Monday, January 28, 2013

The Perks of Data

Pre-test grades earned by students
I am beginning the second week of my semester this week and learning a lot about my students. As I have talked about in previous entries, I have students fill out an “interest inventory” or get to know you assignment at the beginning of my class. This semester, I am also piloting a pre-test that measures what students already know about art. At the end of the class they will take this test again (with some different questions on the same information) to display the growth they have made in my course. My interest inventory has always told me much about what my students wanted to learn and what they already knew, but the pre-test has taken it to a new level. I am now able to gage the level of understanding for specific concepts. I put a question in the pre-test asking students if they had ever taken an art class before, it turns out that 55% have prior art experience while 45% do not. Almost half of my students are completely new to this subject so depending on their interests, they may have never drawn realistically before. I analyzed the data from the test to see what concepts students were widely familiar with and which they were often incorrect about. Students understood foreground, pattern, texture, portraits, primary colors, mixed media, and abstract art, or they were at least able to guess the correct answers for them. I was surprised to see how much they already feel comfortable with coming in. This tells me that when I get to these concepts in the curriculum, students won't need as much time in the lesson to focus on the terms, but perhaps we can spend more time going over examples and brainstorming for their projects. On the other hand, students were often incorrect on the questions about linear perspective, value, art criticism, and cubism. This data seems to match up with what are usually some of the most difficult lessons to teach. Having this information early will help me focus in on these lessons and provide multiple ways of learning. I added a question to my interest inventory that I found to be very helpful in understanding what methods I should use to teach these lessons. When asked which method students preferred for learning a new technique, they preferred demonstrations most often (see below).

Now I know what my students feel more comfortable with, what they will most likely struggle with, and how they learn best. With a class of 260 students, trends in data are very important to pay attention to! I will use this data to guide my instruction and look forward to seeing student growth at the end of my semester. 

Monday, January 21, 2013

Collaboration Between Students

Last week we closed up the first semester and I said farewell to my students. Two of those students are particularly special to me as they created an experience I didn’t expect to see in my large course of over 200 students. These students met in my class and became close friends. Every week of this semester I held an optional art sharing and critique day and the students who attended really gained a lot in their discussion skills and many of them created art outside of class to share during these sessions. Nearing the end of our class, I presented a project about Cubism in which students create two pieces of art, one being realistic and then a version of the first piece that reflects Cubism. The two students who became close friends asked me if they could work together and instead of changing their own pieces of art to reflect Cubism, they would like to change each other’s. The students met in our art critique sessions each week and shared in progress work while myself and their other classmates gave feedback. My students were able to collaborate and successfully completed the project, working off of each other's pieces of art to change them. It was a very positive experience for myself as a teacher to watch these motivated students work together (without the ability to speak with each other outside of class or in person). Next semester, I am planning to work with my Art 5 students to collaborate on a virtual class art show and I have high hopes for them after seeing these students use the tools and time we have to work together. Below you’ll see their finished pieces. 
"Realistic" by Barbara
"Cubist" by Bowen

"Realistic" by Bowen
"Cubist" by Barbara

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Trying New Things

I apologize for the lack of entries lately. Winter break kept me busy relaxing. I am now getting prepared for the second semester of this school year and the first time I will be teaching Art 5. I am excited to finally put the course to work and see how students respond. I also have added more assignments to Art 1 that align with the Common Core standards as well as a pre-test and post-test to measure student growth. Starting next school year, 50% of my evaluation will be measuring student growth in my class. Next semester the Art 1 classes will test a multiple choice, multiple answer, essay, and short answer assessment. I am very excited to see the results and also a little nervous to see how much my students learn and retain at the end of the course. The pre and post-tests include art history and media questions as well as well as questions that have students explain why they chose a particular answer for a previous question, as the PARCC test will do. Lastly there are two essay questions: one that asks students to write about the merits of art education in schools and the other a critique of a specific piece of art they have never seen. I will be sharing the results of the pre-test and I believe this data will help drive my instruction. Previously I have issued a survey for students to take where they are asked what they already know about art, rather than specific questions. I believe the pre-test will give me more specific results. Also, this semester I am taking a Spanish course online. This is the first course I have ever taken online and I am doing an experiment to see how I perform in such an environment. I am already starting to understand the perspective of my students and the challenges of self-motivation. I am hoping these findings will help me serve them better. Stay tuned!