Wednesday, December 7, 2011


So where have I been?  Buried, that's where.  Things are going well, but I am still trying to adjust to getting everything taken care of (really just grading) in a timely manner.  Because I am using a broad rubric that will work for each project, I am taking the time to give written comments and feedback for each and every project.  I knew going into it, it would take a fair amount of time to do this, but it is taking more time than I thought it would.  Which is fine, it's just something I need to get a streamlined process for...I've made a list of changes I plan on implementing next quarter that I'm certain will help, but it's just a matter of having to wait until the start of next quarter to do it.  Overall the students still seem to be responding very positively to this new format.  In fact, I just had a student today tell me that they did not like art last year, but  this year they are really excited about it because they get to have a choice and a say in what they do.  Hearing things like this just absolutely reinforce all of the work I'm putting into this and make it totally worthwhile.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Painting... not exactly that popular either.  It has a decent amount of students interested in it, but by far, drawing and the 3-D (sculpture and clay) stations are the most sought after.  I'm not sure what to do about this...I suppose, 1. that I should wait it out until the end of the quarter to see if enough people cycle through each station, or 2.  reconsider the layout of my room.  Currently I've got the 5 stations set up in the room, and am limiting the amount of students at each station, ideally 6, but have been allowing up to 8 at each station.  And when they are done with that station, they get up and move to another.  I like the idea of stations, but am starting to wonder if I should make the stations on the perimeter of the room and then the students can sit where ever they normally would and just bring their materials to where they are sitting?  But I'm hesitant to move the materials away from a central location because I really think that is working VERY well.  Mess is contained, everyone knows where the materials are and cleanup seems to go so much faster.  Hmmm...some stuff to think on I suppose! 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The collage station... a barren wasteland.  Hardly any students seem interested in the station.  I have demoed and explained it as much as all of the other ones, so I'm not too sure why they do not seem to be interested in it.  If I can't drum up some more interest in it soon, I think I'm going to have to switch it to a mini-station on the side somewhere and set up the printmaking station like I had originally planned.  I'm pretty sure that will get more willing participants.  Hmmmm...we will see!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Reflections on the first week...

So my version of choice based is underway.  I have 5 stations set up in the room, Drawing, Clay, Collage/Mixed Material, Painting and 3-D/Sculpture.  Throughout the week I have been showing the stations to the students.  Showing the stations to them consists of explaining demoing materials, talking about and explaining any student or teacher examples of the work, and doing quick mini-demos of those example projects and techniques that may be of interest to them.  After seeing all of the stations, the students were asked to give me a "Plan of Action" for the first half of the quarter.   This consists of figuring out three projects they think they would like to do based off of everything they have seen, and if none of those ideas worked for them, or if they thought of their own project or idea along the way, they are required to submit a written proposal to me about their idea.  I strongly encouraged each and every student to at some point in the quarter think of their own independent project, so far a few have, hopefully more will jump on that boat as well. 

Grading...Rubrics....Ah what tangled webs we weave!  Probably the most consistent question I have gotten is "How are you going to teach to the state standards and meet them?"  Well, that is a GREAT question!  I suppose I am fortunate enough that the state standards at the top of the chain are in effect broad enough to allow me to have these massive differences going on in the classroom at the same time.  Let me explain a little bit about how I have the quarter set up for each student if I may...

Each student has the choice to pick their own projects for their quarter in art.  They can look at the massive database that I have of past projects that have been completed, or as I mentioned before, they may choose to design one or more of their own projects.  Writing is important to integrate into the curriculum, so if they choose to develop their own project, I have the students submit to me a written proposal about their idea/concept, why it's a good idea for them and for others viewing the work, and what materials may be necessary to complete their idea.  If I feel they have developed the idea enough, it's approved and on their merry way they can go.  If the idea needs more clarification or development, then I have them give it another shot. 
I have assigned a category"points value" to each project that a student completes.  A simple project may be worth only 1 points whereas a more complex project could be worth 3 or potentially more points.  It is the goal of each student to earn 15 category points by the end of the quarter by completing projects in any combination they wish.  I have encouraged students to try and work their way around the room so they have an opportunity to try a wide variety of materials and techniques by the end of the quarter, but if a student likes a particular media or has a particular theme they would like to work with, they do have that opportunity to have that concentration.  It is my wish that each student will take the time to work at the different stations, but we will see how that goes right?
Okay, so back to grading now...  Because I have so very many different projects and medias going on at one time in my room, I have decided to take an approach that applies the same grading criteria to each project.  The criteria I have chosen are three of the key areas I feel are important to creating a good artwork and therefore I feel that any art project can be held up to these criteria. 
The criteria I am using to grade are 1.  Concept -- The student should have a well-developed idea with depth and purpose, make it meaningful in some way and try to learn a new skill or material they have not yet tried.  2.  Craftsmanship -- Did they execute the finished project well, does it look like they took time to work to the best of their abilities, and are there any areas that are in need of obvious improvement?  3.  Work Ethic -- Did the student come to class everyday prepared and ready to work, did they spend their time in class wisely each day and finally did they clean up respectfully and properly each day?

In addition to the finished project that will be handed in, students are required to do a weekly short written reflective worksheet about their progress on their project and when the project is completed, they must write an artist statement about their work (look, more writing!)  All of this, along with a variety of different spot knowledge worksheets tailored to the grade level should definitely allow me to meet the state standards and then some.  I plan on creating a poster of the simplified standards to display in the classroom and connect them to the projects that the kids are currently working on to hopefully get them to see the connection between what they are doing and the skills they are learning or strengthening. 

In order to put representive grades into the grading system my school uses, I have explained to the students that the category level a project falls in to will translate into a points value for a project grade.  For example, a category one project would be an equivalent of 30 points, a category 2 would be 60 and category 3 would be 90.  The more complex a project is, the more "points" it is worth in not only just category, but also the points for the grading system. 

Well, I'm done rambling for right now, I'll be back later!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Here we go....!

It's 7:55 Monday morning of 2nd quarter.  It's begun.  The kids are always super tired and usually pretty quiet during 1st hour, so I have to assume they are excited about choice based.  But I won't know until later I guess.  Here's to jumping in feet first!  :)

Thursday, October 27, 2011


I just had an opportunity to briefly talk to another professional teacher that I know that does CB in their classroom and aaackkk!, my head is spinning, but in a good way.  I'm gung ho to get started.  I think I am going to do a hybrid model between DBAE and CB for this first quarter to make my transition from one to the other a little smoother.  That's what I say now, we'll see how it actually goes, right?!  I've already started on getting my classroom rearranged into "stations".  Currently they're sitting empty until the start of the next quarter, which is next week.  As I demo the materials from the stations and the possibilities available with them, then the room will start to fill up.  Here's a picture of the room as it transitions over to the new model. 

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

I'm jumping in...

Okay, so I'm doing it.  I'm jumping in head first into CB at the start of next quarter which is only a week, less than a week, away.  I'm CRAAAAAZZZZZZZY!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Some thoughts...

So, I don't know why, but all of a sudden, it's becoming plainly obvious that I really need to do something different in my classroom.  You know how that is?  Once you're thinking about doing something, or have decided to do something, all signs seem to point in that direction.  That's what's happening with the whole idea of choice based for me.  I have a limited amount of table space to set out the materials for the different projects that are going on in my classes right now.  I am constantly having to switch up what's out, and it takes time, and frankly, it gets pretty tiresome after a point.  I was thinking to myself that this is definitely one problem that having a CB room would solve.  In my first few years of teaching (currently I'm in my sixth), I would have been too rigid to put all of the different materials out at once, but now, I'm looking to do just that and am excited about it.  No more running here to get this or that when it's all out.  YAY!  I'm getting excited about it and might have to start CB early!  My original plan was to start 3rd quarter because it's a nice uninterrupted quarter for our district, but I may have to start early.  I'm ready to get a jump start.  I've actually tried it with the final project for the my 7th grade classes, so I'll let you know how it goes!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Students want choice!

Next week is the end of the quarter for my students and I was explaining to some of my students that we were going to have a short final project of the quarter because we were under a time crunch.  They of course were asking what the project was and I have a pretty good idea of what I'm going to have them do, but haven't definitely made up my mind yet.  One student asked if they could have a choice as to what they would do for their final project.  Hmmmm, my mind began spinning of course.  Why not get a test run of a project choice in for them?  I was planning on doing a small project maybe this would be a good opportunity to give it a test run?  What can it hurt right??  ha! 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Here's my landscape for now...

 So as I understand it, working in a choice based room requires you to/needs you to have stations set up in your room that represent the different media or materials the students have a choice of.  As part of my documentation process, I wanted to get a picture of what my landscape (room) looks like right now and then see how it changes once I incorporate the stations into my room.  So here's what it looks like right now, and I'll keep you updated on what changes!

I'm very fortunate to have a nice sized room with ample workspace for the students.  Currently it is nice and open and I hope to be able to keep it that way so I can maintain a clear view around the room and keep any discipline problems at a minimum.  

The room has a wall of shelving for storage of work that is in process.  Usually this is a pretty good amount of storage space, but when the projects start to get a little big, and an entire class is doing big projects, the floor surrounding the shelves starts to get taken over sometimes.  :)

It's begun!

So, in my never ending quest to learn and grow I have decided to tackle choice based art education (CBAE) in my classroom.  I'm using it as my growth plan project topic this year, so come along with me on my journey!