Depending on space and time factors the display could be as simple as tacking the images up on a wall or as complicated as a mixed-media installation with great lighting. One idea to mitigate the time issue is to have the students help with the installation of the displays. My students have always taken this duty seriously and have participated with an enthusiastic attitude. It’s a great opportunity to encourage collaboration, creative problem-solving and empathy among the students as they work in a curatorial role. In short, displaying student work in any way is a positive and here are some creative display ideas I’ve been collecting, enjoy!
As an MYP teacher I’m always trying to keep up with all of the changes the IB likes to throw our way and figure out the best way to guide my students to achieve the highest marks for each arts criterion. As a moderator for the IB I’ve seen a variety of styles and formats for how to address Criterion A) Knowing & Understanding.
Criterion A: Knowing and understanding
Students discover the aesthetics of art forms and are able to analyse and communicate using specialized language. Students inform their work and artistic perspective using explicit and tacit knowledge alongside an under- standing of the role of the arts in a global context.
In my own classroom I often ask my students to investigate their subject and to demonstrate their understanding through a Process Journal entry, although this is not the only way the students can address Criterion A. The medium and form of the Process Journal entry could initially be created in their sketchbook or digitally in the form of a video/animation, graphic, or through a text-based program and would be scanned/saved in their digital Process Journal Blog.
Although the students have a lot of choice about how they could execute their entry there are a couple of non-negotiable elements such as:
The open-ended nature of these assignments can sometimes intimidate the students and they often want to revert to something they’re comfortable with like essay writing, which is a big no, no for me. I like to show them a lot of options of how they could structure their entries at the beginning of the course so that they can refer to them for inspiration and try different methods to see what works best for them and what works best for each topic they investigate.The challenge is to communicate their learning in a way that doesn’t read like a boring Wikipedia page but that also checks all of the boxes that they need to check for the criterion strands.
Some students also worry too much about making their entries 'pretty' because it's art class and they think that every entry needs to be decorated and scrap-bookish. I try to assure them that the criterion I'm assessing is about knowledge and understanding and not about anything decorative. The work should be readable and the design of the entry should serve the content.
Below are some of the structural ideas that I share with my kids to help them along.
Here are some samples of student Process Journal entries from sketchbooks that my MYP kids created that I thought hit the mark.
A student with nothing to do is not an option. Even when all of the classwork has been completed for the day and you don’t want anyone to rush ahead to the next task you still need something engaging for those students who just always seem to finish early. Having some stations available with art supplies they can use for independent art making, maybe some art books and magazines to flip through, some fun puzzles; these are all great options for those kids. However, I’ve found that directing them toward some online art games has been a big hit, especially with my middle schoolers but shockingly enough also fun for some of my 9th and 10th grade students! Eventually I would like to have students the create their own digital art games that can be included in this list of options.
I hope your students enjoy them as much as mine have!
TCK is the acronym for Third Culture Kid, which is a term that refers to children who were raised in a culture outside of their parents’ culture for a significant part of their developmental years. I’m a TCK, or I guess I’m a TCA, (Third Culture Adult), having been born and raised in the Middle East and Southeast Asia until I was 15 by American parents. As an international school teacher being a former TCK has given me the ability to empathise with my students on a level that my peers who were not TCK’s can’t. As an artist my convoluted background has definitely made it’s mark on my style and subject matter. I’m a typical white, American, brunette on the outside so it often strikes people as strange that I paint Indonesian and Chinese symbols and subjects in my autobiographical works. It can come across to some that I’m appropriating these cultural symbols in a way that’s contrived and disingenuous but the truth is that I feel very genuinely connected to them.
This case of mistaken identity reminds me of a time after I moved to the USA when I was watching the movie ‘The Joy Luck Club’ with a Korean American friend of mine. She looked very Korean but had been born and raised in Colorado. As we were watching the movie together during the scenes that were very traditional Chinese I would comment that it made me feel home sick and during scenes that were shots of mountains and wooded areas of the US she would say the same. To an outsider this must have looked strange but to us it made total sense. The Asian girl belonged in the mountains of Colorado and the American girl belonged in the markets of Southeast Asia.
Up until a couple of years ago I had never thought about writing an art unit inspired by this concept but that changed after listening to a conversation between a few of my 6th graders. It started with the dreaded question every TCK hates, “Where are you from”? One student simply asked another this question and it turned into a twenty minute long aside in the class that I was happy to let happen. It spurred a conversation that opened the eyes of the students in the class who were not TCK’s, (mainly Thai students who were attending the school in Thailand), and allowed the TCK’s to ‘come out’. The students started asking each other questions about their lives and family backgrounds, started identifying common experiences and feeling and new budding friendships followed. It was a great moment to witness and inspired me explore the theme with the same group of students the following school year in art class and to do some research to find works by practicing TCK artists, (see photos).
Above is an excellent TEDTalk video that addresses the main theme of the unit.
The unit I wrote was called:
‘What Makes a Home’
Key Concept: Identity
Related Concepts: Expression and Interpretation
Global Context: Identities and Relationships
Statement of Inquiry: Home is a word that is defined differently by each individual.
The students explored the inquiry questions through several activities, (maybe too many in my opinion, so I have included below the activities that I would actually use again and have omitted the ones that I thought weren’t as successful; full disclosure!), such as an artist study of an artist who focused on representations of their home, a life size body tracing and conceptual illustration of a TCK kid completed in groups, and plaster/foam board house sculptures decorated mixed-media illustrations as their culminating, individual works. The house sculptures were meant to take the universal symbol of a house as home and add their own twist and interpretation of what that means to them after having explored the concept for several weeks. I was pleased with how engaged the students were with the activities, going introspective is always a safe bet with middle schoolers but I could see it being a hit with high school aged students as well as long as the activities were appropriately challenging. This is a unit I will revisit when I’m teaching again, I would love to take the house sculpture to grander scale and have the students work together in groups of 4-5 to create home structures using materials such as bamboo, cardboard and scrap wood that the viewer can actually enter and engage with. As installation pieces I think the work could be seen by more people in the school community and the whole point is to start conversations about TCKism and how we can support and celebrate them in the international school community.
Mindfulness, it's the hottest game in town isn't it?! It's all over every ed blog, there are tons of books on it and PD about it. I'm completely on board with it and believe that it should be a crucial element of my teaching practice from now on. I've taught a range of students from a range of backgrounds and in a range of curriculums and they all would have benefited from mindfulness exercises and activities. I'm really excited about developing artistic mindfulness activities which I plan on using as warm-ups and cool-downs for each class in the future, and yes, that includes any future Diploma or AP classes that I teach. The older students need mindfulness just as much as the younger students and they so often get overlooked when it comes to 'extras' like that because they're so content focused. I've seen at least one Diploma student at each school I've worked at attempt suicide from stress. This is a shocking truth and reflects how out of balance their lives can get when they're entrenched in these demanding programs. I want to help my students to live in the moment, to relax, and to experience harmony in their school lives.
Starting and ending each class with a mindfulness activity will set a positive tone and will allow the students to be more productive during class time. Examples of such activities can be found here on my Mindfulness Pinterest board.
Seriously, it's time to get good, I mean really, really good with technology. This is something that I know all good educators are doing, and I consider myself to be better than average on the technology front. I mean, I've been using a class website for many years, have guided students with their blogs and I've guided students when using programs like Photoshop to make artworks but I've been realising more and more now that this just isn't nearly technologically current enough. The Arts, ironically enough, seem to be a bit of a haven for antiquated methods when it comes to technology and they really, really shouldn't be. It's easy for art, music and drama teachers to be purists when it comes to the tools that they use and I often hear complaints about how using technology takes the 'soul' out of the arts experience from teachers in my field. I don't agree with this sentiment at all because when I think of contemporary art I think of fine art, commercial art, communication arts, film and music which all have examples of digital products that I find to be extremely moving and soulful. Not embracing how technology can elevate the arts simply cuts off so many opportunities for our students. I still believe that the time old materials such as good old pencil and paper, paint, clay and plaster, etc are still valid and valuable, however, not integrating digital art mediums into the art curriculum in 2016 is just not going to fly anymore. It can no longer be something that techie, specialists arts teachers do, it really needs to become as natural as pencil and paper. I've been thinking a lot about how I can achieve a higher level of proficiency in the digital arts and how I can incorporate more relevant technology into my daily teaching practice. Online courses for Photoshop, Illustrator, Flash, and imovie are all on my to do list to up my game on those programs.
I also have plans to make the Process Journals in my classes digital, still using a traditional sketchpad when it's appropriate but then scanning and digitising the pages to make additional visual notes. This switch has a lot of benefits. It will make storing and saving the journals easier, no, "Sorry Miss I left my journal at home today". It will allow the students to pack more punch into their work through embedding links to websites, videos and images to give their entries more depth and breadth. It will even the playing field when it comes to readability. This is especially helpful in relieving the success gap between males and females in art class. Historically female students tend to make higher marks on their Process Journal assessments than male students and this has been linking to issues with handwriting. It will prepare the work for IB assessment because MYP moderation and Diploma assessments have now gone to a 'screen' format for the process element. Lastly it will make creating a true collaboration in the Arts in the MYP a reality through enabling the three sections; art, music, and drama; to share one, continuous Process Journal that would be able to stay live throughout the student's entire MYP journey.
Phew! I'm lucky that my husband is a tech coach at NIST!