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!

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