A post on my art teacher’s fb page asking about how a TAB classroom works at the high school level got me to searching my blog for a post on how I do it. I found numerous posts on why I do it, the themes we have used, and organization of my room. While those are very helpful, they don’t really talk about how my classroom is run–the day to day.
I have said in the past that my classroom is a living entity, and that is as true today as it was when I wrote about it; and it will be true tomorrow and for years to come. I have to ebb and flow with the needs and wants of my students. Otherwise, I am taking away something important from the students and not living up to the pedagogy I believe in.
The basics of running my classroom include: introduction of theme, brainstorming, inspiration, demos, time to plan and work, due date, reflection.
- INTRODUCTION OF THEME: This is just that…I tell the students the theme. At the start of a unit, I turn to the kids and tell them the theme. simple. easy. Themes we have used this year include: man/machine, interior/exterior, power, pressure, home, environment, light, sound, surrealism, self-portraits.
- BRAINSTORMING: A few of our themes have not needed brainstorming–like self-portraits. But, for the most part, we brainstorm as a class. We are a 1:1 school with MacBooks, so I have the students use a program called Padlet to help them develop ideas. This helps in several ways…it allows for multiple points of views, it helps to give a voice to those who are shy, and I can link the brainstorm board for those that need to go back and review.
- INSPIRATION: Currently I am helping my students get some inspiration. Many of my students haven’t been exposed to much art, so thinking outside of the box is often difficult for them. I like to help them see what could be possible within a certain theme. I create pinboards with a myriad of examples for my students. I hope in the future to change this by having my students find the inspiration and creating the pinboards. I’m just not there yet.
- DEMOS: Part of running the TAB classroom includes giving short demos on various materials, tools, techniques for the students. When I introduce something new, I do a quick 5-8 minute demo and I record it. I took a page from Apex High School and created my own media portal. I post all the videos here so students can go back and reference if they were sick or if they need a refresher.
- TIME TO PLAN AND WORK: The majority of time spent in my classroom is dedicated to this. At the moment, I don’t require students to plan by sketching or the like because it is not something I always do. Some students plan on their own, while others don’t. I am seeing that the reason for this is that they don’t know how. This is something I am working on and planning on adding in the future (as soon as I figure out how…). Many of my students experiment as they go, working through ideas and finding solutions–just like many artists do.
- DUE DATE: I’m going to be honest here, I like having due dates. I think they are important. They help to keep my students with wandering minds on-task. They are important for future endeavors. I think it is something they have to learn. I use a soft due date and a hard due date. There is a week between the two due dates. Basically, the day after the soft due date I introduce the next theme and we brainstorm. During that week, those that have finished with the current theme can move on and start planning/working on the new theme; those that need a few more days can finish up working while thinking about what they want to do on the new theme. I have found the soft/hard due date works for my student population, and it helps keep me in compliance with a few district/campus policies.
- REFLECTIONS: During the first semester, each student created a website using Weebly.com. As a class, we talked about 8 different behaviors that artists have. Every 2-3 weeks, the students chose 2 behaviors and wrote about how they were or weren’t showing that behavior. It didn’t matter where they were in the process of an artwork. It was helpful for them to see that the processes they were going through were what was changing them into artists. When the second semester started, I introduced the artist statement, and the students reflected at the end of each unit, writing an artist statement about what they just created. I realized that many were not ready to move on to this and were producing better reflections about themselves and their work talking about the behaviors. I give them a choice at the end of the unit about how they want to reflect now.
MEDIA CHOICE: I have set up my classroom so that almost all media is out in the classroom and easily accessible for the students. We started off the year with b/w drawing media. From there I added color media. Next was printmaking, then painting and collage. Starting in the second semester I opened sculpture and clay. At this point in the year (10 weeks to go), students are allowed to choose whatever media they want.
I know that not every TAB classroom works like this, but this is what works for my student population and for me. I hope as I continue with the TAB pedagogy, I am able to allow even more freedom to my students. I keep a list of running notes of things I think will make it run better next year. What demos did I miss this year that would have been good? What if I spent more time on each behavior individually? How can the students get more out of blogging? Things like that.
There are never two days alike in my classroom. In fact, even when I do an intro day, no two classes are ever the same. It’s a good thing. It keeps it interesting to me. It keeps me on my toes. It keeps me happy.
This is awesome! I’ve been teaching with choice to K-6th grade students for a couple years but next year will be teaching PK-12 in a different school district, with about 80% of the school day spent with secondary students. I have been thinking about how I’ll do things with high school kids and this is more or less what I was thinking about. The funny thing is that the other morning I woke up and remembered reading about Padlet. I went and looked it up so I wouldn’t forget the name!
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This is such a great resource! Thank you so much for sharing! I have to figure out how to make this work for quarter art classes (8-9 weeks long each). Hopefully I find a way! Any suggestions?
Thank you for posting this! I just stumbled upon TAB two days ago and I am super fascinated, intrigued, enraptured! One thing I’m trying to figure out is how I would do ‘units’- I already have a few in mind, but when I start to really, truly give up the reigns….
I see you mention themes- are these separate units/projects, or are they more like overlapping learning/interest centers that students can select from and therefor may not interact with all themes?
Thanks for your help!
I do themed units that run about 2 weeks. Everyone works on the same theme, but has the choice of interpretation and media. I do end up overlapping themes so early finishers aren’t sitting around, but those that need a few days more can have it. Let me know if you have any questions.
I am super excited that you found TAB. I love it and I will not go back to another way of teaching.
What grades do you teach? I am K-5 and love the idea of themes, but wonder if it would be over there heads or if they would help guide art making?
I am high school. If I taught elementary, I would not do themes. I believe the children are more successful creating their own ideas.