worked in many mediums, oils, watercolor, acrylics, pen and ink as well as video and graphic design.  But I am currently finding my stride as a digital painter.  Digital painting can be crude but in my case it allows me to apply my fine art background quickly and easily anywhere I am. I can express my ideas as I have them, revise and finish with the art printed on canvass or poster.  Many of you have asked how I create me paintings.  Here is a brief "how to" of the creation of the piece "Misty Veil Of Re-birth" which was part of a 31 Night Challenge hosted by notorious American Painter Michael Bell.  This painting was complete in several hours.

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Fearless Teaching: Failing Your Way To Success

by Laura Hill

Yesterday my daughter came home from school glum. She is a good student and very social so I was surprised by the long face.  When I questioned her she pulled out her math test. “I bombed my test,” she said, handing it to me.

Bombing a test is not a big thing. As you get older you realize you will fail in many things before you succeed.  Tony Hawk tried 12 times before he stuck a 900 at the X Games in San Francisco.  J.K Rowling’s Harry Potter was rejected by dozens of publishers before being printed.  Michael Jordan was cut from his HS basketball team.  Thomas Edison claimed he never once made a discovery, instead working lines of logic until they reached their natural end, discarding the failures and trying again. 

He failed all the time, but he never gave up.

When my daughters and I write our Great Story World Mix-Up books it can take anywhere from a few days to six months to pen a manuscript.  Before that we spend weeks in group brainstorming sessions coming up with story arcs.  Many of the plot lines we develop are discarded, not because the ideas are bad, they just weren’t the best ones to move the story forward.

Our bad mistakes don’t end there.  I do a whole program on how we turn bad art into beautiful illustrations, reworking and rethinking each one until we feel a picture is just right.  Once we’ve got the story and the pictures together we still aren’t done because our editor hands us revisions that can be as simple as spelling errors or more extensive like suggestions on whole passages.  I have gone through manuscripts and scrapped entire chapters after putting them aside for a few months to gain perspective.

When I tell this to students they are really surprised.

I think students have a misconception that everything they do has to be successful. I’ve often wondered if this is due to the culture of instant gratification and overnight celebrity we live in, or if there is something more.  The focus on high stakes testing and measured learning has its place but maybe we are hampering a higher thought process that could lead students to even greater success.

If you aren’t willing to fail you will probably never succeed. 

I think that’s an important message to send to students.  I do a workshop where the project has no outcome, building a structure collaboratively only to tear it down or watch it fall apart.  Students are really surprised that I have them plan, problem solve and create to no end. The post project talk is about what worked, what failed and how we can co-op the best parts into an even greater creation.  The project is about the process, not the product.

I think if  students were less worried about failing they would be willing to take more risks, ask surprising questions and test theories that had never been tried before. This is the type of thinking that’s responsible for the amazing advances in technology and innovation we see today.  You have the opportunity to create a fearless culture in your classroom encouraging students to use new tools, technology and learning processes to explore and re-explore the world around them.  And that’s what will lead to higher thinking and change.

Today, educators are not just pillars of knowledge; they are leaders in teaching thought and building confidence so students can blow us away with their ideas.  After my daughter’s failure we talked and I realized she bombed the test because she didn’t ask for help, she was afraid not understanding would be perceived as failure.  I discussed this with her teacher and on the next test she was the only one to get 100% right.  Not because she was smarter, but because her teacher had build up her confidence and opened a path to dialogue that was unthreatening.

 You have the power, you have the tools, create a culture of fearless learning where failing to succeed is part of the project.  You’ll be surprised at the way your students respond and the brilliant ideas they come up with.
Laura Hill is an author and producer known for helping children find their voice and talents through creative arts and technology. To find out how you can bring her writing programs to your school email Laura Hill or tweet @candylandcaper. 

Contemporary Art In Education Spotlight

Memes, Dreams and Genes 

The spread of information likened to a virus, worshiped as an art, able to shape opinions and bring down or elevate the great and small alike.  Memes are the voice of a generation and their appeal is contagious.  

We live surrounded by art. It is fed directly to us every day.  We hold it in our hand.  It's allure determines where our attention is placed.  It shapes what we stand for, has changed to way we spend our time and the way we go to business. 

Art is the central focus of our world and as our ability to communicate on a global platform expands we find ourselves increasingly immersed in shared experiences rich in culture, color, sound and tone.  The art we view on visual platforms help determine which experiences we choose to partake in.  More and more the influencers are not large companies but diverse groups of youth and adults drawn together by media such as memes. 

So why is art one of the most diminished curriculum in many schools today?

It may surprise you to learn the term “meme” was first used in biology. It was coined by evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins in his famous book, The Selfish Gene. The premise behind the phrase is that cultural ideas replicate and transmit from one person to another much like the way genes replicate and are passed on through generations. 

Memes reflect our innate desire to not only mimic but to belong and to build upon an idea that is presented adding our own unique twist.    Starting with small pockets of individuals the art mutates and changes as it is shared.  The audience grows and becomes global.

Memes as a learning tool can help students master and build on lessons.

The initial art can be a simple cartoon or an intricate painting.  It can be an everyday object, or celebrity photo.  Often the initial art uses animals or regular people. Regardless of its imagery the art is used to convey an emotional reaction that is tied to a popular statement or situation that is often thought provoking or controversial in nature.  As the meme becomes more popular its ability to deliver information increases rapidly infiltrating many disparate cultures with its message.  

Memes can stimulate discussion on controversial topics.  

Memes have evolved pop art so it is no longer a passive experience, images are no longer created simply to be admired and analyzed.  They take art to a new level of experience in which the audience shares in the role of artist and, as technology continues to evolve and the rules of creation are thrown away to make room for new techniques, the mediums of expression will continue to change promising to bring breathe taking innovations to the art experience and the way we communicate in the future.

Laura Hill (Timpanaro)


Read the books I write with my children.