Monday, December 31, 2012

Understanding the Studio Habits

I'm new to Armstrong this year so I'm teaching studio habits for the first time to my students. We spent time discussing each habit and students envisioned what each habit looks like in practice. I collected some of the drawings and put them together as a visual aid for my students.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Art Toys at Hamilton Elementary

Matt recently visited Ms. Schick's studio at Hamilton Elementary to document students at work as they were mid-process in the creation of their own "Art Toy." Students worked independently and collaboratively with assembling found objects/materials to create their own toy. After the class period, Matt and Ms. Schick briefly discussed having students use the Studio Thinking Reflection sheet in one of the next sessions. Here are a couple of video clips of the students talking about their process and a sample of their reflective writing. It is amazing how clearly their critical thinking comes forward through these two methods of data collection.

This student worked independently the entire period as he problem solved how to have his toy stand on its own. In this short clip we see several examples of critical thinking: he is self correcting as he makes changes on his own, he has a clear direction and intentionality, he refers to prior experiences of building things for his little sister, and he is sharing internal verbalizations.

And here is his Studio Thinking reflection:

The two girls in the clip below worked side-by-side throughout the period. Again, we see several examples of their critical thinking coming forward: they are talking to each other and asking each other questions as they develop strategic solutions, they are creating visual representations of their ideas and developing metaphor, and using their drawing/notations as a resource.

And, here is the Studio Thinking reflection for the girl making the "Cat Mermaid."

Below are the Studio Thinking reflections from the other students in the class.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Students reflect on a project and demonstrate critical thinking

Freshman students in my Art 1 class worked on a still life drawing, using charcoal for 2-3 weeks in class.  I wanted them to learn several techniques such as laying down a tone on the paper first and pulling out highlights, as well as enlarging a small thumbnail sketch in order to ensure a successful composition.  This type of art (Vanitas Still Life using Chiaroscuro) is an ancient form, and so we also spent time learning about that.

Following the completion of their drawings from observation, students spent pretty much an entire class period reflecting on their process and how they felt about it.  Below are some of the examples of their written reflections using the template we received in our workshops, as well as some of my thoughts when reading them.   I will post some images of the students finished works over winter break- to coincide with their reflections.

As a teacher, the best part of looking these over is the drawings the students made of themselves, “map yourself doing this activity”…  I was surprised by how much information the students’ drawings possessed. They reinforced and expanded my overall impression of the student and their view of themselves.  The drawings demonstrated emotions the students were feeling and thoughts they had while making their drawing. They showed this through the way they drew their facial expression, the posture of the person representing them, and more.

The drawings also remind me of certain actions the students took, or seminal moments in their process for them, such as placing their drawing across the room to look at it and noticing it has all the same value.

In many drawings, the students recorded an exact drawing of the shapes of their piece, upside-down, which reminded me how deep their connection with that image they struggled with- how ingrained it must be.

Another thing that was really great was reading some of the students’ “self talk” that they included in their drawing- basically their inner life as an artist. The way they drew thought bubbles with internal dialogue was really interesting.  The bubbles described how the students spoke to themselves during the project, which is not something a teacher could know about without this type of reflection.  Some examples are “Ani, step down and think”, “don’t look too frustrated”.  Students also included dialogue from their peers that went on, in speech bubbles, which is also valuable information for how the students were communicating with and helping each other throughout the process. 

This student stood while she drew, everyday.  I like how she captured that, as well as how she seems to be alone in her world.  The drawings most students created in this reflection are perfect mini-versions of what they were working on.

This student includes an image of himself asking for tips and guidance from other students at his table.

Another thing that amazed me from reading these reflections was the HUGE range of emotions that students felt during and about this process of creating a charcoal still life.  Everything from angry to irritated to sleepy to calm to happy to proud to nervous to passionate serene and graceful.
I also enjoyed reading about how the students felt this process would change them as artists, and what prior experiences they had which impacted their drawing experience.  One student said she felt calm because the objects were peaceful, another said her interest in antiques fueled her for part of the project. Others sited family members or drawing classes from the past, or past projects in my class, which gave them confidence going into the project.
While reading these over, I tried to keep my eyes open to repeating answers and feelings the students’ had- trying to learn what the students may have gleaned from the project as a whole.  When they answered the 3 questions on the back, many of them expressed that they learned to be more patient with drawings and with themselves, that they moved past frustration to make something they are proud of.  

Many mentioned that they had never worked for so long on something before. Some mentioned specific things I wanted them to learn, such as not to outline everything in order to make things look more 3-dimensional.  Many of them also mentioned that they loved charcoal or despised it, and those feelings that were rooted in an experience with a physical material dictated the direction of their feelings. I am also glad that each of my students experienced several different emotions throughout their process, this is true to life during almost any challenging experience.
As a teacher, I am very glad that many of my students felt that they learned they needed to be more patient with their work and with themselves.  Many of them expressed that if they did apply patience and worked hard, their drawing turned out really well, and they were proud of it.  “I learned that if I stick to something, no matter how hard it might get, I could make something really pretty out of it”.
This is part of what it means to be an artist, and truly persist beyond what you feel your initial capacities are.

This student drew a seminal moment in her process, when she set her drawing up across the room to see what needed to me done and get some distance on it.

I enjoyed reading about what students were thinking about, in this case music.

This student's drawing definitely expresses her sense of anger- the way she drew the clenched hand.


Thursday, December 13, 2012


The artist Slinkachu creates mini installations around the world in public spaces. Valerie and her students at Curie explore public narrative works of their own. Stay tuned for more images.

Valerie introduces a unit on Tiny Town

Valerie at Curie High school introduces a new unit for her Guerilla Art Class focused on Tiny Town.She invites students to create narratives with miniatures. She shares with us some background information on the artist Slinkachu who creates these inspired tiny installations in public spaces.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Performance Assessment Tasks

Liz shares a performance assessment task from her Art 1 class. Within their writing sample students call out specific Studio Habits. Some students are paraphrasing the language posted about the Habits.

Liz presents students with options for demonstrating knowledge but leaves room for their own decision making. How do you use performance assessments in your class? Please share.

To see more from Liz's studio at Lane Tech, check out their blog by clicking here.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Online Studio Thinking Network

On November 19th, Louise Music from Alameda County's Office of Education's Department of Integrated Learning presented through our Adobe Connect Online ST Network on the connections of Common Core and the Studio Habits of Mind. This was followed up with a conversation focusing on two questions:
1) What are arts educators contributing to the general endeavor of teaching to a Common Core?
2) What are arts educators getting from the general endeavor of teaching to a Common Core?

Check out a video recording of the conversation at this link: Adobe Connect STF Network Session 3
*you may want to fast forward through the first 11 minutes as people are entering the conversation. Louise starts her presentation close to the 11 minute mark.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Liz demonstrates charcoal techniques for still life drawings

A visit to the Lane Tech art studio today revealed that students were developing confidence with their materials, techniques and language related to Studio Thinking. Several students referred to stretch and explore and one student said she was using all the habits simultaneously.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Tell Me A Story- Express SHoM

We are finishing an art project that uses multi-media to alter an appropriated image. We studied other artists (fine & guerrilla) that appropriate art. We explored art we admired. We chose a particular artwork image to appropriate and made tape transfers of them. Students then created a multi-layered work using all kinds of media and techniques to alter the chosen image. 

As we finish I am asking students to creatively explore their expression through writing. What are they trying to say with their piece? This is a one day writing lesson.

SHoM – “Express”

Write a creative short story narrative (3 paragraphs) about your artwork. You took someone else’s idea and made it your own. Now make connections to your inner self. Choose one of the prompts below to help you connect with your creative side via writing. Make sure you have a beginning, middle of story with climax of action, and an ending. Be DRAMATIC!
Remember, this is inspired by your artwork.

  • ·      Think of what emotion your artwork expresses. Make that your title. Now imagine an event that has caused you to have that emotion. Describe that event as though you are telling your best friend all about it. Start your story with, “Dear ________ (insert best friend’s name)

  • ·      “I have an idea!” Perhaps your art is about an important belief or idea you have that everyone MUST know. Tell us what that idea is (ex: horrors of war). Pretend you have just won the Nobel Prize for Greatest Idea Ever. Give your acceptance speech and explain your idea and why it is so important for all of  the world to know. Start with “Thank you judges and people of the world, it is important that we all understand….”

  • ·      Choose a central image in your artwork. Make this your starting point. Make up a story about this image. What is happening? Who is it happening to? Describe in detail what big situation has occurred that your image illustrates.  Pretend you are reading a bedtime story aloud to someone. Start with, “Once upon a time there was a ….”

  • ·      “In the news”, Pretend your image illustrates some amazing thing that has just happened and you are reading about it in the news. What happened? Who did it happen to? Where did it happen? Describe it so that we know why it is newsworthy. Come up with a snappy title like newspapers have.



Visual Arts and Writing Strategies Workshop, Nov. 1

Thanks to all of you who were able to join us for the workshop last Thursday. We had a great turn out and covered a lot of ideas. We wanted to touch base with everyone regarding the workshop and our next steps.

You Have 7 More Minutes 
We sensed many of you were a little frustrated with the amount of time we were able to commit to the collage activity, and this was confirmed in the reflection sheets. We know we presented some complex information and tried to squeeze it all into three hours. This is a common challenge for us and we want you to know that we try to give as much time as possible to the critical components of each workshop. 

In this workshop we,

  • Reviewed a Sample of Teacher Reflections from the Art Institute PD
  • Reviewed the Metacognitive cycle/hologram
  • Incorporated Contemporary Art by watching Art 21's piece on Arturo Herrera 
  • In small groups, created new language systems to communicate events of the CPS strike through collage 

  • As a large group, shared back Internal Verbalizations 
  • Transitioned to writing activity through multiple written and visual examples of Stretch & Explore
  • In a large group, engaged in word games and writing strategies
  • Developed individual writing samples

Why Collage and Writing: Where we are Heading
The Inquiry Question for this workshop was, "How can we develop a new visual sign system to communicate our experience?" We used abstraction and appropriation in both the visual arts and writing to illustrate how the arts support deeper levels of understanding. Then, through the recording of internal verbalizations, individual writing samples, and Studio Thinking reflection prompts, we recorded the critical thinking processes. This process of using visual arts, writing, and Studio Thinking reflection is our main focus for year two of this project.

After reviewing materials and data from year one of Studio Thinking, it was clear teachers were ready to move beyond labeling of Studio Habits to a more complex use of this framework. With our evaluator Cynthia Gehrie's help, we are seeing how Studio Thinking connects to Critical Thinking and Common Core. The Studio Thinking Reflection template we have presented in the last two workshops is the tool we propose using to capture this connection. 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Studio Thinking and American Art's Upcoming Calendar

What's on the Calendar?
*Check the everyarteverychild calendar for upcoming dates

Professional Development Workshops

  • Wednesday January 9, 2013, 4:30-7:30 p.m. Viewing Art in the Classroom Context and 2nd Unit Planning Session  (critique, lecture demonstrations) 

  • Wednesday May 22, 2013, 4:30- 7:30 p.m. Chicago Teachers' Center Pecha Kucha final presentations 
Studio Nights (optional, CPDUs available)

  • Wednesday November 28,2012, 4:30-6:30 p.m. Interviewing students and blogging 

  • Wednesday February 13, 2013 4:30-6:30 p.m. topic TBD 

  • Wednesday March 13,  2013, 4:30-6:30 p.m. Review footage of ST classroom practice 
Online STF Network: Adobe Conversations 
  • Monday, Nov. 12, 2012, 7:00-9:00pm Common Core and the Arts presented by Louise Music and colleagues from Alameda County
  • January 21, 2013, 7:00-9:00pm topic TBD
  • February 18, 2013, 7:00-9:00pm topic TBD
  • March 18, 2013, 7:00-9:00pm topic TBD
  • April 15, 2013, 7:00-9:00pm topic TBD
  • May 20, 2013, 7:00-9:00pm topic TBD

Friday, November 2, 2012

Understanding the Art World SHoM and Appropriated Art Guerrilla Style

Speaking of Appropriated Art today.... the Guerrilla class we are doing is working on using appropriated images. Here is how I am trying to get students to write about and discuss SHoM in regards to this topic. We are using Understanding the Art World after having watched the documentary "Exit Through the Gift Shop".  Let me know what you think...

Appropriated Altered Art

Based off the movie we watched, “Exit Through The Gift Shop” I want you to think about how street artists deal with the issue of appropriating and altering other people’s artwork. Compare the movie with the images in the powerpoint of the History of Appropriation.

1.     1st half of class: As a group, Choose 1 prompt, BUT work independently & quietly write your thoughts about the prompt in your sketchbook.
2.     2nd half of class: Your group should  discuss responses together.
a.     Share what each of you thinks with each other.
b.     Use our typical process to DEBATE the issue.
                                               i.     Questioner
                                              ii.     Challenger
                                            iii.     Supporter
                                            iv.     Recorder of Group Discussion.

PROMPTS: Choose 1
  • ·      Mr. Brainwash is not a trained artist. Does that affect your view on whether or not he is a “real” artist. Can an untrained person be a real artist? Are you defined as an artist by your schooling? What about folk artists? EXPLAIN
  • ·      Mr. Brainwash does not actually make his own work, he hires others to construct it. How might this be different (or not) from established artists who also hire assistants to help make work? (give ex of famous artist who does this) EXPLAIN
  • ·      Mr. Brainwash does not create his own designs or ideas. He used other people’s images. How much altering does he really do? Do you consider this appropriation or stealing? Is it different from Shepard Fairey (who is critical of Mr. Brainwash) or other appropriated artists we studied? (ex of Mr. Brainwash images) EXPLAIN
  • ·      Mr. Brainwash is considered successful because he sells his work for a lot of money. Would you define an artist by how marketable he/she is? How would you compare that to the master painter Vincent VanGogh, who did not sell paintings during his life? EXPLAIN

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Envision A Place - Writing Workshop

It is dark and absolutely still, without a breath of sound or whisper of air. The absence of sound has a thick cottony feeling. The light is soft and dim without a specific point of origin, just softly radiant. A fog or haze disperses the light. I look down and the dirt is dark and rich, smelling brown and loamy. The wet grass smells bright, sharp, and citrus. Somehow, I know that I am inside someplace, although I can't see walls. It feels close like a cave. Perhaps its the darkness at the edge of the fading light that creates the sensation.

A finality hangs about the place. Nothing is happening because it all has already happened. Nothing will ever happen again. The air will not move, the light will not change. This place is eternal. I don't feel fear, it is what it is. In fact, I'm not sure if I am even here. At least, not in body. My consciousness is present somehow but not me.

Now I step out of my head and wonder why this is the place that came to mind in the exercise. It is not a memory or an experience. Why would I see this? Suddenly, I just know. This place has been hanging around the edges of my mind and I spend all day avoiding it. In fact, I fill the days with things to plan and do in order to avoid this place. But it is there, just before I drop off to sleep. It is definitely present when I first wake. That is when I feel it the hardest, before my defenses can come up.  The death of Kazimierz two days ago brought it back. Brought back this place that came to me with each death, my great-grandmother, grandmothers, father. Most of all my father. This place is death, and each day I try to hold it at bay. It waits for me, this quiet still place.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

CTC Studio Thinking PD at the Art Institute of Chicago

The following two videos are in follow-up to yesterday's post. They are a continuation of the conversation led by Georgina from the Art Institute of Chicago's Teacher Programs. Project teachers are looking at Untitled, 1989-present by Felix Gonzalez-Torres.

Monday, October 22, 2012

CTC Studio Thinking PD

Georgina from the Art Institute of Chicago's Teacher Programs leads project teachers through an activity for looking at Untitled, 1989-present by Felix Gonzalez-Torres at the Art Institute of Chicago.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Online Exhibition Strike Drawings

Studio Thinking 
Online Exhibit Strike Drawings

What materials did you use?

I used chalk pastels and 6" x 6" paper. Red, white and black. They were very messy.

How did you use these materials?

When creating the drawings, I thought about which colors would best represent (the idea). I layered the pastels to make bold words.

How did it feel?

At first I had to really try and synthesize many experiences of that morning and how I felt into only one image for each suggested drawing. It felt good to process those feelings and see others who felt similarly. 

Which habits did you use?

Envision, Express

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

curriculum mapping with the 8 studio habits in mind

I have been thinking about how we move forward with this work in a systemic way.  I have created an alignment of the studio habits with the national standards and mini lessons taught in my choice based arts studio classroom.  I would love to know what people think about this idea and how they are curriculum mapping with the studio habits in mind

National standards Studio habits
Mini lesson categories
Standard #4
Art world
Introduce artist time

Develop craft
Techniques of studios

Develop craft
Introduce elements and principles

Standard #5
Critique (art sandwich)

Artist statements

Stretch and explore
Art showcase

Standard #3


Engage and persist Stretch and explore
Problem solving

Planning strategies

Standard #4
Art world

Engage and persist
Artistic behaviors

Understand world
Arts integration