CBMS Choice-Based Art Studio

CBMS Choice-Based Art Studio
CBMS Choice-Based Art Studio

Wednesday, March 22, 2017


The Important Thing
5th-graders considered "what is important about art" today in preparation for tomorrow's reflection and share day. Every two weeks we stop the making to consider both artwork and creative process. So today, to get ready for reflecting tomorrow, I asked "What is the important thing about art?" Can you read the responses above?
     I'TS ODD
     IT'S YOU
     IT'S LIFE

I think this is the most unique list students have generated over the years that I have been asking this question. Are kids getting more creative?

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

6th Grade Animation Project

A team of 6th graders is working on the whiteboard to create stop-action animation. The whiteboard is a good solution for easily making changes in their progressive drawing. 

Today we had a world premier to share their work with the class. Enjoy. 

Saturday, December 10, 2016

The Power of Mistakes

"It's okay to make mistakes." How often have we heard teachers say this, or at least give lip-service to the idea. I know in our school the idea has gotten a lot of play - educators know that it is important to move away from the 'one right answer' model of teaching and learning, to allow for and even celebrate mistakes. Is the message getting through to kids?

 My question to 7th graders: 
"How did having no grades in art affect you and your work?"

One answer (by the artist who created the above oil pastel painting): 
" I thought it meant that I could make mistakes in my art and not be punished for it."

If my math is right, to this learner, 

Here is another: 
"It felt that I didn't have any limits."


Okay, one more and then I'll stop - this one from a 5th Grader:
"It made me feel like I could be myself."

Wait! Wait! I have to add this one too (Grade 5):
" I think (having no grades) affected my work in a very good way because it makes me feel like I am good at things."


In our art program, we have transcended grades and grading in favor of more authentic assessment and evaluation of learning and creative production. 

Friday, November 25, 2016

The Effect of No Grades

I always look forward to collecting students' final reflections at the end of the term. I get a lot of good feedback to help shape the program, gain insights about what is working and what is not, and usually a surprise or two.
Our first trimester ended this week. Here is one 7th-grader's response to the prompt: There are no grades in art - how did this affect you and your work in art?

"In art we aren't stressed as much as all the other classes. In art there is still a task, but no grades. Knowing this makes us put all our effort into a piece of artwork as to when and where we work. On other class projects we don't give our all because of time limit. In art we can spend as much time as we need to. "

I am especially interested with the last phrase in this student's response. "...as much time as we need to." Not "want to," not "can," not "get to." Need to. In a choice-based setting, learners are provided with the time, space and stuff they need. 

e-Portfolio Header Image
It is interesting to me that we started this trimester together by pondering Olivia Gude's question adorning the entryway of a high school in Chicago. A mosaic tile banner over students' heads, as they enter the building each day, asks: "What do you need to know?" On the first day of this trimester, I handed out index cards and asked students to respond to Gude's question. I wanted to provoke students to take an even more active role in their course and to realize that here, in the studio, they can pursue those things they need. 

Saturday, September 24, 2016

The Very Tall Cup

measuring up

The tall cup, standing out in the crowd

All fired up
Does it work?

Through Young Artists' Eyes

Hand sewing to the left, machine sewing to the right.
 I take a lot of pictures in the studio to document learning, celebrate innovation, record collaborations and capture humorous or joyful moments. I was about to snap a photo to show how popular the sewing machines suddenly are with the current batch of 5th graders, when I noticed a student at my elbow. I handed the camera to her, and these are some of the moments she recorded.
Thanks to a large bag of donated stuffing, we are going pillow-crazy
 Children compose photographs differently than adults. It is interesting to see studio activities from this fresh perspective. Thank you "P," for documenting a slice of today.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Up and Running

7th-graders. already familiar with our Choice-based studio, are eager to pick up where they left off last spring. All studio "centers" opened right away for this bunch, although we held off on the potter's wheel until week two, so my head wouldn't explode.

7th grade clay artists are becoming more confident, more independent and more skilled. Some are more willing to take creative risk (note the tall tower "cup" built with the coil technique!)

There is little doubt that CBMS students love their access to clay.

5th grade artists, meanwhile, tell me they know just where to find clay, over by the Waterbury reservoir. Some want to know, is that where I get our clay? These enthusiastic newcomers promise they will dig some up from the reservoir this weekend and we'll see how it performs. 

Welcome back everyone - I missed you!