SJND Teacher Presents at California Arts Educator Conference

Mr. Ritter presents to a class.


On November 11, Visual and Performing Arts Department Chair and teacher Mark Ritter presented at the annual California Arts Education Association Conference in San Francisco. Mr. Ritter’s workshop, titled, “Simply, Essentially, by Design,” discussed simple methods to help students define shapes by value, control complex designs through value balance, and develop basic artistic vocabulary and concepts to use as a foundation for artistic analysis.

“Over many years in discussions with art colleagues from other schools, teachers have talked about difficulties with getting students to let go of a reliance on using outlines to define their images,” explained Mr. Ritter. “Here at SJND, we address those issues very directly in our first unit of study in Art 1: Visual Expression and give students the challenge and the tools to let go of outlines and also think in terms of the entire picture space.”

Through the workshop, Mr. Ritter aims to provide resources for teachers to convey fundamental picture-making skills to their students and gives examples of how to design their lessons and curriculum around this concept.

Mr. Ritter is not a stranger to working with fellow arts educators to provide resources in order to help them shape their curriculum. In fact, as a member of the Lillian Black Children's Arts council of the Diocese of Oakland, he has designed workshops and programs to help elementary schools develop their visual art curriculum and provided ideas for projects and teaching methods.

By attending industry conferences such as this one, Mr. Ritter and other arts educators have the opportunity to observe trends in arts education and what others are doing, while also sharing their own subject-matter knowledge.

“It is very interesting to find out what's going on in arts education as it is constantly on the move, trying to find ways to meet the needs of students in our rapidly-changing and complex culture,” he said. “I was excited that many teachers found my workshop to be relevant and helpful.”

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