From Story to Screen: Walden Students Dig into Digital Learning Day

In the book “Katie’s Picture Show,” by James Mayhew, a little girl finds she can place herself inside famous paintings at an art gallery. After hearing the story, Tammy Adams’ students at the Walden Learning Center learned how to use a computer program to bring a painting from the story to life. The activity was part of Digital Learning Day, a nationwide event that shines a light on the use of technology in the classroom.


Teaching Assistant Pam Doran, who specializes in Education Technology, first read a portion of the book out loud, using a SMART Board. Then, at a point in the story where Katie is about to jump into another painting, she announced, “OK, now you will all have a chance to jump into this painting, by creating it on your computer screens.”

Using the ArtZone app from the National Gallery of Art, the students were tasked with creating scenes that were similar to the Henri Rousseau painting, “Tropical Storm with a Tiger,” which Katie was about to enter. The students quickly immersed themselves in the on-screen art app; in no time at all, screens around the room were filled with tropical scenery.

Diego Brace of Wappingers covered his screen with lush ferns and trees to replicate the painting. “I like filling up the picture with lots of animals,” he said. “It’s fun to make the painting on the computer.” Albert Sullivan of Peekskill said that he also enjoyed creating pictures on the screen. He selected images of colorful tropical plants, the moon and a tiger to fill in his “canvas.”

Created by the Alliance for Excellent Education, Digital Learning Day is a way for educators and students to highlight how technology can be used to enhance the learning process.

“This lesson combined aspects of digital art production, history and literacy,” said Doran. “We also talked about Katie’s facial expressions and what emotions they convey.”

During an upcoming class, the students will continue working on their digital projects, “hiding” an element from a different painting (specifically, a rolling hoop from Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s “Les Parapluies”) inside their own work of art, further bringing Mayhew’s picture book to life.

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