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.