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Their Work, Not Mine.
theirworknotmine2014.blogspot.com
#theirworknotmine2014
Rebecca Roberts
In 2003 I replaced a teacher who was retiring after 30 years, at a high school in Brooklyn,
New York. Filing cabinets line...
I now teach at a small private school on the outskirts of Boston. 
At my school, seniors take a class in called Senior Stu...
The search for a theme begins by reading the newspaper. My students are well
informed about current events, but they do no...
We discuss the students’
findings and build a list of
possible themes to make art
about. There is a lot of debate
about wh...
Students commit to one theme for the entire term. The goal is to choose something
that is broad enough so they can explore...
The web becomes a road map for the rest of the term.
Students use the same newspapers from which their themes came to create their first
work of art, The Newspaper Project. Th...
I feed the following steps to students a few at a time to avoid over-planning.
• Cover 20% of the paper with full strength...
At this point many layers have been added and much work has been done. We slow
things way down and I ask students to study...
At this point lots of editing happens and hard choices are made.
Newspaper Project, by Rory Martin, 10th grade.
Ink, gesso, stickers, pencil, marker, and newspaper on paper. 
Theme: Enter...
Newspaper Project, by Maddy Cary, 12th grade.
Xerox, marker, stickers, colored pencil, oil pastel, gesso, ink, and newspap...
Newspaper Project, by Kent Ellertson, 10th grade. 
Ink, gesso, stickers, oil pastel, and newspaper on paper. 
Theme: Power...
Students settle into their theme. They also learn new techniques and
materials and discover the power of working in layers...
The Translucency Project
A project that asks students to think about an aspect of 
their theme as it exists over time or t...
We explore working with wax, tracing paper, acetate, and acrylic mediums. Also, at
this point I stop giving students a sur...
Translucency Project, by Emma Lynch, 12th grade.
Xerox, marker, tracing paper, found objects, and wax on board. 
Theme: Ev...
Translucency Project, by Emma Welch, 10th grade. 
Fabric, plastic, magazine, paint, and found negatives, with wood frame.
...
Translucency Project, by Clare Eberman, 10th grade. 
Marker, plastic, tissue paper, and xeroxes, on found canvas. 
Theme: ...
The Pattern and Repetition Project
A project that asks students to think about how their theme is understood by the world ...
Pattern & Repetition Project, by Rory Martin, 10th grade. 
Spray paint and block print on found blueprint.
Theme: Entertai...
Pattern & Repetition Project, by Remi Shore, 10th grade. 
Spray paint, block print, and ink on found map.
Theme: Belonging...
Pattern & Repetition Project, by Joey Searle, 10th grade. 
Spray paint on found canvas. 
Theme: Life and Death.
Pattern & Repetition Project, by Marc Davis, 11th grade.
Spray paint, xerox, acetate, and paint marker on found canvas.
Th...
The curriculum is layered and projects overlap. Work that supports this
includes sketchbooks, blogging, and art historical...
Students use blogs to
collect source material, to
record artists they relate
to, and to document and
reflect on their prog...
In addition to making their own work about their theme they research artists with
similar interests and curate and online ...
Collect. 
Consider the possibilities. 
Experiment. 
Choice. 
Parameters. 
Feedback & Reflection. 
Time. 
My goal in develo...
Collect.
Artists are collectors by nature.
Images, objects, experiences,
become fuel for the work.
Encouraging students to...
In my classes students collect images, ideas, and experiments in their sketchbooks and….
…online, where they spend a lot of their time. 
Students use blogs and Pinterest to collect images they are drawn to.
Consider 
the 
possibilities. 
Students develop better ideas when
they have a chance to consider their
options, to underst...
In order to find the idea worth
exploring you have to make
room for it by getting the ideas
not worth exploring out of you...
Students use their sketchbooks to consider possible outcomes for their ideas. Sometimes
students feel so precious about th...
This habit of considering all ideas is especially important when students work
collaboratively. Everything is worth a seco...
Understanding how artists from throughout history and across cultures have
approached what you’re working on in important....
I am happy to report that this table of old fashioned books also gets a lot of use.
Nothing beats going to see art in person...
…but Art 21 comes pretty close. We’ve used the new series New York Close Up
frequently this year. Students benefit from he...
Experiment.
 “Fail, fail again. Fail better.”
-Samuel Beckett
Once an idea has been selected it gets developed. This looks different for different
students. Sometimes lists are made…
…sometimes drawings are used for practice.
Sometimes writing helps. It is important for students to work toward figuring out
what works for them and for the teacher ...
Materials are tested.
Drafts are made.
Thinking is done.
Choice.
Teenagers will be more invested in
finding their own work if they have
choices about what they do and how
they do ...
To make choices that lead to interesting and successful work that represent a student’s
unique ideas, they need to have ex...
…non-traditional materials and techniques to communicate their ideas and…
…they need to be comfortable with the unpredictable, with what they don’t know.
To make good choices students need access to a wide range of supplies, traditional and…
…non-traditional.
Parameters.
Parameters, when carefully laid
out, give students something to
hang their ideas on. Varying the
parameters fr...
MASH-­UP  STUDIO  
the  
Pattern  &  Repetition  
project  
ESSENTIAL  QUESTION:
How might you use pattern and repetition ...
The Project Sheet serves as a checklist which helps guide students as they make
decisions about their work.
THE  PATTERN  &  REPETITION    PROJECT
Name: Date:
TITLE  OF  YOUR  WORK:  
  PROCESS   Yes. Kind  of.   Not  really. No.
...
Feedback 
& 
Reflection. 
Artists are reflective about their
process. Students should be
encouraged to see sharing and
ref...
Students feel more confident in their ideas when they have the chance to share them
with each other. Critiques serve as a ...
I do not participate in group critiques, except for the occasional nudge
when a group is struggling. It is the student-art...
Students are expected to document feedback for future consideration.
In addition to the constant conversation going on between me and my students in the
classroom, I have developed a system f...
Students fill out self-
assessment rubrics regularly. I
look at their responses and
add my own. We talk about
where we agr...
Written reflections require students to stop and think about how their work is
developing. Thinking about the twists and t...
I ask students to reflect at the end of the week. We use the same format each week
which speeds the process along: looking...
Time.
I have found time in the curriculum by de-
emphasizing due dates and by
overlapping projects. I introduce new
projec...
Taking time allows students to get
used to the idea that the creative
process is something that unfolds
slowly and often i...
Students need time to figure out what they are interested in at their own pace. They need
time to figure out what they wan...
For this to work I have to be more available to students and students have to be more
self-sufficient. There are many ques...
We keep track of what’s happening on this white board at the front of the room. Daily activities
are posted and a running ...
Collect. 
Consider the possibilities. 
Experiment. 
Choice. 
Parameters. 
Feedback & Reflection. 
Time. 
I have found that...
roberts.rebecca.a@gmail.com
www.theirworknotmine2014.blogspot.com
#theirworknotmine2014
I have a lot of ideas about teaching art, some might even be original. I am a collector and so they come
from experiences ...
Their Work, Not Mine: The Student Centered Studio Classroom 2014
Their Work, Not Mine: The Student Centered Studio Classroom 2014
Their Work, Not Mine: The Student Centered Studio Classroom 2014
Their Work, Not Mine: The Student Centered Studio Classroom 2014
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Their Work, Not Mine: The Student Centered Studio Classroom 2014

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This is a narrative version of the presentation Their Work, Not Mine, given by Rebecca Roberts, at The 2014 National Art Education Association Convention in San Diego, California.

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Their Work, Not Mine: The Student Centered Studio Classroom 2014

  1. 1. Their Work, Not Mine. theirworknotmine2014.blogspot.com #theirworknotmine2014 Rebecca Roberts
  2. 2. In 2003 I replaced a teacher who was retiring after 30 years, at a high school in Brooklyn, New York. Filing cabinets lined the room and blocked the windows. I threw out a dozen garbage bags a day for a week straight, and in doing so I found this, a paint by number worksheet made by the retired teacher entitled Road To Nowhere. It was one of many he created for his students. I saved it as a reminder that the art being made in my classes is theirs, not mine.
  3. 3. I now teach at a small private school on the outskirts of Boston. At my school, seniors take a class in called Senior Studio. There are no projects assigned and the course ends with an exhibit in our school gallery. Students are expected to come to the class with ideas for their own work. One of the classes they take as sophomores and juniors is called Mash-Up Studio. Its goal, in part, is to prepare students for Senior Studio by making their own work. In Mash-Up Studio students commit to exploring one theme for the entire term.
  4. 4. The search for a theme begins by reading the newspaper. My students are well informed about current events, but they do not spend much time looking at the newspaper. I have been surprised by their level of interest in this old fashioned medium. They discover things they wouldn’t online. Obituaries and the police blotter have been of particular interest. As they read they work together to list articles and topics of interest.
  5. 5. We discuss the students’ findings and build a list of possible themes to make art about. There is a lot of debate about which topics will work as themes and about which ones have the most potential. We define a theme as a big idea, something that you cannot hold or touch.
  6. 6. Students commit to one theme for the entire term. The goal is to choose something that is broad enough so they can explore many different ideas, but not so broad that it will overwhelm them. Some students “try on” different themes before committing. Everyone begins with a web. The web is a place for uncensored thinking. Anything that comes to mind related to the theme ends up on the web.
  7. 7. The web becomes a road map for the rest of the term.
  8. 8. Students use the same newspapers from which their themes came to create their first work of art, The Newspaper Project. They begin by clipping images and text from the newspaper and arranging them on a sheet of paper. I encourage them to work quickly and intuitively, not to plan too much. We are getting warmed up.
  9. 9. I feed the following steps to students a few at a time to avoid over-planning. • Cover 20% of the paper with full strength gesso. • Cover 80% of the paper with watered down gesso. • Add three collaged elements that are not from the newspaper. • Add at least three linear elements. • Cover at least 20% of the paper with full strength ink. • Cover at least 80% of the paper with watered down ink.
  10. 10. At this point many layers have been added and much work has been done. We slow things way down and I ask students to study their own work and their process. They start to make decisions about where the work is headed.
  11. 11. At this point lots of editing happens and hard choices are made.
  12. 12. Newspaper Project, by Rory Martin, 10th grade. Ink, gesso, stickers, pencil, marker, and newspaper on paper. Theme: Entertainment. In the end this… …becomes this.
  13. 13. Newspaper Project, by Maddy Cary, 12th grade. Xerox, marker, stickers, colored pencil, oil pastel, gesso, ink, and newspaper on paper. Theme: Confllict.
  14. 14. Newspaper Project, by Kent Ellertson, 10th grade. Ink, gesso, stickers, oil pastel, and newspaper on paper. Theme: Power.
  15. 15. Students settle into their theme. They also learn new techniques and materials and discover the power of working in layers to develop content. At this point students begin a series of projects using their theme as a guide.
  16. 16. The Translucency Project A project that asks students to think about an aspect of their theme as it exists over time or throughout history.
  17. 17. We explore working with wax, tracing paper, acetate, and acrylic mediums. Also, at this point I stop giving students a surface to work on. They must make choices about what type of surface they want to work on and what size best suits their idea.
  18. 18. Translucency Project, by Emma Lynch, 12th grade. Xerox, marker, tracing paper, found objects, and wax on board. Theme: Evolution.
  19. 19. Translucency Project, by Emma Welch, 10th grade. Fabric, plastic, magazine, paint, and found negatives, with wood frame. Theme: Conflict.
  20. 20. Translucency Project, by Clare Eberman, 10th grade. Marker, plastic, tissue paper, and xeroxes, on found canvas. Theme: Human Rights.
  21. 21. The Pattern and Repetition Project A project that asks students to think about how their theme is understood by the world through symbols. We explore block printing, “found” stamps, stencils, and spray paint.
  22. 22. Pattern & Repetition Project, by Rory Martin, 10th grade. Spray paint and block print on found blueprint. Theme: Entertainment.
  23. 23. Pattern & Repetition Project, by Remi Shore, 10th grade. Spray paint, block print, and ink on found map. Theme: Belonging.
  24. 24. Pattern & Repetition Project, by Joey Searle, 10th grade. Spray paint on found canvas. Theme: Life and Death.
  25. 25. Pattern & Repetition Project, by Marc Davis, 11th grade. Spray paint, xerox, acetate, and paint marker on found canvas. Theme: Business.
  26. 26. The curriculum is layered and projects overlap. Work that supports this includes sketchbooks, blogging, and art historical research. Students work in their sketchbooks outside of class. Weekly assignments create a lens through which students see their theme in the world. Students use what they’ve discovered in their sketchbook to fuel their in-class projects.
  27. 27. Students use blogs to collect source material, to record artists they relate to, and to document and reflect on their progress.
  28. 28. In addition to making their own work about their theme they research artists with similar interests and curate and online exhibition.
  29. 29. Collect. Consider the possibilities. Experiment. Choice. Parameters. Feedback & Reflection. Time. My goal in developing this curriculum was to help students see that they could commit to exploring one big theme through many ideas and through different ways of working. Watching my students do this has influenced how I approach all my classes. It has helped me to see what kinds of things help to create an environment that supports students in finding their own work.
  30. 30. Collect. Artists are collectors by nature. Images, objects, experiences, become fuel for the work. Encouraging students to be collectors keeps them from coming into the studio cold. It creates flow and provides students moving through a disjointed day of high school a connection to their work.
  31. 31. In my classes students collect images, ideas, and experiments in their sketchbooks and….
  32. 32. …online, where they spend a lot of their time. Students use blogs and Pinterest to collect images they are drawn to.
  33. 33. Consider the possibilities. Students develop better ideas when they have a chance to consider their options, to understand what’s possible, and what’s already been done. We are not working in a vacuum; there is a big world of art out there.
  34. 34. In order to find the idea worth exploring you have to make room for it by getting the ideas not worth exploring out of your head. Crossing off one name at a time, this 9th grader arrives at his top choice on a list of possible subjects for a portrait.
  35. 35. Students use their sketchbooks to consider possible outcomes for their ideas. Sometimes students feel so precious about their ideas it can be hard for them to progress. The sketchbook allows them to choose one thing to work on now, with the possibility of coming back to work on other ideas later.
  36. 36. This habit of considering all ideas is especially important when students work collaboratively. Everything is worth a second look. Ideas inspire ideas.
  37. 37. Understanding how artists from throughout history and across cultures have approached what you’re working on in important. We look at slide shows of artists’ work in class. They live on the class website so students can refer to them as they work.
  38. 38. I am happy to report that this table of old fashioned books also gets a lot of use.
  39. 39. Nothing beats going to see art in person...
  40. 40. …but Art 21 comes pretty close. We’ve used the new series New York Close Up frequently this year. Students benefit from hearing artists talk about their interests, their lives, and their process.
  41. 41. Experiment. “Fail, fail again. Fail better.” -Samuel Beckett
  42. 42. Once an idea has been selected it gets developed. This looks different for different students. Sometimes lists are made…
  43. 43. …sometimes drawings are used for practice.
  44. 44. Sometimes writing helps. It is important for students to work toward figuring out what works for them and for the teacher to be a mirror and report on what they see leading students to success.
  45. 45. Materials are tested.
  46. 46. Drafts are made.
  47. 47. Thinking is done.
  48. 48. Choice. Teenagers will be more invested in finding their own work if they have choices about what they do and how they do it. I am always thinking about how much choice makes sense for my students. I try to make as much room for choice as I possibly can.
  49. 49. To make choices that lead to interesting and successful work that represent a student’s unique ideas, they need to have experiences with a wide range of materials and techniques. They need to understand the potential of both traditional and…
  50. 50. …non-traditional materials and techniques to communicate their ideas and…
  51. 51. …they need to be comfortable with the unpredictable, with what they don’t know.
  52. 52. To make good choices students need access to a wide range of supplies, traditional and…
  53. 53. …non-traditional.
  54. 54. Parameters. Parameters, when carefully laid out, give students something to hang their ideas on. Varying the parameters from project to project allows students to see different ways to make their ideas visible.
  55. 55. MASH-­UP  STUDIO   the   Pattern  &  Repetition   project   ESSENTIAL  QUESTION: How might you use pattern and repetition to to ask a question or make a comment                                 about how a particular aspect of your theme is understood through symbols by                           the  world?   PROJECT  OVERVIEW: For this project you will explore the power of symbols to communicate and the                             potential of stamps and stencils to generate images. After some                     experimentation, you will develop a concept for a work of art that is made up                               of repeated shapes and patterns, develop the appropriate method for creating                       it,  and  execute  it.   MATERIALS: rubber  stamp,  stamp  pads,  found  objects,  spray  paint,  stencils,  paper,  found   surfaces HOW? ● Stamp  sampler ○ at  least  3  “found”  stamps ○ at  least  1  carved  stamp ○ at  least  2  stamps  created  from  found  items ● Stencil  sampler ○ at  least  3  “found”  stencils ○ at  least  1  cut  stencil ○ at  least  3  different  surfaces   ● Evidence  of  planning  for  work  of  art. ○ how  will  you  use  your  SB  HW  to  influence  your  work? ○ what  symbols  will  be  repeated? ○ how  will  shapes  be  organized? ○ ideas  about  color? ○ what  are  you  trying  to  say  with  your  work? WHAT? ● Work  of  art  poses  a  question  or  makes  a  comment  about  a  particular  aspect  of   student’s  theme. ● Uses  symbols. ● Primarily  made  up  of  repeated  shapes  generated  by  stamping  and  stencilling. ● At  least  2  different  stencilled  shapes. ● At  least  2  different  stamped  shapes. ● Shapes  will  vary  in  size,  at  least  three  different  sizes.   ● The  shapes  and  colors  that  make  up  the  work  of  art  should  be  unified  and  work   together  visually  and/or  conceptually. I discuss the parameters with my students so they understand what they’re designed to do. I also give them a Project Sheet for reference.
  56. 56. The Project Sheet serves as a checklist which helps guide students as they make decisions about their work.
  57. 57. THE  PATTERN  &  REPETITION    PROJECT Name: Date: TITLE  OF  YOUR  WORK:    PROCESS   Yes. Kind  of.   Not  really. No.      I  discovered  new  ways  of  working  in  this  project.        I  took  a  risk  in  making  this  work.        I  developed  new  ideas  for  my  work.        I  asked  for  critical  feedback.      I  used  critical  feedback  to  improve  my  work.      I  spent  time  thinking  about  and/or  working  on  this        project  outside  of  class. PERFORMANCE Exceeds   Expectations Meets Expectations Approaching   Expectations Below Expectations Stamp sampler explores the potential for using               stamps as mark making tools AND includes at                 least 3 “found” stamps, at least 1 carved stamp,                   at  least  2  stamps  created  from  found  items. Stencil sampler explores the potential for using               stencils as mark making tools AND includes at                 least 3 “found” stencils, at least 1 cut stencil, at                     least  3  different  surfaces. Evidence of planning for work of art can be                   found  in  SB  and/or  on  blog. Work of art poses a question or makes a                   comment about a particular aspect of student’s               theme. Work  of  art  uses  symbols  to  communicate  ideas. Primarily made up of repeated shapes generated               by  stamping  and  stencilling. At  least  2  different  stencilled  shapes. At  least  2  different  stamped  shapes. Shapes will vary in size, at least three different                   sizes.   The shapes and colors that make up the work of                     art should be unified and work together visually                 and/or  conceptually. When students feel finished with their work they fill out a rubric. The rubric asks them to reflect on their learning and holds them accountable for the parameters laid out at the start.
  58. 58. Feedback & Reflection. Artists are reflective about their process. Students should be encouraged to see sharing and reflecting as part of the work of the artist. Their work grows from the experience and the more they reflect and share the better I am able to gather data about their learning.
  59. 59. Students feel more confident in their ideas when they have the chance to share them with each other. Critiques serve as a chance for students to share ideas and ways of working with the purpose of moving their work forward rather than as judgment of a quality product.
  60. 60. I do not participate in group critiques, except for the occasional nudge when a group is struggling. It is the student-artist’s responsibility to get feedback from their peers.
  61. 61. Students are expected to document feedback for future consideration.
  62. 62. In addition to the constant conversation going on between me and my students in the classroom, I have developed a system for delivering written feedback. Sketchbooks are handed in once a week. I write on post-its, attach them to the pages, and put them back in the bin. Students read the notes and sometimes we discuss what I’ve written.
  63. 63. Students fill out self- assessment rubrics regularly. I look at their responses and add my own. We talk about where we agree and where we don’t.
  64. 64. Written reflections require students to stop and think about how their work is developing. Thinking about the twists and turns of their creative process allows them to discover their own unique skills, challenges, interests, and passions.
  65. 65. I ask students to reflect at the end of the week. We use the same format each week which speeds the process along: looking back, looking ahead, takeaways. I often refer to what they’ve written at the beginning of the next week.
  66. 66. Time. I have found time in the curriculum by de- emphasizing due dates and by overlapping projects. I introduce new projects before others are finished so that students have multiple projects going on at any one time. This allows students to work at their own pace and to get more involved in some projects that others. It also reduces the number of times I hear, “I’m done”.
  67. 67. Taking time allows students to get used to the idea that the creative process is something that unfolds slowly and often in unpredictable ways. Students should be encouraged to screw up, to make mistakes, and to see what is possible.
  68. 68. Students need time to figure out what they are interested in at their own pace. They need time to figure out what they want to communicate and how they want to express it. These pictures were taken over the course of two minutes. Everyone is doing something different and is at a different stage in the process.
  69. 69. For this to work I have to be more available to students and students have to be more self-sufficient. There are many questions I now refuse to answer…anything that starts with “Where is…” for example. Project sheets hang on this bulletin board in the studio and are posted on the class website to help students serve themselves.
  70. 70. We keep track of what’s happening on this white board at the front of the room. Daily activities are posted and a running to do list grows on the right hand side. Teenagers struggle to conceptualize time. I set aside time to talk about time explicitly. We refer to paper calendars which allow students to visualize how much time we have together. Students learn to organize themselves and to prioritize.
  71. 71. Collect. Consider the possibilities. Experiment. Choice. Parameters. Feedback & Reflection. Time. I have found that focusing on these elements of teaching has led to increased student confidence, dedication to the work of the class, and in the end, to stronger finished work. It has freed me up to work with students one on one and to collect data about their learning as they work. My students make their own work, not mine.
  72. 72. roberts.rebecca.a@gmail.com www.theirworknotmine2014.blogspot.com #theirworknotmine2014
  73. 73. I have a lot of ideas about teaching art, some might even be original. I am a collector and so they come from experiences I’ve had, things I’ve read, and most importantly, people I’ve been lucky enough to know. I did not come to teaching via a traditional path and the people I’ve met on my journey have made me the teacher I am. My art teachers have had a tremendous influence on me. Muriel Marschke who taught me to paint in her in home studio overlooking the reservoir, Mrs. Roth who told me “tree trunks should be brown not purple”, Elise Curry who taught me to “dive deep”, Mary Lum and Ann Pibal who taught me to “paint the painting”, and David Dunlap and John Dilg, who made me feel like a “real artist”. I am forever in the debt of the teachers who taught me how to teach and supported me while I cried in the closet at the back of my Brooklyn classroom. Pat Dobosz, a master pre-K teacher, and Laura Peterson, a master 5th grade teacher, who taught me to manage bodies and give directions, Linda Morales who told me “I sounded like a wimpy white girl”, Caroline Garrett who taught me to edit, Christine Pallotta, Henry Quinn, Don Brugel, Christian Bowen, and Meghan Burke, my Brooklyn teacher family. I couldn’t do what I do now without the unending support of Beaver Country Day School. I have enough money, enough time, enough space…enough said. And the art department there, David Ingenthron, Sejal Patel, and Amy Winston, is like family. All teachers should be so lucky. And of course I’d have learned nothing without the most important teachers, my students. On my first day of teaching those kindergarteners smiled at me as I rattled on and on in English when they only spoke Spanish, and I have felt the love ever since. My students have tolerated my experiments with patience. The hard work, the slacking, the wandering, the questions, the slamming of doors, it has all led me here.

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