Franklin Middle School Art Class Uses Tablets

Junior League of Dallas grant helped Efrain Rivera fund digital lessons

Efrain Rivera is taking his sixth-grade art class at Benjamin Franklin International Exploratory Academy down a new route by integrating technology with art.

He’s doing this with the help of a $2,200 grant from the Junior League of Dallas, which funded the purchase of 30 drawing pads to teach students how to create art in digital mediums.

In the first few months of using the drawing pads, students have learned digital drawing, gif making, and short animation creation.

“Most of them can be done in traditional art, but I wanted to introduce them to technology because it shows them a lot of tools they’ll use in high school and skills they can apply … if they start a career in design or art,” Rivera said.

Rivera said he’d seen increased classroom engagement since introducing the tablets. Most of his students previously only had experience with two-dimensional mediums, so he’s been proud to show them something unique and watch them shine through their work.

“I think it helps all students, but especially those students who are not so artistic because … digitally you can draw a perfect circle, perfect square, perfect shapes so much faster, and you definitely don’t need to be artistic at all,” Rivera said. “I just show them steps to do, and everyone has enjoyed it.”

The sixth-grade art lessons also build upon students’ pre-existing knowledge of technology and applications. Rivera also hopes what they learn in art will translate into other subjects.

“Right now, we’re learning about creating short animations, and for example, if they wanted to apply that to science, they could create an animation for a science [project], like metamorphosis or something like that,” Rivera said. “They can apply those skills they learned to display different things [at] different levels.”

Each semester, Rivera has a new set of students come through his class, and he plans to continue teaching them art in multiple mediums.

“This class set of tablets will impact so many students,” Rivera said. “I want to do half traditional art and half digital art; that way, they experience both.”

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