This year, I am implementing more Teaching for Artistic Behavior strategies in my art room with regularly scheduled free-choice art center days in our regular rotation between bigger portfolio/whole group projects.
Since I am rather new to the free choice way of thinking, I did not have very many supply-heavy centers ready when school started. Since I only offer the centers once every-other week, I also cannot change my room too much to accommodate an entire sculpture corner so I have to be creative with what centers I have open and when. Implementing a variety of centers that address the huge variety of learning styles and trying to provide stuff for kids to do that are not 'babyish' and that are still cool to my middle school students was challenging and a little daunting at the beginning of the year.
Generally, drawing and 'research' are always open, allowing students to thumb through packets of images, info, and drawing guides. Collage is always open. I also have a 'architecture' center which consists of legos, blocks and marbles (my students love to set up 'marble runs'), and a couple of other rotating manipulative kits that I have.
Sometimes iPads are an option for centers, and I explained in the beginning that students should use them for setting up green screen movies, stop motion movies, designing video games, and also creating movie trailers and a few suggested apps. My iPads had Google Earth and a couple of other apps that students would just seemingly waste time on, so I ended up taking some of the apps off, in order to encourage them to create something!
I've been pleasantly surprised that many students would rather create something with wire or popsicle sticks than numbly play an iPad app. The difficult thing about supply-heavy activities in TAB, is that I don't have storage space for large sculptures and many of those things run dry if I don't monitor how much is used on a student-by-student basis. Which is a killer for creative ideas. SO many times, students want to make something with TONS of supplies and I have to limit them in some way because I just don't have enough for everyone to do that.
The nice thing about having technology in the rotation, is that it uses almost no supplies. The video game design app has a paper template that I keep copies of for students to use, and I have a tub of supplies for green screen movies (green gloves, some cardboard painted green, green straw from starbucks for puppet show movies, and lots of toys for students to practice using in front of the cameras.)
Each class period when centers are open, I spend a little time introducing a new special center, like chalk or stippling with ink, or styrofoam or dice games or artist trading cards. Sometimes the special center reinforces something we are doing in class or relates to seasonal subject matter like fall or halloween. Some students work on WOW pieces like weavings, which take several class periods to finish. Others always go for the special centers. Some want iPads every single time. Others work in teams to set up a marble run or build a tower or use modeling clay with the modeling clay tools. This year, following our weaving unit, I opened weaving and sewing---allowing students the opportunity to use fibers in new ways---awesome and successful centers!
If students finish a project early, iPads are usually never an option for free time activities---the only time they have free choice on the iPads are on Free choice day. On regular art days, if students finish early, I have an activity cart with books, origami paper, collage materials, drawing paper and usually some type of coloring sheet. Occasionally, I will allow a responsible and trustworthy student to look up something to reference online, but I try to limit that, because they typically spend WAY too much time searching. Often, I will find a picture and we will both agree on it, and I will let them look at it---like if they want to see an eagle landing or something specific like that.
We have used iPads to enhance 2 projects this year. Once, we used them to take a 'selfie' and upload it to google drive so I could print it for each student. The second time we used the iPads, students worked in pairs to enhance their understanding of 1 and 2 point perspective and design a structure using perspective. I gave them links and vides and photos to help explain perspective, after we had practiced as a class in our sketchbooks---some kids just weren't getting it, so I was a little desperate to find different ways to show them how it worked. I also let them look at some visuals of structures, like mansions, tree houses, castles, and other places as inspiration for their structures. I had a bunch of examples on a smore flyer. (More about that lesson later). It was nice to have TONS of visuals at their fingertips, as I do not have a bunch of prints of those types of images.
The week of Halloween, we had a weird shortened schedule for two of our sessions, so I checked out the chrome book cart from the computer lab and had students take a Kahoot quiz. The quiz is super interactive and it is a great formative assessment tool. Since we were only together for 20-30 minutes, it was nice to play a review game instead of trying to get out supplies and then spend a bunch of time cleaning up. We were productive and it was super fun and engaging.
Below is a collection of images I have taken throughout the semester. Most of the photos are of 'WOW' pieces, in which students are very proud to show off their work, and they spend multiple art sessions on the project. Other photos are in progress of the centers in action.
When students arrive to my class, I always have them fill out a slip---sometimes they draw, sometimes we review, other times I ask them questions. Here is an info graphic with the question on my poll. I took their slipps, counted all the yeses/nos and compiled some of my favorite responses to the 'Why and Why Not.' The results are below. Please take the time to read some of the responses. I was very surprised by what they said.