Creativity, imagination churned out through teachers' 'machine'

Dec 23 2009 - 11:26pm

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(ERIN HOOLEY/Standard-Examiner) Art teacher Brad Asay talks via video chat to students in Christian Fasy's art class at Mount Ogden Junior High from his classroom at Mound Fort on Monday.
(ERIN HOOLEY/Standard-Examiner) Art teacher Brad Asay talks via video chat to students in Christian Fasy's art class at Mount Ogden Junior High from his classroom at Mound Fort on Monday.

OGDEN -- Fasy and Asay are their names; teaching creativity and developing imagination in art students is their game.

Christian Fasy, art teacher at Mount Ogden Junior High, and Brad Asay, art teacher at Mound Fort Junior High, were recently recognized with the "Focus on Excellence Award" by the Ogden City School District for their innovative efforts to create a technological bridge between the two schools' art programs.

For two years, the veteran teachers have combined art programs by providing increased access to teacher expertise through video conferences on their classroom iMac computers.

Fasy and Asay have also created a Web site (www.theartmachineonline.org), which provides assignment information and lesson material, and displays poetry and art from students of both schools.

Students can also respectfully critique the art online. The site contains more than 800 pieces of student art, Fasy said.

Sometimes Asay will teach the class; other times, it's Fasy. The program is an example of how collaboration and technology can be used to enhance the learning of students, said Mount Ogden Principal Trevor Wilson.

The two unite to serve 1,200 students per year, Asay said.

"The idea of the machine is, you put in the raw materials, the kids' ideas, effort, and out comes more creativity, imagination and original ideas, as well as kids who are not afraid to take risks or try new things," Asay said.

The teachers operate under the philosophies that everyone is born an artist; imagination and creativity can be developed; and all ideas are welcome, said Fasy and Asay, who each have more than 15 years of teaching experience.

"We make it fun and introduce skills as we go," Fasy said.

"We grade on effort. All a student has to do is try."

Students are challenged and have fun with their art assignments.

The "Combination Animal Drawing" assignment allows students to brainstorm a long list of animals, then narrow it down to three very different-looking animals and combine their body parts into a drawing of a new creature in its unique environment.

"The Great Doodle Assignment" allows students to experiment and perfect their doodling skills.

"They doodle in other classes anyway," Asay said.

Fasy and Asay have worked together in their spare time to create a more student-centered learning experience.

A $4,000 grant has been a great resource for technology and projects, Fasy said.

The teachers credit each school's administration for great support.

The duo also works hard to dispel the opinion that art can be anything or that art class is just a place to go and make crafts.

"You can't judge imagination and creativity, but you can evaluate structure, effort, if instructions were followed and craftsmanship," Asay said.

"The bottom line is, give students a positive experience with art. You see it in their face when they create something they didn't think they could create. It's rigorous, but there is nothing like it in the world."

Fasy and Asay are currently writing an art textbook, which should be published within about a year.

They said they hope their experience and knowledge can help other art teachers.

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