SchoolArts Magazine

DEC 2012

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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All Levels Instructional Resources How Can We Measure Student Progress in Art? Helen Goren Shafton S tudents demonstrate their ress over the course of a school year? understanding of art by drawStudent progress in art is not linear, it ing upon many aspects of is not numerically based, and it is not their being. language-based. The Art products are Student progress in art creation of art comes based, in part, upon from within. And, is not linear, it is not the student's cognijust like an opinion, numerically based, and what we create from tion of the subject, it is not language-based. within cannot be context, techniques, and materials. In wrong. It is ours. It addition to the cognitive aspect of art is an expression of our feelings. Feelproduction, the student is also drawings cannot be wrong. ing upon his or her creativity, motor skills, emotions, life experiences, perSucceeding in the Future sonal aesthetic, personal communicaOur very existence, and possibly our tion skills, and more. persistence on this planet may someHow are we, as art educators, able day depend upon the creative genius of to determine the worthiness of a given future generations of human beings. If work of student art or his or her progwe encourage creativity through the 38 December 2012 SchoolArts arts, if our students have the opportunity to take risks and express themselves freely without fear of judgment, then we will have done the important work of this century. Jonah Lehrer, in his book, Imagine: How Creativity Works (Houghton Mifflin, 2012), stipulates that students will have to be able to create things in order to succeed in the world. He indicates that creativity is "a key skill for the twenty-first century." Lehrer talks about growing up in a world of constant change and preparing for a future for which there is no test to teach to in the classroom. No one in education wants to teach to the test, but the emphasis on test scores and student performance has made Continued on page 41. Continued from page 38. Art Display Cards: Elements of Art and Principles of Design Illustrated Vocabulary. Glenview, IL: Crystal Productions. $34.95 for a set of 36. Appropriate for all grade levels, Elements of Art and Principles of Design Illustrated Vocabulary cards provide a terrific resource for introducing and reviewing essential art vocabulary. Each of the 18 x 6" (46 x 15 cm) cards displays a vocabulary word in large print and the definition below in smaller print. Multiple examples of each element and principle are provided. For instance, instead of one card with the vocabulary word line, there are five cards that show different types of lines, such as implied and gestural. A visual depiction of each vocabulary word accompanies the text. The visual depictions span from art reproductions to diagrams. Each example is clear and accurate. Another unique feature is the crease down the center of each card, which divides the vocabulary word and its definition from the colorful example. Cards can be fully opened for instructional purposes or be displayed on the wall. Folded in half, the cards can be used as flash cards or propped up on students' desks for close examination. Printed on coated card stock and packaged in a heavy plastic storage bag, these cards will hold up for years of use. Reviewed by Jillian Hampton, an art education student at Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff. world of constant change and preparing for a future for which there is no test to teach to in the classroom. No one in education wants to teach to the test, but the emphasis on test scores and student performance has made it a necessity and has sucked the creativity out of much of education. Ask any classroom teacher and they will tell you there is not enough time for creative endeavors anymore. Art is the one remaining place where creativity is king, so how do we measure it without squashing it? Measuring Success: An Ongoing Conundrum When a child produces art freely he or she is focused, learning, and happy. This is why we teach. If a child finds success with a particular medium and not another, how do we measure his or ongoing progress when he or she has used different art materials? If a child finds success expressing ideas focused on a subject that is interesting or connects personally, but does not succeed with a different idea or subject, how do we measure his or her ongoing progress when dealing with different ideas? What is most important for us as art educators? Should we be helping our students to develop the ability to create, to express themselves, and to understand the expressions of others? Or should we be quantifying their personal expressions so as to measure their progress and our own success as educators? As an art teacher, I am experimenting with methods to evaluate student work so as to be true to the idea that art by its very nature is a personal expression. What I have yet to determine is how to do that while somehow having that evaluation reflect on the efficacy of my teaching. That is the challenge that art teachers face. Helen Goren Shafton is an elementary art teacher at District 89 Schools in Glen Ellyn, Illinois, and the author of Making Art Special (CreateSpace, 2010). makingartspecial@gmail. com schoolartsonline.com 41

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