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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

How & Why I Use Choice In My Classroom - Part 3

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

By Kim Sudkamp

Student work - Self portraits (5th grade)
How I was introduced to the idea/What I first thought:
I've never been a fan of the "recipe" projects.  Who made them? The teacher or the students?  I've always encouraged my students to take the projects further, or put their own spin on it.  Even when I was in the elementary classroom last year.  But until I came to Apex high I hadn't heard of an open art classroom.  Purtee and Sands introduced the idea.  It seemed intimidating at first, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized it coincided with my beliefs on art education.

How I'm implementing choice in Sculpture:
The open art room is scary, there is no doubt about that.  But it doesn't mean you don't have order or an understanding of materials.
These two student examples are from the same project and look nothing alike.

"Relief Project" (Material Choice: Clay)
"Relief Project" (Material Choice: Altered Book)

I base each project around a theme.  These themes change between a style of work ("relief") to conceptual ideas ("pressure").  I aim for these themes to be more open-ended and not limiting to material choices.  My general template looks like this:

Based on this model I form my projects.  My first project with my sculpture class was on "Vessels." 

What about teaching techniques?
With each project theme and materials choice I provide a pinterest page to the students.  The idea behind this is that the students can find what they need to know for their specific project while I provide more guidance.
Digital learning doesn't give a full spectrum of understanding materials that the students might need for their project.  Seeing something and actually doing it are completely different.  Every couple days I do a warm-up or demo for the students in the beginning of class.  They can choose to use it this technique if it is appropriate for their project. For example, I did a throwing demo about a month ago with the project "pressure." 1 student chose the wheel. Currently the students are working on "Repetition," and 5 students have chosen the wheel.  These students have used the Pinterest page, helped each other, as well as asked me for guidance in their work.  These warm-ups are about learning the techniques that may later be used to achieve the conceptional idea within their work.

"Vessels Project" (Material Choice: Clay)
"Vessels Project" (Material Choice: Other - Pencils)

How I tackle project time:
Each material lends to specific a specific time range.  In the beginning I had a difficulties with time management.  As I watch students work on the assignment I see what material will probably take the longest. As the first student finishes, I introduce the next project.  This might seem overwhelming, but as the student who is working on a more time consuming material they can also be thinking about their concept of the next. Due dates are very flexible in my classroom. If a student is constantly working I do not mind adding more time for them, but if a student is consistently off task I will give those students a hard deadline.  This might seem unfair, but with each student I have a discussion about project timeline.  They know what I expect.  If a student rushes through a project I have them consider how they could improve it, and did they achieve the concept they were going for?  These students if not ready to move onto the next project can work on their sketchbook assignment for the week.  Using this model takes a lot of patience and student observation, but the students are self motivated becoming passionate about their own pieces.  No longer do I hear "Oh, I trashed that, its stupid." or "Ugh! I hate working with clay!"

"Pressure Project" (Material Choice: Other - Wire/Tape/Ribbon)

If you'd like to discuss this further you can reach me by:
- Commenting below

PART 1 by Melissa Purtee
PART 2 by Ian Sands
PART 3 by Kim Sudkamp

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