I teach k-8 art in a jammed classroom with a giant paper cutter and
I have water in 2 igloo containers and the dirty water goes into a
five gallon bucket.
I can't figure out how I would do most of this.>>
First of all let me say, you are an art education hero. Teaching that
range of ages in such a substandard situation and still wanting to
improve your practice is beyond admirable!
Saying that, also, I feel that student centered choice teaching
actually addresses a lot of the issues that plague us as art educators:
terrible schedules, insufficient time, not much space, random supplies
available and an incredibly diverse student population. Many of these
issues confronted me as a green teacher; that was in the late
sixties--everybody complained about conditions and as we see, the
problems remain in our field. So! If these conditions just may be a
given, how can we cope? And that is what got me developing what are
now called TAB (Teaching FOR Artistic Behavior) strategies.
In a bad room without running water and tooooo many kids and multiple
age groups I can envision this:
1. More dry choices than wet: eventually lots of fiber/weaving which is
clean, quiet and can go with the kids if they are not finished.
2. A variety of drawing media, entry level (colored pencils, pencils,
templates, references, crayons, markers, erasers, still life objects
(shells, plants, toys--trucks, horse and dino models, etc.) which
everybody k-8 could access at will.
More advanced media (charcoal, ink, oil pastels) put away where older
students know how to find, use and put away.
3. A collage area or box with clear plastic bins and materials
sorted--and most of this stuff would be found/free
4. A mini sculpture area: wire, cardboard, tape, glue, scissors,
staplers, glue gun for older kids. Most of these materials would be
5. you already have a computer center
6. Rubber stamping could take care of printing for awhile...
7. Your paint center: use what ever paints you already use, or just
watercolors and "biggie block" temperas. Teach students (yes, grade
one's too) to set up their own paints and clean them up. Limit to four
or six kids per week.
9. Altered books, for those who like them (older kids rather than
younger) and these would be filled using all of the above centers, so
no additional center needed. Students could keep in their classroom
and bring every week if storage were a problem
Keep in mind every center has been opened one at a time with thorough
instruction in a. what is found there b. how to use it (generally, not
specifically) c. how to put it away. And students are held super
accountable for cleanup, quiet work and whatever end products their age
and your school needs find appropriate.
The basic entry level materials are always there. Students know ahead
of time what is there and are planning their work before they arrive.
Cleanup should be no more than five minutes once the kids are in to it.
Class beginnings should be similiarly brief, so time is used very
I have been teaching since 1969 and I have been using some form of
choice since 1974...and after all this time I still love to go to work
every day. My students continue to astonish and thrill me.
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