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RE: Pushing Quality


From: Kevan Nitzberg (knitzber_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Wed Mar 23 2005 - 11:06:11 PST

Hi Anne,

The care taken on a piece of work that is generated by students, regardless
of content area, has often to be guided by a set criteria that helps to
define the expectations for the end product. This can be done in a number
of ways. If you already have examples of work for students to look at that
were done by other students, that helps to establish a bar that is more
reachable than simply showing them masterworks by artists being used as
exemplars. That of course doesn't mean thowe works shouldn't be shown, but
there is a great disconnect created in the minds of many students when
looking at works that they preceive to be well beyond student capability
(not to mention their own ideas about they can achieve).

Establishing a foundation for doing the assignment by providing guided
practice on steps that will be necessary to achieve a level of mastery in
order to be successful is also important to help them achieve an
understanding of the process(es) involved. It is important here to make
those practice drills interesting and not tedious or else you also risk
losing them. I often find myself creating powerpoints to go through
preliminary steps and possible final outcomes or directions that might be
explored to help give students a 'big picture' of what they are going to be
tackling as a part of the introduction to the work at hand.

Written criteria are also extremely important to have as references for
them. It is always better to have something that you can refer them to
immediately if they have forgotten what it was that they were supposed to be
doing or concentrating on including rather than to have to constantly stop
the flow of the class in order to reinforce pretty remedial points.
Occasionally, of course, your providing instruction on major points through
modelling the steps is needed, but to engage in the 'hand holding' that they
often want does little to help them become self sufficient and really
achieve the level of success that you are looking for. This, of course will
vary from grade to grade, but the level of work being done in the art class
should be no less than is expected of students in any of the other
'academic' classes that they are taking irrespective of the different skills
that are being developed.

While it may be time consuming, having students critique each other's work
as well as their own, helps to build a level of critical thinking about the
work that is also helpful in raising the bar of what is being accomplished.

Finally, a well established rubric governing the assessment of the work can
also be hugely helpful in the creation / planning process as well if that
rubric and its expectations are shared with the students in the introductory
portion of the assignment's delivery. Knowing that they will be held
accountable for achieving specific expectations in the work certainly makes
what is being expected of them much more concretized.

An additional point that also should be made is that over time as you as a
teacher get more proficient at delivering the specific instruction for any
assignment / project, you will develop greater insight into what the
students are capable of doing and what cues are helpful for you to give in
helping them to achieve success.

Hope that these tools prove helpful.