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Re: AP Studio Art Portfolios


From: Patricia Knott (pknott_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Mon Feb 02 2004 - 13:46:40 PST

Peggy writes
> Dear art teachers who do the AP portfolios:
> I have 6-7 students who want to submit portfolios. Today we went
> through their work which they have collected over the years. I am
> dismayed at the lack of good work from even the very good students. I'm
> not sure how it all got away from me, but I guess I wasn't checking
> enough. Many of them work independently during my other art classes.
> Have you got any advice for me as to how I could proceed from here? I
> have a sore throat from repeating, observation drawing, still life,
> figure studies, varied mediums, themes etc. etc. They don't seem to
> have the initiative to work things up to another level. They expect so
> much direction from me and this year, I have failed to provide it. Any
> input at this point would be greatly appreciated.
> worried

I've been "woeing" similar today. Tomorrow my AP kids have 2 Concentration
projects due. Half of those projects are sitting in the room unfinished so I
don't know what to expect. I'm usually a very free, "choice based" art
teacher. This year I decided to take a heavier hand in AP and be a bit more
teacher directed (you know, being very specific as to what should be done)
I know what is required for college as well as AP portfolios. Once they
got their stuff together for the college admissions (and all my kids have
gotten accepted to college) well, now, they have little incentive to
complete the AP stuff.
I also find the independent work to be of less than acceptable quality. I'm
not sure what to do.
My Advanced class (Juniors) are working hard exploring and investigating
I guess they know they have another year.

> They don't seem to have the initiative to work things up to another level.
This is my first year experiencing this. I can only think it is indicative
of the educational process -- we reward mediocrity as if it was special
and there is no reason to be special.
I had a very long talk with a very good student the other day. For 4 years
she has pressured and stressed herself to be the best. And all she sees is
that the less than the best get by , get passed, go on without the demand
for the best. We strive so hard to see that no one fails, and I do see merit
in that, but the consequence is that the good kids are questioning why work
so hard?
I have a real hard time pushing the good kids to do better when the
administrative demand is on seeing that the kids that don't do much get
pushed through.

So, within my assignments now I qualify difficulty. I weight the
attempt. Experimentation is weighted higher than remaining safe. Before an
assignment I discuss with them what I think is easy to do and what may be
considered as harder. I give those options --- you can do "regular work"
or you can take it to higher level the higher level(even if it fails) is
weighted more in my rubrics I let them choose -advanced level or
"getting by" level. To me getting by level is average or less ---
exploring is "honors" level.

AP is supposed to mean college level. I have no intention of diminishing the
integrity of college level work. My AP kids think I'm tough in my crits and
I tell them
"wait 'til you get to college"

If it's bad stuff tell them. We do them no favor by coddling, nor do we do
them a favor by not expecting independent quality work. I'm "woeing" about
the "feel good" vs. what I know they will face in art school.

P.S. I've been battling with a kid all year about what I knew he had to do
for portfolio. He was a "cartoon kid" and I worked with him all Fall on
observation stuff. With every drawing he brought me I would say go back and
look better and he would argue with me. But, at least he would do that.
Friday he had a portfolio review at a major art school. He came in today
beaming and thanking me for pushing him. He got accepted.
You know what it takes, they don't. Stand your ground and keep your
standards high. And when they give you something that is weak, be honest.