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RE: making constructivism simple/didaction


From: Esa Tipton (tmtartseducation_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Mon May 20 2002 - 03:20:08 PDT

I recently looked at new assessment work that equates
'teaching to the test" as "project-based learning with
rubrics" and "portfolios" as authentic learning
assessment tools. What an interesting shift in the
field to redefine these as 'quantitative and
qualitative tests." Better yet is the "process-folio"
which describes the students own learning as part of
portfolio work.

I will go back to the sculpture garden project I did
with fifth and xith graders in Beijing. It's a good
example of constructivism. It started as a clay unit
with sixth graders and a meeting with two artists over
steaming cups of green tea at the Sculpture Institute
of the University of Fine Art. I came there to meet
the artist and ended up planning a field trip with my
6h grade students to visit Qin Pu's studio, an
internationally known sculpture artist in China.

The first time i introduced clay was opened-ended,
they could do what they wanted with it. I could see
what skills they needed, and designed my projects
around how I saw students working and what they
produced. I started with vessels from an imaginary
archeological dig from either the future or the past
and went on from there. Had to have a lid.

At some point, a student asked if they could do
something bigger and more substantial. I asked them
what they wanted to do. From what they suggested, I
decided to do models for sculptures. Bit by bit, piece
by piece, with their input and the input from the
local artists I was working with, something unexpected

From this, we ended up creating a sculpture contest
between the 2 grades and had Qin Pu select some
designs to be fabricated as large-scale professionally
made sculptures from student designs.

At the beginning, it was a field trip. But it became a
unit of investigation that went to local art galleries
and the Sculpture Institute. We met other famous
sculpture artists and visited the foundry where their
sculpture designs would be fabricated. The designs
hadn't been selected when we went out touring, so when
they actually saw the airplane hanger ceiling filled
to the top with sculptures in process of fabrication,
got to meet and talk with some of the artists, saw the
process of little maquettes and enormous sculptures
and it motivated them. They took along the video
camera and a bunch of digital cameras and we passed
them around. The students had been working with their
IT teacher to learn photoshop on collaborative
projects we designed. The unit ended up evolving and
connecting with the IT teacher further, and we created
an electronic POP ART project. One day in art class
the students suggested they make pop art faces. I
wanted something different, so I suggested that they
each take part of a face and blow it up at an enormous
level and put it together. They took this one step
further and it ended up as these enormous faces
constructed of parts that twisted and turned outside
of the frame, not a square or rectangle like the
computer version and a group collaborative project the
students designed.

None of this project was planned in advance. It went
step by step, one thing led to the other. That is
constructivism. I didn't need to know the theory to
know that this works and that nothing planned in
advance could have equalled what we all got out of the

The sculpture of one of the student's work is now on
display in the school's dedicated space for a
Sculpture Garden at their new school.

Can it be assessed? Does it work? You tell me.

-- dawn stien <> wrote:

> So what do you think of Tochon's and Gardner's views
> of formative assesment? Have you found a way to
> evaluate the process that is as significant as the
> product?
> Dawn
> __________________________________________________
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