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On critiquing student art / work on- and offline

Honesty disclaimer: I think my daughter is pretty terrific.

Emily and I were chatting a couple of weeks ago after a bit of frustration we both felt relating to parent (and other adult) reluctance to comment on our students’ work online, especially when we use some super-easy, comment-inviting tools like VoiceThread. New Web-based tools allow us to interact in big ways with our students, our children relating to their work.

However easy a tool is, the remote adult faces learning and logistical issues that would likely be thwarted with a 15 minute face-to-face demo. 

But commenting on young students’ work is trickier than the mere logistical challenges.

Adults just don’t know what to say. We don’t know how to talk with children about their art. We fumble, we make false assumptions, we misread, we make comments that are far too general, we may even distort and derail the child’s own view of his or her skills, especially when we cannot read face-to-face physical cues, when we do not have the opportunity to interact in real time.

So Emily came up with this very useful little VoiceThread that suggests solid strategies about talking about student work with the student artist, whether it is online, on the easel, on the classroom wall, or on the refrigerator. 

Please feel free to use and comment!

Joyce Valenza About Joyce Valenza

Joyce is an Assistant Professor of Teaching at Rutgers University School of Information and Communication, a technology writer, speaker, blogger and learner. Follow her on Twitter: @joycevalenza


  1. Robin Cicchetti says:

    I have forwarded this to the Chair of our HS Art Dept. Nice job, Emily. Many thanks!

  2. Renee Hobbs says:

    What a wonderful VoiceThread— this is a terrific resource for teachers and parents. And this principles are very relevant to those of us who work with student writers.

  3. Mary Johnson says:

    What an excellent use of VoiceThread!

    Technology aside, the recognition of the need to help parents and community members participate in meaningful online conversations was an Aha! moment for me. I also liked Emily’s idea of eliminating the “That’s nice” comments and replacing them with questions that honor even a young student’s capacity for critical thinking.

  4. joycevalenza says:

    Thank you for the kind comments. Zoe is particularly pleased. Renee, I wonder if we can have students help us create a Voicethread relating to critical elements for media literacy or one to illustrated constructed media messages?

  5. Emily and Zoe were awesome and I loved this Voicethread and learned so much, thanks! I had a little trouble hearing Zoe sometimes, I couldn’t raise the volume any higher.

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