The new year always makes me feel reflective, and this year is no different. I've been thinking about my first semester Art 1 courses and I've come up with three important lessons.
1. Give students a platform to advocate.
One of my biggest successes this year was my new unit called "Artists Take a Stand". It was all about advocating for issues and I was shocked by what a perfect fit this was for my students, after they're set up for success. They seemed to have way more knowledge about world events and social justice issues than I did at that age. After talking to them the reason became very clear - Twitter. Teen's connection to the world via social media makes them very broadly (but not deeply) informed. Using this knowledge as a starting point for art is a great fit. Below are artwork about the California forest fires, the recent shooting at an abortion clinic and the issue of concealed carry.
2. Use collaboration.
Collaboration is a powerful learning tool because it harnesses the power of group thinking. I use it to help students develop ideas during the introduction to a project and as a teaching technique during bootcamps. I've also been experimenting with using it during critiques in "Critique Games" where groups of students collaboratively analyze each other's artwork. They talk, examine ideas and interact in an informal way that I love. I also love organic collaboration - the "Mrs. Purtee, can we work together?" kind, not the assigned type. I suggest working together on projects often but I never force it. Pictured below: spray paint collaboration, critique game drawing and a group foot painting for my Artists Explore unit.
3. It's Replicable.
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.