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.
A friend of mine gifted me an canvas that she no longer wanted in her home. I thought about using the canvas for myself, but I never got around to gessoing over the image to replace with my own. Then I remembered something I read about on my art teachers group page about how a teacher had this canvas in her room that the kids could paint on when they had extra paint or had finished with their work.
I thought this was a fabulous idea. So I brought the large (36″X40″) canvas to school and had my aide put one coat of gesso on the canvas. You could still see the original painting through the gesso, but I thought that might help kids to get started.
I put a sign up that read ” LIVING PAINTING” with a smaller sign underneath. It reads, “Got extra paint? Add to the living painting. Please refrain from curse words and penises. Thanks.” (Some of my students are obsessed with drawing, painting, and creating penises. It’s what they do.)
I introduced them to the canvas today, and they jumped right in.
I have included a slideshow of the canvas in the sidebar of my school art blog to show how it changes over time. I am in love already.
Today was the start of a new semester at school. I thought we needed to start off with a great activity–one that would shake off the slumber of winter break and ring in creativity and imagination for a new year. And what better way to do so than have a day-long TASK party.
What is a TASK party you ask?
You can also find a previous post on TASK here.
I pulled out a bunch of supplies I had in my storage room: yarn, egg cartons, craft items, fabric, 12″ dowels, wooden hearts and starts, buttons. I plugged in all the hot glue guns we had. I grabbed the large rolls of colored paper from the faculty lounge. And, I started with a container full of tasks.
This party was to last all day. I have 7 classes. Once I started the party, I only broke for lunch, which consisted of writing more tasks. This was the only place the students faltered…well, and when it came to blindly picking a task. (Many wanted to pick and choose their task. It was hard to stop them.)
It really was a fun day. A few kids fought it at first, but ended up having a good time. I think they need that time to play. High school kids don’t often get that anymore. And bonus, no one was on their computer today. I wish I knew how many tasks were completed today…or at least attempted. It would be fun to figure it out. Perhaps next time.
By the end of the day, my feet were killing me and I was tired as all hell. But, I had a counter full of artifacts. I had a hopscotch board on my floor, and I had 2 body outlines–one in dry erase marker and one in tape. (Just an FYI–certain dry erase markers don’t come off the floor so easily.) I had a roll full of photos of the students making and laughing and creating and smiling. I had a heart full of memories. And, I think it set the tone that creativity is welcome here–and encouraged.
One of my biggest fears/concerns this year when moving to a TAB/Choice-Based classroom was the addition of paint into the mix. Paint is always a scary thing. Kids don’t always wash brushes out and acrylic dries in them. Trays get left behind for me to clean. So much paint gets wasted because no matter how many times you say, “you can always get more”, the kids take enough to cover an elephant. And don’t get me started on those pumps for the half gallon bottles that are always clogged.
Since this year I have everything out for the kids to access, I thought paint, both acrylic and watercolor, should be out too. And, not to toot my own horn too much, since I had put so much thought into organization (and it is working very well), that the paint should get the same consideration. I bought a bunch of clear, empty ketchup bottles for my acrylic to try and combat the too much paint/clogged pump issue. I looked through all the stuff I had and found a couple of racks I could use. And, I appropriated several Xerox paper box lids from the work rooms.
I made 2 areas–one for watercolors, and one for acrylics. So far, so good. Kids have access to it all, except they do have to ask for the canvas boards. They have been taking only the paint they need. They close the caps on the paint bottles. Almost all brushes are washed well. (They have been following the brush washing video I made for them.) The paper paint palettes help so much with giving them less to clean and more time to work.
It seems my fear of introducing paint was unnecessary. Let’s hope they keep up the good work, and good clean-up.
Watercolor station. Includes paint trays (not pictured), brushes, paper, salt, resist medium.
Canvas board size choices, on the wall near
Acrylic paints in their new bottles. There is a small spice rack stand that holds the neutral colors.
Acrylic paint set-up. Brushes, other tools, paint trays, paper palettes and brushes. There is a towel in the brushes box top so wet brushes can dry and not destroy the cardboard.
One of my Brent potter’s wheels had suddenly started to not work correctly. No matter what I tuned, it would either not stop turning when the pedal was all the way off or if I got it to stop spinning, when in the high position it would turn only fast enough to trim pots. Not ideal for students learning to throw.
I called up Brent and told them of my case. Luckily for me, the wheel is still under warranty. The sent me some new parts. I was expected to fix this myself. As you can see from the pictures their part had these blue caps that mine did not have.
I wrote back and told the service person. She told me I would have to strip the wires and attach them, but assured me no soldering was necessary. I then cut the blue caps and stripped both sets of wires so they leads were long enough for me to twist together and cover up. Let me tell you, it wasn’t easy. There wasn’t a lot of wire there to work with.
But I was successful and was able to fix my wheel.
Things are now spinning properly and only when I want it to.
And when I say I am finally having a great time, I mean that I love teaching and I love my job…every period, every day. While I struggle with the stupidity that comes with all the paperwork and administrative stuff, I do it with little complaint because the rest is awesome.
Why is it so good? Because I love teaching ceramics and because of TAB.
My ceramic classes are all working and learning and having fun. The clay is here. And the students want to be there and are eager to work and get messy. Finally all my non-ceramic classes have started working on their artworks for our Man/Machine theme.And I couldn’t be more excited by all the different interpretations and the enthusiasm in my students.
It is like my classroom is a whole new place. My eyes have been opened and I never want to shut them. I don’t watch the clock any more. I don’t surf the web anymore. I talk with my kids…about their art, about their process, about their struggles, about them. I know it’s only been a few weeks and perhaps I am still in the honeymoon phase with TAB, but I foresee us having a long and happy marriage.
I spent the summer trying to figure out how to set up my room to best serve my students in a TAB environment. Well, it was easier said than done. Luckily, I didn’t have to buy too much. I had a friend that was moving who gifted me a ton of plastic tubs and drawers. I had a ton of stuff from before that I repurposed. I did buy a few things that I didn’t have…like a new drawer unit for magazines, but all in all, I didn’t spend too much.
My room isn’t the best size for an artroom in my opinion. It is long and narrow, and I have rather large desks and 4 potter’s wheels to accommodate. But, I think I have it all figured out.
I came in a couple of times over the summer and got rid of things I hadn’t used in years and old projects I was saving for no reason. I started to re-arrange and re-purpose. I have set up what we will need at the beginning. Paint and color will come into play in a few weeks, so I thought since I had some time, I would concentrate on what I needed right away and what had to be put away so it wasn’t cluttering up my counters.
It is a work in progress and I like to think of it as a living thing that will change as the needs of the students change and as we figure out better ways of doing things.
Glaze Station in storage room
Drawing/Paper Media Counter
Different Types of Boards (bristol, card, rail, etc.)
Still Life Drawing Items
Check Out Station for Prismas, Brushes, and Colored Sharpies
Several years ago I made wooden cradles to hold my students’ rather large portfolios. I attended a session at the TAEA conference about building racks and the presenter gave us her plans. Well, they lasted me about 6 years, with some repairs here and there. Had I screwed them together instead of stapling them, they might still be around. Hindsight and all.
At the end of last year, I tossed all but one; I had built 7. This year I needed something new. I looked and I looked. I toyed with plastic drawer units which would require smaller portfolios. That saddened me, but I couldn’t think of much else. I tried to make something out of a window box planter liner and some wooden feet. It sucked.
Then it hit me in the car on the way to the aquarium. Wire storage racks and zipties. My daughter and I headed to Lowe’s (after looking at the fish at the aquarium of course.) They had 6′ lengths and I needed half that. Luckily they had bolt cutters there for that reason.
I ziptied the sides on first.
Then I cut the end of the ties
and tied the last piece down the middle.
I added the upper supports today when I put in some portfolios to check the strength.
As you can see, it will hold portfolios for 2 classes. I have 4 classes that need portfolios. So, I built 2 racks. I just need to cover the sharp tips and they are done.
I am quite pleased with my hack. And, it was relatively inexpensive.
We are starting on our second week of choice in Art 1 when creating a project about informal balance. Today I walked around and talked with the different groups to check in on their progress and to make sure they are on the right track. I want to say that about half understood informal balance and are able to incorporate it into their artworks. About a third of those who didn’t understand it and were not consciously addressing are now able to once talking through things with me. And, well, out of those that are left, some just are making things out of egg cartons, and one group basically said they weren’t going to do anymore, and to just give them a 70. At least they were honest about it.
I am excited and surprised by many. I have to be honest that there are some students that are surprising me in their art. Some that I thought would be the ones making the egg carton alligator are thinking outside the box. While others that I thought would nail this are the ones making the alligator.
Choice hasn’t been easy for me. Not knowing the outcome is hard for me. But, I have to learn to go with it. I will update once the unit comes to an end.
STUDENTS WORKING HARD 🙂
PROMISING ARTWORKS AND OUT OF THE “CARTON” THINKING
beginnings of a truck
plan on using texture to balance
using the egg cartons to make a 2-d work (bas relief)
will balance with color
ARTWORKS THAT ARE “PREDICTABLE” AND NOT OUT OF THE “CARTON”
Yesterday was a bit of a tease. The plumber showed up with my Gleco traps. I was super excited. He got down on the floor and started to do some stuff under the sink. Then all of the sudden he was gone. And I was sad again.
However, he showed up again this morning and picked up where he left off. He finished installing the traps and was on his way. Now, there is one last thing to do because someone in the district doesn’t want the under sink area exposed. I guess the pipes might feel neked.
And, by mid morning, my water was back on!!! Cue the angelic choir!
I am so excited to no longer have to bring buckets on a cart to get water from next door.