Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Creating a Community

Topics for today's critique

Today I held an in progress critique with my students over my live teaching software. They are currently in the middle of a Watercolor project in which they create multiple paintings over several weeks. They have been studying Art Criticism through a paper this quarter, and they are starting to feel more comfortable with the idea of exploring and talking about art in a deeper way than “I like it” and “It’s pretty”. One of the barriers I spoke about in my last entry in regards to a community experience in the art classroom is what I aimed to overcome today. Yesterday I sent out an email to my students asking for volunteers to share their watercolor paintings with the class. I had a good group of students who were excited to share their work. I compiled a powerpoint with the images of student work (another plus to online teaching, I always have a digital copy!) and some guiding questions for them. In the beginning, students were shy and quiet. I encouraged them to use their microphones to make the discussion more natural and some did. I started by prompting them with the questions but as time went on they no longer needed prompting and the discussion had really taken off. My students were thrilled to share what they had made, as well as give feedback to their classmates. Some talked about the techniques they had tried with the watercolor and what worked well. Some even asked their classmates how to recreate aspects they liked from the work they had seen. During this critique they became a living, breathing, virtual community. Many students were able to gain insight into their classmates’ concepts and technique, as well as inspiration for their future artworks. One of my favorite quotes from students today: “You guys get me.” In my experience, students aren’t always excited about critiques. However, in my classroom today I have never seen my class so excited to be a part of something. They thirst for this kind of interaction and feedback from their peers and even through a virtual environment students are able to have meaningful discussions and relate to each other. I’ll definitely be having more of these!

Some examples of student work from the Watercolor project:

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