Art 1: Informal Balance: Wrap-up and Review

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Think back to this post where I talked about bringing in some choice to my art 1 students.  They were able to work in groups and were each given an egg carton to which they could do whatever they liked as long as their final artwork had informal balance.  We worked on the project for about 2 weeks, then we took a week’s break (spring break), and finished up in about 2 or 3 days.  During spring break, I decided not to grade them on the outcome of their project, but instead to grade them on the process and what they had to say about that process.  I had created a list of questions for them to answer.

When it came time to actually figure out a grade, I really had no idea what to do about it.  I didn’t really have a rubric on how to grade what they had written.  They had never done anything like this before, so they had no idea what I was really looking for.  They were honest in their answers.  In the end I gave each student a 100, unless I specifically recalled them spending days not working (which one child did and his partners said something about it in their answers) or they failed to answer all the questions.  The grades ranged from 85-100.

It has taken me a long time to write about the project/process; I’ve been reflecting about it…a lot.  What had I really hoped to gain from this “experiment” of throwing so much choice at the students?  I mean, really, it was all for me.  Yes the kids learned about informal balance.  And I truly believe that many did understand it by the end.  And, of course, there were some that didn’t, but I am not sure they would have gotten it anyway, if I am being honest here.  I had been reading so much about choice that I really wanted to try it out.  I felt the only way to see if I liked it and how I could implement it in my classes was to do a trial run.   I felt this unit was really more for me then for them.  Part of me feels like I shouldn’t admit that, but how am I to know what works and what doesn’t if I don’t try.  Many things look good on paper…

I learned a lot about choice and how to make it work in my classroom and how to make it work for me.  I admittedly am a sort of small control freak.  It is hard for me not to know an outcome.  But, I rolled with this.  I think I need to do some sort of a modified choice.  I think that leaving it so broad was hard for me and for the students.  (Many did say they they didn’t like not knowing what it “should” look like, and that it was hard to come up with an idea.)  I think I would have to slowly bring them into the “choice world”.  It was too much at once.  I think to make it work well, I would need to limit choice to either 2-D or 3-D.  (I have done some choice things in my 2-D and 3-D classes and it has been successful.)  Maybe I should spend some time on different techniques, then go from there where they could expand, explore, and build on things we have already discussed.  I still have a lot to think about.  I like giving them freedom, but I need some sort of control.  I need to find a balance that benefits us both. We (my students and I) need to have a symbiotic relationship if we are all going to thrive.

Overall, it was a fun time in the art room and there was lots of good conversation and exploring going on.  They were doing what I had told them was my motto for the year (stolen from the Frizz of course) “Take Chances, Make Mistakes, Get Messy!”

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