One comment that Lois made during her presentation in Chicago that's been on my mind was "to give purposeful instructions, but not too much information that you can't do what you want." At the time, my students were starting a "Teen still life" and had just brought in objects that are symbolic of their lives at this moment. Typically, we review composition basics again and then they are focused on how to arrange things to meet those guidelines. After the presentation, I decided to do a little experiment with this project and only give students enough information to continue working with the purpose of developing their idea. Some students opted to combine their objects together, and we focused more on the concepts of using color and shading techniques to visually expand on the symbolic nature of the selected objects for observation. The focus became more about what they were trying to say rather than on direct observation of objects. Students could select colored paper and used soft pastel pencils. Although I have given feedback regularly, I've been mindful to approach the conversation so students continue to work based on their own decisions.
I haven't introduced the Studio Habits of Mind yet, but students have already been practicing some of them. Last week students completed their 1st written reflection to answer the questions of "what happened?" and "how did you do it?" Here are a few examples of their thoughts: