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Re: Art Centers Part two


Date: Thu Feb 26 2004 - 19:18:20 PST

> n a message dated 2/26/04 1:45:28 PM, writes:
> Do you use these questions to evalutate yourselves, Kathy?  How do you fold
> your respnses into improving your curriculum?
> This is a continuation of my previous post which mysteriously sent itself
before being complete! (gremlins on my computer or just my clumsy fingers)
So our demonstrations are aimed at giving the students the information to be
able to express their personal vision in two and three dimensions. We can
see what the students know because they are working independently, applying what
they have learned previously. I can observe several first graders getting
tangled up in the scotch tape and intervene with a refresher on tape tearing, L
connections and other ways to attach objects. In some classes the paints
get muddy too often and I know that I need to schedule a follow up to the color
mixing demonstration. My plan book is awash with notes taken during each
class. Some of these notes include "help Erik get started" "extra cardboard for
Samantha next week" "No one in this class is using plaster" "find extra space
for numerous painters" "find resource information on volcanos" etc.
As to the question about deviating from the model: there are certain
requirements which the materials demand: for instance, an oil pastel etching must have
two complete layers of pigment before etching is successful. A needle is
threaded and knotted a certain way. All painters are required to have a pallet
and sponge wiithin reach. Only one color at a time is used on a particular
silk screen, as the fingerpaints we use do not mix well. Glitter needs to be
applied to a dry plaster mask, but paint can be applied to wet plaster if
desired. And so on. I am really really bossy about things like this. But there is
not a model for what the work is to look like; the work emerges from the
students and the content of their lives and interests is the content of their work.
Students manage their time well within our very short 40 minute per week
classes. They can begin work at home and they often arrive with sketches,
found objects, etc for work they have chosen. Some students work very quickly,
moving from one thing to the next; others have been known to take six to eight
weeks on one piece. This is fine! Unsucessful work is considered an
important part of the artmaking process and we celebrate the risk taking which can
result in less successful pieces. We strategize and plan for what would make
something work better the next time and students can, if they choose, keep doing
it till they get it right.
Although some students try the "new idea" nearly every week (which is fine)
not every student tries every new thing. Students have to know about each of
the materials and processes however and they see so many things that their
friends have made that there is a lot of second hand knowledge going along with
first hand doing. Seeing children only about 30 times in one year can be a
bit limiting if everybody is doing the same thing at the same time in my
My students' work is often eccentric, quirky and sometimes downright strange.
  I love that! Some of the work never looks "frame ready" but a great
amount of it is gorgeous and not because of me but because of the passion that
students bring to work that is important to them. I do not know of any one
project that my feeble middle aged brain could imagine which could light that
passion across the board in my classes. My students accost me in the lunchroom
and describe work they plan to do in their next class. Choice is a powerful
Special needs students are among my brightest stars; some of them are
brilliant when working in three dimensions and their "think different" abilities make
their work more interesting to me than some of the "pretty and nice" stuff.
Even very challenged students are able to make their own accomodations and
work from their strengths and then approach things which are more intimidating
to them as their confidence grows. Of my nearly 700 students this year I have
about 4 whose behavior in my class concerns me deeply. Because most students
are working independently I am freed up to work eyeball to eyeball with some
of these difficult to teach students. Last of all; I do not give grades in my
school (when you think about it, giving 700 meaningful grades is nothing
short of insanity) but if I had to describe how my third graders work--I could
tell you about most all of them--what they like best, what the content of their
work is..because it is pretty individual and I have seen their interests
expressed for three years. Our rubrics tend to be behavior I mentioned
in a previous post we look for risk taking, perseverence, passion, hard work,
etc. So I hope that I have not, as a newcomer, violated any ettiquet on post
length: I have gone on a bit too long here. I will past those questions below
in case one wonders what I am referring to...
 kathy douglas
<<Choice teachers are asked many questions about their teaching practice by
educators who are more comfortable with teacher/curriculum-centered pedagogy.
Here are my questions for those teachers: (and choice-based teachers also
address these questions on an ongoing basis)
1. Can your students repeat an art work similiar to what they have done in
your class, without your assistance or model?
2. How do you know what students have learned (as opposed to what they have
3. How much are your students allowed to deviate from the model?
4. Does this deviation impact the grade that the student is given?
5. How do you manage variations in the speed with which students complete a
given project? What happens when a student finishes early? What happens when a
student is way behind the rest of the class in finishing?
6. If a painting, for example, is unsucessful, does the student have an
opportunity to repeat the experience?
7. Do all of your students make something in each area of art each year?
(painting, drawing, printmaking, fiber, book making, digital art, mask making,
puppets, sculpture)
8. If a student makes brilliant paintings and does poorly in sculpture, what
is the student's grade?
9. How much stylistic variation do you see in your student work? Can you pick
out which student made a piece if it is unsigned?
10. What sort of art work do your students do at home? Is there a connection
to what they are doing in class?
11. What percentage of special needs students are able to do your projects
without assistance? What accomodations do you make for special needs students?
12. What percentage of students in each class are persistent behavior
13. How often must you turn to magazines for new ideas?
14. How do you choose an idea which all the students will like enough to put
forth effort?
15. How do you grade? Do you use rubrics? What do they look like?>>