Myths of TAB: Students don't learn skills or grow, they just do the same thing over and over.
Fact: The choices made by students in a TAB classroom are very individualized, so each student has a unique experience.
Second Fact: Doing the same thing over and over is how mastery is achieved!
What success looked like in my classroom this week:
Choosing to redo paintings created during the first weeks of school because they know they can do better being able to see how far they've come.
Collaborating to make something that is beautiful and functional - and that you can bring home to shoot sparklers with over Memorial Day weekend!
Myth of TAB: it's a free-for all.
Fact: Offering choice takes organization and planning, but when that foundation is in place students are empowered to create.
It's taken us all year to get here, but my Art 1 students are flying solo. They are confident, ambitious and self-directed artists. Not just a few kids - everyone is able to find an idea and use Design Process Thinking to bring it to fruition.
For the past two weeks. Art 1 has been working through "Artists Explore" - a self-directed, self paced unit, where kids are tasked with completing three of the following choices:
- Learn new skills and use them to make art.
- Re-visit a work of art you could improve on and recreate it.
- Learn about an artist and make a work of art in their style.
- Make art about a political or social issue that's important to you.
- Work with a group to make a collaborative artwork.
All of these pictures are from my classroom today. None of theses artworks were planned or organized by me. Instead, my students are generating ideas, planning to make them happen, then creating and revising. I'm conferencing with students, giving one on one demonstrations and just having a lot of fun watching everyone be so successful.
Play is important work. It's how ideas are processed and connections made, yet by high school play is replaced by work, assignments, deadlines and pressure.
Play is still important - exploration is a very "sticky" way to process and store new information - but you have to show them how, because they've forgotten. I call it "experimenting" in my classroom and teach it as part of the Design Thinking Process we use in every lesson.
Here's how we played with chalk!
This is chalk.
You can blend it with your fingers. You can layer it. It's messy and quick and fun.
Here is a chalk artists that inspires me. Why do you think chalk is the media she chooses?
Now, it's your turn. What do you want to make with chalk?
When a table looks like this you can tell students invested in the process of exploring the potential of materials!
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.