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Re: sketchbooks-LONGwinded

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Mbhirst_at_TeacherArtExchange
Date: Wed Jun 19 2002 - 08:11:16 PDT


I've been reading this discussion about sketchbooks with interest because I
believe in them and have a hard time convincing students about their value,
as well. I have found a way to instill the practice at the high school level,
although it DOES make it drudgery for some kids instead of a personal and
delightful process. Most of my kids end up relishing their journals and
wouldn't be caught dead without them. You can't please everyone! I have
started calling them "Visual Journals", instead of sketchbooks. I encourage
writing and scrapbooking, collaging and "i-zoning" as well as drawing in
them. It seems to work for more kids, as not all art students naturally
express their thoughts through drawing. I also give them internet links to
intersting sites that are examples of cool journals. I show them Sabrina Ward
Harris's books. I encourage the use of different media so not all journal
"entries" have to be a drawing. I do suggest topics, themes and even specific
assignments but let the students choose their approach.

My students are required to make a journal entry during the first 5 minutes
of each class period- even if it is simply to copy down the famous quote of
the day (that I put on the board every morning.) Many times I put a "prompt"
on the board for them to start with, such as a sentence for them to finish
then visually respond to- ex. "My favorite color is______________." Then they
express this (color) with words, images, sketches, color swatches, magazine
pix, doodles,etc. that illustrate their response. At the end of the 5-10
minutes they must close the journal and we begin class.
Sometimes they return to these pages later in the day or they develop an idea
for an artwork based on these "exercises". Many times it simply forces them
to focus and redirect their brains to the artroom's atmosphere.

I give 2 points a day for this assignment and it counts as 10% of their qtr.
grade. Thus at the end of the qtr. they might have a possible 90 points. Any
day they are absent or don't have an entry they lose 2 points. If an entry is
simply the date or a statement that says "I have a headache and can't think
today" or "I forgot my journal" or is a "less than adequate" entry- I give
them 1 point for bothering. I collect all these at the end of the qtr.

I DON'T have a list of "prompts"- I just make them up as I go. Sometimes I
use a news item (local zoo's lion has baby), something I hear on the radio
(NPR) on my way to work, something I see (newly bursting leaves), something I
find in the parking lot ( one glove), etc. Sometimes I give a "free choice
day". I just wing it---- keeps me creative. For a sub, I use one of Susan
Striker's Anti-coloring book ideas, kept in a file at school. (<A HREF="http://www.allbookstores.com/browse/Author/Striker%2C%20Susan">
http://www.allbookstores.com/browse/Author/Striker%2C%20Susan>)

Marcia in IL

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