"It's just a really good, positive thing," said Cristy Crites, k-12 art teacher at Scott County Central. "If nothing else, it lets people know that art is a real class and we're actually doing work."
Artsonia credits itself as being the world's largest online children's art museum. Headquartered in Chicago, Ill., it was established in 2000, and provides resources for children and teachers.
Crites implemented the program at SCC last year, and more than 1,200 pieces of art were posted. She has heard nothing but good comments from parents.
"They always make a point of telling me how excited they are to see their kids' work," she said.
Students are equally excited. Darla Roberts, 10-12 grade art teacher at Sikeston Public Schools, used the site in the 2005-2006 year and plans to use it again this year. "The kids liked to get in there and look at the artwork on display for people to see," Roberts said.
The site allows comments on artwork, and people can even join a student's fan club. It's safe, too, since only first names are used and parents must approve all comments and fan club members.
"Everything is approved through the parent," Crites stressed. "When a kid signs up, they get a security key, then the parent actually registers them."
Since not all parents have Web access, Roberts said she sometimes will check the comments and approve them for parents. She added another protection "they can't put any likenesses of people -- friends or themselves -- on the site," she said.
Crites said she encourages students to take part in the interactivity on the site. And the teachers use the site to find new ideas, since lesson plans are often included, as well as a teaching tool.
"Sometimes I take them to a computer lab and let them look at the site and other schools," Roberts said. "We get an idea of how we stand with the rest of the world -- and I think we do an excellent job."
She also used to concept for a master's paper on using technology in the classroom.
Through the site, students can share artwork with family that lives away from here. Merchandise with the image, including T-shirts, calendars and buttons, can be ordered from the site, and the school receives 15 percent of the proceeds.
The teachers often take photos of the artwork and upload it, although parents can, too. Crites doesn't pick the best works, she uploads all that have signed up.
"It takes about six minutes to do one piece of work," she said. "I do it because I'm really proud of my kids, and I think each and every one of them are talented in their own right and I just want to share it with as many people as I can."
To view the artwork, go to www.artsonia.com and search for the individual schools.