It is somewhat challenging to think about assessment as a retired art educator...but I have some strong feelings about the topic, many of which I can trace back to my Project Zero experiences:
· Assessment is part of instruction and informs it.
· Learning is growth over time.
· Assessment should be continuous and ongoing, not something that occurs at the end of an experience.
· All of us need to learn to assess our own work.
· There is no such thing as failure in art, only an opportunity to grow.
As a retired educator, I am currently working as an artist, in my own studio. How do I assess my own work? Is it any good? Where do I go from here? What should I leave behind? Well, those sentences above still resonate. They are the questions every artist, from kindergarten through old age, must ask him/herself. One thing I have been doing to help the self-assessment process is something I did for students when I taught--put everything, finished or unfinished, up on the wall, so I can SEE it. Another thing is a critique group the retired art educators in my area have recently formed. Each month, we meet at someone's house for a meal and then we look at the work that artist has been working on. We don't have a formal process, but our approach is much like the PQP (Praise, Question, Propose) process I used during my teaching years. My month was in December and the words of my friends and fellow artists still float through my mind as I work and then stand back to look at what I have done. Assessment...it is ongoing and it does inform the work!
Robot Word Webs
Gretchen Solinger, Student Representative
I recently completed my student teaching experience and had the opportunity to try out many different types of assessment, as well as observing how my cooperating teachers handled assessment and evaluation. I noticed there was a big push for literacy in all subjects in my school district, so for most of my projects I tried to find ways to incorporate writing in assessment.
My biggest project over the course of my student teaching experiment was a five-week robot relief sculpture with 3rd grade students. In order to assess the robots, I researched different types of brainstorming activities for creating a piece of writing. I decided to have students write a couple sentences about their artwork, describing color, shape, and texture. I had students sit with their finished piece and create a word web that allowed them to focus on words, not creating complete sentences. The students then used the word web to create a couple sentences that described their robot. This way, I was able to determine how well the students understood vocabulary from the lesson and the students had an easier time writing because of the word web. I was really pleased with how well the students did, and the students enjoyed sharing their word webs and descriptive sentences.
How do you assess your art students?
Julie Adams, Secondary Division Representative
With all the initiatives set upon teachers and the new assessment objectives implemented, I guess I am feeling overwhelmed. I am a veteran teacher at a new school, so I am being observed as a new teacher. Keeping up with all the standards, surveys, SLO data is a lot. I cannot imagine all the reading that the principal has to do on top of it all. I really feel this has got to change somehow. I have heard more and more stories of working long hours and unhealthy stress trying to keep up.
However...despite my reservations, all of this data collecting has made me take a look at how I assess my students. I have looked again at the state standards, the core standards, and targets to make sure my students are at the right level for which grade they are in. I have redone most of my assessments to include a self-assessment. I have also included a midpoint critique during each assignment. I hold critiques as assessment during final exams for high school. The students write critiques for their own work and the work of their peers, answering open-ended questions to help them think.
I think it both challenging to assess art work and I feel art teachers have the best way to assess students’ learning because visual proof is sometimes the best way to tell if someone is learning.
I attended a Cooperative Educational Service Agency (CESA) workshop, Literacy and Assessment in the Fine Arts, given by Julie Palkowski from the Department of Public Instruction. She was very informative and invited us to contact her anytime or to visit DPI’s website to obtain information about assessment or how we address literacy in the arts. She encouraged us to invite others as well. I am now inviting you to check out all the information on the DPI website.
Another good source is the Art of Education website. I receive weekly emails from them with tips and information.
As always, if you have anything to share or would like me to check out anything for you, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Assessments in a Minute
By Dustin Anderson
Elementary Art Representative
Arriving to school early to unload the kiln, cut paper, attend a staff meeting, organize daily materials, and empty the drying rack are just a few of the time consuming preparatory activities an elementary art teacher endures everyday. Before you know it a single file line of eager kiddos are filing through your door. They expect to have their full art time filled with learning and hands-on fun. Without a breath you realize that another grade of students is lined up and the revolving door in the art room begins. Without any preparatory time between classes to get supplies ready or even take a bathroom break, sometimes our days turn into late nights.
So where do we find time to properly assess what our students have learned in art? Rubrics are a great tool to evaluate a student’s artwork, but what about the wealth of knowledge we teach them everyday before the paint starts flying and the clay blobs get smashed to the floor? In this day and age we have been forced to come up with creative ways to assess our students that will not take away from their hands on work time. Here are just a few examples of easy “minute” assessments that you might find useful in your classrooms.
Exit Tickets: Exit tickets are quick, easy, and provide instant feedback. You can create your own exit ticket by creating a template with a simple question on it that your students must fill out in the last couple of minutes before exiting the room. The question should be broad: What did you learn in art today? Did you hear anything that surprised you today? What was your favorite part of the art project we finished today? Students can quickly write down a sentence or two and place their exit ticket into a labeled pocket with their classroom teacher’s name on it before they proceed to line up at the door.
What Stuck With You? Board: End each class by giving your students a quick minute to turn and talk. Call on several students to come up to a bulletin board and write one thing that stuck with them on their post-it note. Have the selected students read to the class what they wrote on their note. Before you know it, you will have a full board of important information that your students have learned from your great lessons.
Show Me 1,2,3: Have the students show you using their fingers how well they understand the information that you wanted them to learn in your lesson. Showing 1 finger means they “got it.” Showing 2 fingers means they “almost have it.” Showing 3 fingers means they are “trying to get it.” This is a great way for you, as a teacher, to judge how well your lesson was received.
Bullseye!: Create a laminated target for each class. Before class ends, ask students to take a post-it note and place it on one of the three circles of the target. Each circle is labeled with a question pertaining to your goal for the lesson. This is a great way to judge knowledge in a minute that can be looked at when you have a bit of free time.
There are many great assessment tools that can easily be adapted to your art room that will not require you to infringe on your students hands-on time. It's time for you to get creative and share some of your own minute assessments.
I was happy to see that the WAEA conference theme of “art connects us” helped to represent the work of many art educators from higher education who use art not only to discuss how different interpretations are filtered through diverse ways of knowing, but also to highlight the ways in which they collaborate with others in their projects. Such presentations as Dr. Laura Trafi-Prats’ “Transactional Art Pedagogies: The Role of Play and Collaboration in Fostering Higher Thinking Skills and Authentic Learning,” and Mr. Jacobo Lovo and Dr. Kim Cosier’s “Milwaukee Visionaries Project: Exploring Youth Led Stories of Urban Life” focused on collaboration among art educators to facilitate art production among children through the exploration of materials and in relation to personal or cultural narratives. They teach youth that art has many purposes including for protest, cultural justice, and social equity; play; and interdisciplinary understandings.
Furthermore, WAEA partnered with different community resources to present Saturday workshops for the first time. These community resources included the John Michael Kohler Arts Center (JMKAC), Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design (MIAD), and the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee (UWM). Each venue allowed participants to work with artists and have a sustained amount of time to explore different processes and materials to produce works, including an animated storybook, a colorful aluminum anodized bracelet, and a pressure print. The use of community resources introduces participants to a larger variety of artistic practices that construct the identity of any cultural location through its offerings.
Fig 1. Frankie Flood Leading Dyeing Metals: Aluminum Anodized Bracelets at UWM
Fig. 2. Jessica Meunick-Ganger Leading Pressure Printing at UWM
I was involved in organizing and participating on a panel discussion called “Forging Ahead with the edTPA,” with higher education colleagues Marcia Thompson from the University of Wisconsin, La Crosse; Dr. Laura Trafi-Prats, University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee; Elizabeth Rex, University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, and Dr. Tami Weiss from the University of Wisconsin, Stout. The multiple perspective two-part session represented the three parts of the edTPA examination, including planning, instructing, and assessing, and its five components, including planning instruction, assessing, analyzing teaching, and academic language use. The panel focused on how all the parts are aligned through a constructivist approach to curriculum design using scaffolded activities and on how higher educators and cooperating teachers can advise teacher candidates on the examination. Participants discussed their challenges and successes in implementing the examination through their courses and audience members contributed their knowledge as well.
The 2014 WAEA Conference in Milwaukee this last month was a fantastic success. I was so inspired by speakers, conference organizers, and the number of art teachers from all over Wisconsin who attended the conference. As an art education student, I am new to the field and am still trying to make connections with other teachers in the state. I was able to meet many new educators and catch up with teachers I worked with in the past. I felt so fortunate to be considered a part of this huge community of talented people!
I was honored to give a presentation on the use of contemporary artists in lesson planning with my co-student representative, Callie Spaltholz. We had a huge turnout of almost 40 teachers and we even needed additional chairs! We shared our experiences of finding ways to incorporate local or contemporary artists into lesson plans for elementary, middle, and high school students. While Spaltholz shared her experiences with elementary school and correspondences with professional artists, I described my experiences at the middle and high school level.
During my experience with a fifth grade science teacher for a semester, I had the opportunity to work with the students on a project that I aligned with their science learning. The students were working on an endangered animal report and one requirement of the report was that they needed to create an illustration of the animal. I showed students the work of contemporary artist Walton Ford and illustrator Duncan Beedie. Ford has a very realistic style and Beedie has very stylized illustrations. We talked about how the students could try for perfect realism or develop their own drawing style.
I chose to show Walton Ford to the students because his work reflects social issues through the use of expressive animal paintings. The big idea of the lesson was the concept of “awareness,” so talking about artwork that can inform viewers of issues was a perfect fit. I also tied the concept of awareness into the students’ project. Since they were required by their teacher to choose an animal that was threatened or endangered, I required the students to “spread awareness” about the reason their animal was at risk in their artwork. Instead of focusing on making a simple drawing of the animal, students pushed themselves to create realistic or stylized drawings, inspired by the artists I presented.
As for my presentation on lessons at the high school level, I discussed various projects I have developed for my students during my current student teaching experience. One of the projects I presented dealt with the big idea of “identity.” My placement at an urban high school in Milwaukee presented me with many rewards, challenges, and great practice at creating lessons for students with varying skill levels. I worked with a group of kids who ranged from grades 9 through 12. I wanted to use an artist whose style would encourage working hard, not simply drawing well. I chose to present the students with artist Jean Michel Basquiat to show how great composition, repetition, and other simple formal qualities make a great piece of art. I asked the students to develop symbols, words or short phrases, and a simplified drawing of themselves in order to create a self-portrait. Students also created a ground on their paper of different colors, which really alleviated the anxiety of the white page. By using an artist who excelled at elements of drawing other than realism, students of all skill levels were inspired and able to succeed.
We had a really positive response from attendees of our presentation and we were so glad to share the information. I am so humbled by the kind words and excitement about our experiences from the teachers who joined us for our presentation. Being a part of WAEA is such an honor. I am so happy to be a part of a state with such an amazing community of educators!
This was my second fall conference with WAEA and I was so excited that it was being held in my hometown. Milwaukee has so much to offer in terms of art and education and it was inspiring to see so many educators gathered in one place.
My fellow representative, Gretchen, and I presented a session on how to incorporate contemporary artists into lesson planning. We gave examples and ideas for elementary, middle and high school lessons. This year, we switched things up and made our presentation through Prezi, which is an online, virtual presentation board, much like a whiteboard. It is engaging, interactive and much more dynamic than a PowerPoint. We had great reactions to our Prezi, so if you have not played around with Prezi yet, you must check it out! (Prezi.com) Our presentation had a great turnout of over 40 attendees!
It was a good experience to show established art educators from around the state some of our favorite contemporary artists and where to find them. Gretchen and I paid homage to what we are currently learning in our studies at UW-Milwaukee’s art education program and it was well received by those in our session. Our session also hit on the conference theme of how art connects us. Many of the artists that we talked about in our session are people that we have made personal connections with through our lesson planning. I have experienced collaborations with artists at Bruce Guadalupe, the site of the conference, and in my own experience as well. The two keynote speakers, Reginald Baylor and Raoul Deal, are prime examples of contemporary artists that you could reach out and make connections with.
I enjoyed the breadth of the conference, as some sessions extended to different parts of the city. I am glad that conference attendees were able to get out of the conference walls and see the city and what it has to offer. I know for me that it always is a pleasure to be able to take a break and explore new things when you are traveling for a conference. After the many long nights Gretchen and I put into our presentation, it was nice to wind down, or wine down, at the MIAD Frederick Layton art gallery. Again, it provided space to collaborate and connect with friends, conference attendees and art educators. We had an amazing spread of food, drinks and entertainment!
Overall, the best part of being on the board for WAEA is all the connections I am building with educators across the state of Wisconsin. My two-year term as student representative is ending this year, but it doesn’t feel like the end for me. Gretchen and I plan to keep building relationships and stay involved with art education in Wisconsin. I hope to see everyone again in the future! If you did not attend our session but would like information, check out the WAEA Conference Google Drive for our documents or e-mail me at email@example.com!
WAEA Elementary Representative
The 2014 WAEA Fall Conference has come to a close. It is again that time of year when we all go back to our daily routines implementing new ideas and concepts we inherited from a speaker, a workshop, or a vendor during two great days at the WAEA conference. Although the WAEA fall conference is perhaps one of the most popular professional development activities art teachers endure during the school year, don't let it be the only one. WAEA board members work hard to provide opportunities to members all over the state throughout the year. Maybe you have heard of some of these workshops that have been offered annually in the past.
Lesson Exchanges: Lesson exchanges have become popular events that have been hosted at local schools, museums, and art supply companies. Lesson exchanges are a great way to get fresh new ideas to take back to your classroom. K-12 lessons are discussed and can usually be adapted to any grade level that you may teach. Educators who attend walk away with a binder of lesson plans along with an unprecedented amount of resources and support. Black River Falls and Wisconsin Rapids hold lesson exchanges annually in February. Other locations have appeared in the past couple of years as well.
MPS Meeting of the Minds: Milwaukee Public School art teachers annually hold a dinner gathering to support and advocate for art in the MPS system. Dani Graff, WAEA Treasurer, has been spearheading this event for the past couple of years. This is usually a summer event prior to the start of the school year.
S.T.E.A.M Workshop: S.T.E.A.M. Workshops have been held at the University of Lacrosse for the past several years. The workshops are full of information and hands on activities that assist in incorporating the arts into core curricula like science, technology, engineering, and math. The last S.T.E.A.M. Workshop was held in October, but rumor has it that the one-day event will be turning into a “conference” of its own. How exciting! Stay tuned for more details.
Discounts on Workshops: WAEA members receive special savings on registration to WAEA workshops. This year $25.00 off registration was given to educators enrolled in Rhinelander School of the Arts, the S.T.E.A.M workshop, workshops held at John Michael Kohler Arts Center, and workshops held at UW-Milwaukee. Keep watching your email for great savings that only WAEA members receive.
Stay on the lookout for 2015 professional development opportunities sponsored by the WAEA. If you have other ideas for professional development or would like more information about current offers, please contact me:
WAEA Elementary Representative
I always feel connected when I attend an art conference. The attendees and presenters lift me up and everyone is in a good mood. But this fall conference had a feeling of real heart and real energy.
Everything from the keynotes to the member art show and award ceremony told a story of how we need to be in tune with each other, make connections wherever and whenever we can, and find connections that speak to you—as an artist, an art educator, and as an individual.
Keynote speaker, Reginald Baylor, told us to help students make connections and reminded us that an average 6th grader should know a famous artist, just like they might know a famous athlete. In addition, Raoul Deal reminded us to connect to where we came from and let students connect through meaningful collaboration.
Jen Dahl reminded us that we all have leadership skills, even if we feel we are quiet. We all have skills that can be used to connect each other. I also really enjoyed Maria Mason’s session about “How to Find Your Own Groove.” I liked how she connected with several different methods of teaching through her experiences and made her own style of teaching. The photos she showed and her inspirational talk surely proved that she was connected to her students.
I think my favorite part was the awards ceremony for outstanding art educators and others who have done their part to bring the arts to others and us through education or other connections. Their stories were motivating, encouraging all of us follow our passions and share the visual arts with others. Most of the award acceptance speeches brought emotions of happiness and sincere gratefulness to my heart. They made me want to go back and spread the word and work hard in the most wonderful job in the world.
If you would like to connect with me, for anything at all, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.