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.