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I n a choice-based art program, the

classroom becomes a "studio" and

students are treated as artists. Individ-
think about what they'd like to do ahead
of time and arrive to class ready to work.

ual students are responsible for design- TEACHER-DELIVERED SMALL

ing and implementing their "art prob- GROUP LESSON Some-
lems," and initiating their own projects. times clusters of students
'Iliis system honors individual leaiiiing have similar needs or inter-
styles and preferences, enabling chil- ests, or work together on a
dren to work from their own strengths single project, dividing and sharing the
and interests and to draw on prior work. W h e n this o c c u r s , specific-
knowledge and experience. lessons can be designed and targeted to
Students may work alone or with support this type of learning in a small-
peers, may "specialize" or may sample group setting.
from a wide airay of options. Students can An observant teacher is poised to fit Strategy #2: "Teacher-Delivered Small-
persist with one project over many weeks, appropriate lessons to the emerging Group Lesson." Since students in a choice-
or try a variety of activities during a single needs of students. More detailed or based classraam are accustomed to v/ork-
class period. In this way, multiple learning complex demonstrations can advance ing independently and self-sufficiently, the
styles and preferences are served. students' skills. teacher is often free to work with small
Discovery learning and emergent Organic groupings of this kind ben- groups who may need extra support.
curriculum are integral and ongoing. efit students with varied abilities but Here, S-year-old Zanni and Graham get a
In a choice-based classroom, students similar interests; in essence, this is dif- semi-private lesson on the potter's \vheel.
are engaged in the real work of artists, ferentiating activities by student inter-
from the inception of the idea to the est without regard to ability. Students
display of finished work. choosing to work alongside other stu-
dents with similar interests often ele-

TEACHER-DELIVERED vate each others skills or extend ideas.
with a brief (five-minute) VIDUAL LESSON Hie art
lessona demonstration of a teacher in a student-cen-
new material or technique or an intro- t e r e d p r o g r a m is t h e
duction of a new artist or style. T h e les- school's own "artist in resi-
son addresses concerns of interest or dence," with special skills, training and
importance for the whole class, but is knowledge that combine to produce a
kept short to allow maximum studio sort of human reference resource. Fiy Strotegy #4: "Informal Peer-to-Peer Teoch-
work time. noticing individual student art direc- ing," Less experienced artists often team
What are the basics that everyone tion, the teacher can target lessons to up vtrith students with more developed
n e e d s to know? A short hands-on support individual inquiry and pursuit. skills in collaborotive projects. There is
demonstration often suffices when intro- Noting and illustrating ties between omple opportunity for leadership and inno-
ducing a new art material or tool. Asking student art and the art of others, across vation in these self-selected groupings, this
an essential question ("What do artists time and across cultures, the teacher one comprising Jackson, Max and Adam.
do?") might be a way to provoke discus- can address art history and aesthetics
sion and raise awareness about art-relat- in a way that is personally meaningful.
ed topics. Sometimes an interesting For example, if the teacher notices
object is displayed and considered. a student is using big blocks of color in
Often, original art (student or adult) a large-scale painting, a picture of
is viewed and discussed, as are art color-field artist Mark Rothko could be
reproductions or video clips. shared. Constructing this sort of per-
sonal connection between student-gen-
Introducing topics this way assures
erated art and that of the larger world
that standards are addressed for all stu-
of art can have a high impact.
dents. Most students will move off onto
their own work following the whole

group lesson, while others stay and work INFORMAL PEER-TO-PEER Skyter. Strategy #5: "Student Experts
with the new concept, material or tech- TEACHING The art room Teaching Whole Group." Sometimes
nique. Students know they have the provides opportunities for through both practice and passion, students
option of further exploring this new students to attain specific, develop specialized skills with specific
material at any point during the year. sought-after skills. Often a materials or processes. Students who attain
Since the classrooin is set up for stu- student becomes an expert with a cer- a high level of proficiency make enthusias-
dents to access on their own, they can tain material or procedure and can tic teachers in their area of speciolization.


September 2008 | www t i r t s c i n d a c H v i t i e s
"peer coach" students with less devel- Being good at something that is valued related work. A body of student work
oped skills. In a student-centered class- by others, and being in a position to can be viewed and discussed through a
room, peer teaching frequently occurs teach what one knows, can be a rein- whole group "artist's share."
spontaneously. Children know who forcing activity for students with alter- Creating a "community of artists" is
knows what and who is good at some- native learning styles who thrive in art. an important goal in a choice-based art
thing they want to know how to do. program. Recognizing what each artisl
Wiien the classroom is set up as a STUDENT "EXPERTS" has to offer the community is an impor-
studio, artists naturally learn from one TEACHING WHOLE GROUP tant role for the teacher to embrace.
another. The teacher may. however, Often a student's skill or
encourage peer-to-peer learning, and in knowledge can benefit the CLASSROOM AS "SILINT LS-
so doing, fan positively highlight the whole group. Offering an SON PLAN/TEACHER" Hie
skills a particular student has acquired. opportunity for students to take over classroom can be set up in
Peer teaching also provides oppor- the group lesson acknowledges indi- numerous distinct "centers"
tunity for classroom leadership. Stu- vidual accomplishment and expertise. or "studios," each appointed
dents who are strong in visual art may Students can demonstrate their own with the tnaterials and tools needed to
not stand out in the regular classroom. innovations or discoveries. They can make art. Here students can also find
offer insight and advice and highlight related references and resources (books,
Go to tiiisaridoctivilies com and click on "what works." Sometimes students prints, examples of student work. etc.).
this button for links to Web sites wifh infor-
mation about choice^sed art education.
work "in series" and create a body of "Menus" are created and displayed,
describing procedures for setup and
cleanup, or other essential infonnation.
Students sometimes add to the menus,
leaving information behind they deem
important for others. These centers
include written information, pictographs
and real art objects, all of which help get
necessary information across to students
with various learning predispositions.
Most centers are available for
students all year, after they have
been introduced.
Tiiis system frees the teacher from
routine setup and cleanup chores. Stu-
dents who use and maintain learning
Strategy #6: "Classroom as Silent Lesson Plan." Each "center" or "studio" is appointed centers feel a sense of ownership and
with the tools, materials and resources for students to access in support of individual control in the classroom. Students are
inquiry and practice. Here, Linnea selects an animal model to inform her drawing, and responsible for correctly using and
Tristan has chosen a photograph from the "image file" as o reference for his painting. maintaining these centers gradually,
so that a clear understanding of expec-
tations can be developed. If the centers
become unmanageable, the natural
consequence is restricting their use.


teacher should seek out
and cultivate a network of
artists and experts to call
upon to enrich learning.
Based on student interests, guests can
be invited to speak about their own
work. Exposure to adults passionate
Strategy #9: "Individual Inquiry." In his about their own art informs and sup-
third year as a student in a choice-based ports the work done in the classroom,
Strategy #6: "Classroom as Silent classroom, Ethan has developed into an broadens horizons and presents new
Teacher." "Discovery Learning" is an excit- accomplished sculptor who is able to think possibilities. Targeting these guests to
ing reality in a studio setting. Some ortists three-dimensionally and manipulate mate- the meaningful and important work
fit materials to their ideas while others, rials with skill. His personal interest in, being done by student artists can vali-
5uch as Kaly, find inspiration from the and knowledge about, space travel and date the student as an artist.
materials themselves. fantasy serve as inspiration for his work. Guest experts can be found in the
school community, possibly other
teachers or parents. Student teachers
n a 'Xhoice-Based" Art Program in the art room can be highlighted and
asked to bring in their own work to
by Nan Hathaway share "artist to artist." Teachers can
see nN on page 53

o r t s a n d a c t i v i l l e s c o m | September 200B 37
TEN benefit from attend- indulge in its use.
roniinueiifrnm page 37 ing their area's open One of the greatest joys of teaching in
studio nights and a student-centered art classroom comes
other community art events, and may when a student produces something that
have a mentor of their own who could would never, ever have been "assigned" Established in 1922
be shared with students. It is enlight- as an art project. In these cases, the stu-
ening for students to find that their dent's vision is so free of convention that
teacher is also a student. it defies traditional "school art" familiar-
Artists of all ages need to talk about ity. In fact, releaming what authentic
their art with other artists. This sort child-created art looks like is a challenge
of exchange is both inspirational and for many adults who have come to view
nourishing f()r all involved. teacher-directed art as the norm.

8. FIELD TRIPS Planning trips to art mu- 10. CLASS DISCUSSION/REFLECTION

seums, events and galleries heightens Students are invited to talk about their
awareness and exposes students to the work at the end of each class during
greater world of art. Guided tours and an "artist's share." This is a time to
demonstrations provide exposure to highlight the day's work and to cel-
adult experts, offering students variety ebrate innovation, craftsmanship and
in perspective. It's a time-honored fact ideas. Students practice being respect-
that artists find inspiration in the work ful about the art of others, and learn
of other artists. to talk about their own art. Students
are guided in providing thoughtful
Try our
In one scenario, visiting an art mu-
seum with students allows the teacher feedback for classmates and in ways
to share favorite artwork or specific to discuss art beyond a simple "show- ACMI approved
knowledge and to act as an expert "tour and-tell" format. Where did the idea
guide" for students. In another setting, come from? How did you surmount AquaLine Inks
the teacher may stand shoulder to difficulty? Is the piece done? Did it
shoulder with students, seeing artwork "turn out" the way you expected? Al-
for tbe very first time, making discover- though there are usually only a few
ies together and engaging in dialogue minutes at the end of class reserved
about the art experience. for this activity, it is highly valued by 1-800-526-6826
all involved.
(Circle No. 2 1 7 on ARTS & ACIIVIIIE5 Reodei Se
9. INDIVIDUAL INQUIRY Through indi- As students talk about their art, there
vidual exploration, i)ractice, research is oppoitunity for the teacher to frame
and presentation, students may act as student work using pertinent art vocalju-
their own guide and teacher. Mastery lary and to reinforce artistic behaviors.
is a real possibility in Ihis setting, since "Artist's share" is a vital assessment tool,
students may work with the same me-
dium, idea or tools over an extended
an opportunity to evaluate the day's work
while looking towiu'd a broader context, acspia//, com
pt-riod of time. One doesn't often see
that sort of artistic growth and continu-
asking "what if?" and "what next?"
ity in traditional school art programs. SUMMARY In a choice-based art class-
While exposure to a variety of op-
lions exists in a choice-based class-
room, students are doing the authen-
tic work of real artists every day. The
room, provisions are made for stu- focus is squarely on learning. It is ac-
dents to have art experiences that knowledged that all learners of all ages
develop at their own pace, over time, and at all levels can also take the role
going deep into areas of interest and of teacher, and that teachers are also
gaining true proficiency with their se- learners. 'ITie environment is carefully
lected medium. designed and appointed to facilitate di-
Students with a passion for clay, for verse learners and to provide multiple
example, can return to this medium entry points.
time and again, gaining knowledge 'ITie 10 teaching and learning strate-
and skill. On the other hand, some gies outlined here combine to form a [Ortia No. a or. ARTS & ACTIVITIES Rootier Sarvfce Cord)

students may never be inclined to multifaceted, elegant environment for

work with clay. In fact, some students student learning. In this setting, indi-
are "sensory defensive" when touch- viduality, fiexibiiity, personal relevan-
ing clay or other "messy" art materi- cy, independence and accountability
als. Although these students would are valued and supported.
not be forced to manipulate a material Elements for anv
they find abhorrent, they would still Nan Hathaway is a Fine Art Fo- kiln! Great prices!
have received a basic introduction to cus Teacher at the Rocky Mountain Great service!
clay during the whole group lesson, School for the Gifted and Creative in cieinents 1-800-296-5456
and benefit from watching classmates Boulder. Colorado. .lf r-J-.i 2 1 6 UI A T : ; .*, A . ; - V T : I,;, -nrdl

artsandfictivities September 2008 53