Make a Statement
In the most recent Extreme Makeover Classroom Edition, we transformed a high school African American Studies classroom for Layla Helwa and her students. In each makeover, I like to be intentional about the elements that are included in the room. For Layla, I wanted her classroom to feel a sense of community and empowerment. So, I decided to create an interactive art gallery!
Once I had decided to do this, the real fun happened!! I began collecting art from incredible artists around the country. For each piece, I was looking for art that made a statement. I wanted engaging art that packed a punch. It needed to promote equality and had to be representative.
We hung art everywhere! We covered the walls with these bold and beautiful pieces of art. All shapes and sizes. In a variety of gold frames that we purchased from amazon and thrift shops. I love thinking about the students sitting in the room, totally surrounded with inspiration!
Interactive and Intentional
After we had the gallery hung, the pieces needed a way to be interactive. So, we added a QR code to each print. Using a QR code generator, I creative scannable QR cards that linked to important pieces of African American history. These codes led to famous speeches, poems, articles, videos, etc.
For example, a student could approach a piece of art, scan the QR code and Sojourner Truth’s “Ain’t I A Woman” speech or a video of “I Have a Dream” by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. will automatically pull up on their device. With more than 50 curated pieces of art throughout the room, students are surrounded by opportunities to learn more about African American History.
***HOW TO USE QR CODES****
First you will need to create the QR image. Use a free, online QR code generator (like https://www.qr-code-generator.com/). When you get the website, you will simply copy and paste the link or insert the file that you would like to be attached the scannable image.
After you save the QR “image,” you will print it. I suggest using a heavier weight paper, like cardstock. This will make the image sturdier and easier to scan. Cut out the code and attach it with tape or velcro to the glass or frame of your print. If you’d like to, you can even laminate them. I highly recommend recording what the code links to on the back!
After they are hung, they can be accessed by using a QR scanning app on any device that has a camera! Apps like QuickScan or Bar-Code can scan the image by simply capturing it with the device’s camera! The code will automatically pull up the file or link that it is attached to and VOILA!
Other Ways to Use Interactive Art in Your Classroom
This is a great way to make the posters, prints and components of your classroom interactive and intentional! If you teach African American History, Biology, English, Math, etc., etc., etc., YOU can make an interactive art gallery that is intentional for YOUR subject and YOUR students! Here are a few other ways to use this concept:
- Create project galleries- Hang empty frames in your classroom. Each student can choose/create a print or poster that can be displayed in the frames. Then, they will create QR code that links to a digital project they have created. This could be a movie/video, digital poster, word document, PowerPoint Slideshow, Prezi, and the list goes on! Each time they complete a project, they can add or exchange the QR code. When people visit your classroom, it is an instant way to access your students’ work! ***Also a great way to grade.***
- Specific Content Gallery- While you are working on a specific topic or unit, the posters and prints can be linked to media that pertains to the topic. For example, if your students are learning about states of matter, the prints can link to video explanations, songs, diagrams, instructions for activities/experiments and more!
- Interactive Assessments Gallery- You can use this gallery as an interactive assessment. QR codes can be linked to content specific questions or instructions to tasks. At each piece, students may be required to answer a question, post a video of themselves working through a problem, a picture of a completed task, etc. QR codes are a great way to link Google Forms and Quizzes, tests and interactive online activities!
Choose YOUR Artists
Choose art or posters that are important to you and your students. Each of the pieces were created by an African American or LGBTQ+ artist. This is also a good way to support small business owners and artists that you believe in! The following artists have pieces in the gallery: Fab Feminist Art – Lanre Studio – Bee Joy Art – April State Designs – Godly Gorgeous – Bifocal Graphics – Maese Art by Eileen Jiminez – Shannon Anderson Design – Art with Ethics – The Soho Girl – Amplifier Art