Monday, August 29, 2011

Is There Such a Thing as the perfect Assessment Tool?

Assessing art students and their work is probably one of the most challenging things there is in the role of an art teacher. Sometimes I think people think, we take a big stack of art and simply lay it out in piles of "a", "b", "c", and so on. Wow wouldn't that make my life simple.

Art teachers are all different when it comes to grading and I cannot pretend to think that my way is the right way or the wrong way and let me tell you, I have gone through a lot grading techniques in the past 17 years. This year is a transition year in the way that I am grading. ( I may sound from this point on as if I am all over the place, but bare with me people, I do have a point) This year our high school has begun a new style of teacher evaluation. One that not only looks at how we teach, but also how we improve, how active we are, and how much we are willing to grow. So I thought what the heck. If that kind of evaluation is going to be placed on me, perhaps I can place something similar on my students.

So this year, with every project a student turns in, they must turn in a personal assessment as well. The assessment asks them to answer questions that make them think. Questions such as how well they felt that they answered the question at hand in the assignment, how did they address their challenges, did they ask for and receive the help they needed. The assessment is based on composition, growth and progress, effort, work habits and ethics, solving a problem, and the overall impact that they think their art makes on its viewer.

In order to obtain the right assessment, I really, really researched online. I had to keep in mind the students who would be reading and answering these questions. I tried to make it user friendly. I could have used huge, super fancy wording, but really what was the point. I want the students to understand what they are answering. Once the students self assess, then it is my turn and I will assess right next to them. I want them to see how their ideas and my thoughts overlap. This is after all a learning tool. As we get comfortable with self-assessment, then I am going to slowly start tacking in some of the learning standards from my curriculum map. I want to see if the students think they are getting what I am hopefully putting out there in my lessons.

So far this years new assessment is going pretty well. The students are receptive and I am enjoying hearing what they have to say. Not to mention this is a great tool for me to make sure that I am on target in their eyes!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Artist of the Week in Art History

Peter Max. Interesting fellow. I don't remember ever studying or even looking at his art when I was in school. But you know, he is pretty darn nifty. I love when an artist has a unique background and a background that kids think are cool. Working with the Beatles, painting Taylor Swift, those things are cool to them. So if I can make it work and add in all the other great things he has done, then I make it count! They are working on sketches today and starting the project the following day. I really want to do something very cool, but I am not sure what yet. we will see!

Check him out!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Welcome Back!

Another year and another great group of students! We have huge numbers for our small school, so I am looking forward to seeing some great work coming out of them. The summer gave me a lot of time to sit back and re-evaulate my lessons, my teaching, and my overall "what kind of teacher do I want to be" ideas this summer. I am not sure I came up with concrete answers, cause part of me likes who and what I teach and the way I have done it, but there are some places and things that I see stepping back that could make what I do a little stronger and possibly reach some kids I might not have reached before. This year I am looking at challenging them a little more. I want to see their strengths come through in their art. If they create a good piece, next time I want to see better. I think it is time for me to quit settling on my students being good. I want them to be great!

We are starting in our Art History classes with a project on Peter Max. Very cool guy, and very fun art for the students. I look forward to see just what comes out of their ideas! Photography is going to have a mix of old and new but first we need to learn our do we need to learn how to use our cameras;) Drawing class is going old school. I watched the Bernstein Bears the other day with my four year old. Yes you heard right. Bernstein Bears. Brother Bear was taking an art class and was being taught to draw circles and squares and triangles..and hated it. He wanted to draw people, places and things. His Art teacher told him to have patience and those things would come. I would have to agree.

So here we go off into a new year, so wish us luck!