Elementary students use website to share artwork with family, others

Comments encouraged!

Carley Stemple edits her photo as Kayla DeGraaf looks on

On a website students are using to share their artwork, comments are encouraged — especially encouraging ones.

“Very creative use of shapes!” Grandma Liane wrote under a recent post on Artsonia from Deborah Trent’s Kettle Lake elementary class.

Claiming to be the world’s largest collection of online student art portfolios, Artsonia highlights student work from Caledonia and 50,000 K12 schools in the U.S. The goal is for students to have a digital art portfolio that encompasses kindergarten to 12th grade by the time they graduate.

Kettle Lake currently has 2,375 pieces of student artwork posted on the site, with that number growing every month.

“It’s a great chance for students to show off their artwork to family members and also have a collection of their growth over the years,” said Trent, an elementary art teacher for the district.

Candi Price, another Caledonia elementary art teacher, uses the program at Emmons Lake.

As part of the free program for educators, teachers can preface art collections with the prompts given to students in class to explain to parents what was created.

“We’re trying to get this program in place for every student so that they can take advantage of the online collection,” Trent said. “It’s something that all students can utilize.”

Fifth-grader Anna Windsor photographs her work to submit to her portfolio

Sharing Near and Far

The online portfolio is ideal for families from split households and for relatives who don’t live locally, Trent said.

Tana Coates, a fifth-grader at Kettle Lake Elementary, said she shows her parents her artwork when she gets home.

“When I do something I really like, I can show them on the computer which is really cool. I like that I can put in a description about the artwork too.”

Addy Cook, another fifth-grader at Kettle Lake, said she enjoys seeing her talent progress.

“Sometimes I look at my artwork from kindergarten and I’m like ‘Oh my goodness, what was I doing?’ Addy said. “We’re much better than we were when we first got to school.”

Addy also enjoys looking at other student’s artwork.

“You can look at what other people are doing around here, and then far away,” she said. “Some of the pieces on there are really awesome.”

Wade Cawson submits his work

Spreading the News

“The great, and unfortunate, part about student work is that they are making originals, not multiple copies,” Trent said. “This gives everyone a chance to be a part of their child’s learning.”

Trent makes sure that students photograph and upload photos at least twice a month to keep track of their progress in class.

“It’s really fun to see students looking back at their artwork from, let’s say kindergarten, there’s a large growth there.”

Related SNN article: Kindergartners use notebooks to share reading with their families

A 2017 graduate of Grand Valley State University and a lifelong teacher’s kid, Hannah Lentz has worked as a journalist in and outside the Grand Rapids area for more than five years. After serving as editor-in-chief at the GVSU student newspaper, Hannah interned at the Leelanau Enterprise where she learned a lot about community journalism. In addition to her work for School News Network, Hannah has worked as a freelance blogger in the furniture industry, focusing on design trends, and as a social media manager for World Medical Relief in Detroit. Read Hannah's full bio.

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