I am starting work on my second units of the year. 2nd- 5th Grade will begin work into how artists use their minds. During this time, I open the reflection center. The reflection center is a place for students to complete artists statements, add to portfolios, finish art to be displayed, etc. I have found that it is best to keep a center like this open so students can complete these activities when they are ready and independently. I usually like to keep this center close to my desk. (I am not in my classroom yet due to construction! I will post pictures of this when it is set up.)
We will also talk about using artists language- so I will have a word wall and questions about art. I will get in the Elements of Art content that need to be covered during this time.
We will also cover how to plan. I don't expect younger students to create a sketch to plan. I want them to think about next steps. So, when we cover the envisioning skill it will differ from grade-to-grade. I have my 4th & 5th grade scope and sequence for Unit 2 posted.
I work harder to create classroom structures, routines, and management.
When I was a DBAE (Discipline-Based Art Education) teacher, creating and prepping for lessons was incredibly easy. It was a recipe. I set up all the materials for my students and steps were pre-planned. The lesson objective was centered around an element of art, technique, artist, or art movement. The lesson objective was met by my students creating with only the materials provided to them. For example: If I wanted my students to know warm colors, I only left warm colors in the table boxes for them to use. Because, it was easier! Did my students truly know the difference between warm and cool colors? Nope. They knew how to follow the recipe I presented before them.
My classroom was a factory with disengaged minds.
When I made the transition to TAB I had no idea how difficult it was going to be. I remember having moments of feeling defeated. I felt that I have failed with lesson plans, classroom set-up, assessment, etc. It was being a new teacher all over again! But my students kept me going. They had a spark of excitement when they came to class. They were no longer robots moving through the motions of recreating a work of art.
I realized that I had to become an expert at teaching my students how to work in the studio. This included making routines and structures. I also learned that I had to create lesson plans that encompassed all types of artist and apply to everyone in the studio. (I found the Studio Habits are amazing for this!)
To have a studio tracker or not? Throughout my years of teaching TAB, I have implemented Studio Trackers and sometimes I have not.
Wait…what is a Studio Tracker? A Studio Tracker is a chart or poll that helps students monitor and track what centers they visit in the art studio. There are many ways to create and use a Studio Tracker. I have tried a chart, digital trackers using Google Forms, and portfolio style (One page per student).
(Above is a Studio Tracker I use for K & 1)
So, what can I tell you about the advantages for Studio Trackers?
Students Self Monitor
One of the greatest benefits of having a student-directed classroom is that students oversee most aspects of the classroom. If students are choosing what they are working on, they should also oversee keeping track of what they are doing. It will also teach students how self-monitor.
Helps Students Reflect
Students (and adults) have a difficult time remembering what they have been working on in the studio over the past quarter or month. I have found that Studio Trackers are extremely beneficial as a reflection tool for students. It becomes a quick visual tool to tell students what centers they have been in the most and least. It is also instant data to share with admin or parents.
Great Addition to Portfolios
If students are already keeping a sketchbook or portfolio, adding a Studio Tracker would make a great addition to show off.
The key to Studio Trackers is getting students into the routine of completing them. I always say make sure is it purposeful and meaningful. (My best tip is to make a routine before they start centers. It seems like once work starts- it is difficult to get students to stop.)