This year my (secondary) students have to bring 2
playing cards to school, every day, with a pictorial
idea of some type applied onto it. Usually it is a
magazine picture glue-sticked on, with some of the
card digits showing. Pretty casual, depending, of
course, on the student...It is our 5-minute opening
The subject matter is wide open, except, as I wrote
last week or so, I always have what I call a 'backup'
theme which seems to help their continuing motivation.
Backup themes are roles artists play--such as
imagining, creating, remembering, synthesizing, etc.
(Last week I was trying to flesh out 'imaginative
This was from Michael Bell's site, originally, but
while he has mostly his own art on his cards, my
students usu. have very few images of their own art.
Originally I did this with the intent of developing in
them the habit of daily working outside of class on
their art. Now I am writing to you, the group, partly
because I am seeing so many benefits. Students are
developing more of an idea orientation they are in
charge of their development in art; not so dependent
on my every directive.
Also, the sorting and sharing among friends and the
conversations over various interesting finds has been
a different type of critical thinking. While of course
some days a given student's work may look pretty
random, at other times one can see patterns,
interests, themes, highlights among cards...And make
for great conversations. (Student save the cards as a
deck in their backpacks).
Although they are admittedly smaller to draw on, I
like it better than a sketchbook because we can look
at so many different images at once to mix, match and
compare. And, besides, how often have I preached
thumbnails to them? (We glue a slip of plain paper on
One thing I also like is that taking a card and
tracing its contour gives the student a really nice
'golden rectangle' picture plane in which to sketch
ideas in the sketchbook. So I am seeing impressions of
these cards other places. Sometimes it is easier to
work on a larger sheet of paper, even if the pic plane
is still small. Hence we are transitioning to the sk.
I think it is prepping the younger students more for
AP Concentration development. I can't imagine an AP
kid next year not dragging out his old idea cards.
I have never noticed a single card left behind,
forgotten on a work table. I think this suggests
students' buying into the whole thing. That their deck
is personal, valuable. For some kids, this alone is
But mostly I wanted to say thanks--when I shared with
them Woody's ideas on imagination and creativity, they
could see clearly how they were developing in their
fluency and flexibility.
In case you missed his post to me, he shared about
Fluency: Comes up with a large number of ideas
Flexibility: comes up with varied concepts
Elaboration: putting a lot of info. into your work
Originality: new and unique thinking
Thanks, Woody. Your input was powerful with my
students and an important part of driving this whole
enjoyable thing home.
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