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If your teaching philosophy is anything like mine, then you strive to expose students to as many materials, techniques and learning experiences as you can during your limited amount of instruction. Dozens of projects in countless mediums, oodles of artist introductions, techniques upon techniques all rolled into a tiny smidgen of time.
For my middle school students, this seemed the most engaging approach to push through our curriculum- reel them in with as many fast, attention-holding projects as I could. Cover lots of ground without staying in one project too long. To be honest, I loved the results too. I always had plenty of eye-catching art to show in the hallways and our art shows were jam-packed.
However, as the common saying goes “a mile wide and an inch deep” was becoming more shallow than I thought.
As an art teacher, it’s easy to assume that an art room is already rooted in PBL but most of the time, that is not the case.
Project-Based Learning is a method where students deepen their content knowledge through actively exploring real-world problems and challenges. Emphasis is placed on students thoroughly immersing themselves in the topic or problem at hand. More often than not, students present their findings through writing or presenting their work to an authentic audience. As former AOE writer, Sarah Dougherty explains, “Many lessons in the art room fail to reach this level of cognitive complexity, miss out on authentic applications, or employ limited student choice or autonomy. A finished piece of art isn’t necessarily a “Project. “
Currently, we are 12 class days into an architectural and interior design project, and the students could not be more in-tune with their work. Instead of trying to engage students with flashy projects, I feel like instead I am empowering them with ownership of innovation in their work. It’s been a challenge for me to be patient with our timeline (and our empty hallway display boards) but I know that the depth of the critical thinking and collaboration combined with the breadth of the content knowledge that these types of projects are capable of, is well worth the wait.
How have you implemented PBL in your own art room?
Do you have any tips to share?
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