Wednesday, October 3, 2018

An Open Invitation

To all of my wonderful art students, welcome.
I say welcome to this opportunity because it is just that - an opportunity for you to show me your work and your growth.
I know, I know...you do this each day you are in the studio, but I wanted to throw something new out there.

If we step back and we think about the big things that we've gone over with the foundational building blocks of art, we have things such as:
  • line
  • value
  • contrast
  • shape
  • proportion
  • hatch shading
  • smooth shading
  • etc etc etc
These vary slightly if you are in Art 1 or Art 2 (at least in terms of what we have focused on thus far), but all of these are important.

You pretty much always have simultaneous projects running in the studios between your "big" in-class projects and your Sketchbook (Art 1) or Independent Practice (Art 2), and what I would like to see as often as possible is that you are using the second of those to both have fun, but also show how those skills where you are less proficient are getting better. But there can be more...

So the opportunity comes in two forms:

First, come in at tutorial and/or after/before school. Many of you are just not using this time. Remember, tutorial times counts as minutes of instructional time, so please please use them. I know some of you do this, and your work is consistently better for it, but many more of you could be working during these hours each week. Trust me when I say it will give more growth, be more fun, and less stressful. Just try it out. Please (or did I say that already?!).

Second, if you want to use your time to create another drawing that shows you are getting better at the tasks that were put at hand during the still life drawing unit, please do. Create another pencil drawing that shows, for example: better hatch use, or wider a wider value for more contrast. If you want to do this and bring it in to be before November, I would be happy to work with you in a way that might increase the assessment of the still life drawing in Canvas.

I really am trying to give you the opportunity to show growth here.
What I want to see is how you can show me the initial still life drawing, what was said you needed to work on in the given feedback, and how you used those concepts to greater effect in a different final drawing.

If you want to discuss any of this with me during a tutorial I would be happy to. I won't remind you of this or talk about it in class, but I do want to give you the opportunity.
I believe in your ability to show growth, and this also gives you time - which hopefully, for those of you that desire it, will be of benefit.

Not everyone needs to do this, but if you desire this opportunity, please take it.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Grading Period 1

We are officially beyond the 1/6th mark of the academic year. Yikes. The grades have "rolled over" from one system to the next, and as I double check my work and prepare the next steps I'd like to step back and take stock.

First, there are a lot of students who will see an "I" in the Canvas gradebook, or get an "incomplete or missing assignments" comment in Aeries (once that is opened for student viewing). In fact, more than makes me comfortable or happy.

What I have learned the last two years is that this is part of the process when the process is the focus. What I have also learned is that not all students have learned to embrace the process; not all students have learned to learn from, or push themselves based off of, feedback; not all students are exceptional at following a protocol that is different than their other teacher.
This is part of my plight, and it is somewhat self-imposed. To a degree I have to be ok with that.

And I am, to a degree. I believe it is best for the students, and at least for the ones who take positive advantage of the given flexibility, it is best for their learning. I am not here to "punish", but here to push and teach and make everyone feel like they are going beyond their comfort zone.
That is where the good stuff happens.

If you are one of those people that see one of those "incomplete" things in Canvas or Aeries (later this week), you owe it to yourself to come have a conversation with me. Maybe it's too late to affect any change, but maybe not. We won't know until said conversation. If everyone shows up at once on one tutorial, I won't be able to see everyone, but please use a tutorial before the middle of next week to make the time for me.
Please.

On a more positive note...what a start to the year!
I have seen some great drawings and some great growth from all of my classes. I have enjoyed what we have done so far, and am excited about the processes we have on the horizon as they are some of my favorites of the year.
I'm enjoying getting to know those of you that I have, and I look forward to building an even more open environment as we get even more open work time over the next few months.

Remember, I'm here if you need me, and the studio is always open if you need a comfortable place to hang out and/or get some work done.

Enjoy your afternoon!

Monday, October 1, 2018

Get all the Dots

Art 1's, a successful beginning of the year has been had - kudos to all of you, but before we completely move on, let's take a moment to review.

Remember, any drawing that you are deciding to adjust based off the given feedback will get to me asap. Ideally this would mean this week. You do have, however, up to the 15th for any corrections.
Note: the still life arrangements will go bye bye after this week, so you probably want to photograph your view of your arrangement before that happens.
If you change your drawing, upload an updated version of it to Canvas - which can be photographed with your phone or the ipad since we won't be in class when you are doing this.

I will probably not do a lot of reminding so please keep that date well at hand. Also remember that you have a 4-day weekend coming up so that somewhat limits the time you have in school as well.

Next, since we are getting into the Pen and Ink season, I have a beginning video that would be very very helpful for you to watch before you get started in class.
Remember that ink is permanent so you can't really afford to make mistakes. Scratch paper at hand will always come in handy.
If you are having problems with the links to the video here, the same video is in Canvas, so you could watch it there.

Also, pay attention to the due dates for Ch. 2 of the sketchbook. The first one doesn't come up for a while, but don't let it catch you off guard. Please.

As always, let me know what questions I can answer. Smile!

Monday, September 24, 2018

Art 2 Important Reminders

Art 2's
Remember that Oct. 1st (next Monday) is the final date to adjust your still life based off the feedback you have received.
If you are making changes, don't forget to upload a finished/final photo before you submit your assignment to me again. Additionally, leave me a comment in the assignment that tells me what you did/changed.

As for Independent Practice...last week you filled out a self reflection. Not all of them are where they need to be. Once you read the feedback I gave on those and/or in the gradebook, see me if needed. There are several that are marked as "I" and shouldn't be. This may be a very simple fix, but it may need more from you.
You have this week to get this to where it should be.

Whenever you change and/or finish something, always upload a new photo documenting the newest version of the piece.


Sunday, September 23, 2018

Thinking About Finishing and Follow Up

Art 1's:
As we near the end of our first "big" project, I wanted to take a moment and encourage you to spend some time in the studio during out of class time this next week.
Some of you already do this regularly, but most of you do not. Please schedule this in.

Not only will some of you need it to finish your still life drawing well, but there is also the matter of your sketchbook. As most of you hopefully noticed, I got feedback into the Canvas gradebook before the weekend. For those that I didn't get to (yet), I should easily get that done at some point tomorrow.
You will have this coming week (the last of September) to use the feedback to make any adjustments and/or fixes to your work.

To remind you, I already have marks recorded separately from the online gradebook, but I know through research and experience that you won't really pay attention to that feedback the way it is intended to if you see a "grade" up front. After this week I will put your assessment in the gradebook, but if you have gone back and made adjustments, so will I.
Some people will see something like "great job", and will need to do nothing; many people need to do even the simplest things such as label everything properly; several of you will need to go back and show that you can shade with smudge shading while having the entire objects shaded (not just the edges) and without lines for definition. If you have questions, see me at tutorial. Please.


I am requesting your sketchbook by the end of this week for final assessment if you are going back to make adjustments. If you do not need to do anything, or just decide not to, you don't need to give it to me again.
If you go back and fix something, I need to see an updated photograph in Canvas that documents the changes made (ask me about this when you turn it in again).

I have put some more sketchbooks up along the window sill in class so all of you can see some of the interesting things your peers have done. If I don't have you in class tomorrow, you can still come and pick up your sketchbook at tutorial or after school if you know you want to have time to use the feedback I have provided - otherwise you will get it in class when I see you.

I hope you had a great weekend!

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Thinking About Assessment

As we are nearing the third week of the first grading period, a lot of grades will begin to turn up in both the Canvas and Aeries gradebooks.
I believe in a different form of assessment than many teachers, and it is certainly different than how I was assessed as a student.
I do not think you can do things the way they have always been done and find success in the same way.
I also do not believe that grades indicate learning. As a measurement tool they have plenty of things wrong with them.
Unfortunately for me they are a way of life for our students and our larger school community.

What I know is that if a student is present, working, and thoughtfully putting marks on a page/canvas that they will improve and show growth. They will also find out more about themselves and learn processes that are important to their development as individual humans - and individual humans that exist in a community.

While this is very lofty sounding indeed, there is truth in it.
It is about the learning, not about the grade. We all know that students have ways of achieving an "A" but not really and truly mastering the content. Unfortunately there is a lot of grade inflation and students (and families) too often expect a superior mark for less than superior performance.

With that said, I do have a process that I have been developing, and since we are getting to the point of having larger and finished projects coming up - and since the school requires marks in a gradebook - I wanted to share my general process with you.
This general process also links to a grading policies document - that includes a percentage scale - if you are interested.

Have a great day!

Friday, September 7, 2018

A Good Morning Follow Up

While I begin my second cup of coffee this morning, I'd like to say a big thank you to everyone that was able to make it to BTSN last night. It's a long day for everyone, but I do get jazzed with all of the parental units coming into the spaces that I get to call a home-away-from-home.
Even after all these years the rooms are still a work in progress, but I kind of like it that way. You know, my penchant for process and all that.

Over my FIRST cup of coffee there was a great article I read about how beneficial mistakes can be to the process of learning, so you might be interested in it as well.

I mostly say the same things in each class at BTSN, but since I have five times I have to repeat myself in a short period of time I know each class got slightly different information as well. I'll try to keep it brief.


It is important to me that my students are willing and thoughtful. There is no substitute for putting "marks in a page". I need something to go off of to help them.

The students need to own their own learning. I will give vast feedback and help, but I can't read minds, and if they are struggling or frustrated it is best if they find a kind and appropriate way to communicate that with me.

Feedback is important and I expect them to read all of the feedback given and use it/respond to it via making their work stronger. I put a lot of comments into the different items listed in the grade book, so that is a great way to stay current and up to date - if you have that sort of interest even as a parent.

I believe in adjustments and do-overs whenever possible. Which goes along with the above statements.

Growth is what I want to see. After doing this for so many years it is very easy to tell if true and conscientious effort was put forth. It is painfully obvious to me if something was rushed at the last minute, and rushing physical products at the last minute is the best way to ensure less than desirable results.

I expect the students to engage in the curriculum. Sitting idly by - which some are wont to do - is a bad idea and will not only not help them, but it will not get them where they likely want to be. Just being in the room and not disrupting the process isn't enough. Engagement means a lot more to me that just being present. I do not need perfection. I do need thoughtful engagement. I know from experience that if the student is truly trying then decent (if not good - or great) product will result.

The use of tutorial time on a consistent basis will make this class better for everyone involved.

I am also here before and after school and I strongly encourage the students to use the studio during those times as well. Even if they aren't working on Art, but they need a good place to be, I hope they make the studio a home.

Did I mention that tutorial is super important to use yet?


We have been off to a good start, and, as I do each year, I am so excited that I have to reign myself in from trying to do too much too soon. I just love what I teach, so what can I say?!

If you've made it this far, yeah for you. The last thing I would ask (and this is totally optional) is if you have another moment to share a short anecdote about your child, that would be rad.
You can use THIS LINK if you are so inclined.

Thank you again!


Monday, August 27, 2018

~30%

Art 1's:

I won't always write to tell you stuff like this since you should be getting in the habit of checking Canvas on a regular basis yourself, but it is the beginning of the year so I'd like to make some exceptions when applicable.

I have looked at and assessed/commented on all the gesture/blind contour/contour drawings that were turned in.
Approx. 28-30% of you have assignments marked as incomplete.

It is your responsibility to fix this during tutorial and/or after school. Please do this asap and get what is needed back to me. I do not chase students down for these, but when grading periods roll around you need to have marks for everything in the gradebook that are not "incomplete".
If you are "incomplete" that is also what you will get for the grading period...which is not so ideal.

Again, see me at tutorial (if you come into tutorial during the last half on orange days you'll need to find me in room 502 - the advanced art room). Let me help you out and get you to where you need to be.

And while we are here, check your Screenshot/Upload and Engagement Sem 1 assignments and make sure you have the right photos in the right place there as well please.

Cheers!

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Hey Art 4's

I found out about THIS, so I decided to set myself up for a little fun with you Art 4 students. I mean, I miss spending time with you, so maybe we can get together if you aren't too busy.
Place: 501 - your long lost Art 1 room.
Time: tutorial - I'll be back in the room about five min after tutorial begins
Date: Tomorrow, Friday, 8/24

I have at least enough to get started.

I also know that not everyone is on this distribution list, so please share this blog link with the other Art 4 students in your class.

Happy almost Friday!

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Tues Tutorial for A3/A4 Students

If you would like a further explanation as to why I am not teaching Art 3 or Art 4 this year, please come to room 501 (the Art 1 room) during tutorial on Tuesday.
Or rather, please come soon after tutorial starts. I'll begin explaining around 9:50 or so.

Thank you to those of you who came to see me last week. You helped make me quite happy at the beginning of this difficult transition.

Also, please please please share this time/place with others that are in Art 3 and Art 4. I am attempting to send this message out via Remind and Canvas, but I'm not 100% sure everyone will get it (esp several current Art 3's). I would love to see everyone just for the sake of my own joy!

See you soon. I hope you are having a relaxing weekend!

Smith