CBMS Choice-Based Art Studio

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

Sunday, November 16, 2014

No Grades: Follow-Up

"I loved the idea of no grades because my work was my own...It wasn't for a grade. It was for my love for ART and how art helps me become a better person." ~8th grade girl

For years now I have been polling students as they finish a term. First, I ask: "If you were grading yourself in art, what grade would it be?"
Then, of course, I ask "Why?"
After that, I inquire: "If there were no grades in art, how would this affect you and your work?"

21% think grades have a positive affect on learning & creating
  9% think grades have a negative affect on learning & creating
70% think grades have no affect on learning & creating  

 Based on the data I collected and my observations over several years, there are no grades in art this year. Strictly speaking, I am piloting this change and observing if there is any (change). We have just completed the first term in art, and students responded to this item on their final reflection: "There were no grades in art this year. How did this affect your work?"

The overwhelming majority of students replied that there was no difference for them, or it was better, because there was "less pressure" or "less stress" (I wasn't really aware of that much pressure or stress previously...but that is just from my point of view!) One student so far (out of 40) commented that he did not stay as focused, and another said that it made him "not so precise about my work." 
I look forward to collecting and compiling this new data set as the year goes on. 
"Out - In" handmade paper collage, by "H" Grade 8

 "The no grades didn't affect my work because I come with an expectation that I have something to do and I am going to do it even if I am graded or not." ~8th grade boy

Annotated handmade paper collection, By "J" & "C", grade 8
 "I think that having no grades did not affect my work this year. I think either way I would have done my best." ~Boy, grade 8
Needle-Felted Creature, By "A" grade
"I liked that there were no grades because I felt freer in expressing myself through my art." ~Girl, grade 8

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Spiral Curriculum

Papermaking has made its glorious return after a year off. I have determined that I will offer papemaking every other year, and alternate it with batik. Both of these ephemeral centers feature processes that take extensive set-up, some safety training, and tend to dominate the room. 
two tone paper
 It is interesting to observe the different approaches and products of students who are first-timers, those just testing the water, devoted papermakers using the center each day, and old hands who have experienced papermaking previously. Like any technique, there is a learning curve, and students need to practice the basics before they become innovators.

Rainbow paper
 Like many artists, my students sometimes design tools to aid them in their work.  Here (left) a student devised a separator so that more than a single color-pulp could be poured into the deckle (paper mold).
inset circle
Students who have the opportunity to return to a medium or technique over time gain facility and look for ways to make their work unique, interesting and innovative. 

This 8th Grader is using a collection of her handmade papers to create a product for a Social Studies assignment
A small hand-bound book sits atop a pile of handmade papers (Grade 8). We use our antique book press to flatten the papers and resulting books.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Authentic Assessment

How do you know what a student "knows and is able to do" in Art?

Marvin Bartel, in The Learner Directed Classroom (2012, Jaquith, Hathaway),  highlights the usefulness of looking at more than just a single artwork when engaging in critique with a student. This process provides a rich opportunity for asking observational and affirming questions about the work - questions that don't judge or find fault, but instead ask the student to look closely and and make "positive choices" (pg. 139)  about the work. Questions such as 'What do you notice first " or "How do the rims differ in these two cups?" lead the student to reflect on specific qualities in their work. 

This line of questioning avoids both value statements or empty praise, and instead is used to guide students through an authentic assessment of their work.