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Friday, November 29, 2013

Answering Questions About Choice and the Open Art Room. Part 5

This is part five of a week long series on choice in the art room...



After a week long look at Choice in the Open Art Room, we received a lot of questions from art teachers either by email or through Facebook posts. We wanted to utilize our last post in the series to answer a few of the many questions we received. Thanks to everyone for all the support we received this week!


Q

I taught high school including AP for years. AP was the choice setting and the hardest part of my day because of individualized instruction. I can't imagine doing it all day long.(I taught all courses) where does technique and skill come into play? without that the ap couldn't have pulled off quality work. good ideas without craftsmanship= crapmanship. so... i'm curious about this.

A1

Response by Ian Sands:

In Kimberly Sudkamp's post she explains how she does demos at the start of class. One example she mentioned was teaching how to throw on the potters wheel. 

Besides the demos, teaching technique is also on the backend. This actually raises the skill level
 of the student. I'll give you an example. 

I had a student who choose to work on a linear perspective drawing. We had already covered 1 and 2 but he wanted more. I showed him 3 point but he still wasn't satisfied. He asked about 4 point. I told him I didn't know how and see what he could find (on the Internet). He is now working on a 5 point linear perspective, a technique I didn't even know myself. 

Because of choice teaching, his skill level was elevated higher than I could have taken him if I were using a teacher directed model.


A2


Response by Kimberly Sudkamp:


I'm teaching my Sculpture class in this choice method. These students have all taken Art 1, but have not had a lot of experience with 3D work. With each introduction of the project theme I show them a number of artist works that coincide. The students plan then research how they will make their pieces. I even tried having the students make Pinterest pages to organize their ideas and tutorials they found online. 


http://apexhsart.blogspot.com/.../pinterest-in-classroom... 


It was challenging at first, but because the students are now self-motivated it is much easier. They WANT to research, they WANT to take the project further. I am there only as guidance. Every couple of days I do a demo on a technique I feel they would benefit from the most. This changes based on the students. They can choose to use the technique or not. I do not abandon technique, I just choose a different way of teaching it.


A3

Response by Melissa Purtee

I agree with Kim and Ian. Technique and skill are still very important. In my Art One classes I have my projects centered around an important theme or idea - like realism or perspective. Inside of each theme are specific concepts that each student has to learn. These are skill and technique based, just like in a traditional art program, and I demonstrate frequently. The big difference is that I allow students to apply their knowledge in a way they choose. For a project I assigned based on realism I had portraits, still lifes, landscapes and other observational drawings turned in. They were all different but still allowed me to evaluate what students had learned about value, contrast and proportion - the learning objectives for the project. 


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Q

How do you budget for needed supplies? How do you know what to buy?



A
Response by Ian Sands:

Ordering is basically the same. I.e. we purchase enough paint as if everyone would paint. Some paint more, some use less. It works out that way. In fact, I think we use less materials now.

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Q
I think if you are going to write blogs and articles from your school on this method, you need to support your way of thinking by backing up how many students have gone on to be successful in art colleges or professional careers in art. I can name many that came from more structured programs in the county, and additionally those who have succeeded in AP Art. We are all for listening and learning with an open mind, but I’d like to hear about some success stories.


A
Response by Ian Sands:

As I'm sure you'll agree, it is wonderful when a student advances to the AP level. Even more spectacular is when a student leaves school and pursues a career in the arts. However, this is only a small minority, less than 5%, of the art students we teach. 

I truly believe we can't take credit for our student's success if we don't first take credit for the ones who fail. You asked us to present a success story.  Melissa’s story about Darius is a success story about the other 95%

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Q
If you were in a math class, and the teacher gave you a book, and said figure it out, how well would you do? The only students that would succeed are the ones that had a natural talent for math. It seems like you are catering only the students with natural ability. It is nice in theory, but it isn’t realistic for the masses.


A
Response by Melissa Purtee

This is a great question because it speaks to a common misconception about choice based learning: that because it looks different it is not, in fact, teaching. I know that in the scenario described above, with a student being handed a book and tasked with independent learning, that success would not be the outcome for many students. They would fail without direction or guidance. In my lessons I set challenging learning goals, teach students new information and allow them to practice new skills, all while differentiating content to meet their specific needs. It's teaching by any definition.

See an example of what one of my projects is like here.

I think choice based learning is great for all kids because it's so flexible - the teacher and the student work together to create the right learning experience for each student. This works for the kids who come in with a high skill level and the ones who have never had an art class. 

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