Tag Archives: choice-based art

Art 2 Work In Progress: Interior/Exterior

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Art 2’s newest theme is interior/exterior.  They have really explored this theme and their ideas run the gamut.  They are all so different and I am so proud of them and their work.  They work so hard and many come in with ideas so they are ready to go once they finish practice sheets.

Here are some of the works in progress.

This student did a smaller sample first to figure out how he should color his mango.  We both liked the look of the sketch so much, he tried to replicate it in a larger form, finger prints and all.

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This student is big into soccer, so he is doing an open stadium located in Madrid.

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I really like his concept of switching up the ball and the court.  This student’s work is improving so much.

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I am not quite sure what is happening in the mouth, but it isn’t “mouth parts”.  Today he and I had a discussion about what color the inside of our nostrils are.  He went so far as to use his camera to find out.  I love the way he is using the oil pastels.  He has never used them before.

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An “inside”look into someone’s eyes.  And, it is said that they eyes are the doorway to the soul.

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I eagerly await the finished artworks.

Man / Machine

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Our first TAB unit is coming to a close.  Art 2 finished last week, and Art 1 is just about done.  The theme the students were challenged with was MAN/MACHINE. As a class, we talked about what “man” could mean, what “machine” could mean, and what connections/interactions/relationships they could have.

The students were limited to a black and white drawing no smaller than 8X10. We talked about different techniques including hatching, cross-hatching, pointillism, and scratchboard.  The students practiced these along with charcoal and using white pencil on black paper.

I couldn’t have asked for a better first theme.  The students gave it their all–well, 98% did.  They learned so much about the artistic process.  Many sketched first before committing to a final drawing.  Others went through 2, 3, or even 4 ideas before settling on something.  Some even started final works, reflected on what they were doing, weren’t happy, then started over again.  Kids researched drawing faces and learned how to draw wood grain.  I don’t think my classroom has seen so much independent learning in one artwork in an art 1 class, ever.  Art 2 amazed me with their thought processes and choices.

Interpretations were all over the map.  Here are just a few.

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On "aged" parchment paper.

On “aged” parchment paper.

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On newsprint, like a comic.

On newsprint, like a comic.

I have to admit that I was nervous putting them up in the hallway to display.  I was nervous that my colleagues would think my students weren’t as talented as in previous years.  I wrote a carefully worded email announcing new artwork in the hallway.  I always do this because the fine arts hallway is out of the way for many.  This time I explained what the students were learning, TAB, and the authentic art making happening in my art room.  My worries were not necessary.  I received…well the kids received so many complements.  In fact, one of my AP’s complemented me on the artwork, the wonderful email, and the exceptional learning going on in my room.

My TAB Classroom Is a Living Entity and Must Be Treated As Such

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I’ve been at this TAB thing in my classroom for about 2 weeks.  I have implemented it in my Art 1, and my Art 2.  My ceramic classes aren’t quite there yet, but they will be.  I started Art 2 first on the TAB path.  I showed short demos and had them practice using the techniques.  We talked about out main theme of man/machine.  I plan on revisiting tomorrow.  

I feel I made some mistakes in my approach, so after a week of monster pinch pots and bobble heads in Art 1, I had a chance to have a mulligan.  I changed how I had them practice.  And after the first day, I even added a practice exercise that I didn’t do with my Art 2.  

As I go along, I am learning just as much, if not more than my students.  I think that is important in the TAB classroom.  You have to be flexible.  You have to take a step back and re-evaluate.  And, if you are lucky, like I am, you can get a mulligan and try a new way within a few days and not have to wait until the next unit in a few weeks to try something new.  

However, as I watched my Art 2 students finished the final practice before re-visiting our brainstorm session of man/machine, I felt that how I was having them practice just wasn’t right.  I feel they weren’t really having a good go at the different techniques/media.  I plan on finishing up with Art 1 how I completed Art 2, but over the course of the next few weeks, I will come up with some new ideas on how to practice.  Because hey, what worked at one time may not work at another time.  That’s just how the TAB classroom works.

“If there is no struggle, there is no progress.”  -Frederick Douglass

“To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.”  -Winston Churchill

“If we don’t change, we don’t grow.  If we don’t grow, we aren’t really living. ” -Gail Sheehy

Jumping in Feet First into Tab

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Today I decided my art 2: painting/drawing was just going to jump in, feet first, into TAB.  Let me tell you, it was nerve wracking.  We started off with a Padlet activity.  I introduced our first theme of man/machine and we brain stormed what they thought of when I said the word “man” and when I said the word “machine”.  This was the most talkative the class was all period.  Next I told them of the facebook art teacher group I am part of and how I asked my fellow teachers what artwork and what artists they thought of when I gave the topic of man/machine the list was so varied.  I showed my students examples from the suggestions.  I wanted them to see that there was no wrong answer.  That everyone has different images when told a theme, and that was okay.  In fact, it was encouraged.

The last thing I did today was a few demos on ways of creating value.  Our first unit based on “Man/Machine” is all about b/w drawing media.  I am excited about the artist dictionary they will be creating over the year from their practice of the demos that I do.  I don’t think I made the right choice in how I went about handing things out and the order of that.  I think next time (and I will have a chance to try again in a week or so with art 1), I will do the demo then hand out the practice sheets because even though I told them not to draw what I was drawing, many of them did.  I really want them to practice something and really try the technique out and not just do the short little “thing” I do.

As I mentioned before the loudest they were was during the brainstorming.  It really was a little freaky how quiet a 9th period class was.  I am really hoping they were just overwhelmed because it wasn’t  “normal” art class and they were trying to take it all in.  I really hope they were not bored.  I hope as we go along and this becomes “routine” they act more comfortable in class.  

I look forward to tomorrow.

My “New” TAB Classroom

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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.

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Ceramic Corner

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Ceramic Corner

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Glaze Station in storage room

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Drawing/Paper Media Counter

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Storage

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Different Types of Boards (bristol, card, rail, etc.)

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Still Life Drawing Items

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Check Out Station for Prismas, Brushes, and Colored Sharpies

 

 

Shifting Focus

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A new school year is upon us and with that comes great changes to the art room. I am excited to shift the focus in my classroom. We will be working with a “new” way of becoming artists. We will focus on building artistic behaviors and creating artwork from conception to final work. The students will have more control and choice over materials and techniques to solve “problems” given to them. And we will be writing about the process and the decisions made along the way. This is a way of teaching art called TAB (Teaching for Artistic Behavior).

~First blog entry on my art classes’ new website.

Why am I shifting focus? Sometime last year I had found this Facebook group for art teachers and it was a gold mine. Here was this group of people like me from all over the world wanting to share and discuss all things about teaching art. It was from this group that I was introduced officially to this idea of choice or modified-choice in the art room. Some of it was familiar as I was starting to offer more choice to my kids, but I was still a mostly “teacher-focused” art room.

One day as I was standing in the hallway between classes (as teachers are supposed to do) I was focused on the display cases in front of me and something occurred to me: every single painting in the case was identical. I mean there were some differences in the trees and the clouds and the mountains, but for all intents and purposes they were the same. It was then and there that I decided no more. I wanted my kids to think, to have a voice, to create something “original”. And choice was going to be the way.

Back to the Facebook group. It was from this group that I was introduced to Katherine Douglas, a pioneer in TAB, Ian Sands, Melissa Purtee and the other art teachers at Apex High School in North Carolina, and Colleen Rose, an art teacher from Ontario. Along with a few other TAB teachers, they helped me to understand what TAB could do for me and, more importantly, for my students. The teachers at Apex wrote this 5 part series on choice in the HS art classroom. This helped me to see how wonderful it could be. (parts: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5) I would like to thank them for all their help over the past few months.

I tried out choice several times during this past school year (here, here, and here), well, sort of choice. I guess it was more of a modified choice. I learned a lot about how my students would handle have such “freedom”. I learned what I could handle. And I saw first hand what my students could create without me. That was the best one.

So, I decided to make the shift from a teacher-focused classroom to a student-focused classroom. I no longer wanted to come up with the lesson where the outcome has already been decided. I want to be surprised. I want my students to go through journeys similar to the journeys I go through when I make art. I want them to know why they made a certain choice. I want them to be able to talk about their work. I want them to stop copying others. I want them to learn from their mistakes and to take chances. I want my classroom motto (stolen from Ms. Frizzle of Magic School Bus fame) of “Take Chances. Make Mistakes. Get Messy.” to actually mean something.

And, I think this fall, it will.

Altered Books Revisted

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My Art 2: Painting/Drawing students finally finished their altered books, and let me tell you what… they are fabulous.  (As a side note, I think I have been in Texas too long if I just wrote the phrase “let me tell you what.”)  Anyway, I knew some were going to be a home run, but I wasn’t prepared for almost every book having at least one amazing page.  Normally I get some great books and a few that could have been great, but were never finished.  And, of course there are the ones that should have never been allowed to become artworks.

This year, I had a hard time deciding which page in several books to display.  It makes me feel so good as a teacher to see such exploration.  And, throughout the process, my kids just weren’t learning from me or on their own…they were ASKING OTHER KIDS about what they were doing.  And some of the kids didn’t even like each other.  AWESOME!!!!

I will be doing this again, but much sooner in the year as I think it really opens up the definition of what can be done with art. In fact, perhaps I will introduce the Altered Book to Art 1 towards the end of next year.

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Art 1 Final Project (Part 3: In Progress)

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We have been working on the final project in art 1 for 4 days now.  And, let me tell you, it has been a blast.  After making monoprints, I introduced the idea of surrealism.  Then, as a class we talked about the “requirements” of the final project.

I talked about composition and how it was important to invite the viewer in and keep them in by creating an entryway, “lines” that help the viewer to move around, and depth to keep them there.  I told them that an artwork is a 2-way street–both the artist and the viewer are important.  Not only can you use the artwork to say what you, the artist, had to say, but you also want to create something that the viewer wants to look at.  I told them that they could have this horrific subject matter, but if they created depth and interest that the viewer could get lost in and move around in, then they have won.  They have solved both problems and their artwork is a success.  I told them of a painting I saw in Vienna that was so bloody, but had so much depth, that I went and stared at it for over a half hour, just lost and wandering.  I never showed them the painting, although I have thought about it.  I can still just stare at it for quite some time and get lost.

“Kreuzwegstation”, Hermann Nitsch, 1961. (Translation, “Station of the Cross”)

But, back to the art 1 assignment.  The last part of the assignment was the use of multiple mediums.  I told the students that I wanted them to explore mixed-media art.  I let them know they could use any technique or material we have used.  I told them they could try new things we haven’t used.  I was open to anything.

And off they went to collage.  And, off I went to collage. We have been having a blast.  The kids are loving looking through magazines and having me make photocopies.  Every piece is so different.  Some are serious.  Some are fun.  Some are just plain awesome.  I can’t wait to see where they end up.

One student today said to me as I was walking around looking and asking questions, “I don’t know if I am doing this right.  Is this what it should look like?”  “It looks exactly like what it should look like,” I said, ” Yes you are doing it right.  I am coming up with mine as I am going along.”  He seemed very pleased with this answer.  I know he is working hard and I can see he is making carefully planned out choices.

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A serious piece about words that hurt us–I think she is still looking for the “right” eyes.

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Yesterday, she said she wasn’t sure what to do.  All she could come up with was trees.

P1030942Today I was joking around with the bottom half of some penguins I added to mine and told her to glue them to look like the feet were hanging out of the tree leaves.  She did.  And now she is painting in a volcano under the tree that the penguin will fall into.  I told her this is awesome.  It is so not serious, which is so different than her normal work.

 

This student has been inspired by both the highest point, Mount Everest, and the lowest point, the Black Sea.  She chose the former.

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Simple, at least for now, with just a set of eyes.  Can’t wait to see what the conte will bring.

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I have one student that pulled about 5 monoprints.  She is creating multiple mixed media pieces and then will decide which one is the most successful and will turn that in.  Here is one of them.  I love the energy and her intensity with which she is working.

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I have been having a blast, not only watching my students create and make choices and collaborate, but also creating mine.  I think that the energy I am bringing to making my piece has rubbed off because the energy in the room is different.  The way the students are working is different.  And that is a good thing.

The students are funny.  They are like, “Who are you?”  “You are never like this.”  “You’re examples are never this crazy/weird.”  I told them, “Not weird, Awesome!  My artwork is just awesome and you are jealous of it’s awesomeness.”  Of course, this is all in good fun and they jab me right back.  (Then the whole penguin thing occurred, so….um….yeah.)

But, here is my example, just in case you were wondering.  Yes, that is a duck ship.  Yes, it is beaming up an armadillo.  And, yes, that condor is shooting laser beams at the unicorn. But, no, I don’t know what’s up with the monkey.  And, no I don’t know which side the fish are on.  I just know it is Animal Armageddon in Penguin Town.

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The students have 5 more class, plus their exam period to complete their surreal mixed media artworks.  Every day I look forward to my 3 art 1 classes.  I can’t wait to see what they do next.

 

 

Art 1: Informal Balance: Wrap-up and Review

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Think back to this post where I talked about bringing in some choice to my art 1 students.  They were able to work in groups and were each given an egg carton to which they could do whatever they liked as long as their final artwork had informal balance.  We worked on the project for about 2 weeks, then we took a week’s break (spring break), and finished up in about 2 or 3 days.  During spring break, I decided not to grade them on the outcome of their project, but instead to grade them on the process and what they had to say about that process.  I had created a list of questions for them to answer.

When it came time to actually figure out a grade, I really had no idea what to do about it.  I didn’t really have a rubric on how to grade what they had written.  They had never done anything like this before, so they had no idea what I was really looking for.  They were honest in their answers.  In the end I gave each student a 100, unless I specifically recalled them spending days not working (which one child did and his partners said something about it in their answers) or they failed to answer all the questions.  The grades ranged from 85-100.

It has taken me a long time to write about the project/process; I’ve been reflecting about it…a lot.  What had I really hoped to gain from this “experiment” of throwing so much choice at the students?  I mean, really, it was all for me.  Yes the kids learned about informal balance.  And I truly believe that many did understand it by the end.  And, of course, there were some that didn’t, but I am not sure they would have gotten it anyway, if I am being honest here.  I had been reading so much about choice that I really wanted to try it out.  I felt the only way to see if I liked it and how I could implement it in my classes was to do a trial run.   I felt this unit was really more for me then for them.  Part of me feels like I shouldn’t admit that, but how am I to know what works and what doesn’t if I don’t try.  Many things look good on paper…

I learned a lot about choice and how to make it work in my classroom and how to make it work for me.  I admittedly am a sort of small control freak.  It is hard for me not to know an outcome.  But, I rolled with this.  I think I need to do some sort of a modified choice.  I think that leaving it so broad was hard for me and for the students.  (Many did say they they didn’t like not knowing what it “should” look like, and that it was hard to come up with an idea.)  I think I would have to slowly bring them into the “choice world”.  It was too much at once.  I think to make it work well, I would need to limit choice to either 2-D or 3-D.  (I have done some choice things in my 2-D and 3-D classes and it has been successful.)  Maybe I should spend some time on different techniques, then go from there where they could expand, explore, and build on things we have already discussed.  I still have a lot to think about.  I like giving them freedom, but I need some sort of control.  I need to find a balance that benefits us both. We (my students and I) need to have a symbiotic relationship if we are all going to thrive.

Overall, it was a fun time in the art room and there was lots of good conversation and exploring going on.  They were doing what I had told them was my motto for the year (stolen from the Frizz of course) “Take Chances, Make Mistakes, Get Messy!”

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Update on Giving Choice

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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 🙂

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PROMISING ARTWORKS AND OUT OF THE “CARTON” THINKING

shark

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beginnings of a truck

beginnings of a truck

plan on using texture to balance

plan on using texture to balance

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using the egg cartons to make a 2-d work (bas relief)

using the egg cartons to make a 2-d work (bas relief)

will balance with color

will balance with color

Trees

Trees

ARTWORKS THAT ARE “PREDICTABLE” AND NOT OUT OF THE “CARTON”

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