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Re: sketchbooks absolutely neccessary


Date: Tue Jun 18 2002 - 06:37:29 PDT

In a message dated 06/17/2002 9:27:28 PM Pacific Daylight Time, writes:

> To introduce kids to what a sketchbook is about you introduce them to what
> 'collecting is about" The sketchbook is personal. The format, the size,
> whether the spirals are on the side or the top. whether it's glued, is it
> bought or homemade it should have nothing to do with any kind of
> conformity. Who cares? I look at sketchbooks that are in . 59 composition
> books. It's about caring enough to think. And please make your assignments
> so open ended that the sketchbook results will be a pleasure for the kids
> -- not an assignment. Ask them to look for things that they would never
> think to look for. Ask them to search and explore. Ask them to look at the
> life around them. And don't expect any 'wonderfulness' If you gotta grade,
> grade on the exploration cause that's what a sketchbook is about not
> another homework/still life assignment.
> If my sketchbook is going to be assessed by some standard then I ain't
> keeping it any more.

       All assignments are chores. Sketchbooks are not "necessary" if you
are in elementary school however can be used as a tool in which to engage
students into the process of learning through recording. Media exploration
is important during this time. A "sense of" historical foundation should be
introduced during elementary, but most important is the enjoyment of the art
process-which will ultimately have a profound impact on how they view art
later as they become adolescents.
       We also teach "other" things in class such as cooperation, tolerance,
pride, responsibility, and perseverance. These too are extremely
important-no matter which grade you are teaching and requiring children to
make/keep sketchbooks may help to promote and instill these virtues-well at
the very least, introduce the kids to them! But as children grow older, it
becomes more important to record ideas, techniques, thought processes and
media explorations. 99% of our children will NOT do this on their
own-therefor it must be forced upon them through requirements.
       I require a sketchbook at the middle school (which is made in class)
level so they could learn to record and understand its importance to the
artist. It is 30% of their final grade for me. They draw, collage,
watercolor, explore the elements and principles through worksheets and keep
class notes in this booklet we make. They work every day in them anywhere
from the first 5-15 minutes. It is a large part of their grade because I
allow them to work in them a lot. My grading is Quantitative which should
make everyone have a good grade unless they don't come to class. It becomes
relative to their time in class. These sketchbooks however are considerably
different from my high schoolers.
       Beginning high school sketchbooks are designed to follow directions.
Art one only focuses on drawing. Everything we do in class must be kept in a
sketchbook-from exercises in continuous contours to full value still lives,
all drawings are to be hole punched and put in their sketchbooks. It becomes
their filing cabinet if you will or their portfolio if I haven't kept their
drawing for a display. They also keep all their notes in it as I do have a
final exam which they will need to study for. I grade these twice a
semester. It stresses the importance of following directions as I only grade
on whether they have included everything that is required. Once again -
EVERYONE should get a good grade if they could follow directions and if they
are in class to hear them- but they don't. Again-it becomes relative.
       Advance art (art2-6) sketchbooks look even more different. These
sketchbook requirements are designed around college entry portfolios. All of
the colleges I have worked with want to see sketchbooks-some require them.
They feel it gives them a good indication of weather or not they will make it
in their program. They look for student thought/developmental processes,
visual acuity and skill level.
I am still trying to find the perfect HS sketchbook. In the past I have
required 10 entries per week. They could be drawings, experiments with
processes, poetry, virtually any thing they desired could be counted as an
entry. During the first week I would show several examples of sketchbook
entries. This was however HOMEWORK and they could not do it in class unless
their project was completed. I would then grade these weekly by counting the
number of entries for their grade. 10 entries =10 points, 2 entries = 2 pts.
 Very objective and easy to grade -but very disappointing. I did not get
quality entries. My second year teaching HS I changed the requirements for
advanced art to a more subjective type of grading. I stated that they had to
give me 1hours worth of work a week and that they basically had to please me.
 I didn't care if it was one detailed drawing or 15 little line drawings-
they had to show me 1 hours worth of thought processing. This was a bit
harder for them to "fudge" since it was subjective to MY HOUR. Many students
found this frustrating cause they couldn't cheat so they did not hand in
anything that week. When I asked them what they would prefer- they said they
want me to tell them what to draw- so next year I will have weekly
sketchbook/journal sheets which will outline the assignment. I will still
allow some individual interpretation but will guide the students more than I
have in the past. They are NOT very well disciplined and must learn to
develop this if they expect to make it through a university level art
program. I feel teaching them self-discipline is a important as the
portfolio itself. Students must be force fed till they can make good
judgements on their own.
Kathy in Kalamazoo