Category: TEACHING

Sketchbook Gestures

Hoping to show #Drawing students (@bvartdogs) how to use gesture to improve figure drawing ✍️ in sketchbooks, not just large scale classroom sketches. The idea is to encourage them to use their #sketchbooks more- to draw “on the fly,” if you will. I tell them that “this is something you can do anywhere, anyWHEN, as long as you have paper and pen (or pencil ✏️).”

You don’t have to have special tools like charcoal or conté or 18”x24” newsprint- an average pen and a little 5×8 sketchbook are fine. A model is great, but unwitting strangers (or in this case a photo) are fine for practicing drawing.

Drawing isn’t a magical gift. It is a tool for thinking and communicating like reading and writing. It is therapeutic like music or exercise. Anyone can learn it. It takes practice, persistence, patience, and observation and it strengthens each of those four critical thinking skills.

To anyone who feels dumb or inadequate, I encourage you to read, write & draw. Even if you think you can’t or don’t like to. The more you do these 3 things, the easier they’ll get and the better you’ll get at them. You’ll find eventually that you’ll dislike them less. Eventually, you’ll fall in love with them. Each of them help you think, reflect, envision, & grow. You’ll feel more confident. Try making them habits. Draw every day.

Read, Write, Draw.

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A Valuable Read/View for Our Times

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” ~Rev.Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., 1963

Thank you Kirwan Inst. and kudos to Jamaal Bell. I teach middle school civics and we’re studying Dr. King’s letter and how it relates to the civil rights movement as it’s covered in our textbook and the 14th Amendment. I think that both having a variety of narrators rather than a single actor portraying King or merely reading the letter, combine with the still images and historic footage you’ve woven together made this a more meaningful and compelling piece- especially for rural, mostly white Iowa eighth graders in 2018, who otherwise may not have understood or appreciated the letter as well.

When I re-read or re-teach this letter, I am reminded of Dr. King’s intelligence, patience, compassion, and insight. This letter has inspired me to write poems and blog posts and paint paintings.

This year, however, just as Dr. King wrote it in response to well intentioned white clergy fifty-five years ago, I wish I could introduce it to all the well-meaning white Christians, especially moderates and conservatives.

King, speaking to clergymen after all, even though it’s an “open” letter that the entire world was privy to in newspapers and magazines, alluded to several saints, philosophers and scriptures. He referrers to the teachings and examples of Jesus frequently in the letter.

These days, my family, friends and neighbors don’t understand the protests over police brutality in the last 2-3 years in Ferguson, Baton Rouge, Baltimore, etc. They saw white supremacists demonstrating in Charlotteville, VA and somehow they blamed former President Obama for being racially divisive during his time in office.

President Trump started his campaign off by describing Mexicans as drug dealers and rapists and started his administration off by calling for a ban on travel and immigration from predominantly Muslim countries.

Just this week Attorney General Jeff Sessions let slip during remarks to law enforcement officials in Washington that he thinks that sheriffs’  have an”AngloAmerican heritage.”

My own Congressman, Steve King (R) of Iowa has opposed immigration because he doesn’t think we can restore our “superior culture” with “other people’s babies.” King has met with and admires Tomio Okamura, the leader of a neo-fascist white supremacist party in the Czech Republic.

As much as people would like to think that we’re more enlightened than Americans were in 1963 or have somehow achieved racial harmony, but obviously we haven’t. I fear that too many of us ARE the “white moderates” that Doctor King criticized in this letter.

We have become complacent or numb to injustice and inequalities. We’re reluctant to recognize let alone repent of our own latent racism. Many of us our even either in denial about or oblivious to institutional forms of racism and the racism of many of our leaders, either because recognizing it would mean having to do something about it or worse, recognizing it would reflect poorly on ourselves. We don’t want to admit that we could possibly be wrong.

Then there’s women’s inequality. Why do we hesitate to equate sexism with racism? Are they not the same? I think that when King talks about Austrian philosopher Martin Buber’s discussion about “I and Thou” rather than “I-It,” we could apply that to women as well as to people of color. Don’t we too often treat women as things rather than people?

And of course today discussion of LGBT rights is much more prominent than in the 1960’s. Even if you have difficulties getting past religious qualms about non-traditional (“non-binary”) sexuality, its impossible to get around that the Constitution’s requirements of equal protection and due process for all, regardless of race, creed, gender, and political persuasion. Discrimination is discrimination, no matter who it’s against or what your motivation.

This year, what made an impression on me was King’s discussion about just and unjust laws. Too many politicians have been using the argument about following the “rule of law” to whip up anger and indignation against DACA “Dreamer”immigrants, who’s parents brought them to this country when they were young children and who essentially have never known any country (home) than this one, but now face deportation decades later.

Doctor King handles head-on the fact that morality and justice are more important than the letter-of-the law, especially when state or local laws are abused by those in power to discriminate, segregate, or violate the rights and protections guaranteed by the Constitution. Had he been a judge or a lawyer rather than a pastor and organizer, he probably would’ve quoted the Fourteenth Amendment directly.

I wish my loved ones would realize that when laws are inadequate, unclear, or unfair, it is our responsibility to revise, reform, or replace them. And that challenging them, protesting, sometimes even deliberately breaking them are all part of our constant democratic process.

I feel like ‘Letter from a Birmingham Jail’ is a masterpiece of writing. Personally, I consider it part of the broader American “unwritten-constitution,” along side things like Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address or Washington’s farewell address or Teddy Roosevelt’s corollary to the Monroe Doctrine and along side his own ‘I Have a Dream’ speech which he made just four or five months after he wrote this.

If you’ve never read it, I encourage you to find a copy. If you have about an hour that you’d otherwise end up using on Netflix or YouTube anyway, watch the video linked to at the top of this blog post. Consider it kind of an audio version of this letter. My prayer is that it will impact you half as much as it has me.

 

Amping up Note-Taking with ART

 

This year I have begun introducing a new way of combining pictures with words.

¡Viva La (Doodle) Revolución!

Sixth graders work on visual-literacy exercises. They think that it’s just fun doodling or maybe at most cartooning- but really, they’re learning how to communicate effectively, quickly and economically with images.

The principle is that drawing is a thinking tool, a means to an end, not just an end in itself. Ideally, this will build their confidence and lower their inhibitions about learning to draw, paint and design later in middle school and high school. Meanwhile these skills will help them be able to analyze, conceptualize, organize, interpret and visualize their learning. It will also help them better be able to communicate visually.

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Book It!

This year I’ve also begun having 6th, 7th & 8th graders use inexpensive composition books. In these books students are encouraged to doodle and sketch, but this is also where they could practice art exercises and of course- take notes.

Instead of spending $6-10 per student from the Art Dept. budget, each student spends maybe 50 cents to $2 on their own composition book. My hope is to have them use these as a composition notebook, sketchbook, “smash-book,” scrap book, “bullet-journal,” organizer, and diary. Ideally, kids will recognize that they don’t have to spend huge amounts of money for special tools, but instead they can create their own very inexspesively.

Graphic Organization + Diagrams & Illustration
+ Annotation = BETTER NOTES

I introduced ALL my art classes, 6-12 to visual note-taking. Many teachers may cringe at the idea of letting students draw on their notes. I sympathize, that simple, spartan notes may be easier for teachers to grade, if they require students to turn them in. But I wanted to tackle several problems. 1) Integrating art into student’s everyday lives and other subjects. 2) Helping students notes be more meaningful and useful to them. 3) the fact that kids either don’t bother taking notes or complain about having to take them.

Year ago when I attended the Iowa Writer’s Workshop at Morningside College, Professor Marty Nepper helped me discover a powerful idea. Writing is not just about sharing or publishing what you’ve written, it’s tool for thinking, a way of processing and organizing ideas and experiences. Therefore, writing isn’t just for professional authors or reporters- it’s for EVERYBODY. I remembered that one of my Art professors at Concordia College often insisted that art was for EVERYONE, not just for professional artists. Connect the dots and it’s easy to see that while not everyone may paint like Michelangelo or draw like Leonardo- anyone who can make marks can use those marks to help them think. Drawing (Doodling, Sketching, Juxtaposing, Arranging/Designing) is a thinking tool!

I had experimented with the Cornell method of note taking for my middle school Civics classes with mixed results, so I began researching visual-note taking or “sketch-noting.” Some students are so used to traditional note taking that they need to be coached and coaxed (or at least reminded) to include doodles, illustrations or diagrams in their notes. A little “scaffolding” may be necessary from teachers, to help with this, I developed a rubric for scoring text-notes so that students know what’s expected.

It’s ironic that students would have to be encouraged to do something so fun and relatively easy, but some students are apprehensive about personalizing their notes rather than something more traditional that they expect will please their parents and teachers. Remind them that there’s not an absolute right and wrong way of doing things and that THEY control what’s emphasized and how things are organized with their text, images, and structure. Only the content is from another source.

Anecdotally I’ve noticed that Sixth and Seventh graders adapted to sketchnoting more naturally than Eighth graders and high school students, probably because they’re newer to note taking in general and therefore haven’t developed habits yet. My hope is that as I continue training middle school art students in this practice, it will permeate up through our grade levels.

Admittedly, this may require my persuading or even cajoling teachers to permit, let alone encourage students to draw on their notes. Since research suggests that even if imagery is not directly tied to the content, comprehension and retention is enhanced, I hope that students will adopt this practice and that teachers and parents will encourage them. Remember, some of the advantages will be being occupied with non disruptive behavior, personalizing and processing learning, and ideally, motivating students to connect with the content.

Benefits of Sketch-Noting

  • Enhances what you remember by over 25%
  • Improves your understanding
  • By combining visual and verbal cues, you are simultaneously using different parts of your brain to process the information
  • Students find it more entertaining and engaging than traditional note-taking alone
  • Students will be occupied by non-disruptive behavior
  • Student feel like they have a greater sense of ownership/stake in the learning

Elements of Sketch-Noting

  • Text; Typography/Fonts/Typestyle
  • Images, Symbols & Icons; Doodles/Cartoons/Simple Diagrams & Charts- NOT necessarily photographically realistic depictions
  • Structure/Organization; Shape, Colors, Lines & Cues to help direct attention, information flow, hierarchy, identification and emphasis.

Visit http://dogart.wikispaces.com/SKETCHNOTING to view a video about visual note taking and see my rubric for scoring student sketch-notes.

RUBRIC; Sketchnoting


Cultivating an ‘Art Mindset’

ORANGE BRAINThis year something I’ve adopted with all of my classes is “Mindset Mondays.” We learn about the concept of having a growth mindset in order to develop attitudes, build habits and practice skills which help us learn better. Usually this involves a short video and some discussion or a brain-teaser or activity meant to encourage becoming a life-long learner.

In Art classes at Boyer Valley this has meant taking notes on and learning about the “Studio Habits of Mind” developed a few years ago by educators at Harvard.

I really believe in these. I think that they’re not only things that artists genuinely do even without thinking about it, but very real reasons why art education is meaningful and important and not just “enrichment.” These are critical thinking activities which are valuable in the work place, in academic disciplines other than art and in everyday life.

I encourage everyone to practice them, not just my art students. I encourage parents and other teachers to talk about them with your students. Have conversations about what they mean, how to use them, and how they help.

It may be too soon to gauge what effect ‘Mindset Mondays’ has had on my classes, but it has definitely helped me to get students to consider their process more and not get so hung up on their finished products. This is immeasurably important in art because as any experienced artist will tell you, if you fall in love with the process, more successful products will be a natural outcome.

I have incorporated studio habits into a  portion of students’ self-assessments for every assignment and occasionally will include an extended reflection/assessment for a given project that emphasizes the 8 habits, not just the usual rubric objectives.

One of the best things about these is that it provides a deeply researched, legitimate means of both teaching and evaluating what was once considered subjective or intangible, namely; inspiration, motivation, effort and participation.

Hetland, Lois. Studio Thinking: The Real Benefits of Visual Arts Education. New York: Teachers College, 2007. Print.


via 8 Studio Habits of Mind – Drawing and Painting

8 Studio Habits of Mind – Drawing and Painting
(Adapted from artiseducation.org, with my commentary in orange)

  1. Become an Artist: Learning to use tools, materials, artistic conventions (the traditional Elements & Principles of Design, which I’ve had college Art educators tell me are a priority to them) and learning to care for tools, materials, and space (teaching procedures, a perennial headache for Middle School Art teachers!).
  2. Engage and Persist: Learning to embrace problems of relevance within the art world and/or of personal importance, to develop focus conducive to working and persevering at tasks. (This habit hits on things vital for MS/HS students; Attention, Focus, Concentration, Mindfulness, Perseverance, Endurance, Grit, etc. etc.) 
  3. Envision: Learning to picture mentally what cannot be directly observed and imagine possible next steps in making a piece. (Initially this is about planning, many athletic coaches and trainers have written about “imaging” and “visualization,” this puts a name and a deliberate methodology to the creative, imaginative process that most artists and some students already use intuitively and ties perfectly with national core standards. Mid-process it becomes about awareness, inference decision making, flexibility and adaptation- also aligning with national core standards, 1 &2 ).
  4. Express: Learning to create works that convey an idea, a feeling, or a personal meaning – all within the context of drawing and painting. (A few years ago I realized that while students were claiming that this was the most important aspect of art to them, they didn’t know how to do it. So, taking a cue from Language Arts teachers, I began emphasizing how students could invoke mood using the elements of design, evoke associations using symbols and imagery and how to deliberately provoke discussion and/or reaction with a combination of composition and style. This aligns with national standards 3, 9, 10 & 11 and simultaneously makes art more personal, but also improves student’s communication and critical thinking skills by challenging them to plan, analyze and interpret.)
  5. Observe: Learning to attend to visual contexts more closely than ordinary “looking” requires and thereby see things that otherwise might not be seen; viewing with a critical eye. (This is the difference between Sherlock Holmes and John Watson- well, this and being a “high-functioning sociopath.” Point being, this is something that scientists and engineers and anyone who works with other people, animals or machinery all need and it’s something that art education gives kids, observation skills.)
  6. Reflect: Learning to think and talk with others about an aspect of one’s work or working process and learning to judge one’s own work and working process as well as the work of others. ( I really can’t say anything about this better than my colleague at artwithmrdexter.wordpress.com did, except to point out that it aligns with national standards 4, 6, 7, 8, & 10.)
  7. Stretch & Explore: Learning to reach beyond one’s capacities, to explore playfully without a preconceived plan, and to embrace the opportunity to learn from mistakes – all within the context of drawing and painting. (This not only teaches conceptual ambivalence, an important part of being an abstract thinker- but it increases both curiosity and pushing and challenging yourself. Taking risks in art is eminently safer than in other areas of life!)
  8. 8. Understand Arts Community: Learning to interact as an artist with other artists in the classroom, local arts organizations, and beyond (By posting student artworks on Artsonia.com and conducting regular class critique-sessions, I help students learn how to interact as members of an artist community. After discussing one habit a week for the first eight weeks, I switch to introducing students to other artistic concepts or to contemporary working artists on my ‘Mindset Mondays.’ By doing this, they see that art isn’t just about historical figures like DiVinci, Rembrandt, VanGogh and Picasso but a real, continuing, active thing. It also shows them that there are people who use the 8 studio habits today in the real world. Finally I model for them that when you learn something, adapt it or master it, it’s natural then to share it and contribute to other people’s learning. Not only do I utilize Artsonia for this, but we also post student artworks on Instagram with @BVArtdogs, which they in turn can share on other social media.)

studio20habitsstudio-habits-of-mindCheck out my “Art Mindset” Board on Pinterest

Motivation

Personal PD; Phase 1 – Research Checklist

  1. Decide upon a topic to research.
  2. Document 4 -6 research resources using a variety of mediums.
  3. Use the Phase 1 Research Guide to assist in your research and writing.
  4. Visit with your Instructional/Tech Coach for support.
  5. Share your research findings in the space below. This will be shared with your building principal upon completion of this project and will be used during Phases 2, 3, and 4.
  6. Upon completion of steps 1 -5, you will move to Phase 2 – Integration.

Summarize your research findings below.

1. Growth Mindset, and “Culture and Climate.”

2. Here are several things I am looking at and using:

  • “Art Education.” Art Education, vol. 70, no. 5, ser. 2017, 9ADAD. 2017. https://www.arteducators.org/research/art-education-journal
  • Smith, Mike. “Jostens Renaissance Education.” Jostens Renaissance Education, Jostens’ Inc., 2017, www.jostensrenaissance.com.
  • Ragan, Trevor. Trainugly.com, Train Ugly LLC, 2017, trainugly.com.
  • Hetland, Lois. Studio Thinking: the Real Benefits of Visual Arts Education. Teachers College, Columbia University, 2009.
  • Maiers, Angela. Classroom Habitudes: Teaching Habits and Attitudes for 21st Century Learning. Solution Tree Press, 2012.
  • Rosenberg, Marshall B. Nonviolent Communication: a Language of Life ; Empathy, Collaboration, Authenticity, Freedom. PuddleDancer Press, 2015.
  • Seligman, Martin P. Learned Optimism. 2nd ed., Vintage Books, 1998.\
  • Dweck, Carol S. Mindset: Changing the Way You Think to Fulfill Your Potential. Little Brown Book Company, 2012.

3. Last year our MS PLC talked about using growth mindset. For years I’ve believed that standards and test data are ineffective and often inaccurate if students are unmotivated to learn. I’ve heard teachers complain at PD about wanting AEA presenters to help them find ways to “reach” and motivate students. I’ve read books on developing essential questions. I took license renewal classes on character ed and helping students with anxiety and depression.

So this year, my personal PD will be addressing two things. To work with the district’s goals for PBIS, I’d like to find ways that I can positively influence our school’s “culture and climate.” We need a culture that values and promotes curiosity and personal growth and learning. We need a climate that is positive, safe and encouraging. Not that it’s “bad” or terribly inhospitable (so far as I can tell), but it’s also not intentional. Any school can always do better. The other thing I want to work on is to continue to develop and improve the ways that I address, teach, apply and use growth mindset in my classrooms. Ideally I can not only help students and improve my own teaching, but demonstrate to others the value of these concepts and consider adopting them as well.

I don’t know if I’ve hit all 14 points on the “Phase 1 Research Guide,” I apologize if my writing was too organic. I’ll re-do it if I’m required to follow a specific format.

4. With all due respect to the TLC, and I really like and respect Betsy, but-
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5. I am going to be using a section of my personal blog as a repository of my findings and reflections on my personal PD this year. https://tedmallory.wordpress.com/tag/teaching,
… but (as of 8/31) I will come back and type something here after reviewing more of the videos on the two websites and scanning through &/or reading some of the books I’ve listed above.


WATCH THIS SPACE for #5. Also, will Ted ever use the Phase 1 Research Guide? Will he get in trouble for the snarky meme he inserted for #4?

But seriously, I fully intend to study how to teach and use growth mindset, I genuinely want to help our district with their PBIS because I think it can have a positive effect on our community and students’ sense of belonging and identity- I just don’t want to see it stall out in the behavioralist stages of teaching and repeating procedures. And even if the only way I can do it is via the yearbook and cheer squad, I want to work on improving our culture and climate. I want to see us become a community of life-long learners, among other things. Got any ideas for me? I’m open to “crowd-sourcing” from other educators- why should I limit myself to books and websites? Leave your comments below or share your books & websites (resources) with me. Thanks.

Positive Teachers Matter

GOETHE

LOVE! This quote from German philosopher, poet & playwright Wolfgang Goethe-

“Instruction does much, but encouragement does everything.” It doesn’t mean to lie to kids and artificially inflate their egos, it means that teachers and coaches need to be cheerleaders, we need to encourage kids- encourage them to try, encourage them to work, and yes, encourage them when they succeed, but also to encourage them to pick themselves up, dust them selves off, and keep trying and working when they fail.

Of course American poet Maya Angelou said it another way when she wrote “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Or, to be more trite, “They won’t care what you know, till they know that you care.” Or to use some teacher-jargon, “You can’t get to Bloom, till you take care of Maslow.”

#AffectiveDomainMatters #MotivationMatters #Inspire