Thursday, April 2, 2015

exploring choice-based art...

For awhile now, I've been researching a way of teaching art known as Choice Based Art, or Teaching for Artistic Behavior. The idea behind it is that students are given the responsibility of deciding what their art projects will look like, instead of a "cookie-cutter" approach to learning about art. They decide which materials, and often subject matter, will be best for their artwork. They are given a chance to explore, experiment, and problem solve. I was intrigued by the idea, and after a ton of reading and learning... I decided to jump in and see how the students at Paulding Elementary did with choices.

So beginning this past January, I opened the first two centers - drawing and collage. I decided to do a modified choice, meaning that I would require that the students create an artwork based on a standard and/or theme chosen by me. So each day, I begin by introducing a new art concept, and possibly a new center, and then the students choose the path that they would like to take to achieve the standard that is being taught .

I wanted to ease the students in, since they had a lot of learning to do about the routines of the centers, so I made our first lesson themed around food. Because... who doesn't love food?! I figured it would be a familiar topic, in a not-so-familiar learning environment. So, the kiddos' got an introduction to the materials that were available at each center, they viewed many famous artworks that were based on, or featured, food in some way, and I did a demonstration on how to create a collage'd fruit bowl...  and then they were given their task of creating their own artwork about food, with a focus on details.

What a learning experience! So many students were floored by the idea that they could use anything that was out at the centers... "I can use the glue?! It's okay to use the oil pastels?!" I had some new tools that they had never used before, and of course these were popular with a lot of students. I had fully expected most students to use the collage center.. because it had the glue and scissors... but many surprised me with choosing drawing. Many others decided to combine the two centers for a mixed media artwork. And I'll be honest... I feared the chaos that could come with elementary students and choices. But it was anything but chaos. It's been INCREDIBLE!

After this first experience with choice-based art... I am in love. The students are in love. It is so nice to let the students lead with their own ideas about what the artwork should look like. I was fascinated and impressed by so many of my students who came up with solutions to the problem I gave them with something I never would have thought of! It has made the students more responsible (they also have to take care of their centers, materials, monitor noise levels, etc to be able to earn a new center!), and has given them a new confidence that's hard to explain... and it's given me a new-found respect and sense of pride in my students and what they can accomplish.

Just look at these outstanding artworks completed by Kindergarten through Fifth grade and be amazed with me...

Mac N Cheese - Marian (K)

Cherry Tree - Marcus (1st)

George Washington Eating a Hamburger - Kane (2nd)
The Fruit Bowl - Miranda (4th)

The Picnic Table - Riley (3rd)

Untitled - Stephen (3rd)

Ice Cream - Carlea (4th)

Picnic - Chantz (4th)

Brownie - Reid (5th)

Lemonade - Lily (5th)

Deep in the Jungle - Kennedy (5th)

Elvis Eating a Hotdog - Gavin (2nd)

Yum Yum Yum! - Mallory (1st)

Food Being Dumped into a Bowl - Landon (3rd)

Elephant and Pizza - Maci (3rd)

Marcos - Alex (5th)

Food-a-Mania - Nicole (5th)

Spaghetti Madness! - Taelyn (5th)

Fruit Face - Madi (3rd)

Milkshakelicious - Alissa (5th)

Fruit - Jean (3rd)

Cold Stone - Kylie (5th)

Food - Breakfast - Olivia (5th)

Fast Food - Taylor (5th)

Pizza - Jackson (1st)

Hotdog - Trenton (1st)

Pancake Breakfast - Carter (4th)

Cupcakes - Katie (4th)

Pizza Hut - Hannah (4th)

Cheesy - Olivia (4th)

Dessert Platter - Seth (4th)

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