SchoolArts Magazine

February 2017

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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SCHOOLARTSMAGAZINE.COM 23 Surprisingly, this required a lot more coaching from me than I thought it would. Students had legiti- mate questions such as "How do I make sure that my joke is funny?" and "How do I know what colors will look good together?" They didn't have a toolbox of strategies at their disposal yet, so I helped them brainstorm exper- iments they might try before I gave them any concrete answers. Discoveries All Around In the "Discoveries" section, students wrote what they learned from their experiments and how they might use those lessons in future projects: "I'll keep a test sheet for my practice col- ors. Use expressions and poses to tell my story better. Combining things— juxtaposition—is an easy way to come up with new ideas." My favorite discovery was also a challenge. Several students wrote some version of "This was too easy for me." I sat down to talk with these students and told them, "I'm so glad you realized this! If an assignment is too easy, it means that you aren't learning very much. What are you going to do the next time you notice that a project is too easy for you?" Their solutions: "Add something else to the project? Try something I haven't done before? Give myself a harder goal? Tell a teacher?" All were good ideas and were later listed as les- sons that students had learned. The final portion of the lesson was a self-assessment. Had my fifth-grad- ers achieved their goals? They were asked to circle one of four options: Novice–I still need help. I couldn't meet this objective yet; Apprentice–I need practice. I completed this project but I don't know if I could do it again; Practitioner–I did it! I completed this project and I could do it again; and finally, Expert–I could teach this! I completed this project and could explain it to someone else. A Lasting Lesson In my end-of-the-year survey, many students mentioned this project. Because of the freedom that it allowed them, some called this their favorite assignment. Because of the self-assessment, other students said it was annoying. I knew I had something worth- while on my hands because my students were set free and held accountable at the same time. I may not have perfected my approach yet, but I look forward to improving it in the years to come. Feel free to contact me with your feedback—thoughtful criticism is always appreciated! Rama Hughes is an artist and art teacher at Yavneh Hebrew Academy, in Los Ange- les, California. rama@ N A T I O N A L S T A N D A R D Presenting: Interpreting and sharing artistic work. W E B L I N K I knew I had something worthwhile on m ands because m tudents were set free and held accountable at the same time. Left: Raphy Amsellem. Chana Horowitz. Right: Hailey Bernstein. Jacob Wohlfarth.

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