SchoolArts Magazine

MAY 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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4 MAY 2018 SchoolArts Co-Editor's Letter Pam Stephens having fun on the London Eye with future art educators. A s a student, what was your favorite kind of classroom? Was it the one with straight rows of desks where everyone sat in silence except when called upon to answer a question that had one correct response? Or was it the classroom with random seating arrangements, col - laboration, experimentation, laughter, and conversation? If you selected the second option, you are not alone. Research suggests that deeper learning takes place when classroom experiences appeal to students' interests, take into consideration life experiences, and align with the real world. A counterbalance to a high-stakes testing environment, this kind of teaching comes from educators who recognize that mistakes contribute to cognition and that gaining knowl - edge can be a messy pursuit. These are the classrooms that value personal discovery and associate learning with stu - dents' feelings. One way to achieve this engaging classroom environment is through an upbeat, humor-based approach. A lighthearted attitude toward teaching and a game-like classroom environment provide opportunities for students to connect with complex material on a deeper and more emotional level. This is not to infer that as teachers we need to be class clowns or entertainers who are constantly "on"; rather, we should consider fashioning cheerful classroom settings that appeal to learners and offer a variety of avenues for meaningful twenty-first century learning outcomes. Here are four ideas to keep in mind when planning and implementing fun and games in your classroom: 1. Humor can be interpreted in many ways. Cultural differences in students should direct your pedagogy. Always avoid sarcasm. 2. Keep content relevant to learning outcomes in art. Ensure that the curriculum is engaging but significant; fun but rigorous. Embrace national and state standards for the visual arts. 3. Construct lessons around age-appropriate, authentic prob- lems that are solved by students rather than focusing on teacher-driven artifacts. Steer clear of cookie-cutter activ - ities that produce similar results from child to child. 4. Honor mistakes. Encourage students to accept mistakes as part of the learning process. Quality art teaching is about guiding students towards being flexible thinkers and inventive problem solvers. Whatever your approach to fun and games, make the art classroom a joyful place that invites risk-taking while offering a demanding curriculum. Remember, it's okay to smile and laugh in your classroom. Visit Follow me on

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