Instead of going though one media group at a time in whole class Explorations, I decided to try blended learning, even though I'd tried different versions in the past and not been happy with the result. A big motivation for trying again was my 4th period. What was a small combination class of advanced honors students and beginning art limited to seniors ballooned over the first week of school to almost thirty students in not just beginning and honors art, but AP sculpture and independent study as well. I had a rough few week as more and more students rolled in.
So I put content online.
I had originally planned to film, but I ran out of time, so I used text and images to set out a series of steps for learning and then making s summative artwork on my class website for four media/ processes; pen & ink, colored pencil, cardboard sculpture and tie dye (which was a student request in advance of a football game theme).
These function as online centers, which are added as I open new centers throughout the year. They support learning and autonomy by providing a context for independent exploration. Students select what media they want to try and decide how long to spend working with it.
The first day of online centers went well, except for a handful of kids not following the steps, therefore not understanding how the materials could be used. The next day I reviewed what I was asking for, then had students look at the Exploration they were working on and write out a summary of the steps to share with a partner. I've had almost no issues since.
What I have had:
When I think about how this is working so well, when it hadn't before, some key elements are that my classroom is very clearly organized for finding materials, that I started with limited options that are added to over the course, my online content is easy to follow and my kids have been responsible for locating and finding materials since the first day.
My favorite part, undoubtedly, of these few weeks has been the display space. I have huge cork boards in my room, where I placed a note that said "put art here". Over time, they did, which was lovely. One day, when the boards were getting full of the art that my students wanted to share a girl in my fourth period saw something she connected with and left a note to the artist on a sticky note near the work. The next day some noticed and more notes were added and the display area quickly became a place where I could often find multiple students looking and responding to work just because they were interested.
Somehow my classroom had stopped being mine and become ours, so much faster than any of my high school classes ever have.
It feels like my elementary TAB room. It feels like magic.
I'm interested in creating a student student centered space for my high school students through choice and abundant opportunity for self expression. I'm also a writer for SchoolArts co-author of The Open Art Room.