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.
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.