A place to see what is happening in Fine Arts at Rocky Mountain School for the Gifted and Creative

Thursday, August 25, 2005

school starts next week

The Start of Year Two - Choice based art@RMS

ART @ RMS- Nan Hathaway, Fine Arts Focus Teacher

”Art use to be a ten, now it’s a thousand.” ~ Tucker
This is the start of our second year offering art in a new way at RMS. Choice based art was piloted last year, so while returning families are familiar with the idea of Teaching for Artistic Behavior (TAB), I would like to describe the program to newcomers and recount some findings from the first year.

“I felt that I was making something that was my own.” ~ Naomi
Choice – based art education regards the student as artist. The classroom becomes an art studio where artists have the choice of materials and methods to employ to best communicate their ideas. In a choice-based environment, students have control over content, materials and approach. Art created from the meaningful content of student’s lives is authentic and often profound.

“You can have an idea in your head and you can lay it down.” ~ Ethan
Choice –based art education provides resources and opportunities to construct knowledge and meaning in the process of making art. Whole group instruction and demonstration is brief and frequent and covers all of the content expected and desired in a comprehensive art program. Students are exposed to many art concepts and may choose to try something different each week or continue on one piece for an extended period of time. Students are invited to structure time to fit the needs of their learning styles and the work they have chosen to pursue.

“I like it because it’s free. You can think of something you want to do and you can do it for 10 days or you can do it for 1 day, it doesn’t matter.” ~ Nathan

Choosing materials is an important part of the artistic process. Permanent arrangement of materials in centers allows students to plan artworks in advance of art class and return to what they need. Resources of the world of art, past and present, are readily available to students who find connections to their work in reproductions, books, websites and multi-media materials. An evolving, open-ended curriculum fosters a holistic learning process.

“I’m usually thinking: ‘I’m going to do that next art class’. I feel better doing choice art.”
~ Chris
In the choice studio, I am able to interact meaningfully with individual students and small groups. Students can choose to work alone or collaboratively and sometimes coach each other in their area of expertise. Through self evaluations, class discussions, artist statements and one on one student-teacher consultations, young artists assess their work and set direction. I asked students at the end of last year to help me evaluate our success. Should we continue exploring this new approach, or go back to a traditional art program? The quotes featured here are from that lively discussion.

“If we have something on our mind and we don’t have choice based art, it will drive us crazy”
~ Erica

Content taken, in part, from: The Knowledge Loom Website: http://knowledgeloom.org/practices3.jsp?location=1&bpinterid=1357&spotlightid=1357

Monday, August 01, 2005

the "sacred place" at Eagle Rock School, Estes Park

summer reflections

Today is August 1st. Still deep in summer.
I attended ArtSource Colorado in June, as part of the Content and Organization team. For a week in the mountains I renewed friendships, learned from other artists and professionals in art education, and made time to be an artist myself. I went prepared to further explore Pinhole Photography, having become interested in this technique while learning about it with my students last year, but to my surprise, I ended up crafting a small sculpture instead, which illustrated my transition over the passed year from teaching traditional art to teaching choice-based art. The ArtSource experience is a profound one, enriching me as an artist/art teacher on many levels.
Also in June, I taught a week long children’s watercolor camp for the city of Boulder Parks and Rec program, learning a great deal about various techniques and approaches in the process..
In July I spent hours at the Boulder Pottery Lab, as a teacher and a student. I participated in a class about firing, using different types of kilns and different types of clays, and I taught a children’s class. There is never enough time to sit at the wheel and make pots, but that is how I have spent any that I find.
Now it is August, and I find I am reflecting on the previous school year, evaluating successes and examining ways to make improvements. I have been reading a book called The Art of Teaching Art by George Szekely, who I met last March at the National Art Education convention in Boston. His book Encouraging Creativity in Art Lessons is a favorite of mine, and I am finding this new one inspiring as well.
I have been in and out of the art room at school all summer. Sometimes I just stand in the middle of the room and look about, considering the space and the possibilities. I’m not yet ready to return to school, but I look forward with pleasant anticipation to the start of a brand new school year.

"Outside The Box" A piece illustrating the transformation of my art program from a traditional program to a Choice-Based Program

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