Helping Students to “Get It”

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Sometimes kids just don’t get it.  No matter how hard you try, there is some disconnect between what you are saying and what they are comprehending.  I recently had this issue.

Art 1 is working under the theme of “Environment”.  We discussed and had a brainstorming session of what an environment is and what it could be.  They came up with some wonderful ideas in our padlet session.  I really thought they knew where to go from there.

A few days pass, students finish up new media practice sheets, and they begin to work on sketches for their artworks.  I walked around taking peeks here and there to see what they were doing.  I began to notice that I was seeing a whole bunch of the same thing…lots of sunsets over water and lots of generic landscapes.  Nothing seemed as creative as their last artworks.

What was I doing wrong?  What were they not getting from me?  Where was the misconnection?  I asked some colleagues on the FB TAB teacher group and they helped me to see what was missing.  One person suggested that maybe it was in the wording.  Another asked what types of images I had shown them.

I thought about their suggestions.  I realized that it was a wording issue and that my choice of intentionally not showing any examples backfired.  I quickly made a pinboard of an wide array of environments.  The next morning I had a sort of “show and tell” with my students.  I showed them an image and had them tell me about the environment.  I asked them what environment it was.  I asked how they came to that conclusion.  I asked what the artist did to help create that environment.  I told them that another word for environment was “setting”.  We then moved on to the next activity for that class period.

The next day I walked around, again peeking at what they were sketching.  This time I saw images that were more thought out.  They had subject matters that were put into a surrounding.  I saw kids becoming more “into” what they were creating.  I was happy, and things felt “right” again.

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