We've started out the year getting sketchbook covers made and talking about the design thinking process. We've talked a lot about empathy and understanding how to communicate this past week. We have some design challenges coming up and students will begin planning their own projects soon. Stay tuned! How are your classes starting out the year? Artfully, Nikki
Silence is ok. You might need to let students know this. Sometimes the inner circle gets silent for a few seconds - that is ok and don't jump in as the teacher just yet. Sometimes you need to gather your thoughts by reading your notes or rephrase your inquiries. The Interaction Feedback Outer Circle will notice this; then that is your time to say it's ok.
You might need to let students know it is ok to build off others' comments and inquiries. This is part of the learning how to have a conversation. It isn't about one person saying one thing and then another person says something else unrelated. This takes getting used to doing - so, again, don't jump in as the teacher. The Interaction Feedback Outer Circle will point out these things and that can be your time to paraphrase and facilitate.
Some students won't talk right away or at all during a SC. I am ok with this. Not everyone is comfortable just yet. However, can you see the student still listening and participating through their facial expressions and body language? If you do, that's ok. Again, the Interaction Feedback Outer Circle might mention this, and you can facilitate this matter as needed. There are some teachers that set different requirements for this - like you get a point every time you talk - however, I don't like to impose this on the students because it is about them being in control of the discussion. Sometimes peers in the inner circle might ask the quiet person(s) to share, and usually that works.
I sometimes collect the students notes to see what they were thinking and noticing - because again, not all will talk or give feedback. I also like to copy student quotes and questions for future reference. :)
Overall, I find SCs the best way for my students to think deeper about artists and artworks, as well as their own personal art-making process. It has helped them think critically about the why and what they are communicating in their art.
Resources for more info on Socratic Circles. If you google, you will find a lot. This is the book (pic with link) I used during my school district SC training and several links below that are helpful.
How do SCs work in my art room? I set up my room kinda like the drawing to right. I usually place a gathering table in the middle for the inner circle, and place tables in L shapes for the outer circle. Inner circle = Student discussion circle Outer circle = Students observing, taking notes, and will give feedback to inner circle
Before we can get discussions going, students need to develop some notes and questions for their conversations. So - there has to be a text for note-taking. Don't roll your eyes at me. I know
we are in art class and we usually use visual imagery. A text isn't just written articles and stories. A text can be a digital image, a poster, an art video, a piece of music, etc. Anything the students can "read."
To get classes used to the SCs process sometimes I start classes with projected digital images of art or posters. However, I have found I really like using the Art:21 series from PBS because it lets the kids see and hear an artist talk and work through their creative process - something I am trying to encourage in class. The videos also answer some questions students might have about the artwork if we were just looking at the artwork itself. I feel by watching the video and seeing/hearing the artist work it deepens the students inquiries and thoughts about the artist. Of course - always preview these videos OR any art text before showing it to your kiddos. Not all Art:21 videos or art texts are appropriate for all age levels.
So - we are watching an Art:21 video (Elizabeth Murray is a good one!) and the students use the form below to take notes. Notice the "I see... I think... I wonder..." which helps incorporate other art discussion techniques. Students take notes during the video (questions below are reflection after the SC).
My classes are usually larger than 20 kiddos. My suggestion - split them into 3 groups. One group will be the inner circle discussion group; the other two groups are outer circle groups with two different jobs. One outer circle group focuses and takes notes for Interaction Feedback of the inner circle's conversation. The second outer circle group focuses and observes for Content Feedback. They complete their notes accordingly in their respective areas on the back on the SC handout. I usually use the timer on my phone for each groups' discussions. Sometimes you might see teachers set a question for the groups to discuss, but I let the kiddos lead with their thoughts and wonders. Only if they are sinking and grasping for conversation will I interject with a convo question. Once the conversation ends, the two outer circle groups give their feedback to the inner circle. It is constructive, helpful, and insightful. Remember - character building is key, not judgement. Sometimes we don't get to one of the groups because our class period is 55 minutes, and we run out of time. There is never enough time!
Speaking of time... and space... this post is getting a little lengthy. In the next SCs blog post... I will discuss reflection and other resources for SCs.
Because I have promised to write about Socratic Circles (SCs) in the art room for a while.... Because my SCs technique was featured in the NAEA News Middle Level Division Report in January... Because I am presenting on SCs during an upcoming NAEA best practices webinar... I decided I better dedicate some time to blogging about this technique I use in my art room. Socratic Circles (also known as Socratic Seminars) are where students lead the conversation with their own ideas, thoughts, and questions. The teacher acts as facilitator and only steps in to the conversation if needed.
Because I Teach for Artistic Behaviors (TAB) and offer a choice-based project learning environment, I wanted students to inquire and be fully engaged in art discussions as well. In turn, I suspected that this inquiry-based discussion technique could lead to deeper questioning while project planning and creating art. I decided to make this a teacher evaluation goal for my Professional Growth Plan (PGP) and a focus for my National Board Certification process. Luckily, my school district partnered with University of Arkansas professor Chris Goering to offer a yearlong training for Socratic Circles. The teachers learned first hand how to be a part of and implement SCs in our classrooms.
I know what some of you might be thinking - we (art teachers) use various discussion strategies with artworks all the time - Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS), Feldman's Art Criticism Method, Artful Thinking from Harvard Project Zero, etc. - how is this any different? Well, the beautiful thing about SCs is the fact that they encompass and combine all of those techniques while also giving the students the opportunity to lead their own discussions and inquiries. You can still incorporate art questions, art vocabulary, and paraphrasing when needed - but this gives students a bit more control.
This process takes a little explaining and practice, but once they get it, wow - it's powerful and amazing to hear students talk and learn from each other. So not only are kiddos talking about art and making personal inquiries about it, they're also learning to have respectful conversations with each other. Don't we all need to put down our devices and talk once and a while? This really teaches students to listen, look, and be polite with each other. SCs are not debates - it isn't 'I'm right, and you're wrong'. You can disagree with someone during a conversation without getting ugly. During SCs, students are learning manners, doing a little character building, AND discussing art. Win, win, win!
Next blog post is about how SCs work in my class along with some handouts and some reflection.
How do you get your students inquiring about artists and their artworks???
It's been a while since I've blogged.... oops! It's tough when you get caught up in teaching and daily life. As you last remember I was researching tinkering & makerspaces... and I did do that and still doing that and more on that to come - stay tuned.
So what else has been going on...My new art teacher partner in crime this year and I have really been focusing on getting kids to "build a new box" - well, not really building a new box - but designing and solving their own art & design problems. This blog post contains just a sampling of some choice-based student projects from 2nd quarter. We are so proud of our students who are really delving into skills and media they don't know and honing them to create amazing wow projects. It's about finding an interest and digging a little deeper to see what you can learn, understand, do, and create. We have everything going on - installations, animations, sewing, and more!
Sometimes there are failures and sometimes there are successes - but in both instances there is always learning through the process of creating. It's talking with peers, researching, and trying new things that get you to the finish line. Some of the projects you see are a work in progress or have already gone through some design changes because things happen and ideas don't go as as planned. I saw a great poster on Facebook a while back, and it said F.A.I.L - First. Attempt.In.Learning. This is really so important. I know we don't want to see our kids fail, but sometimes there are pitfalls along the way - and it's the persistence and engagement to succeed that gets us to better results.
How do you encourage problem solving and independent learning?
We're offering 5th and 6th grade clubs at our school this year in three week rotations. This club time during the day allows for some students to get needed intervention and others get some enrichment time. It also allows teachers to get to know groups of students better.
So my 5th grade club this rotation is Tinkering. It's something I want to encourage more in our choice-based art room, so I found this a good setting to learn with the kiddos before I roll out a tinkering center in my room. I know the basics of tinkering, but I really wanted to see how the kids would think critically and creatively. So far, so good!
This group of 21 kiddos is amazing. They've gone right to work as teams and share between each other the pieces and parts they have gathered so far! Awesome! We started out taking apart some broken machines... Old film strip projectors, a calculator, CD headset, an iron, remote controls, and an old wax laminator thing! I love seeing their dedication... And our 34 minutes together is not enough! Apologies to their 4th period teachers. I know these kiddos are running late because they are so into figuring out wiring and building. I ask them to clean up at least 5-6 minutes before the end of our club... but they have a hard time switching gears (pun intended)!
So...stay tuned to see what creations these kids make. Plans include a flashlight, boat, robots, and a couple of cars. I'm so impressed after 4 days and can't wait to see their problem solving skills come full circle!
In what ways do you encourage tinkering in your classroom?
Well, we've been back at school for 3 weeks, and it's time to get back to the blog! Our first week we had an orientation week getting the 5th and 6th graders schedules worked out. Kiddos came to encore classes (aka electives, specials) and we talked briefly about what's expected - but we got busy and moving making collaborative art.
Kiddos worked as table teams to create a life-size or kid-size Keith Haring figure (after we watched a video about him and a quick animation of course). The kids had a blast! These are now hanging in our cafeteria! I realized the only pic I took was at our parent night... But you can see them dancing along the wall behind our seated families.
It was a great first week to get kids energized and ready for our choice-based art studios! What did you do the first back-to-school week to get kids energized about art?
Artfully, Nikki K.
Keith Haring inspired figures dancing in the background! :)
Above is a Dropbox video link I took of my 5th grade students working in my room last November. It gives you a little taste of what goes on during a typical 50 minute class with about 28 kiddos. I apologize for some of the angles in the video as I think I was flipping my iPad in directions I did not realize... but you will still get the idea of the various differentiated projects happening all at once.
I am also long overdue in posting a PowerPoint for the folks who visited my session at the state AAE conference in November 2014 (remember all the computer issues... umm... yeah!). So I had my presentation at NAEA in NOLA about choice-based art - and it was pretty full and lots of Qs and lots of support from great folks. I heard wonderful comments from people about how they found their ah-ha moment. Wow! That's powerful... and not only are my students important, but sharing at conferences with fellow art teachers is just as important - comments like that remind me why it's so important for art teachers to share and connect. Thanks to all that made me feel like I gave you some inspiration - and thanks for inspiring me! So... below is the PDF I used at my session today (the PPT was way TOO BIG).
P.S. This PDF shows the layout of my art room the past few years... but I am switching art rooms and will hopefully have a new layout for the school year! Stay tuned!!!
Sorry, folks! I fell of the blogging wagon after NAEA... Our art room was busy with an artist-in-residence, Socratic Circles, (testing that seemed like it never ended and messed up the schedule) and... Then... It was crunch time for National Board entries I was redoing and submitting. My hubby and I were also getting a house next door ready for my parents to move in... While I also worked on decorations for end-of-the-school-year things and packed up my room to move to a new art room. So... The school year ended; got the parents moved and settled; and now I can enjoy summer?! Right?!
How do I enjoy summer? Gardening, swimming, and art-making... Yes, I'm making time to make art! I've started with the Journal Fodder Junkies challenge to work on drawings for 15 minutes/day for 30 days. If you don't know about this challenge, check it out here. Be sure to post and tag #jfj15for30 and @jrnlfddrjunkies. My 4 yr old daughter and I have been drawing and painting in my studio together - it's been great. We work on each other's papers here and there or sometimes it's a complete collaboration. I also need to finish a piece for an art teacher art show coming up in August... And plan to replenish my upcycled jewelry stock.
I'm also enjoying summer by planning for next school year. ...I know, it's summer... But I love teaching and love the choice-based work the kids create in my classes. I'm going to have a new art teacher in our building working with me, and she's awesomesauce! We are going to have the best time working together to build an awesome art program for our school community! So... I've already been pinning ideas and downloading files to plan. I've also been brainstorming the best way to set up my new art room. It's not brand new, but a new space for me and our choice-based centers - so some unpacking and rearranging will need to happen. Good problem to have, eh?!
So... What are your plans for the summer??? How do you recharge for the coming school year?
So... I am back from #NAEA15 NOLA and just can't wait to implement some of the things I have learned. I presented alongside some awesome teachers, AND I got to meet many folks from Facebook groups and Twitter chats who's work I admire greatly. I have stashed many ideas and thoughts about the things they presented (too many for me to list - and I don't think you really want to see the idea map in my brain right now... it needs some time for tidying-up a bit). I cannot wait to adapt these ideas for my kiddos and implement them over time. Shout out to these folks I got to learn from during the conference... check their blogs: Stacy Lord Janine Campbell Cynthia Gaub Holly Bess Kincaid Theresa McGee September Buys
It was so cool to see their presentations and what they do with their kiddos. A big thing I want to infuse is more technology use through student digital portfolios, artist statements, 3D printing, and more digital art (I know one thing at a time - I just get so excited.).
Another shout out to the Jack Richeson & Co. folks for supplying me with some great watercolor painting supplies for my presentation session. Lots of folks walked away with cool stuff! A BIG Thank YOU to a top notch art supply company!!!
I want to give mention to 3D-molding.com this morning. A friend shared a maker rubric from Edutopia with me, and I just had to share on Twitter. 3D-molding asked me to complete an online interview... and in return give them a mention. So - check them out by clicking on their links above.
The interview helped me reflect about what I do as an educator. It was a good reminder of why I went to choice-based art projects and why the process rather than the product is so important. We as educators want to create thinkers, doers, designers, critical thinkers... these kiddos are our future! We have a big job and it's important we take advantage of the time we have with them to help them learn, think, and grow.
The interview tied so well to all the things rolling around in my head from #NAEA15 ...and those National Board entries I am working on. Which - I really need to get back to working on those entries, SO... a quick list of things I have goals of implementing or adopting in some way in the next year:
better student planning/brainstorming forms for projects
maker bots, circuit boards, apps that go with them
video game design (for all my little gamer kiddos)