SchoolArts Magazine

November 2016

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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the classroom so I can use the walls for signage and visual references. Stu- dents get their tools and materials and take them to nearby tables. The Clay Center and the Construction Center have their own dedicated tables, but the others can be used flexibly." Teaching Skills The primary method for introduc- ing new techniques in a choice-based elementary class is the five-minute demo. The teacher presents a new media or skill at the beginning of the class. Students then have the option of incorporating that new skill. Choice-based high-school teach- ers wanting to dig deeper into a particular media or skill may offer boot camps. These can run as long as a week and include a series of tech- niques and skill-building exercises. Middle-School Option: Sara Under- hill, a teacher from Pierz, Minnesota, offers some whole group lessons but realizes much of the technique train- ing occurs as the need arises. "We do some skill builder activities such as shading, where everyone practices the techniques. However, a lot of the skills taught are emergent. If I see someone printmaking that is wanting to use more than one color on a print, I demonstrate reduction printing." Presenting Lessons Elementary students are presented with lessons through the five-minute demo as well as through visiting each center. Centers provide students the opportunity for exploration through media. The five-minute demo may be used to discuss concepts such as idea generation, art history, or an element of art or principle of design. High-school teachers often present lessons through units or themes, such as identity, compassion, and transfor- mation. These offer students a start- ing point from where to draw ideas. Middle-School Option: Nan Hatha- way's favorite approach is full choice, allowing students to decide the media as well as the subject matter. "When things are going well, there is a hum of student engagement, bursts of joyful discovery, and many possibilities in student work for me Ian Sands Caught in the Middle T H E O P E N A R T R O O M How to displa upplies, how to teach skills, and how to present lessons are just a few of the issues faced b iddle- school teachers wanting to incorporate choice. CONTINUED ON PAGE 41. W hen it comes to choice- based art education, elementary art teachers have it down. Centers are established, five-minute demos are presented, and students arrive ready to work. High-school teachers offering choice are developing systems as well. Their materials are readily available and their boot camps are designed for the high-school student. Though both methods of offering choice work for their corresponding grade levels, there is one group of teachers who are truly caught in the middle—the middle- school teacher. Unlike elementary and high school, where grade levels are primar ily set, middle-school teachers face a wide variety of combinations, including 6–8, K–8, and 8–12. These combi- nations of class levels raise many challenges to offer choice in middle school, including how to display sup- plies, how to teach skills, and how to present lessons. To address these chal- lenges, let's look at each through an elementary, high-school, and middle- school hybrid option. Handling Supplies The most common practice for han- dling supplies in the choice-based elementary program is through "cen- ters." Each center contains a specific material, as well as instructions for using the media. Examples may include drawing, painting, printmak- ing, and 3D centers. High-school teachers tend to fol- low a studio approach. Materials are readily available, usually stored on shelves, in cabinets, or student-acces- sible storage rooms. Middle-School Option: Nan Hatha- way, a middle-school art teacher from Vermont, offers her students a hybrid solution. "In our studio, the centers are set up along the outside edges of 12 NOVEMBER 2016 SchoolArts

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