The traditional project, where the art teacher has the entire class create the exact same thing, has never worked for me. Student's skills come at different levels, they have different interests, and enjoy working with different media. It make sense to run the art room as a studio where the student is the artist and is capable of deciding the what, why and how.
Many students appreciate, and take full advantage of the open art room. They formulate their own ideas and are diligent about bringing those ideas to fruition. With the room set up as so, I serve as a facilitator, making sure they have the materials they need, while providing guidance and assessment along the way. But to be fair, some students require assistance formulating ideas. They need a starting point. That's why the Nine was developed.
A Word about Artistic Behavior Units
If you're familiar with my teaching, before we get into the details of the Nine, you may be wonder why I'm not talking about Artistic Behavior units. In the book, the Open Art Room, Artistic Behavior Units are presented as an intermediate level of choice. If the Nine had been created before the book was published, I would have presented this concept as a beginning level of choice, designed for students who have little or no experience working in a student-directed classroom. Once the Nine are presented, a teacher could introduce Artistic Behavior units. I plan to discuss this later. However, one of the benefits of the Nine is that once implemented, it can catapult students from beginner to advanced, skipping the intermediate level entirely.
The Nine is a list of subjects that one would make art about (not style or genre or technique). The Nine include: Architecture, The Figure, Imagination, Landscape, The Portrait, Conceptual, The Object, Nature, and Non Representational.
We start by only introducing three of the Nine. The first three are Architecture, The Figure and Imagination. Each topic is presented to the students as a packet that contained the objective, questions for consideration, video tutorials for further exploration and examples of artwork. The students select one packet they wish to pursue. Together we answer the questions and try a few tutorials. The students then decide which of the three subjects they wish to make art about. They then plan and create a final work.
About a week or so after the first three packets are introduced, we introduce another three in the same way. The only difference at that point is that students could choose from all six. About two weeks more and the last three are introduced and the same process ensues, with an option for any of the nine using any medium they want.
More on the Nine, with samples and links here.
Allowing students to use any medium they want raises the next question. How do the students know about the different available media and how do they learn technique? Enter Media Bootcamp.
This is part three of a five part series. Read the rest here:
Part 1 Grading | Part 2 Reflection | Part 4 Introducing Media | Part 5 Teaching Technique
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The Open Art Room provides a student-centered approach to art instruction that is inspirational, practical, and classroom-tested.
Click Here to Read the March SchoolArts Magazine Article Tracking Student Progress with the Burn Book!
Click Here to Read the December SchoolArts Article, Build A Dynamic art Program with Modular Teaching!
Click Here to Read the February SchoolArts Article, How to Write an Artistic Behavior Unit