We are starting this semester right!

9 01 2015

I have been on a journey to transition to a choice based studio and adopting TAB.  I have been doing my research and setting up curriculum for how I can successfully transition.  I am a student centered art educator so this isn’t a difficult change, but to fully make the change, it requires a global change in the scheduling process.  This required that I educate others on the philosophy of TAB and choice based studio learning and how can it be done in our school environment.  Well, I pursued and presented, discussed and wrote down the idea for me to chart out a plan.  I have been plugging along this school year and over the Christmas break to prepare for the possibility of the change.  I returned to school to begin the new semester with the traditional track for my courses…well I was surprised to learn that a scheduling issue resulted in the outcome in one of my courses exactly the way I have been trying to achieve through my careful planning and presenting.

My journey begins NOW!  It is my Drawing course and it consists of students of all grades and from two levels of Drawing experiences.  Most are Drawing I students with a prerequisite of Foundations of Art and a smaller group of students with Drawing I behind them and entering this semester as a Drawing II student.  I originally had two different drawing assignments planned because I thought I was teaching two separate classes, but now they are in one class at the same time.

I am not concerned…it is my objective to create a lesson to use as a warm up and review, with built in assessments to check on students understanding and skill sets.  So I selected the lesson, I felt would be the best project to engage and support the students enrolled this semester.  I created and published two different target expectations for each level.  I am supporting each level with smaller demos and technique skill building lessons within the progress of the project.  Right, now we are in the early stages of concept building and exploration of materials so our whole group discussions are helpful.  I let the students sit where the students feel they have the best space to work and with whom they can accomplish the best work.  The discussions at the student’s tables are helpful and encouraging without a hierarchy between the two levels.

At times, my more advanced students are leading during discussions and the less experienced students are working through ideas encouraged by the experienced artists ideas.  Then at times my Drawing I students spur on others with inventive ways at approaching an idea with they’re outside the box ideas.  It is a great dynamic and I am predicting that all the students’ works will exceed my expectations and some of my student’s skills will accelerate faster than planned.  “Win Win for all.”

I am trying to maintain documenting the progress and take note of the subtle changes I am doing to challenge and support my students.  This is the ultimate differentiated learning experience and placing the learning on the students.  I’m finding I’m spending more time pushing students to articulate why and what do they want to achieve, than telling them what needs to happen.  Our working critiques seem to have more students engaged and the discussions seem to stir more artistic decision-making.

This is all going on while I am still pursuing all other ways to advance the learning process for all of my courses.  Luckily for us, we do have a new place in town with an exciting Maker Space.  I am approaching the director about how this place can be a used for our visual art courses.  This will be another great opportunity for my students to get their hands on designing ideas with new technology that I will never be able to afford in my school studio.

As usual we are gearing up for Curbside Couture, State Art Shows, and many more opportunities to share our talents with others. I am working hard to stay relevant and document the progress to share will all of you.  I am finding myself forgetting to take photos because the studio time is so much fun and I am often caught up in the progress.  I never feel my photographs really tell the whole story anyways, but I know we are visual learners so having photos to share is helpful, so I am making an effort to get this done.  I hope my next posting will be able to share the results of the lesson theme created for each course.  Sorry, I do not have photos to share on this course as of the publishing of this post.

I hope you all are having a great start after a restful Christmas break.

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