This year at Apex we're asking our kids to do some heavy thinking. With units like Artists Steal, Artists Collaborate and Artists Solve Problems we've been asking for a lot of very cerebral work, especially considering that students are doing the bulk of planning for projects based around these concepts. I strongly feel that this is important and good for them. But.......
Last week I was feeling kind of mentally drained. It made me realize that if I felt that way then my students probably really felt that way and it might be time to go in a different direction for a bit. So Sculpture Week was born.
Over our Veteran's Day holiday they thought about what to make. When class started on Wednesday we jumped right in to projects, with some students ready to start building and carving, while others needed some planning time.
Sculpture Week ended up being a great mental breather, not because they weren't doing higher level thinking and applying concepts, but because the work was less open-ended. Having less choice in materials puts focus on applying new skills and the short duration of the boot camp was perfect for providing enough knowledge for kids to make informed choices about what processes to explore. It's nice to change things up every now and then.
I'm an high school art teacher who's really interested in student choice and creating opportunities for self expression. I'm also a writer for The Art of Education and co-author of The Open Art Room.