I really struggled with the sketchbook thing too, but I seem to have found a
motivator that works for me. I give specific enough but still open-ended
assignemnts to get them thinking without telling them what to do. If I
don't give them any assignment or "choice" assignment, I get low level junk
that looks like grade-school cartoon work, even from very skilled students.
Here is the clincher - I Xerox the best assignments and put them on the
buletin board. It has turned into quite a competition (and an honor) even
tho I never presented it as that. Students come in my room and can't wait
to see whose work made it up. The assignments have improved 100x since I
started doing that!
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