Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Studio Habits Bingo

After spending a good portion of the semester teaching Studio Habits, I developed a Bingo game focusing on the 8 habits for my 2nd graders. Students were split into 4 groups and given a bag of dried beans. I had a small box of prompts cut up to draw from. I pulled prompts from the box and walked around to see if students were placing beans on the correct answers on their sheet. They loved the competitive aspect of the game and wanted to play twice. This could also be done in a small group of 4 with dividers placed between the students. The template is available here

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Mind Over Matter

I'm a master of getting in my own way.  However, as I started to plug images into my PechaKucha, I started to see how absolutely I use the Studio Habits of Mind in every aspect of my teaching.  Now I just need to actually use the terminology!  And post on the blog more.  I hope to convey that to all of you who catch my 20x20.

Envision: Chicago Neighborhood Dioramas

Our Fourth graders at Belmont-Cragin have been working on a long term Social Studies collaboration throughout this school year involving the study of the history of inventions along with architecture of the Midwest. In addition, we have been investigating how the rise of industrialization has effected people's lives. Last September, we took a walking tour of the loop guided by the Chicago Architecture Foundation. The students took many photos. During the school year, we engaged in research and short-term projects to learn more about the formation of Chicago as a place.

For our culminating project, students worked in teams of four, to research, plan, and construct a 3-D neighborhood or event in Chicago - either past or present. Students used a variety of materials including recycled food product boxes, cardboard, pipe cleaners, corks, popsicle sticks and other ordinary objects to build their structures into their folded tri-fold presentation board.

Following are several examples using the Habits of MInd: Envision and Engage & Persist:
Model of Chicago at the Chicago Architecture Foundation

Gathering materials to build a model of the Loop

The buildings begin to emerge and the El structure takes shape

Envision: The team wasn't happy with the El track structure an decided to tear them down and begin again.
View of final diorama - looking east on Wabash Avenue between Jackson and Monroe (with artistic license)

Engage and Persist: Comments by student with teacher feedback.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Reinforcing Studio Habits in an Art Show

Mitchell Elementary Showcase of Artists
I wanted to reinforce the Studio Habits of Mind we have been working on at our Showcase of Artists. I highlighted artists who had really grown in each of the Studio Habits of Mind. I am not a fan of competition in art shows, but this is a way to honor growth and ingenuity and a way to educate the parents as well. This particular 4th grade girl worked on this Clown Tree House for 5 weeks and overcame many challenges in getting the different platforms and balconies to stand up. This is a wonderful example of engage and persist. On the roof top is a snake swimming pool complete with diving board.

This 2nd grade boy that I chose for "Envision", created a strikingly beautiful drawing of  the Titanic with a giant blue whale underneath. Each work of art includes an artist statement which you see below.

I have a letter writing station at the show. Each visitor (student, parents, teachers, community members) is asked to write a fan letter to the artist of a favorite work of art. I included the Studio Habits of Mind poster so that the vocabulary can be included in their letters. These will be sorted and delivered to the artists.

How do you include the Studio Habits in your art exhibitions?

Monday, May 14, 2012

Sample Interviewing Questions

When interviewing students you can have them refer to the specific piece of work they have made. Interview students in a quite environment without distractions. The interview can take between 15-30 minutes. Spend more time listening than talking.

1)    What materials did you use to make the artwork?

2)    What's going on in this piece of work? What are you trying to communicate?

3)    Did it turn out the way you intended it turn out? What changed?

4)    How did you solve specific problems?

5)    Did you have an image in your head before you made this work?

6)    What inspired you to make this work?

7)    Tell me step 1, step 2, step 3, step 4, step 5 of this process for making this piece. Take me from beginning when you got the assignment right to the end.  If you were to teach me how to do this, tell me what I would have to do.

8)    Other

Give students lots of space to talk. See where they want to go with talking about the piece. You can also show them photo documentation of them at work in the studio, creating their artwork. Have them look at themselves and ask what are you doing here? 

Most students don't know what they look like when they're at work. So it can be revealing for the students to see themselves. What do they wonder about their artistic process? How is making art different from the writing or scientific process? What are you doing when you're making art? This is where ART21 comes in. When students see other artists creating and connect what they are doing with their behavior they may see themselves in a different light. 

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Muscial Table Discussion/Speed Crit

This is another way I incite students to have a lively discussion. I made it up this year based on an art-making project* I love to do and something I saw at one of the early SHoM workshops.

This works great for topic discussions (an example would be when we watched the animated movie "Persepolis", and needed to analyze and discuss it). It also works well for quick student critiques.

There are 6 stations in the classroom where students sit in groups of 4 - 6. I will put a large sheet of paper (18 x 24 or bigger) at each station.

  • In the middle of the paper I will write a prompt (6 different prompts in total, one for each station). I might also provide an art image and written prompt for art history critique.
  • Students have pencils ready.
  • They have 3 minutes to visit each station as a group. 
  • At each station, students write (on the large sheet of paper) whatever comes to mind regarding the prompt. 
  • I have them work their way around the classroom in clock-wise formation. 
  • During the 3 minute period I play music as a cue for students to write. At the end of each 3 minute section, I stop the music as a cue for students to stop writing and move to the next station. This makes it fun and like the musical chairs game.
  • Once the students have gone around the room and are back at their own station, we go into discussion mode. 
  • Students read the responses to each other and begin discussing the issue at their table. 
  • Students must find at least 5 main responses to the prompt topic and discuss them. They must have at least 2 responses that someone disagrees with, and  discuss why they disagree and what their opposing point is as a result.
  • The group "Recorder" writes down what their group discusses in a bullet list formation. 
  • The next day each group has 3 minutes to present discussion notes to the whole class. Each presentation, students in the class must have at least 1 response to challenge the group, question the group, or make a supportive remark. Often there is more than one response :). The group must counter any class feedback with an answer or explanation of their viewpoint.
  • Students receive points for group discussion/recorded notes, and separate points for presentation to class.
  • The results of this technique makes for what seems like chaos, but is really several fast-paced and animated discussions. Everyone in the class gets to participate first in a small-group setting for each topic, and then in larger group setting for all topics. 
  • I find that several things have made people forget about being self-conscious and silent in this kind of group discussion: 1) the whole thing is rather like a game and fun, 2) the fast pace puts pressure on people to come up with a response, 3) prompts give a clear indication of where I want them to start, 4) the structure provides a framework for definite but open-ended answers. 5) the grading structure insures that students must have something to present and a way to respond to the presentations (ensuring a flow of ideas and conversation), 6) since all students write on each of the prompt sheets, there is a sense of sharing information. Students get to use each others ideas to provoke further thought, 7)students become very loyal to their group and want to defend their stance to the class.
PEER CRITIQUE (I call this one Speed Crit - as in "speed dating"):
  • I like to use this for progress critique when students are half way through an artwork and need feedback. 
  • 6 stations are set up free of clutter. Each student has their artwork placed on the table with a form next to it. 
  • The form is typed by me and has 3 prompts:
    • Strengths
    • Weaknesses
    • Questions
    • In addition are two more sections: "Student response to critique", "Teacher response to critique."
  • Students must travel to each station as a group. They have 4 minutes at each station and move around the room in clock-wise formation. 
  • Music is played to let students know when to write. Music stops and restarts to let students know when to switch stations.
  • Student can choose to look at and critique any of the artworks at the table during the 4 minutes.
  • They are moving as a group, but not working together as a group. Rather they address artwork and write individually. Often though, they are making verbal comments to each other as they look at the work.
  • They must write 3 responses on the form next to the artwork. They must address the 3 prompts.
  • All artwork must have responses on the form, so if students see a blank form, they have to make sure that someone writes on it.
  • When students have visited all 6 stations, they return to their own station and artwork. They read what their classmates have written.
  • Students spend remaining time writing their own reflective response to the critique of their work. 
  • Artwork and critique forms are turned in to teacher.
  • Teacher writes a response to the critique.
  • This has proven very helpful in addressing weaknesses in the artwork. I noticed that students take a peer's constructive advice for improvement more often than listen to me tell them the same thing.
  • This can be used with the SHoM framework as a topic prompt.
I find that this process takes the fear out of speaking out loud or being honest in the critique. Responses are anonymous and therefore less pressure. Students have written concrete advice to follow that may help with the finishing of their artwork. Their own response as well as the teacher's helps the student to process the critique and implement problem-solving solutions.
*art projects: Mixed Media Blitz and Materials Madness. I'll describe them in another blog post.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Critiquing the Xanos Way

I come from a Greek family. We love to debate and discuss, loudly and passionately. I grew up this way. I raised my four children this way. At our dinner table, in the car, on the couch; there is never a lack of animated discussion about whatever topic someone might introduce. So, as a teacher, I was confounded to find students struggling to discuss an issue or critique an artwork.  Most times, groups would sit quietly while I needled them for responses. Some groups would have one or two outspoken students that did all of the work. I tried guiding a large class setting, and I did all the talking. I tried breaking them into small groups with prompts. I got the same results. So I sat down one day and asked myself "what in the world was my family doing that my students were not?"

I realized that different people in a good debate group took on different roles. The Agitator/Challenger (my Dad and my son), the Supporter (me and daughter #2), the Lecturer (me or my daughter #3), the Questioner (daughter #1). This was interesting as I had not bothered to analyze family discussions before. I figured that these roles made for some great exchanges that would go round and round and often end up in a completely different place than where we started. I probably should add that my son also fulfills the role of the Joker. You know, the one who makes fun of people when they get too serious. I chose to leave that one out of my experiment as it usually results in someone screaming in our house.

I decided to try to replicate this process, using the roles I mentioned above. My hope was to spur the students into animated and eventually complex discussions. I figured the structure provided by role playing and topic prompts would enable students to work off of each other. 

  • I teach high school and see students for 46 minutes, 5 days a week. 
  • In the classrooms, I can have 25 - 35 students in one class. They sit in groups of 4 - 6 at "stations". They make their art there and have small group discussions/projects.  Each group has a "recorder". That is a person who writes a bullet list summary of the group discussion for extra credit. 
  • I have used this particular technique to promote discussion for, 1. a debatable issue (ex. Is Graffiti Art?), 2. To critique a famous work of art, 3. To critique each others art (in progress and at the end), 4. To analyze movies or readings the class encountered. 
  • I give prompts for topic consideration depending on the issue or type of art being discussed. I might have them focus on concepts, controversy, techniques, or aesthetic success. Along with the prompts they must make certain kinds of statements. In the past I gave them a list (along with the prompts) on paper. These statements must be: a) Challenge a speaker or address a weakness in the piece, b) Support a speaker or address a strength, c) Explain what one thinks is going on (in student critique this role must be the artist), d) Raise at least two questions. I let people choose which of these statements they will make as they travel through the discussion.
  • The group starts with the Presenter/Lecturer: the student artist explains their work (or anyone can present the basic facts of the discussion topic.) After this, others in the group can Challenge, Question, or Support in any order they see fit. Anyone can also move back into Presenter mode if needed.
  • Students are told that if someone raises a challenge or asks a question, they are allowed to respond. Often a supporter chimes in at this point and others will choose sides or even raise new points. When someone responds to a challenge they have two choices a) agree that there is a weakness and then the group moves into problem-solving mode, or b) disagree and the group moves into debate mode. 
  • I found that students immediately took to having exciting and interesting discussions. While they were cautioned to keep it civil, the challengers and the questioners made people think and explain themselves. Responders often came up with interesting points that they would not bring up without a "gadfly" in the group. Supporters could bring up positive points that a Presenter might not think of and gave him/her a little back-up. People often switched roles as the discussion progressed. 
  • At first I was worried this might incite cruel comments. However, I cannot remember any time that students got mean during a discussion. Usually, the Challengers are very diplomatic. Sometimes that role is hard for anyone to choose and I have to help. We do practice giving constructive criticism/disagreement early on. I explain that the Challenger's job is to help the group problem-solve a weakness and therefore find a way to turn it into a strength.
  • After discussion, students sometimes present to the rest of the class, using the Recorder's notes. Other times, they just give the discussion notes to me and I read them. During the discussion I walk around and eavesdrop on the groups, offering help when needed.
So, this is one of the ways I get the students to talk. Unfortunately, we haven't done this once 2nd semester due to new and unusual mandates for quizzes, vocabulary, reading, writing, graphs, grammar, and math to be taught in my art class. I'm struggling just to keep the art-making happening. However, I plan to use it at least one last time with our final projects. I miss our lively group discussions. I'll bet the students do too!

When we critique, I'll video a session and post it. I hope this helps for now. 
Valerie Xanos

Kitty's notes on the development of a CPS Arts Assessment

Hi Everyone,

Two of our project teachers, Kitty Conde and Kate Schick, have been selected to work with the District to develop a visual arts assessment for students. The assessment is going to be a performance task. A committee of 5 CPS art teachers will work with Mario and the Office to determine which art standards will be the focus of the assessment. The assessment will be developed very quickly as the committee has until June 1st to create a draft assessment tool. June 1st to mid June is the testing of the tool. July is the period of revising the tool. The tool will be need to ready for use in the fall of 2012. 

The committee will also determine which grade levels will be assessed and has been given guidelines for developing the assessment. Kate, Elyn and Beth reviewed the guidelines for creating the assessment last Wednesday night at the Chicago Teachers' Center. Thanks Beth and Elyn for coming out. We all agreed that the template we saw lacked a reflection piece for students to describe their process for creating work. 

In preparation for meeting with the CPS committee Kitty has been in contact with Lois via a phone conversation. Below is an update from Kitty about their conversation. Please see the link to the performance assessment developed in England that Lois shared with Kitty. This particular assessment can be a model for the District incorporating both a performance task and a reflective practice piece. 

Kitty's notes:

Lois and I had a great conversation about assessment for Chicago. Here's a list of topics we discussed.
1) She steered me toward the work of Richard Kimbel and Kay Stables of the University of London, Goldsmiths. This performance assessment asks students to design a product. The assessment measures  various stages of design development. For example step 1-  Develop idea, etc.

Click on Assessing Design Innovation to read the document. 

2) We also talked about the idea of the three dispositions that Lois often references, including: skill, inclination and alertness as being important ways to measure student arts learning. If we are interested in an assessment that includes students ability to reflect on their practice we need to look at inclination. 

3) We talked about the idea of  choosing some of the habits, we looked at envision, observe, develop craft and reflect. The assessment should include a) how teachers reflect on students work, b)process skills- finding, developing, refining, finishing, and c)having an idea, growing an idea, and proving an idea.

4) Finally, she suggested we look at Arts Propel and their idea of a process portfolio assessment.


Back to Kate's voice. We would like to send a letter to Mario and the Office from our group supporting the importance of having a reflective piece in the assessment. Matt and I will draft a letter that you can all review. We'll send something out by the end of the week. This process is happening very quickly. Please post comments and questions on the blog so we can have a conversation about this very important assessment.