Original Student Artwork

Yearbooks are full of photos, captions and . . . art. This leads us to multiple questions  - how can we nurture student artistic ability? Who are our campus resources? And, how can young artists use Google Apps as they develop their beginning skills?

Art Club

I remember the days when art was an elective. I miss those days and the art teacher. But budgets and credentials dictate classes. This affects me too. Some years (like this year), I am not the official yearbook teacher.

Fortunately, artistic students seek artistic teachers. At Compton Jr. High, we have Mr. Phil Garcia, who teaches math and science during school and coaches soccer and art after school during normal times. For years, we have reached out to his Art Club to design the yearbook cover.

That yearbook cover was not completed in March 2020 when face-to-face school stopped. But the beauty of technology is that we do not need to be in the same room to teach. While in-person instruction is ideal, what matters the most is teacher feedback and a student's willingness to revise as she learns.

Mr. Garcia was spot on with the surreal space theme - and not just because of the craziness of the year. Earlier that year, yearbook students selected Unsplash photos of galaxies as our section backgrounds. The students then used those images to create a two-page layout for each section.

Together, Mr. Garcia and Zalma created a surrealistic yearbook cover of a Compton Colt with her head held high - ready to defeat whatever unknown obstacle comes her way.

This artwork is not Zalma's first or last great creation. Earlier in that year, Zalma created artwork below using only shapes and colors in Google Slides. The artwork was honored at our district's 2019 Fall Art Gallery.



Your school may not have a Mr. Garcia, but your school will have a Zalma. As a teacher, you may feel inadequate to teach art on a computer. Art on paper is easy - students can go to YouTube can watch video tutorials to learn how to draw with just a pencil. Yes, there are tutorials on how to draw online, but they use expensive art software that is not readily available to students.

Google Slides and Google Drawings are like Adobe Photoshop Junior (maybe Junior Junior). Google Apps has shapes, colors, lines, shadow, and alignment tools. Students can learn the basics of art in a free app and move their way up to professional-grade platforms.

Shapegrams is a weekly art activity led by Tony Vincent. Each video tutorial starts with a "dad joke" before giving quality instruction on how to create a house, an ice cream cone, the butterfly life cycle, or a Dr. King Silhouette.

Students learn technology skills such as duplicating, using the arrange menu to align, and manipulating the edges of a shape (look for the diamond icons on the shape). These lessons improve a student's ability to use Google Drawings. Since the menu is the same in Google Slides, student academic presentations become more artistic too.

Example Shapegrams-Inspired Student Art

Before I end this blog, allow me to show off student-created Shapegrams from our 2019-2020 yearbook. My pride swells at the students' work. Students, who were born artists but not encouraged to draw and create in their other classes, created a backpack for our Back to School page, a pumpkin and bat for Halloween, a Day of the Dead skull for our November page, and a pot o'gold for our March page. Each sports team had its own Shapegram such as a color guard flag and a soccer ball with a net.


The purpose of SlidesYearbook is to place the yearbook in the students' hands - to have high expectations for the quality of the yearbook while nurturing students' photography, writing, and artistic skills. A yearbook created by students for students will have more personal value than an expensive company's product. Not only that, the skills students learn and develop while they make their yearbook will follow them to their future careers as artists or employees who use art to communicate.