Sunday, August 24, 2014


" What young artists need is a school where they can learn a variety of skills, a place where there is cross-pollination." Walt Disney 

Making the transition from a learner directed elementary art program to a high school version has been a good one. After teaching elementary art for 29 years, I have a new respect for my colleagues who teach at the elementary level! 

High school art teaching is lots of fun! Learner's have lots of executive functioning skills. 

The fact that art class is an elective at the high school level makes my new job even more rewarding.

Our curriculum is centered around lots of student ideas about art making within our drawing center, painting center, computer center, cardboard construction center, electronic portfolio program and lots of student initiated action. 

Many students are concerned with drawing realistically so I have been sharing with them secrets of the old masters!

We are settling into a way of doing. A way of being. Investigating, researching, experimenting, sharing, mentoring, communicating. 

Lots of cross-pollination going on in this art room right now. 

I call high school TAB art education Heaven!

Linoleum Prints!
Observation drawing utilizing an optical device!
Utilizing a grid to enhance our picture making!
Collaborative drawing!


christina said...

I just wanted to say thank you for being so dedicated to choice based instruction, and for sharing your thoughts and opening your classroom philosophy and activities to share with other art educators. I graduated in 2007 and worked as an art on the cart teacher for two years. I did not enjoy it because it was not the experience that I thought it should be for me or the students. I didn't know how to fix it, all I knew was that I was unhappy. I worked as the art coordinator at a childrens museum that had an art area that I arranged much like a TAB classroom without even realizing that I was following an established art teaching method, it was just the way I thought art experiences should be. Just this year I wanted to give teaching in the school setting another go. I want to transition from a traditional teacher directed classroom, to a student-centered, inquiry-filled art studio. I have read your blog from beginning to end and have been so inspired to start the process. I was apprehensive at the beginning of the year, and started out all the grade levels with a familiar, teacher led lesson. I know that TAB is absolutely the best learning environment for children, and reading you blog has given me courage and enthusiasm to start encouraging artistic behaviors, and giving the children an authentic opportunity to think, create, and express their ideas.

syllatham said...

I'm wondering how you work with due dates on projects? Do you do units? I'm doing choice-based for the first time and learning as I go. My students came up with a list of themes, then I had the classes vote on which theme we would do, then they work in the center they choose to create something that meets the theme. The problem that I'm having is that I have students all working on different things and finishing at different times. I have a few that are really lagging behind(not many), not due to the project, but that they seem to not have the motivation since there isn't a due date. I've decided to meet with each student when they submit their project proposal and discuss a tentative due date based on what type of project they are doing. My school district requires that I have at least 2 grades a week posted and a minimum of 6 assessment grades (projects) for the 9 weeks. Any advice you can give me would be great!
Thanks Sylvia

Clyde Gaw said...

Christina what a wonderful story! I appreciate so much your thoughtful comments. One of the things I am acutely aware of is the heterogeneous nature of classroom groups. I agree, this is the best approach to learning we can do for children in mass educational settings without resorting to radical behaviorism. Embracing ambiguity and trusting children (even when they don't seem trustworthy) is the key. Changing the environment and providing inspiration in whatever form you can muster for the children is important too. I wish you all the best! Warmest wishes...Clyde

Clyde Gaw said...

Syllatham, I understand your dilemma. One of the things I have experimented with at the high school level is grading based on effort. Right now I am seeking electronic portfolio input from the children and that is how they acquire grades. Perhaps they could do two reflective pieces per week at your school? What we are after is not works of art...that is a byproduct. What we are after is evidence of artistic behavior. For me, evidence of reflective, metacognitive thinking does the trick. We are on a continuous creativity cycle. When one project is finished, another is started. Kids might work on one project all semester. Or they might do 20 small ones. It just depends on the student and their creative thinking capacities. Some kids have real trouble generating ideas. That's when I insist they play a creativity game like the drawing game, doodle heads or the tracing game. We make up our own rules. Play is a good thing when kids are bankrupt of ideas. their default creative thinking mode. They can always generate ideas through play. Best wishes Syllatham! Clyde