Art Education Students Attend Wisconsin Art Education Association Conference

MARCH 10TH 2017

In October AIM sponsored 15 UW-Stout Art Education students to attend the Wisconsin Art Education Association (WAEA) conference in La Crosse, Wisconsin.  The theme of the two day conference was “Bold and Bright,” with many hands-on workshops and presentations.  As UW-Stout Art Education student Matt Massimo explains, the conference “brings together Art Educators from across Wisconsin to share their knowledge and their love for teaching art with each other.”  

 Photo: UW-Stout Art Education students Aidan Manley, Emery Kuehn, and Ellen Scharfenberg with Keynote speaker, Cassie Stevens.

 Photo: UW-Stout Art Education students Aidan Manley, Emery Kuehn, and Ellen Scharfenberg with Keynote speaker, Cassie Stevens.

Each of the 15 UW Stout Art Education students attended approximately 10 different sessions as well as a keynote presentation by art teacher Cassie Stevens.  In reflecting on the conference, Matt Massimo said, “These sessions greatly expanded my art teaching knowledge, giving me lesson plans I could use in the future and an idea of how I will want to teach my students. I now have ideas for my own classroom that I probably would never have discovered without going to this conference. I know I have a long way to go before I am ready to teach my own class but I feel so much more prepared for the journey to become an art teacher and once I am one.“

According to Art Education student Ellen Scharfenberg, a portion of the WAEA Conference sessions focused on integrating technology into the classroom, including using QR codes, Google drive, and the cloud.  Such technologies are examples of how to “support teaching and cater to the 21st century learners that I will have someday,” said Schartenberg.  Having a concentration in a graphic design, technology is “very important to me because I believe it is going to, and already has, impacted the students that I will have. They will need to know how it works, how to use it and how to make art and create with it.”

Art Education student Megan Becker said she came away from the conference “incredibly inspired”.  She attended sessions on subjects such arts advocacy, arts integration, mural making and mindfulness.  Many of her sessions included literacy and the exploration of cultural differences.  Becker described the conference as having “a great sense of community.  Every presenter was so willing to give information and help in any way possible. I walked away with so many ideas of practical things I can actually do as an educator, and I’m so excited to start teaching.”

One session Abigail Henderson attended dealt with literacy, and the presenter shared how books can be used as teaching resources.  She spoke about illustrations and compositions in book covers and how they relate to the story in the book. Text and expression in children's books were offered as tools for lessons as well. “It was really eye opening to see all of the possibilities to integrate literacy into your classroom. She even gave ideas to collaborate with classroom teachers or the English department at your school with lessons, which I thought was such an awesome idea,” said Henderson.

There were opportunities to learn about art products useful in the classroom as well how to host a school art show. Many UW Stout attendees also learned about the art education website Artsonia, where student art work can be uploaded (with an artist's statement) for an online art show. “As a beginning educator, the first couple years are tough, and I thought this conference brought a lot of great ideas to mind,” said Molly Brion. “ I look forward to going next year when I am an art teacher and bringing back more ideas.“

Karryn Boche shared, “Attending the WAEA conference opened my eyes to many different styles of teaching that I had either never thought of, or those that I had never heard of before.  Through each session I was able to find something I knew that I would be able to apply to my teaching methods in the future.  I was delighted at the fact that I was able to ask questions and get the answers that I was looking for, though I am still early in my studies.”

Emery Kuehn was particularly affected by a session about maintaining a stable Art Studio class.  Kuehn said the presenter shared how he allowed students to cope with their life happenings while in studio art, even when he had set certain objectives for the project. “I really liked that because the students were able to complete the criteria, while soothing the ache in their soul.”  In reflecting the overall conference experience, Kuehn also shared, “I’ve gained an understanding of what it’s like to teach students who are going through hard times, students of different cultures, ethnicity, and disability.”

UW-Stout alumnus Nic Hahn was also in attendance at the conference, presenting a session on the benefits of a “flipped” classroom.  This is a technique where teachers record videos to organize lessons digitally, to double oneself as a teacher, to provide sub plans, and to easily share lessons with peers, administrators, and parents.  “Nic did a fabulous job presenting this concept. I'd love to experiment with this in my own classroom someday,” commented UW-Stout Art Education student Samantha Plasch.

Plasch also remarked that she and her colleagues from UW-Stout were the only pre-service teachers in attendance.  Student Jennah Kaiser was told by others that the UW-Stout team was “so smart for coming to the conference before teaching.” During lunch and the hands on sessions Kaiser was able to hear a lot of stories about other teachers’ past experiences. ”Knowing that every teacher struggles at first to find their personal teaching style and confidence gave so much assurance that it’s okay to be making mistakes right now. Knowing that I am learning how to be a teacher reinforced that I am ready for student teaching and to take that next step. A professor once told me that teaching is all about having enough tricks in your bag. Attending this conference gave me tons of new tricks that I will be able to implement in my own classroom and with my own students.”

The WAEA conference also had sessions such as “Art of Evaluation – Standards Based Rubrics”  and “Playing the Assessment Game; Make Assessment Fun and Easy”   UW-Stout student Rachel Tschumperlin attended the assessment session where she learned to play Kahoot, a game “so easy to make pre-assessment and assessment fun for my students. I loved that we could see the results of the game at the end and see what exactly needs to taught again or not. This was a fun easy tool that I can definitely see myself using in my classroom someday. “  Freshman Lindsey Jones also attended this session and commented,  “It was interesting because I was learning and being assessed for the 12-point scale my junior and senior year of high school. And now, I am being taught how to teach to those standards.”

As for Olivia Revolinski, she found the importance of edTPA session particularly helpful. “The presenters of the session gave an overview of edTPA and what to expect for future teachers. As an emerging student teacher, I needed to know what the process of this part of my certification.”

Aiden Manley described his experience at the WAEA conference as “very beneficial”.  “Not many other majors allow students to have experiences like this.  Knowing that there is this huge network of art teachers across the state made me more excited for when I get my own classroom and get to be part of this network.”  

“I was overwhelmed by the openness, generosity, and support offered by my soon-to-be colleagues,” remarked Sam Plasch.  “Their excitement was infectious, and if there is one thing I learned while I was there, it is that our greatest resource is each other - and we should take advantage of that.”

“These educators showed me that being an art educator is more than writing lesson plan and teaching children how to use scissors, “ shared Olivia Revolinski.  “There is more to art educators than the stereotypes that we live under. We work hard, we have a passion for both students and art, we teach students how to use their minds in a different way than most other subjects.”

Rachel Tschumperlin said, “Going to this conference was probably the best decision I have ever made.  It was a great motivational place to be and find all these new and creative ideas to bring into my classroom one day. It was such a wonderful opportunity and I would do it again in a heartbeat. This experience made me extremely excited for what is to come in my teacher career. “