Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Mini is Mighty

iPad Minis for the Primary School Art Room

Primary School Art Room Population

Six hundred people come through the door each week. In our rural community in central Virginia, 40 to 60 % of our students receive free or reduced lunch and breakfast. Most of our students do not have Internet access at home. Their technology training comes from our school’s computer lab, their classrooms and the art room. Our room has been known to have technology issues. We currently do not have heat. For the last few days, we did not have technology access. Mobile devices are key to our success and adaptability. Before our remodel 3 years ago, Art was in a condemned trailer then a homeless cart. We are grateful for what we have.

A Small Proposal for a Mighty Benefit- Our Own Devices

The largest group of students and adults we have in the art room at a time is 30 people. We are fortunate our Special Needs students have a 1:1 iPad ratio and funding for their applications. Our grade levels Kindergarten through 2nd grade have grade level iPad carts with approximately 23 working iPads. Our Prek classes have one teacher iPad. Our art room has one teacher iPad.

Our Art Room technology goal is to have 4 iPad minis for the art room. Along with the devices, we would need cases, a docking/charging station, iPad Mini mount, a tripod and a printer. Ideally, I would purchase the iPads through Apple when they were offering an App card per device. The plan would cost $1800 dollars. There are already two desktop Mac units with large 17in. screens not being used in the school library. I would love to have both- one for my teacher workstation and one for a student workstation.

In the art class, we use our one iPad everyday. The student experience and the ease of use of the iPads have been proven in our classroom. Our iPad’s primary function is photographing our artwork for Artsonia. The iPad app for Artsonia is handy. There are several apps for creating art on the iPad and working with our photographs. We are not looking for a classroom set as 4 or 5 iPads active on the Internet is all the connectivity our classroom can handle.  My personal computer is a Macbook Pro and I have experience working with Mac desktops as well. We have filmed with our iPad and imported into iMovie to create successful film projects. My wish is for the students to be move actively involved in all projects in the creation especially editing. I currently edit on my Macbook at home. It seems silly when two Macs in our building sit unused. My current iPad is school issued but the case and all the apps were purchased by me.
Our administrative team has started to take notice of our accomplishments. A recent article in the newspaper featured our work on Artsonia. I was recognized for tech achievement and community involvement through Artsonia. I do believe if I take action for funding through sites like Donors Choose.Org,, fund raising on Artsonia, and grants, our projects are more likely to be given matching support locally. If we get the ball rolling I don’t think they can justify letting the Macs sit unused anymore. If it is to be, it is up to me.
Who and When?

I was inspired when the Art of Education National Online Conferences for Art Teachers started a couple years ago. I got to see what inspiring teachers were doing in their classrooms and what resources they were using. Once a season, the conference streams on a Saturday all day with 15 minute presentations. The first one I watched with the Photon app on my iPad. I started my graduate studies for Instructional Media at Wilkes University and bought a Macbook Pro finally replacing my Dell desktop of 10 years. For role models for iPads in the classroom, I found the omni present art teacher, Tricia Fuglestad (the proceeding link tells you how she got all the technology in her classroom) and Theresa Gillespie. Fuglestad has so many projects on so many media platforms and Gillepsie’s how tos with iPads in the artroom help you get your feet wet without drowning.
Tricia Fuglestad.(June 6, 2014). Having Fuglefun while Learning! - created at Retrieved from

In the case of this proposal, it can’t hurt try and build on what we have started on Artsonia. The iPad minis are great access tools for beginning artists, our students are eager to use them, and there are so many possibilities even if we only get one Mac or Mini. It doesn’t have to happen overnight or in giant steps to be successful.

I recently reached out to Joy Wayne, an elementary school art teacher in a neighboring county. Her population is more affluent and has more access to technology at home. She splits her time between two schools which combined have a smaller population than mine.
These are the questions I put out to her then of course I asked more.
Tech tools per student? Have Them? IPads or laptops? How u got them? Essential?
Here is here response:
All classrooms have whiteboards and teacher laptops. She is able to check out iPads for her students. She points out,” I’m more fine arts based so I rarely use them.”

“The Internet is accessible in my art room, it is school wide. We have access to twitter, facebook and instagram I think. Def. twitter and facebook.” (J. Wayne, personal communication, November 12th, 2014). 
Where We Stand and What We Have to Gain

Joy points out the tactile experience in art with young children is so important. Once you move on through your education and life, art supplies and classes are limited. One disadvantage of going tech early in one's art development is not learning the hands on basics before you try to apply it in technology. Just because young children can become adept at using iPads doesn’t mean they appreciate or understand the art created with technology. The social aspect can overwhelm the benefits of technology tools for work and discovery if time and resources are not kept in check. Technology can not take over art because it lives and breathes within us. Technology is a tool for artists, not the art itself. An artist is the person, not the tool. I am looking for tools to enhance the artist experience in the 21st century for my primary school art students. Here's hoping Minis are Mighty!
Where Do You Stand?
What tech tools do you have in your classroom for students' hands on use? Do you have laptops, iPads or a mixture? How did you acquire your tools? Have you ever done fundraising or written a grant to gain technology for your classroom? How essential are mobile technology tools in your classroom?
Fuglefunding and Creating on iPads. Dryden Art by Tricia Fuglestad. Retrieved from and (2014). Making Simple Sense of iPads in School. Articles retrieved from, and

iPads in the Art Room Weebly and Blog.(2014.) iPads in the Art Room by Theresa Gillespie. Retrieved from  and
Scholastic Arts. (March 2014).[Digital Magazine.] Getting the Goods by Tricia Fuglestad. (pages 14, 58). Retrieved from


  1. Hi Valerie,

    Since I teach at the college level, mobile technology is a way of life. More and more I find myself asking students to use their smartphones to do quick research. This semester I changed around the way I teach internet research and citations. Students are now using their phones to search for relevant information and citing that information properly within group work. Groups of students usually are given 15 minutes to complete an assignment in class. Smartphones and the wireless internet on campus give students easy access to information so the work can be completed quickly and accurately. Group work means that only one student in each group needs a smartphone for the research. It is a win win situation for me.

    Good luck with your fundraising. You build an excellent case for using the Macs.

    1. Ruth,

      Our classrooms have more in common than one would first imagine. My students do well working in groups in a creative environment with mobile technology. Unfortunately we do not have great Internet access but working in groups with a few devices we do just fine. A few years ago, I started having high school students studying early childhood education come to my classroom twice a week. It is just one student at a time but I love the opportunity to have older students working with the younger ones. The high school students take to working with the students and the iPad easily.

      I mention this Ruth because if you have the opportunity to have young students work with your students it is a great experience to learn about speaking with a young audience. I know it may not be easily done, but there is Google hangouts and Skype or having them work together live is awesome. We had a veteran come speak to the children in art yesterday. Although he was good with the students, his presentations skills for a young audience would have benefited from your class. If you ever go online with your class Ruth let me know. My kids and I can always use some pointers.


  2. Hi Valerie:

    You bring up a lot of really great points in your post. I know I’ve read some of your previous posts about the demographic you have at your school but it seems like what you are doing with what you’ve got is so great. I may be a little biased because my post also talks about the integration of iPads but I truly think you have chosen the right tool for your school. It seems like you and your students, already have a solid background utilizing the iPads that are already in your classroom. I think another hurdle is whether or not the teachers would be able to handle the shift and from what I’ve found, if the teachers have access to Macbooks then the shift to an iDevice is not as painful. Our district transferred from HP laptops to our Macbooks almost three years ago now so the integration of an iDevice makes a lot of sense for us as well.

    I confess that I don’t know much about art but hearing about the projects and all the cool things you are doing with your students is wonderful! Artsonia sounds like a really neat tool for the students and I’m sure they enjoy using the iPads when they can. I really liked reading through your ‘How?’ section of your plan. I think you have a lot of really great ideas of how to get the ball rolling and like you said, “If it’s to be, it’s up to me.” I think that’s such a great attitude and awesome little statement!

    To answer the questions you posed at the end of your post, my students have access to iPad Minis. The district did not use any grants or anything like that to buy the devices that I’m aware of. I’ve never done any fundraising or grant writing so unfortunately; I cannot be of much help to you with that one! However, I find mobile technology tools are helpful in my classroom but not essential. Since I teach computer and have a lab full of computers, mobile technology certainly helps some things we do but isn’t necessary.

    Thanks for sharing! ☺

    1. Alyssa,

      I like that my plan is up to me because I can choose the technology for our needs. We are the last on the list when it comes to technology concerns so I see this as an opportunity to make a difference for us. I am itching to get iPad minis in their hands because they seem like the perfect size especially for my Prek. It would be amazing to integrate technology whenever we wanted not to overwhelm or hinder us but become part of our story we share.


  3. Valerie,

    Thank you for your great links. I appreciated hearing how Tricia had her class enter a video contest as fundraising venture.

    One problem I am having with my ipad air, which a friend is also having is that the lightning cable seems to be pretty temperamental, and the ipad stops charging. It just started having problems for me again, on cord #3. I'm hoping a hard reset will work to bring it back.(See: ) I just wanted people to know that even though they can be a wonderful tool, there may also be an issue with any devices which use the lightning cables. -Melissa

    1. Melissa,

      I haven't used anything "air' so I couldn't speak to that. In fact, I want to know what they replaced with "air." I looked into a little bit but as I have been happy for a while with my Macbook Pro and iPad2, I am not going to look for trouble. I did investigate lightening cables for the mini after reading your post. I found one review where the customer claims to have measured the voltage and current passing through the wire.
      I had trouble with my original kindle fire not getting a charge but the end had become too loose in the slot is my unofficial analysis. Luckily my phone charger works to charge it.

      I am no Tricia but I can follow up with some workable ideas and see what happens. It is encouraging people with support the arts given the opportunity. I plan to present lots of opportunities.


  4. Valerie,

    I like that you are looking to add on to what you have, without over buying just to have more stuff. The hands on aspect of art is undeniable, but that clearly doesn't mean that technology doesn't have a place. It should be used a a tool and not the focus of what you are doing. You seem to have all of this lined up and ready to explain in a grant to help you get just that little bit more to help your kids who don't have as much as other affluent families.


    1. Chris,

      It really does the world a service to have access to knowledge, tools, technology and generosity for everyone. How can we expect kids to be great digital citizens if they are not given tools and opportunities? No matter what their interests or talents, technology tools are a need to pursue their goals. They have to connect and collaborate with others. We are starting where we need to and who knows? Someone may tell us a better way or help us out. We won't know if we don't try or we give up.


  5. Hi Valerie- I started with two iPad minis in my kindergarten classroom and they are the perfect size for little hands. If your district isn't willing to fund your purchase to make your proposal a reality, look into Donors Choose. I got my two minis through Donors Choose - it was funded within a week and I had them in my room a week later!

  6. Kate,

    A co worker has had success with Donors so I plan to start there. He said he has been most successful with under $200 but I wanted to start out with at least one mini so I will try to check out your proposal if I can. thanks


  7. Hello Valerie,

    Very well written proposal for iPads/iPads minis for your art students, I had thought about looking for a grant to fund my proposal too. To answer your questions, my class was held in a computer lab with 20 desktops with large monitors and two color printers. I was assigned to the computer lab by the Registrar; the Registrar’s office plans the semester schedule.

    Yes, I have written a couple small grant proposals and have been part of a team submitting two large grant proposals. Our IT director always looks for sustainability when anyone on campus is applying for a technology grant. In the past, the grants have been a one-time payment or over a three year period, and when the grant money is gone, the college must be able to sustain the technology and support the technology. So when you are applying on a grant for your iPads, be sure to ask your IT director for input and support.

    In my last class, 18 students had a smart phone or iPod/iPad and two students had “dumb phones” (their term not mine). However, mobile technology tools/apps were not required for my class. We experimented with Evernote and some other tools; no assignments were completed using mobile technology.

    I can see Joy’s point regarding the hands-on learning before using technology; however, young students use technology as a tool, to learn and to play. I can see getting your hands into the art but I like vast amount of experimentation available when creating with technology.

    I agree with you - if technology increases an interest in art, or allows more experimentation on an aspect of art, and inspires a student to create - than your Minis will be Mighty!

    Good luck!

  8. Lauren,

    You hit the highlights: Learn, play, and create art. We expect technology to be integrated into our life, our work, and I say art. Being a artist is a round the clock thing. "How did you learn to be an artist?" The fact they consider me an expert or inspiring is the highest praise ever. I always tell them I practice and I work at it. " It's your job" they say. I say its my life. I love art and it is a part of me. They are artists. If they choose to continue to learn and discover they become exceptional ones.

    If nothing else, technology is the way to get your art out there, collaborate, and learn from others. Our class is mobile. We go outside, in the school, move around our classroom space and I am choosing technology that can move with us.

    Thanks for the uplift, Lauren and your grant making advice.