Tagged: Learning

Developing an Art Mindset

Art Mindset means being creative and expressive, it means thinking VISUALLY- Most of all it means having a positive, “Growth Mindset” when it comes to making art. I believe that Art is for EVERYONE. Most everyone can walk or jog even though not everyone is an Olympic athlete. We learn to read and write even though few of us become professional authors. In the same way- even if you can’t draw a convincing stick-figure, you can still enjoy, make, use and share art.

CourageSo… What are you so Afraid of?

Oh you don’t think so? Well, maybe you’re just afraid to try. The fact is even the most successful professional artists feel insecure. Probably because art, by nature is something that others get to see. If other people get to see it, they’ll probably have opinions about it and might just tell you what they think. Let’s face it, that can be intimidating. But as Stanford Professor and Growth Mindset guru Carol Dweck will tell you, COURAGE is part of learning- for that matter, FAILURE is a part of learning.


Maybe it will help if you stop thinking of “ART” as this high and mighty, holy, special, set-aside, mystical, miraculous and just think of it like reading, writing and executing mathematical functions. Think of it as a thinking tool. Drawing, doodling, sketching, diagraming, designing and making art are ways of working out your thoughts. It’s another way of working through ideas.  If you can think, you can art.

Meanwhile (maybe because it’s visual/spacial and analogous instead of logical/linear/linguistic) Art can still be magical and mystical and mysterious- but at the same time approachable, practical and usable… for EVERYONE.


Too often, we become paralyzed by our insecurity about how art will turn out. STOP. Don’t worry about how it will turn out- concentrate on what you can learn from the PROCESS of making art instead of whether or not you’re any “good” at art, okay? Be courageous.

So how can you nurture an “Art Mindset?” By developing positive attitudes about art and then repeating, rehearsing and practicing them over and over again until they become good habits. Education author and “Genius Hour” advocate Angela Maiers might even call some of these “Habbitudes;” positive habits built on positive attitudes which help you learn and grow.



Maybe the most important positive attitudes you can have to help you experience and create art is wonder. Call it curiosity, call it whatever you

want- You have to look more closely at things instead of merely glancing quickly and taking what you see for granted


The next important thing is to process what you see. Look at it from different perspectives. Compare & contrast it to other things you’ve seen, COMBINE it with other things you’ve seen, and examine it so closely that you discover new things and begin seeing it in new ways.


Once you’ve seen what no one else sees- SHARE what you’ve seen. Help others see what you see. Don’t hoard it to yourself.

Four Art Disciplines; Art History, Aesthetics, Production, & Art Criticism

Those who STUDY art generally follow four basic strands; They look at what artists have done in the past, they analyze how images are composed and structured, they MAKE Art- of course and they apply critical thinking skills to examining, reflecting on and responding to Art.

These are great ways to learn about Art- but… on the one hand, these categories seem almost too specific to Art, stuff that non artists and not art experts aren’t gonna “get,” but at the same time- they’re waaay too broad, too vague; they’re not clear enough, specific enough or practical enough for non-art-experts to wrap their minds around, let alone use. Fair enough. So look at some habits you can really use that will help you develop as and artist AND will help you develop and “Art Mindset” that you can use for everything in life, not just art.

Studio Habits of Mind (SHoM)

In 2003 the Harvard Graduate School of Education’s “Project Zero” published a list of eight ways of thinking that student-artists learn while in the process of creating art.


Because these eight ways of thinking all work together and influence each other and build on one-another, and because none of them leads to another and none is more important than another, they really shouldn’t be considered in a specific order.

These eight habits work TOGETHER to create what I’d consider an “Art Mindset.”

Studio-Habits-of-Mind.pngCheck your Progress

How do you teach expectations about Studio Habits in school Art departments? That’s going to be different for every Art teacher. Here are three levels that might compare to “Got it,” “Almost got it,” and “Not yet.” Or- if you prefer teacher jargon: Proficient, Adequate and Inadequate. Too often, Art students blame poor products on a lack of talent. These three descriptions let students know when they haven’t invested enough in the PROCESS to be able to realistically expect successful finished products.
Like athletes, musicians, and STEM scholars, if you aren’t challenging yourself, you may plateau and not really improve. “Coasting” basically says that you’re doing okay, but you’re not really excelling or exceeding.
Generally, when you’re learning, growing, or improving, you know, but this description celebrates and shows gratitude for the effort students put toward their own learning. Combining Growth Mindset, Positive Behavior Initiatives and visual art learning nurtures an “Art Mindset.”


My hope is to create eight more videos explaining each of the eight Studio Habits in more detail, one at a time. Please, watch them, like them, share them, link to them, use them, comment on them, and of course, consider subscribing. I’m not looking for fame or fortune, I want to share these ideas and the more views, likes and share these videos get- the easier they are to find in search engines.

I say it’s “my hope”- but I’m gonna spend ‘School Art Month’ (March), preparing for my school to host a conference Art show in April. But not only do I need to re-tool how I overtly teach, and integrate and implement the Studio Habits in my own classroom- I genuinely want to share the Studio Habits with not just other Art teachers and artists, but with EVERYONE, because I believe this Art Mindset can help anyone see different adt think more visually and creatively.

So if/when I find time, I’d like to; write blog posts like this, create graphics and slideshows, perhaps even videos and podcasts concerning the Studio Habits.


Partly because the articles and videos already out there are mostly aimed at K-5 & K-12 Art teachers. I have 6-12 Art students and like I just mentioned, everyone else. Parents, art hobbyists, novice artists, non-artists, business people, teachers in other disciplines, coaches, people who’ve always assumed that they’re art-impared!


Have you used the Studio Habits in your own art (or Art classroom?) what have your experiences with it been? Do you use them in grading art works? How do you teach them? Please share your ideas and experiences below in the comment section.

The Lost Art of Taking Notes


“…Using a pen and paper will help you learn and comprehend better. Researchers at Princeton University and UCLA found that when students took notes by hand, they listened more actively and were able to identify important concepts…” Six-brain-hacks-to-learn-anything-faster

Many students ritually complain about taking notes, but really, note taking is a powerful thinking and learning tool. Many adults find it very helpful not only to record and remember things, but also to help them figure things out and solve problems.

Open Note Policy

I allow students to use hand-written notes on tests and quizzes. In part this is to get them into the habit of note taking in order to prepare them for high school and college. One drawback of this policy unfortunately is that some students rely too heavily on finding answers in their notes instead of remembering what they’ve learned. As parents, you can help them my encouraging them to read over and review their notes during the week, especially the night before a quiz.

Part of Your Grade

I reward student for paying attention and taking notes by giving them credit for turning in completed notes. For chapter section notes are worth ten points per section. For most chapters, this will mean 40 points.

Missing Notes? Students who miss section notes due to absence should borrow a classmate’s and copy them. They can also look for the chapter & section on this website in the menu to the left, to find the Google Slideshow which contains the notes they missed. Really, since the notes are based on the textbook, if they print off the notes outline worksheet, you could help them complete the outline just by reading through the chapter section and deciding what information best fits in the outline.

Cornell Notes are worth 30 points, ten points for each step  in the Cornell process (each “box” on the page).

Repetition as a Learning Tool

Ideally notes help you learn first while you’re being introduced to new material, second when you review them (AKA “studying”) and a third time if you refer back to them to help you an homework or when completing projects and finally if/when you use them as a resource on an open-note quiz.

Five Ways Notes Improve Learning

  1. Increase Focus | Researchers believe students who hand write their notes seem to think more intensely about what they’re learning as they write it due to increased focusMiddle-schoolers are notoriously squirrely. Mindfulness and presence are buzzwords that essentially mean concentrating on what you’re doing and lengthening your attention span. 
  2. Understanding, Processing & Comprehension | Maybe it’s because you aren’t just listening or viewing but also having to record some of what you’re hearing/seeing and decide what and how much of it to write down, note taking uses more of your brain than seeing or hearing alone. More work, more benefits (“no pain, no gain”). Bottom line, note taking helps students actually “get” what they’re learning, not just be able to repeat it.
  3. Improves Memory & Retention | There’s lots of research that suggests students are more likely to remember information better when they take hand written notes. Part of that may just be the repetition of the extra step of not just seeing/hearing, but bothering to write it down, but much of it is due to using more of your brain and understanding the material better.
  4. RESPECT THE DOODLE! | One study reports that if you doodle on your notes you’ll remember 29% more of the information presented than if you don’t. That’s why I not only allow students to draw oon their notes, I ENCOURAGE it- not just because I’m also an Art teacher. I also URGE my fellow teachers of other subjects to allow kids to doodle on their notes too. Just like note taking itself, incorporating pictures into your notes improves attention, understanding and memorization. It super-charges your notes. Click on the “RESPECT THE DOODLE!” headline to read more.
  5. Boosts Creativity and Meaning | There’s an old saying that goes, “sometimes you can’t feel yourself into new ways of thinking; You have to think your way into new ways of feeling.” It’s not just positive psychology, it’s practical advice for learning. Students may not enjoy, appreciate or value material taught in a class because it doesn’t seem important, relevant or interesting. So instead of choosing to ignore the material because it’s boring- what if you could change your brain and your attitude toward the material? Believe it or not, taking notes  can help improve creativity and openess to new ideas. One study even claims that note taking is strongly linked to emotion processing– in other words, building an emotional connection to the material being learned, helping you “own” your learning.


Positive Teachers Matter


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

‘Faculty Lounge’ | Teacher tagged posts


This section of this blog is dedicated to learning, education, and the glorious professionals on the front lines of facilitating learning for kids.

orange-brain-RIGHTSome of these posts, beginning in August 2017 are related to my own “Personalized PD” journey. But many before and after may have to to with teaching in general or teaching either Art or Social Studies. Thanks for visiting. Feel free to follow, share and comment.