CBMS Choice-Based Art Studio

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

Friday, January 22, 2016

Mid-Year Reflecting

Grade 6 at work on a collaborative mural project

     This week marks the beginning of the second half of the school year. A new quarter is one-week in, and a new batch of 5th graders are getting familiar with studio routines. 
     I am a week late in posting "grades." I actually don't give grades in art anymore, my students have made it clear to me that grades are not useful for them. Instead, I write a short narrative to sum up each students' work, approach, successes, innovations, and challenges in art. Our report cards are not set up for this, my sometimes lengthy additions throw off the formatting. But just as I ask my students to write a little about their experience as an artist is the studio after each term, I do the same on their behalf.
Print-maker in foreground, drawing group in the background
      Today I am reporting on the 6th graders who just completed their quarter in art. Below are the words of one student who I will not see back in the artroom until grade 8, because next year's 7th graders must choose between French and Art. French-learners sacrifice a year in the studio so they can be prepared to take French 2 in high school, or because they love learning French, or both. It can be a cruel choice to make. 
Paper Marbling is a temporary center students look forward to

Q; What did you like about art this quarter?
A: " I didn't like art this quarter, I LOVED art this quarter. I really enjoyed art because it felt like a 'safe place.' It was always calm, and just an enjoyable place to work. Also I liked art because there was no 'right' or 'wrong' way, you could just do 'your way.'"
      This year is the first in our implementation of Vermont's mandated "Personalized Learning Plans." Statements like "J's" above let me know that in the art studio, learning is always personal.  


Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Easy Does It

Aptly illustrates how I feel this week
There is a ton going on in the studio this week. I cannot believe it is only Wednesday, and that we are just three days in from our holiday break. We are neck-deep in: 
  • Soap stone carving
  • Mosaics 
  • Sumi-e ink painting
  • Paper marbling
  • Mural painting
  • and everything else
I have no one to blame but myself - it's just that there are only two weeks left in the quarter and 6th-graders keep bringing up things they want to do before they are done with art. Done til next year, or, in many cases, until the year after that. We are in a frenzy trying to get everything in that students love or want to try. 
 Meanwhile, my new batch of 8th graders are being treated to a couple of "8th Grade Only" options, like working with soapstone and designing mosaics. Add this to that, and, whew! It's a lot!
Today's button-popping pride moment went like this:
"Nan, can we grout our mosaics?"
"Of course" I say, pulling out all the gear and materials needed for this and swiftly setting up at the end of a table, on our last scrap of newspaper.
"Do we mix the grout?" asks one 8th grader to another
"No, Nan has to do that."
(Nan thinks - um...why do I have to do that? I bet they know how...)
"No," says Nan, "You guys can mix it up."
So they did. Perfectly.

Note to self: Release control of the things kids can very-well-do on their own, or with minimal supervision or coaching. Why is this such a hard lesson to keep learning?