Wednesday, December 15, 2004


I believe "Count Olaf" was inspired by the "Series of Unfortunate Events" movie. "Johnny" is a gifted draughtsman and specializes in replicating from observation and memorized images. This drawing Johnny did from memory. Posted by Hello

The "Dragon Mural" has become one of the big attractions in the art room lately. Jimmy Shockly (not his real name) asked me for a big piece of mural paper one day and sketched this dragon head from a smaller drawing. After an initial inspired burst of energy and flurry of drawing and painting activity, Jimmy has been slowly building the work up. We have been discussing painting technique, during this time. We have talked about space, transparency, pattern under painting and over painting during this creative experience. I can't wait to see it in it's final stage. Not bad for a 5th grader working with his own ideas about painting.....cg Posted by Hello

Sunday, November 07, 2004

"The Next Big Thing"

Clark and I presented at the IAEA State Conference last Friday. We had a nice group of interested teachers check in with us (20) and listen to our story of how we got to where we are today with our rationale, transition and current program with choice based art education. This was the 5th time Clark and I have done a presentation for either the state or national art education associations but this is the first time our audience members kept us speaking an hour and a half after we were supposed to end our presentation. They were very interested in everything we had to say....and had a lot of questions about our centers, assessment, facilitating and developing creative thinkers, classroom management and everything else we had to say about child centered, choice based art education. Clark and I each created a PowerPoint presentation and then on Thursday before our presentation, we worked everything out, combining the two presentations ...On Friday, Nov. 5th at 4:00PM, we delivered the presentation. I remember our audience was very enthusiastic and several left interested in beginning choice programs of their own. We finished up at around 6:30 PM. I was delighted the choice concept was recieved so positively by the art teachers who came to hear what we had to say about our new programs....Near the end of our talk, one of the teachers came up to me and said, I do a lot of DBAE, but is this the "next big thing?" I thought, "this is bigger than DBAE"....I said to her, "I don't know," but I thought to myself...It very well could be, ...and I think it should be, not just for art education but to a certain degree, for all subject areas....I think about John Dewey's works, "The Child and the Curriculum" and "Democracy And Education" Dewey speaks at great length about adults classifying knowledge, facts and learning away from their original place and away from relevancy to student's life and experience. With choice based art, we can connect directly to student experience....this is what makes this program so potent....and this is why I am so excited...Check back again....cg

Wednesday, October 27, 2004


Fourth grader Scott's reflection in his electronic portfolio on his mural making process. Posted by Hello

Third grader Sarah's multimedia landscape. Posted by Hello

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Time To Assess Where We Are Going.....

I have been thinking about assessment since day one. One of the things we do here that I believe is unique to our program is electronic portfolios. Most days I have been walking around the room near the end of each class time with my digital camera and I have been taking pictures of student art and students engaged in art making activities. I take the image files and transfer them to folders on our LAN for our kids to access. Over time, the folders fill up with all kinds of images so kids have a lot of images to reflect on. I have the kids insert their images onto a PowerPoint file that serves as their electronic portfolio. Then, I ask them to write reflectivly on their art and experience. So far, we have had our 5th and 4th graders work with their electronic portfolios and I am quite pleased with the reflection aspect of the work. One of the things I also need to do is ask the right questions. I was talking with Clark about assessment the other day and had a dialectic of sorts on the Teaching Artistic Behavior list serve about essential questions. The question we came up with was "What do artists do?" From this question we can spin other essential questions for more reflective thinking and writing. So, assessment from electronic portfolios and reflective writing is where we are headed. I think we are also going to use checklists, and insert those into portfolios. Speaking of reflection...I have been looking at the quality of the art we are generating and I am seeing something of a mixed bag. Some of the work is very complex, especially considering it wasn't my idea for them to work from. Other works are very simplistic. The other thought I have is so what? If they are the originator of the idea, and they take the work as far as it can go....then they will have begun to undertake the work of the artist. Real artists work from their own ideas, not someone elses. This issue is what got me interested in Choice Based Art Education in the first place. I still feel like I need to do more to facilitate the complexity of student art....I know there is a balance to work toward and from....We will press on.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004


Sculptures created with cardboard, tape and glue.  Posted by Hello

3rd grade students begin constructing sculptures with cardboard, tape glue and scissors. Posted by Hello

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Time To Work In Three Dimensions

Because of my concerns for storage space, I have held back somewhat on introducing 3-D art activities....I believe it is time to get moving in that direction. I can see it in the work they are producing...they are taking sheets of manila paper, glue and tape and constructing cones, cylinders, multiple chambered constructions, and other kinds of folded, origami like paper sculpture. I tell them they are creating "amazing inventions." Some of these inventions are flying machines, dishware, machines and weapons.......I have begun cutting bits of construction paper and preparing a "sculpture cart" similar to the "collage cart." I plan to stock it with string, construction paper, glue, scissors, tape and other miscellaneous materials. After viewing Clark's latest post, I concluded it is time to take the plunge into a 3-D adventure. This should be interesting....

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Thursday, September 16, 2004

"I am so proud of my art work!"

I am working with individual students in the room and I overhear comments from the rest of the kids that are very interesting. This morning, one of them says, "I am so proud of my art work!." That makes me very happy. I see them taking more ownership of their work. "This monster can attack two creatures at once!" "There is going to be a river behind this tree." "Look what I have made! This is a cool brown color....How did you make that?" As my friend and colleague Clark Fralick has observed, the students are engaged in lively discussions during their work time. I find that this year, my students are looking forward to their art classes more than ever. I try to let the work originate from within without too much teacher prompting.....I want an organic approach. The 5 min. lesson I am working with today with my 3rd graders is one on how artists spend time re-working an art work. I show them an example that has been around for a while, and I tell them I am "touching up" this work. I talked about combining drawing, painting, collage, ink and other materials to give the work a "dynamic" look. Most have considered the lesson. Others continue making new art. Will check back later....

Thursday, September 09, 2004


Primary level students continue exploration of the mural center with liquid tempera. Posted by Hello

Wednesday, September 08, 2004


Intermediate level students at work on a variety of stations. Island table at upper left doubles as drawing center and demonstration station. Computer generated drawing and work inspired by drawing books at upper half of jpg. Students on right side working with collage, watercolor, india ink and other drawing materials. Posted by Hello

Student working with combinations of materials after viewing work by Jaune Quick-To-See-Smith.  Posted by Hello

Four students working on ink drawings, tempera painting and braiding 3 strings. Posted by Hello

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Working From A Variety Of Activity Centers

These past three weeks our kids have had opportunities to create work from several activity centers. They accessed materials at the drawing center where there are a variety of pencils, colored pencils, water base and permanent markers, drawing books and crayons. Materials at the painting center include watercolors and india ink. The computer center has been used to create drawings on Microsoft Paint and a few have begun electronic portfolios on PowerPoint. I did a little experiment with our 2nd graders today. I set out a large piece of bulletin board paper on a sheet of sturdy compressed cardboard about 7' x 3' and told them we now had a "mural" center. I had 4 to 5 kids per class working at that center and they were "going to town" with "automatic," self-directed experimental ink drawing. We now have 4 centers to work from within the room. Drawing, painting, computer and mural center. I also converted an old mobile book shelf into a collage center which the 4th and 5th graders have been visiting with regularity. I have introduced the artist Jaune Quick-To-See-Smith to 3rd, 4th and 5th graders and talked about the way she combines graphics, collage and other materials to create bold, expressive works of art.
So far, I am very pleased with the production and attitudes of our kids. 99% of them are into working from the centers. My younger kids really get into it. One of the problems we are having is they do not want to clean up. I give them a 5 minute warning, then a one minute warning....they are oblivious to my request to clean-up. They are so caught up in "flow," they can't stop what they are doing.....
I am getting requests to open up the sculpture center. I think I am going to start small again and go big. I am going to buy a bunch of toothpicks, cut a bunch of cardboard, and get my glue containers ready. It would seem a good thing to intoduce Louise Nevelson at this juncture. Check back later, Clyde

Monday, August 23, 2004


View of students at work tables in foreground with drawing and computer centers in the background. Posted by Hello

Promoting divergent forms of thinking.....

I have realized this past week, what we have here is a vein of educational gold. Choice based art education promotes an individual's divergent thinking abilities in a psychologically profound and personally meaningful way. This kind of program provides an openess in the curriculum that gives students freedom to explore, invent, examine and go deep into aesthetic experiences and subject areas related to student interests far beyond any other kinds of programs I am aware of. Student's take full ownership of the direction they move in. The electronic portfolio element of our program will provide students with a dynamic assessment process that allows for self-reflection of the purpose and direction of individual work and provides an accountability tool.
I remember listening to my friend and colleague Clark Fralick talk about complex operations "start small, go big..." and also the words of encouragement from Barb Andrews, Teri Eastes, Kathy Douglas, Diane Jaquith and John Crowe. Because of their work and encouragement, I am about to cross a pedagogical threshold into a new and exciting instructional dimension.......more later....

Thursday, August 19, 2004

First Day of Choice

This morning I had my 5th graders rotate through the art room. I told them to give me the first five minutes of class and then I would give them the other 35 minutes to do what real artists do. Choose or find a pathway and work from that direction. I spoke about working from ones interests and expressing what is important in ones own mind. I told them I would help them find their own way if they needed support. If they had ideas to pursue, they could work from the drawing, painting or computer center. Students had 4 activities to work from. Self-directed work from the drawing, painting or computer centers; a scary "ghost town" contest drawing/painting for the Indianapolis Children's Museum's Halloween Art Contest; continue work on personalized portfolio covers which were begun on the first day of school, or conduct art research from the internet or the art library. As soon as I was finished with my presentation talk students quickly got up from their seats and began assembling materials to begin work. Most went right to work. They had formulated their activity as I explained our new program to them and went right into implementation. One or two in each class needed additional time to get going but eventually began work on a drawing or painting. In 4 class rotations this morning I had approximately 100 kids working on individually tailored activities that were student centered and student generated. About half experimented or worked from with the materials at the paint center, the others worked from the drawing center and began creating images for the art contest. My first impression of choice based art education from today's experience very positive. I plan to modify the "Teaching Artistic Behavior"program here as needed. I know Clark is conducting his version of TAB to fit his student's needs and work it within his pedagogical style and that is the way I plan to run ours here at New Palestine Elementary. There are many other teachers throughout the country who conduct TAB in their art programs and I think flexibility is one of the keys to their success. Being flexible and prepared is how I am going to approach the transition from teacher to student centered art education. If todays smooth sailing is any indication of what we are in for the rest of the year than I need to make up for all the lost time I was doing things the old way (teacher centered, everyone doing the same thing.....).
Tomorrow I will modify and repeat this set up for my 3rd and 4th graders.

Monday, August 16, 2004

First Day of School

Monday, August 16, 2004. 8:32 a.m. First day of school. I have created four studio activity centers in the art room. Drawing, painting, sculpture and computer centers will give students four options to work from in addition to the lesson of the day. This first week, we are moving slowly, introducing each center and how to access and use the materials. Our lesson of the day is something we are all going to participate in. This is what Clark Fralick would call a "have to" activity. Everyone participates in this one. We are creating a personalized hard cover portfolio to store our work in. This first day should be interesting. We will conduct art class with approx. 110 5th graders via four homeroom classes this afternoon. Each class will last approx. 35 minutes. Can't wait to get started. This will be interesting.

Wednesday, July 07, 2004


My two kids and I on the edge of Havasupai Canyon, Arizona Posted by Hello

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Transition To Choice Based Art Education

July 6, 2004
My name is Clyde Gaw. I have been an elementary art teacher since 1984. Currently, I am the art teacher at New Palestine Elementary near Indianapolis, Indiana. Over the past ten years, my colleague Clark Fralick and I have been collaborating to make our programs more meaningful and intellectually potent for our students. In 1998 Clark started doing electronic portfolios with a group of our gifted and talented students. The following year, little by little, I started my own electronic portfolio program. Our strategy was simple, engage kids in dynamic art experiences, record the experience digitally, and use the image as a prompt for reflective writing by the student on their experience. We observed kids getting excited about seeing their artwork on the computer monitor and motivated to do a lot of thinking and writing about their work. I felt in my mind, electronic portfolios were a great educational activity. They enhance the artistic experience and weave in meta-coginitive and digital literacy skills....In the back of my mind, I wanted to rev up my program even more...but wasn't sure where to take it ....I could see kids empowered with electronic portfolios, and there are so many great intellectual development opportunities with them but I wanted to push divergent thinking opportunities even more. In the Spring of 2004, Clark suggested I consider looking at choice based art education. After reading about and talking with other art teachers who use choice based programs in their art rooms, I became very excited. I believe giving kids the option of pursuing their own artistic activities, working from their prior experience and interests, would strengthen their intellectual development and the electronic portfolio process. This blog, will document my transition to choice based art education in my classroom over the 2004-05 school year. I plan to reflect on the transition, from a teacher centered art program to a student centered program augmented by electronic portfolios. I will keep you posted on our successes and failures and discuss why I believe this kind of art education program to be one of the best educational practices based on my knowledge of cognitive and educational psychology and 22 years of service in the field of education.