Tell us about your current position: Where do you teach? What grade/s and subject do you teach? Is your school an independent, a public or a charter school?
I teach art and woodworking to Kindergarten through 3rd graders at The Dalton School, an independent school in New York City. Our lower school studio curriculum is materials-based and we encourage students to generate their own artistic content. The materials often inspire different ideas for each student. Lessons are grounded in artistic development and students gain experience with a variety of materials, tools and techniques. They are mentored through group demonstrations and one-on-one instruction, emphasizing learning through exploration and guided experimentation. Our goal is to honor each student’s personal and individual inventions and creative process.
How did you discover littleBits? What drew you to our product/company?
I learned about littleBits at a workshop in April hosted by Dalton’s Lower School Science Department. The littleBits education team encouraged us to explore and experiment with littleBits and a variety of materials.
If it is relevant to your teaching, please describe how you are using littleBits as a 21st century STEM/STEAM teaching and learning tool.
In the Lower School art studio, and once students have completed their classwork, littleBits is a 21st C STEAM resource for choice time to combine with offerings of sketchbooks, blocks and replica animals. Students work independently or in small groups to create stories, explore and prototype, discuss and predict, tinker and imagine, design and Make. As they explain their work, the children are delighted to realize they are routinely using math, science, engineering and technology skills in the art studio.
What is your favorite littleBits project?
Bioluminescent creatures; an open-sourced project by Melinda Huffman-Schwartz on the littleBits community site.
Please select 3 words that describe littleBits.
Versatile, motivating, and elegant
If you could challenge your students to make anything with any amount of littleBits, what would you have them create?
I would ask them to create a large scale landscape (rural, urban, terrestrial, aquatic, imaginary) using the Bits modules and a variety of materials. Working in small groups of 6 or 7 children and starting with a large piece of brown butcher paper as a “place,” I would encourage them to build above and below the plane of the butcher paper. They would have cardboard, glue, small boxes, paper straws, kraft sticks, toothpicks, corrugated paper and littleBits at their disposal. The students will have to figure out how to support and access both sides of the flexible paper as they work with the technology and build their landscape.
What advice can you offer teachers who are new to littleBits?
Ask the students to begin with an open-ended exploration to find out what littleBits can do, and to share their discoveries and insights. When they are at a stopping point, re-engage them with questions — What was a surprise and why? Which Bit module do they like the best and why? Offer simple materials to go with the modules – paper, tape, string, colored pencils, crayons, and encourage the students to develop their own ideas, imagery and content. Follow their lead.
Do you have any inspiring or informational resources you’d like to share?
Some of my favorites include:
Artists Documentation Program
National Gallery London Technical Bulletins
National Gallery London: Vermeer’s techniques and materials
The Williamstown Art Conservation Center’s Technical imaging of paintings
Wisdom of the hands
Art for small hands
What is your favorite Bit module?
I love the vibration motor; it’s playful, whimsical and has its own personality.
Anne Lockwood is an artist and art teacher who has taught art and woodworking to Kindergarten through 3rd graders at the Dalton School in New York City for the past 15 years. In the lower school art studio, Anne creates an environment of inquiry and direct experiences in the science and art of using materials to make things. Anne brings a unique perspective to STEAM education with her expertise in the history and science of art materials and the working processes and techniques of artists. Following her studies in printmaking and painting at Smith College, Anne trained at NYU’s Institute of Fine Arts in the conservation and history of art, and at Teachers College, Columbia University in art education. She has worked as an art teacher, and as an art conservator in museums and private collections; has published research in conservation; and has exhibited in juried and invitational shows. Anne is delighted to contribute to the Maker world as a littleBits Education Curator.