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Sunday, December 30, 2012

reCreating Art History

This will be my seventh year teaching Art History. Over the years, my teaching style has continually evolved. The first year I pretty much did the lecture thing, showed PowerPoints, had students take notes.

Over the next few years, I tried to move away from lecturing and more towards student research.  We created an Art History Ning where I posted questions and teams of students would research and post their findings to the forums. I called it Toss and Remix. However, students still kept notebooks.

Art History Toss and Remix from iansands on Vimeo.

I've tried a few different ideas to move the class away from the notebook. One year I tried having them keep flashcard with an image of the artwork on the front and their notes on the back. I thought it was a great idea however, it was a total fail. Keeping up with the cards was a pain for both students and teacher.

This year I thought I might try having the students keep journals. You know, like the Journal Junkies? This might be fun cause students could doodle and write and paste and all sorts of things in their journals. Then I thought, what if I went one step further...

I've always included projects in my class. We've built art history kites and art history putt  putt golf.. And these projects were all assignment by me.

What if, instead of notebooks or journals, the students had to create a self-directed project that encompassed what they discovered for each unit? So if a student wanted to create a journal for that unit that incorporated their finds  that would work. But another student might create a painting or a collage or a 3D sculpture.

In addition to the project, students could maintain a blog, similar to the way the Computer Art and Art One classes already do. They would post photos and give a written description of their projects.

So what does that mean? I'm not sure yet. Does this idea have potential or am i going way to far? That's why I'm opening the idea up for discussion. I would love to read your thoughts so feel free to post a comment.

Make your own photo slideshow at Animoto.


  1. Ian,
    I ran a class similar to this (though not HS art history). One assignment was something brand new that I thought was worthwhile, and I had given the students a lot of choice and wasn't sure how it would go. I told the students I didn't yet know how I would assess it, but that I trusted them to help me figure it out as we moved along. The discussion that we had close to the end of the project about characteristics of quality was so rich. They were learning about the content and learning about learning at the same time. I encourage you to try it and involve the students in the planning, execution and assessment too...if you have that amount of freedom in your school.

  2. I always thought that's how I would like to teach Art History- students make their own product to show what they learned. I think it's a great idea to try!

  3. Hiya Mr. Sands,
    In my opinion, you are on the best track! You're offering a differentiated approach - appealing to a much wider variety of your students - getting them hooked by letting them choose and asking them to produce something that's fun and meaningful. I find your blog and your ideas to be very inspirational and up-to-the-minute in terms of arts advocacy and pedagogy. Thank you belatedly for sharing and inspiring - thanks to your terrific learners as well. Happy New Year!


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