Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

The Best Art Websites For Learning English

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'Painting' photo (c) 2011, Jim Pennucci - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Check out my New York Times post for English Language Learners on art — students complete an interactive about an artist who uses chewing gum for his creations, and I share teaching ideas using online art apps.

I guess I’m feeling energetic this week because I’ve come up with another list that joins my other Websites Of The Year. I expect to take a break after this one and put time into adapting these “Best of…” lists into a page on my website suitable for student self-access.

This list, The Best Art Websites For Learning English, is probably a little more arbitrary than my others. Here, not only are the rankings of which are best is pretty subjective, but the notion of what qualifies as art is, too.

I’ve also included links to examples of how my students have used a couple of these web applications.

There are a ton of art-related sites on the Web. However, I only think a few are excellent tools for language-development and worthy of being on this list. Four are very, very similar, so I couldn’t really distinguish among them. So, for the first time, there’s a four-way tie for first place.

Here are my choices:

Number six is the Language Guide Art Page. As in The Best Music Websites For Learning English, it’s pretty important for English Language Learners to learn basic art-related vocabulary.

Artpad is number five. It’s sort of like a “revved-up” Imagination Cubed. You can see how my students used it to illustrate some collaborative stories they wrote here. After each sentence you’ll that their name is highlighted as a link. Click on it, and you’ll see their illustration for the sentence they wrote. (Unfortunately, Artpad went off-line for a VERY long time. It’s back working now, though. However, none of their older drawings were saved, including the ones in the story)

The Artist’s Toolkit is number three. It provides image, audio and text support for students to learn basic art concepts and experiment with them online.

Number two is MOMA’s Destination Modern Art. It has a series of activities where students can learn about and experiment with looking at specific pieces of art. There’s audio and image support for the simple text.

Before I the four sites that tied for first, let me give a little background. Lots of art museums have created online applications where users can make their own online exhibitions of their favorite pieces of art and save them. It’s a neat idea.

However, most of them just allow you to pick the paintings and write a short description of the whole personalized collection. The four museums that have tied for first all have the option of users writing notes about each individual painting they choose to include in their collections. These are clearly superior writing opportunities for English Language Learners.

Though all four are very, very similar, if anyone gets a slight edge, it’s the Seattle Art Museum My Art Gallery because users have to answer specific questions about each piece of art they choose. In the others they write whatever they want. But the advantage is not significant enough to warrant ranking the Seattle Museum as number one on its own.

The other three museum sites that are tied with Seattle are the Art Institute of Chicago’s Art Explorer; and the Whitney Museum of American Art’s Learning@Whitney.

(Note: I’m adding The Broth to this list)

Harcourt has an excellent Multimedia Art Glossary that provides audio support for the text in addition to visual images.

I’ve just added CoSketch to both The Best Online Tools For Real-Time Collaboration and The Best Art Websites For Learning English.

It’s an easy way for English Language Learners and anyone else to collaboratively draw a picture.  There’s no real registration necessary, either.  You just go to the site, are given a private “virtual room” in which to begin drawing, and then you email the link to whoever else you want to participate.  While you’re drawing there’s also a text chat feature to communicate.  You can then save the image and either link to it or embed it in a student/teacher blog or website. You can also upload a photo for and discussing.

The Broth is a similar application. The advantage with The Broth is that the chat messages remain permanently, while it appears with CoSketch that they disappear after you’re done. With CoSketch, though, since you don’t have to register it’s easier to use.

Draw.to looks like a simple online drawing application. It’s easy to draw and then your creation. Press the “c” on your keyboard to gain access to drawing in color.

Slimber is a very simple online drawing tool that requires no registration. Once you go to the website, you click on “painter” at the top, and you can begin creating. Once you’re finished, you can click “play” and it will “rerun” the artistic process you used. After clicking save, you can write a description of your image. Next, click on “gallery” where you can see your creation and get a url address or embed code.

Drips let you paint like Jackson Pollock, and you can save it online. Even cooler, it gives you a choice of painting it with either your mouse or your webcam and computer microphone. With your webcam, you can use your cellphone light or something else as a brush and your voice to change the color. After you save it, you’re given its url address. Students can post it on a student/teacher blog or website and describe it, as well as comment on others made by their classmates.

Little Bird Tales lets you easily make slideshows where you can add text and, more importantly for English Language Learners, provide an audio narration. On nice touch is that you can virtually paint/draw artwork in addition to uploading images (unfortunately, the site doesn’t have the ability to grab photos off the web by url addresses). It’s free to use, but I’m unclear on if there will be an eventual cost to use the site. It appears to have an upper limit on the number of shows you can produce.

Draw It Live lets you create virtual “rooms” where you can collaborate with people of your choices to draw. It also includes a chat window. You can save the image to your desktop, but it doesn’t appear to let you save it on the web. Thanks to The Center For Applied Second Language Studies for the tip.

AWW lets you draw with others or on your own, and does let you save the creation on the web. It doesn’t have a chatboard, however. You can read more about it at Richard Byrne’s blog.

Odosketch is a neat and free online drawing site that I learned about through EFL Classroom 2.0 (a site I think all ESL/EFL teacher should join). It’s fun.  Unfortunately, you have to register with the site in order to save your drawing, and it doesn’t have the ability to write text in it.

FlockDraw, with no registration required, lets you create a virtual room where up to ten people can draw in addition to being able to “chat.” You can save your drawing on the Web. It can’t get much easier than what they’ve set-up.

Though I’m not convinced the world needs another online drawing tool, doSketch is an easy one where you can draw and save your creation with no registration needed.

Sketchlot lets students…sketch and draw online. Teachers sign-up and can create a class roster letting students log-in, and drawings are embeddable. You can read more about it at Richard Byrne’s blog.

PixiClip is a neat drawing tool I learned about at Richard Byrne’s blog. I’d strongly encourage you to go there and read more details about the site and see his example but, basically, it lets you make a drawing and record either audio-only or a video to go along with it. It also lets you upload an image from the web and “mark it up,” but I think there are plenty of other web tools that let you do that easily enough — and let you grab images off the web with photo url addresses (PixiClip just lets you upload one from your computer) — so I don’t think that feature particularly stands out (you can see those other tools at The Best Online Tools For Using Photos In Lessons).

But the audio-plus-drawing capability could really come in handy for English Language Learners.

For example, my Beginners are studying the theme of “Home” right now. After doing some pre-planning for a rough “script,” I could see them doing something like the recording I’ve embedded below as a novel summative assessment and may try that out next week. If we do, I’ll post examples on this blog.

Here’s my model:

Sketch Toy is a simple and useful online drawing tool. You can learn more about it at Richard Byrne’s blog.

As always, I’m open to suggestions and critique.

These sites, and others, can also be found among the 8,000 categorized links on my website.

If you found this list useful, you might want to consider subscribing to this blog for free.

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Author: Larry Ferlazzo

I'm a high school teacher in Sacramento, CA.

12 Comments

  1. Thanks Larry, your keen eye once again results in some great resources. Art opens up so many different possibilities for ELL projects. Thanks for the helping hand, errr website!

    Frank
    Faces of Web 2.0 ★ 21st Century Teachers

  2. Frank,

    And thank you for all of your supportive comments!

    Larry

  3. Dear Larry,
    Thank you for your blog and web-site, you are doing a great job to support teachers and learners of English.
    Hope you’ll be the winner of edu-blog award

  4. Pingback: Goal: Create (40 Writing, Music, & Art Resources) | Teacher Reboot Camp

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  6. Hey Larry – just to let you know that the Aloofdoof link goes to a hard core pornography site. Thank goodness I wasn’t on the Smartboard when I opened it up!! …………..oops!

  7. Loved the Historic Tale Construction Kit, but couldn’t get there via your link–goes dead. I googled the name and someone has recreated the site without flash (using html and javascript). Here’s the new link: http://bayeux.datensalat.net/ . Hit the Start button, and you’re set. It looks great! Thanks for the initial heads-up, and thanks for your great lists!

  8. Hi Larry,

    In the field of Educational Websites and motivational technology resources, you have an amazing, organized, and knowledgeable approach to “show what you know”, streamlined for every discipline. The effort and dedication to your site and ultimately to our future generation echos that of a true “educational humanitarian”!

    With Appreciation,

    Susan S.

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