Thursday, November 6, 2014

Writing about Art

A couple of people have recently asked me about my use of artist statements in my classroom. This post is for you!

We all know that art classes aren't only about making art. As teachers, we want to help our students grow into thoughtful adults. I think using a little writing at the end of a project is a great way to have students practice their writing skills and also inject some self reflection into the lesson. 

Let me tell you how I feel about assessment. Meh. There. I said it. I'm not a big fan of it, although I understand why we use it. I originally started using a little self assessment form that students attached to the back of their artwork. They would circle different areas depending on how they thought they did. I would then circle what I thought. I didn't like that system because too many kids circled only the highest or lowest grades even if they didn't really apply to their work. 

I have slowly developed artist statements that are different for each project. The format is pretty similar across all projects, but the content is different on each artist statement form. I include a combination of fill-in vocab as well as open ended questions for students to answer. It makes assessing vocab-based and reflection standards much easier and efficient. Here is an example from a recent 5th grade personal logo project.--->
Simply including a space for a name and teacher save me from so much nameless artwork. (I have no idea how some students manage not to have their name on their work after 3-4 classes of a project.) The artist statements are taped to the back of the finished artwork. In this particular case, it's taped on the back in such a way that it hangs down below the artwork allowing viewers to read what the students have written. I'll make these 2-3 per page so I can quickly photocopy them and not use too much paper. 

The big question is this. What do you do to include student writing or reflection in your classroom? I'd love to hear all about what you do. I'm sure there are a ton of you doing something way better and far more rad than this. 


dmasse said...

Very cool, sir. Thanks for posting an example. I have been working to include some kind of written reflection with each grade level rotation that I do. WIth my young ones (k-1) it's usually a sentence about the project. WIth the kinders, they may fill in a couple words and trace the sentence frame I give them at the beginning of the year. First graders refer to the day's vocab I have posted in the front of the room and I have students volunteer to say sentences so the kids can hear different ways to address the day's content. My 2nds-4ths usually do exit slips with a couple questions. One is pretty direct- What kinds of shapes did they use? What did they use line to do in their project? The second is usually an opinion question- getting them to give an answer and support it with a "because" connector. My 5ths do the exit slip thing, but I've also done a couple creative writing exercises with them this year to mix it up a bit- creating collective poems after doing a gallery walk of the class's work and writing a paragraph about the character in their Day of the Dead portrait. These 2 connect to the ELA standards in a different way. I've also had my 4ths write letters to our focus artist of the lesson. They could write what they wnated, but I emphasized using a few of the lesson's vocab words in the letter.

Zach Stoller said...

Thanks for ththe comment! I do a lot of the same things you mentioned, just didn't have time at the end of the day to describe them all. I need to get my kids to use the "because" connector. I get too many one or two word answers. Great idea.

Hope Hunter Knight said...

Most of my written assessments look similar to yours. A couple of new things I'm doing this year include using symbols for the K-1 kids to do peer assessments. Just before our end of class art walk (at the end of a project) we brainstorm some symbols that they can quickly and easily draw that represent a response to the art, kind of like the Token Response art game but much faster - $= would buy this, ?= want to ask a question about your art, check mark = you followed all directions. We use post-its for this.
I'm also having my older students upload their artist statements onto Artsonia, which we have just recently gotten started. I give them a prompt with topics they can talk about, then they create their statement.
Most of my assessing is questioning and observation - it is a continuous process from beginning to end - and I am working toward more written things but again, I think it is important to keep the writing quick and to the point at the elementary level, as you show in your example.

Anonymous said...

I am wrapping up a 5th grade lesson about graffiti and cityscapes right now. I asked one of the language arts teachers what they are working on right now and she gave me the standard for writing narratives. I am having my students write a narrative about their artwork -- they can choose to write about the process of creating the work OR they can create a narrative story about the artwork. It is a great extension because it is cross curricular!

Anonymous said...

I too, have always felt a little "meh" about assessment. I have been using a student self-evaluation system that I grade next to similar to the one you mentioned. I am always a little disappointed with the "all A" response or lack of authentic reflection.

Anyway, I really like the Artist Statement template that you came up with for this, so thanks for sharing! I also agree with you and dmasse that the "because" connector is always a challenge....