Using Blogs in Class – AP Art History

This year, I have been introducing blogging in my classes (to varying degrees). I have written on them several times in my previous posts: “First Week Using Class Blogs,” “Update on Blogging in the Class Part 2,” and “Update on Using Class Blogs.”

I have three preps and five classes: Ancient/Medieval History (9th grade), College Prep United States History (11th & 12th grade), and AP Art History (11th & 12th grade). This is my first year teaching AP Art History. I have taught Art History I and Art History II at the college level, as well as several advanced Art History Courses (Greek Art & Archaeology, Mediterranean Art History, Roman Art & Archaeology, etc). However, this is my first AP. Trinity Valley has done a fabulous job of providing me ample professional development – including sending me to the AP National Conference in San Francisco where I was able to meet with several colleague and gain numerous resources.

My students in AP Art History are phenomenal – often demonstrating more academic sophistication and thought than any of the college students I have taught in the past. Today, they presented their first significant project that was in two parts – an oral and a written component. It required that they do a bit of independent research and present a formal topic to their classmates. My intention with this assignment is to: further provide them with a visual catalogue, encourage them to develop their observation and analytical skills, and to further develop their writing skills in association with Art and Art Historical topics.

Here were the formal instructions:

Instructions: Select one image from either Chapter 3 or 4 (only one student may do each image, first call first serve).

Written Portion:

  • On the Class Blog Write the Title of the Work, Artist, and Date
  • Write a brief physical description of the image
  • Write a brief description of the image’s historical and social context
  • Minimum 100 words
  • Spelling & Grammar Count
  • Include a brief Works Cited at the end (MLA format), you should include at least 2 sources (including your textbook)
  • Be sure to put your name in the Tag

Oral Portion:

  • One Power Point Slide
  • Include a copy of the image
  • Include the Title of the Work, Artist, and Date
  • Indicate three principles of design
  • Prepare a two minute (minimum) discussion of the piece, its significance, and its history (this information should not be written on the slide).
  • Save the PowerPoint in DropBox at TVS Art History Share –> Student Projects –> Project 2.Last Name.ppt

The oral presentations today were clearly well prepared and researched. I was blown away. It was obvious that every single student put serious thought and effort into their project. While a few students brought up a couple of notes with them to reference (nothing was written out), they were clearly presenting “off the cuff,” having internalized a majority (if not all) of the information. I’m including a copy of one of the slides here:

Here was the student’s accompanied blog post – a well thought out, solidly researched, and concise description and contextual analysis.

Here is another post from a student (clearly much longer than assigned) as well as a comment by a classmate:

I have been struggling with how to use the class blog for my AP Art History class, but I am liking this format. It makes the information readily available to students and it will be there in the future for them all to access and assess (in abbreviated form and more comprehensible verbiage than a formal textbook). I am also leaving all of the PowerPoint slides from the presentations up on DropBox for the year so that they have this visual catalogue available to them when it comes time to study for the AP exam (for more on DropBox, see my post “DropBox – An Excellent and Free Resource for Educators“).

I would love any input or thoughts from educators or students here. Do you think that this is effective? Suggestions on how to improve it? General comments?

18 thoughts on “Using Blogs in Class – AP Art History

  1. mathymcmatherson


    This is one of the worst project ideas I’ve ever seen. I mean, c’mon – giving kids clear and explicit instructions? Having them work in an alluring format outside the typical essay and analysis? Encouraging collaboration and discussion by having them comment on each others posts? Taking the learning experience beyond the classroom? Giving the students something they can show their parents or friends as a meaningful representation of their hard work? Engaging them with technology and having them learn a potentially new skill (blogging, interfacing with the internet)? These all sound like horrible qualities to me. I don’t know how this project can do anything more than just crash and burn.

    Next time have them research their own art piece outside of the book to report on?

  2. Alberti's Window

    This looks like a great project. I look forward to seeing what else your students do. I am just about to start a university school quarter in which I will require my introductory (survey) students to write blog posts. Some of their assigned post topics are a bit different though. Although some posts will delve into historical information, I also am going to have students write their opinion on different topics (for example, Lord Elgin and the removal of the Parthenon marbles).

    Do you end up having to do a lot of troubleshooting with students in regards to blog setup? I imagine that most students will be able to figure it out, but I worry that it might take up more time than I would like.

    1. Jennifer Lockett Post author

      On the initial set-up, we had some technical difficulties. However, we did it in the computer lab and some of the more technological knowledgeable students were able to help their classmates. Out of 82 students, there was only one true ‘technical problem’ – otherwise, it was just students getting used to the platform. Before giving them a ‘real’ assignment, I had them post an “Introduction of Myself” post – that got them familiar with posting, tags, and inserting images. I would say that it took one solid class to get 100% of the students comfortable with the platform (with 3-4 other students coming to see me in office hours). It was less problematic than I anticipated.
      I like your idea of having students write on more controversial and conversation engaging topics. I think that it will make commenting not he blogs more meaningful.
      Thank you for taking the time to read and comment!

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  7. colleenkr

    I have been wondering how to use blogging in the art room, and I am happy to see another art teacher trying some very practical ideas. I’m hoping to use your framework to experiment with my senior classes. Thank you for sharing!

      1. colleenkr

        A little bit of everything. I teach grades 9-12, and I try to include theory, studio & art history in each year. My grade 9 students are introduced to Prehistoric, Egyptian, Greek & Roman art. Grade 10 students enjoy the Middle Ages, Grade 11 students study the Renaissance & Baroque (although I try to cover some Neoclassicism & Romanticism as well), while Grade 12s get to enjoy most 20th century art, conceptual, etc.
        I’m *always* looking for new ways to appreciate and share knowledge about art history with my students, so feel free to share any ideas that have worked for you!
        I was wondering, what does the ‘AP’ stand for? What level do you teach?

      2. colleenkr

        A question for you: when your students access images of the art they’re studying, what method do they use? I’m just learning about Compfight and using certain images from flickr (depending on licensing). I’m trying to encourage my students to refrain from simply copying & pasting from Google images… (not easy)

      1. colleenkr

        I hope you don’t mind that I mentioned your blog in my latest post. You’ve been so helpful that I wanted to make sure people knew what a great resource you provided.

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