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Published December 30th. 2015
Bringing Art and Technology into the Spanish Classes at Acalanes
One of the 35 replica paintings by Spanish-speaking artists, along with its QR codes, recently on display at the Acalanes High School library Photo Diane Claytor

The library at Acalanes High School turned into a mini art gallery for several weeks recently, thanks to the work of the Spanish 3 students and their innovative teachers. A walk around the library gave visitors the opportunity to view replicas of 35 paintings by world-renowned Spanish-speaking artists such as Picasso, Dali, Diego Rivera, Diego Velazequez and Frida Kahlo. "We wanted to reinvigorate the art unit we typically do in Spanish 3 and teach the material in a new way," explained Spanish teacher Heidi Skvarna.
She and her colleagues, Elizabeth Gough and Monika Voellm, came up with the idea of incorporating technology to create an art gallery. "There's really no one place we could see an entire collection of Spanish artists like this," Skvarna continued, "so we developed the idea of using technology to learn more about specific painters and their works. In the old days, before the surge of technology, this research would have been done using the encyclopedia," she laughingly noted.
The students were assigned specific artists and paintings to research and given certain websites to visit for their information. Once the students gathered their data, they wrote a paragraph, which was graded by their teacher. The students recorded their paragraph, in Spanish, of course, using an app on their iPads. The recording was then uploaded to YouTube. Using another app, students were able to insert an image of the painting, create a website and generate a QR (quick response) code - a square barcode that is readable by imaging devices, such as a camera, using a QR code reader app. Other students, teachers or visitors could walk around the library, using their smart phone or iPad with a QR reader app, and focus it on the QR code that would take them to each student's website, where they could hear the student talking about the artist and painting being viewed, as if they were in a real museum being guided by a docent.
According to Skvarna, the students loved this assignment. "It was super fun, super successful," she stated. "It was an out-of-the-box assignment that allowed students to delve into the curriculum in a richer, real way. It was a team effort and it's projects like these that excite both the teachers and our students."


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