Choice-Based Art Education

Challenge! Six Pieces in Six Periods

How much art do you create with your students? Personally, I don’t make enough. Thus, I wanted to challenge myself to finish one piece of art in each class throughout the day.

First, I set up a nice work station in the middle of the room so students could watch the progress and I could still monitor student hijinx. After the warm-up, which was super quick, I started asking students a simple prompt: There’s something loose in the school, what is it? I am currently working on a webcomic about the adventures in the art room, so thought this was an opportunity to spark an idea.

The first response of the day was 7th grade girl who yelled “a chair!”.

“What?” I responded.

“Or a screw!” the girl next to her suggested. I looked at them puzzled and walked away. Adventurally, I got an idea I could work with. Scroll through the gallery to see all the ideas and results.

Four Takeaways

  1. I had great conversations about my process with students throughout the day. Most conversation took place while students were passing and at the end of the class. I fielded questions about the content of the picture and the purpose of creating artwork. I took some suggestion from students that ended up helping the final result.  
  2. I believe work can be contagious. From my experience, when I’m engaged in my artwork, student become more engaged with their artwork. Is it the best teaching practice? Probably not. But, I’m an artist too and I can lead by example in the classroom.  
  3. I picked a convenient day that coincide with a place in the curriculum where students understood how to function independently in an open studio. I’ve noticed that there’s a wonderful point where students are knee deep in their projects, freeing up time to address other issues. This is a great point to start or continue a piece of art.  
  4. From an artistic lense, 42 minutes is restricting! But, some quick thumbnails saved a lot of time. I really have to be honest with myself about the amount of work students can get done in 42 minutes.
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