I've been struggling over the last couple of days, trying to work out what to give you as a tip today. There's the USB TV tuner I bought the other day, which has been providing me with television - but that's not much use unless you need TV, and I'm not satisfied enough with one of the connector pieces to recommend the particular brand I bought. In fact, I'm tossing up whether to take it back to the shop - and fight the last-minute Christmas shopping crowds.
Then there's a cool painting program that was recommended to me by @teachernz on Twitter. It's called ArtRage 2.5 (the free version) and makes for a fun play with paint without all the usual mess associated with painting. This picture is my attempt at playing with paint this morning. See how paint like it is? It 'runs out' when you haven't 're-dipped' the brush and mixes with colours you paint over.
But what I really want to give you this close to Christmas, is something you don't have to install, or spend money on, or give a lot of thought to. Something simple and useful that you can come back to once the Christmas dust has settled.
This week's tip: Flickr in the Art Lesson
Often when teaching an art lesson, I want to provide my students with visual inspiration while they work. I've done this in the past with posters, photo books, or objects. Earlier this year I started accessing Google Images for relevant pictures to help students get ideas. The problem I found with this was that I had to click through the pages, or pull photos onto a slideshow prior to the lesson.
Later in the year, I discovered how Flickr could work for me. Simply type in the search item eg. 'geckos' and up comes all the relevant photos and videos. Click on the slideshow icon on the top right, and it will play through all the images. I can now set the slideshow going on the interactive whiteboard while students work at their desks, and if it comes to the end, one of the kids jumps up and sets it going again. You can set the slideshow to go at a pace you want, and if you want to pause it at any time you can. There are also descriptions written by the photographer that may add more information to the topic you are covering. A couple of my students found these photographs really engaging and created quite detailed artwork as a result.