Charles Frederick Kimball
Visual Arts Lesson
Teacher Reflections by Sherman Kendall
Student motivation was very high for this project. They were proud of their work and performed at a much higher level than expected. For the students, this previously unrealized talent to achieve has taken on a life of it’s own. In the later lessons, all the students were well behaved and eager to do their best. They have become better listeners and therefore better learners because they were much more focused. I think they discovered a new vision of themselves as artists and as students and therefore were more motivated. A big part of this process for the students was the connection between creating the paintings in the art class, then writing poetry in their classroom. They reached a higher level of achievement in both art and literacy through this project. The students have grown in individual and unique ways that we did not expect.
Things that students responded to in this lesson included the watercolor techniques and using high quality materials, like real watercolor paper and a variety of good brushes. They felt like real artists because of the quality of the materials. Building the vocabulary throughout the lesson made them feel “smarter” as they discussed their own work and the work of their peers. They also enjoyed signing their work and giving titles to their paintings, things that “real” artists do.
Assessment is a key ingredient in any activity. In the art classroom, assessment can take many forms. In my classes, the simplest way to see if a student has mastered a skill or vocabulary word is to talk directly to the student, using simple questions and student response, determine the level of understanding. This can be done while the student is working and then they can refine the work, or of a part of a group share when work is complete. Grading rubrics designed with student input is effective, as well as peer review. Peer review is valuable as students learn to discuss artwork and their feelings about their own creations. Students start to use higher order thinking skills of compare and contrast, analyzing, and problem solving as they make artistic choices. Writing reflections about their work strengthens their thinking, especially through questions like, “what would you change if you could?” and “what advice would you give another student who is doing this activity for the first time?” I could see what the students retained from week to week through the conversations about Twilight at Stroudwater and their own paintings. The weekly review of goals, skills, and vocabulary required patience but helped the students maintain continuity.