SchoolArts Magazine

September 2018

SchoolArts is a national art education magazine committed to promoting excellence, advocacy, and professional support for educators in the visual arts since 1901.

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24 SEPTEMBER 2018 SchoolArts A S S E S S M E N T A s art educators, we know that art is much more than a pretty picture. Planning, exploration, and reflection are just as valuable in the artistic process as the final artwork. Instead of sending home portfolios of student artwork—never to be seen again—I decided to start pairing student port - folios with parent interviews. Student artists take home a parent/ guardian worksheet that has three questions related to work within the portfolio. Most interview sheets have grade-level appropriate questions that students must pose in a three-step process: Look, Interview, and Write. It typically takes ten minutes of class time (once a school year) to model how to "interview" their families. The beginning of the school year is a good time to start this. Phase 1: Look During the Look phase, students ask their parents, guardians, or caretak- ers "if it is a good time" to check out t he fantastic work they are doing in art class. Without student comment, family members are invited to observe the items in the portfolio, which could include multiple artworks created in the year or one artwork with planning sheets and an artist statement. Pho - tographs of completed 3D artworks or c andids of students making art could be included as well. Phase 2: Interview Interview questions posed by the student-artist are typically designed by the teacher or the class to do the following: First, probe for general thoughts about the portfolio contents; second, highlight art-specific materi - als, techniques, or genres explored in c lass; and third, make personal con- Parents and Portfolios Libya S. Doman nections between the student, parent, and art. For example, an invented architecture painting portfolio could include these questions: (1) What do you think I learned in art after looking through my portfolio? (2) What paint - ing techniques do you see in my art? ( 3) W hat architecture would you like t o explore with me? Why? Phase 3: Write Hoping to foster an art dialogue with parents and their children, students are charged to write the adults' responses on the interview sheet. Keeping the student engaged with the parent throughout the process encourages family mem - bers to align answers with the l iteracy level of the student. For my students at primary reading levels, or for English language learn- ers, I design interview sheets that r equire less reading and writing. Alternative approaches for students developing literacy and/or language skills include simplified interview sheets with "plain English," short sentences, and pictorial prompts. Most students can circle or check multiple-choice, visual responses that are printed on the form. Once the interview is finished, the fully investigated portfolio remains at home and the interview sheets are returned to the excited art teacher. Over the years, parents and guardians have shared that this quick interview process has increased their understanding of what quality art instruction entails and why it is an important part of their child's education. Teachers can feel satisfied that art has meaning beyond artroom walls. Libya S. Doman is an art teacher at Lynbrook Elementary in Springfield, Vir - ginia and adjunct professor of art meth- ods at George Mason University. libyad@ h Instead of sending home portfolios of student artwork—never to be seen again—I decided to start pairing student portfolios with parent interviews.

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