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Breaking Down AP Portfolios, Part 1 (Ep. 289)

On today’s episode, Tim and Janet Taylor get together to talk about AP Art and Design portfolios and the myriad questions that surround them. As Tim says, they don’t have all the answers, but the conversation might shed light on strategies that can be helpful with advanced and AP students. Listen as they discuss sustained investigations, synthesizing media and processes, and developing creativity that can lead to better questions and better work.  Full Episode Transcript Below.

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Transcript

Tim: Welcome to Art Ed Radio, the podcast for art teachers. This show is produced by The Art of Education University. And I’m your host, Tim Bogatz.

I have been meaning to do an episode on AP Art and Design for quite a while now. But for whatever reason, just haven’t gotten around to it. That will finally change today, though. So it’s been a rough go for a lot of AP teachers over the past few years with the new requirements, new portfolio being released. Followed by school being interrupted by the pandemic. And even now with things, I guess, slowly going back to normal, there’s still just so many questions about what is involved with the portfolio that needs to be submitted. So many questions about the sustained investigation, about just AP art in general.

So Janet Taylor will be my guest today. You just started last week with Chris Kuzak, talking about dysregulated students and strategies for deescalating and diffusing behavior. But Janet is back this week to talk all things AP. She has taught AP forever. And so an excellent person to chat with. She and I have actually been discussing AP portfolios a lot lately. Just because there are so many questions out there. So many questions we receive through AOEU. And just questions we see online. And I’m not going to pretend like we have all the answers. We definitely don’t, by any means. But I hope that by talking about some of the things we do, some of our own strategies, I hope that can be helpful. And hopefully our discussion can point you in the right direction. So let me bring on Janet now.

Janet Taylor, I feel like I just talked to you, but you’re back again. Thanks for coming. How are you?

Janet: I’m doing well. Thanks for having me. As always, enjoy chatting.

Tim: Yeah. You and I have been talking off-air forever about all sorts of AP things and just how things seem to be going with new requirements for teachers, new portfolios, all that stuff. And I think we’ve agreed it’s kind of a mess. And so we wanted to just kind of chat about everything that’s happening. So let me start with this. We decided we need to have this conversation. Big part of it is a lot of people still seem to be stuck on the idea of the old AP portfolio with concentration and breadth. So my question for you, can you talk about why we need to kind of leave these ideas behind and help our students finally dive into sustained investigations?

Janet: Right. So, I mean, you start by saying it’s kind of a mess. But I will say the portfolio changed and then we didn’t really have a whole lot of time with it. And then the pandemic hit.

Tim: Right.

Janet: And then change of requirements happened and all sorts of craziness has ensued. And so watching the boards and talking about it with colleagues and whatnot, it’s hard to get everybody on the same when we kind of had a rough start. So I will say that.

Tim: Yeah, for sure. Like I’m not assigning any kind of blame. I’m just-

Janet: Oh, no. No. Right.

Tim: It is chaotic for teachers. I’m sure it’s chaotic for the college board and readers and everybody in between. It’s a lot.

Janet: Yeah.

Tim: Anyway, go ahead.

Janet: Yes. No, no, no. Yeah. Okay. All right. I guess what I’m saying is more not about the blame, but more about it’s hard to kind of grasp onto these bigger shifts and changes when you’re still struggling to figure out what all the requirements are and that keeps changing.

Tim: Yes.

Janet: The differences between the portfolios need to be addressed first, right? So the old portfolio had your breadth work. I think it was now … It’s been a while, right? 12, I think it was 12 breadth and 12 concentration.

Tim: 12 works, yeah. Yep.

Janet: And then there was quality that could be taken from either breadth or concentration, right? Like either pieces.

And so breadth was kind of amazing. Because it was a little bit of everything. You’re just basically showing what the student can do. It didn’t have to … Each piece didn’t have to align with each other. And then the concentration was like this overarching prompt topic that a student was interested in, in exploring. And then basically responding to that. And I’ll talk more about that in a few minutes. And then the quality, like I said, were like the best pieces.

Tim: Yeah, just your best five artworks.

Janet: Right. Right. And so now when that change happened … I can’t even … I feel like the pandemic is like a black hole of time. What was it, 2018 or 17? I can’t even remember now. But couple years ago, right? This has changed. And now the portfolio is separated into two pieces only. And that’s the sustained investigation and the selected works. And I think the biggest piece takeaway from all of this is that even the selected works is like this. Everything is focusing on process, ideation, in articulation of that. Right? The frustrating thing that teachers have held onto … And I think this has really put a bug up people’s butts, right? Is that they had worked so hard for many years to finally get it down to a science of teaching, how to make the best concentration, the best for breadth, right?

Tim: Oh, no. I had like, HERE are my breadth lessons.

Janet: Yes!

Tim: We’re going to do these for the first X number of weeks. Then we start our concentration like this. And yeah.

Janet: Right.

Tim: And yeah, all that is just out the window now.

Janet: It’s completely out the window. And it’s more focused on the student’s critical thinking and they’re working through that creative process. It’s like all the decision-making.

Tim: Yeah, yeah.

Janet: So I will say this, like I said, I miss the breadth portion. I really, really do, actually. I feel like it’s a great way for students to build for their college portfolios.

It shows that wide range. It’s a great way for us to warm up and get to know our students’ strengths and weaknesses and interests. I might not have had a student who’s ever taken art with me or at all in our school.

Tim: Yeah. Yeah.

Janet: Take AP, how do we even get to know them and get them kind of-

Tim: Get to know what their strengths are? What material they work well with, what do they enjoy doing? Yeah, exactly.

Janet: Exactly. There’s so much that’s still needed, that preemptive work. Right? And ultimately, right, what is kind of, I would say, pre the change and even post the change even more so, the AP portfolio to me is like a freaking master’s thesis. Right?

Tim: Pretty close!

Janet: I don’t even think I had to do that in my graduate work. It’s incredible what we’re asking of these students to do. So I oftentimes still incorporate breadth type work in the beginning. Like I said, to kind of get them warmed up, move them through some ideas to see what they’re interested. Because they might be like, “Oh, I never thought of that.”

Tim: Yeah.

Janet: And then that could become their sustained investigation or whatnot. But I’ve kind of moved that and push those ideas into my advanced classes now to kind of prepare the kids for AP a little bit more differently in that regard. If that makes sense.

But here’s the thing, right? You asked me, why do we kind of need to let go of the old and bring on the new?

Tim: Yeah, yeah.

Janet: And the first is like, well, it’s not going anywhere. This is the new structure. Right? And we want our students to do well. We really do. And so it takes a lot of work on our front to understand so that we’re teaching them the best that we can. We really want them to get that college credit. We really want to give them that confidence boost or whatever. Right.

And then B, I look at it like this, in my understanding, this is really focusing on that critical thinking. Which is what, me personally, I value in my classroom anyway. So it’s kind of where art ed has been going. It has gone there. I mean the standards are all based around process and development of ideas and exploration and whatnot.

Tim: Mm-hmm (affirmative), mm-hmm (affirmative).

Janet: And like I said, it started me thinking about how this shift plays into my program and how I’m building it or how we as a department or my colleagues and I are talking about preparing our kids for AP. And I don’t mean to say, “Oh, I’m teaching to the test.” Like the kids have to be ready for AP. Because some kids never have interest in taking AP or-

Tim: Right.

Janet: … submitting to AP or whatever it is. Right. But it’s more about how are we supporting our students in greater ways. And I just feel like AP, the way it’s changed is actually supporting that as opposed to going against it. I’m kind of on board.

Tim: Yeah. Well, I think a big thing is teachers talk all the time about how, “Oh, I wish I could get my kids to do more in their sketchbook or explore more ideas and things like that.” And then when you can play that in into, “Hey, you’re going to need to do these types of things for AP,” obviously that doesn’t work for every kid. But when you have that out there and you can say, “Hey, this is the type of stuff that you’re going to need to be doing,” it really helps with that kind of development. The process like you talked about. I think having that out there is good for teachers. It can be really helpful.

But let’s talk a little bit more about that. Let’s talk a little bit more about sustained investigations, everything that goes into that. So I guess question one, for people who can’t quite wrap their head around or are still struggling with that, can you talk what is a sustained investigation and can you just, I guess, talk about everything that involves? What types of work should be going into the sustained investigation?

Janet: Sure. So the first thing I look at in AP, how they describe that, right? And so when we’re looking at the portfolio, we’re looking at their three big ideas, which are almost comically short and clear, right?

Tim: Yeah.

Janet: The first one is investigate materials, processes, and ideas. It literally is written in there. That’s number one. Number two is to make art and design. And number three is to present art and design. So I look at it like this, so what is an investigation? If we’re going to investigate materials, process and ideas, we need to come from a place of curiosity instead of placing expectations on a demand.

Tim: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Janet: Instead of saying, well, as a student or whatever. As an artist, I’m going to do this, this is what I’m going to create. It’s instead, it’s I wonder if or what happens when or how can I understand the world in a different capacity through my art? For example. So that truly is all about questioning. And you know I love questioning.

Tim: Yes.

Janet: Questions, questions, questions, right? Everything is just leading to more questions. It should never be a final statement in how I look at it. Until you’re explaining your artwork. Right?

Tim: Right.

Janet: It should be like you starting with a question and then you’re answering or responding to that question through your art making. And that art should then bring up a whole new set of questions or something that dives deeper. For example.

Tim: I was going to say, so you’re just sort of like diving into a rabbit hole with your artwork or with the concept that you’re trying to explore?

Janet: Exactly. You know how I was saying earlier about concentration being like this topic?

Tim: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Janet: I like to equate it to this SI to a rabbit hole with my students. Because I think it helps them visually understand what I’m … Because this is hard stuff to really explain.

Tim: Yeah. Oh, yeah. It’s really tough to talk to 16, 17 year olds about these things.

Janet: Right. This is like I said, master’s thesis brain work going on here. I look at it like this, the concentration is this topic theme or statement or whatever. Right? and then there’s … You look at it like a word web. So it’s like the big concept in the middle. And then there’s these spokes that kind of go out or spokes that come down and artwork, artwork, artwork. Just kind of like a linear diagram. Right?

Tim: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Janet: So each artwork is responding to that or addressing that prompt. But when it comes to a sustained investigation, I mean, sustained means time. Right? Over time we really have to do this. It’s not just a one off. Right?

Tim: Right.

Janet: I look at it like it’s more of a pathway or that rabbit hole where artwork starts and then responds and then investigates more and goes deeper and deeper into addressing or responding to this bigger question.

And sometimes these questions or they should provoke more questions. Sometimes that pathway changes and that’s okay, too. And so that’s tricky to explain to students, too. They think, “I’m on this pathway, I’m supposed to fulfill this pathway.”

Start and get there. But it’s not quite like that. The other thing that is really important to remember because this … like I said, this is like heady, brain work stuff. I talk to my students about what this could look like. And a lot of them feel like they have to come up with this real strong, deep, personal connection. And they can, right?

Tim: Yeah. Like they need to save the world with their questions that they’re answering.

Janet: I always joke. This doesn’t have to be about doves and world peace and …

Tim: Right.

Janet: Right? It could. They could. They could be interested in that, but it doesn’t have to be. But it could literally be something more aesthetically driven or media related. I had a student have a really successful portfolio a couple years back that was like … Now this wasn’t her inquiry, because it’s not a question.

Tim: Yeah.

Janet: I’m just tossing. Because I can’t really remember her wording. But it was something about patterns found in Chicago landscape. And she literally explored nature patterns. She looked at geometric city patterns and whatever. And that led her down this other place. She might have even started with this more basic question or concept, but then through her work and reflecting on her work throughout the time, led her to have a deeper understanding or pathway of where she was going with it.

Tim: Yeah, well and I think that … I mean, that can be out there for any kid. Like I’ve had successful portfolios with snack food and the bones of the human body.

Janet: Oh, yes!

Tim: And whatever. It doesn’t seem brilliant at first. But if you’re exploring and if you’re asking the right questions and if you’re following that path as you continue to ask questions, any topic can become interesting enough.

Janet: Yeah. For sure. I love that, snack foods. That’s kind of … yeah.

Tim: It’s good. There’s a lot of fun. You can develop a lot of ideas after that. Sorry I interrupted you.

Janet: Oh, no. It’s okay.

Tim: Let’s focus again.

Janet: Okay. Okay.

Tim: Let’s talk about what does this all look like?

Janet: Right. So logistically speaking or physically speaking, this is another big shift that has been really difficult for teachers to wrap their heads around. Because it’s, I don’t want to say … nebulous, right?

Tim: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Janet: The AP says you need to have 15 images.

Tim: Right.

Janet: Teachers are like, “15 artworks? What do I show? How do I show progress and process and how do I show revision? And what does that physically look like?” And so, the AP training that I went to when we first shifted into this did a great job of really explaining this. So, and I think the talk about this a lot. Where it could be literally 15 completed artworks. Each image could be an artwork. Or it could be like a mural for example, which is a large artwork and takes a lot of time.

And then 15 images that show the thought process or working through this along the way. That could be planning images of sketches or research. It could be maquettes, for example, it could be mini artworks that prepare you to get to that place. It could be examples of revision. So I made this artwork, these are the things that I questioned or addressed. And then this is the new artwork. And how does that respond to that question maybe more clearly?

It’s kind of up to you or the student or however you want to look at it, of what those 15 images actually are. I look at it like it’s, you’re telling AP a story through the portfolio. Now, anytime you submit a portfolio anywhere I look at it like that, it’s a visual story, right?

Tim: Right.

Janet: Of where you put … There’s that psychological grid. Have you seen that?

Tim: Yeah.

Janet: Where it’s like, you place the first image here and this kind of image last. And that whole shebang. And it’s kind of similar in that regard, too. You really want to bring the reader through your process so that they’re really getting an understanding of how you’re telling the story through all of that. That’s kind of what is the most difficult. Is for teachers, I think, to wrap their heads around is how do I show all of that?

Tim: Yeah. Because there’s not just one answer. There’s not, you need X numbers of artwork. You need to show how does this development happen? What does the process look like? And it is, it’s very … It’s ambiguous, it’s vague. And I think people struggle with that. But basically, I mean, is it fair to say anything that helps tell the story of how this artwork was created can be part of the portfolio?

Janet: I think so. I mean, I have my students collect as much evidence as possible and then we kind of curate that kind of in the end. A lot of times I’ll make a combination kind of like … What do you want to call it? Like layouts where it might have-

Tim: Oh, like collaged images?

Janet: Like a collage. Right.

Tim: And whatnot?

Janet: Yeah. Yes. Yeah. It might have research, it might have their visual journal page, and it might have their sketches. And that’s like one image that shows all of this. And it’s kind of maximizing the amount of images. As long as they can read it, it’s not teen tiny.

Tim: Yeah.

Janet: As long as they can see it clearly, I think anything goes, really. Yeah.

Tim: All right. Okay. Sounds good. Now I want to talk a little bit more about this. The college board says … Let me read this so I get this right. The student should demonstrate an inquiry-based sustained investigation of materials, processes, and ideas done over time through practice, experimentation, and revision. Okay. We just talked a lot about that. But let’s sort of look at it from the teaching perspective. How do you begin inquiry development? What do you think that should look like with your kids?

Janet: Okay. So first, we just have to understand that, that really means that this is not a technical formula. But it’s more about what happens when we explore those media, those ideas. And then how are we going to connect those together to explore those ideas, to tell meaning, to convey meaning. Right? So it’s more about approaching it first from that mindset, right? I’m all about the mindset shift, right?

Tim: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Janet: A lot of times I will be able to … Usually in May. April or May. My students, I already know who signed up for AP. I’ll have a mandatory meeting or I’ll toss some stuff on Google Drive and if they can’t make it, I make sure they have me doing a video on all of this. But I usually have some sort of summer work.

Now I know that, that can be a lot to ask of some students. And so you have to know your students best. Sometimes summer work, sometimes it’s more beginning of the school year work, kind of to prep.

Tim: Yeah.

Janet: But the things that I start bringing into this to get my students thinking in this way, I might do something like create a series of three based on a question. Like one question, create a series of three and give them no other information about that. Really it’s like you want to see what they’re coming up with. What does that mean to them? And how are they addressing it? It’s almost like a diagnostic so that you can then say, “Oh, okay, I need to teach this in this way.” Or, “They already got this. I don’t need to do that anymore.”

Another thing I like to include is a next in series. So it might be looking at an artist and then creating their next artwork off of that. So that has them thinking about the materials, the scale. Has them thinking about somebody else’s artwork and how they’re using that. And then what could the next one look like?

I’ll have them do a response to an artist. So they might have to look at artists and think about a whole series of work that an artist puts out there. Think about what they’re trying to convey, what media they’re using, why they’re doing that. And then create an artwork that maybe doesn’t look anything like a next in series. But it’s a response to that artist. It shows me that they’re thinking about all those pieces and how that’s conveying meaning.

And then usually I do like a media portrait. So I wrote an article about that one. It’s kind of a practice thing where students have to … And again, I give very few instructions on it. But basically, they have to create a self-portrait that uses some sort of media that relates to their portrait.

That kind of synthesizes the media, because I think that’s another tricky thing that people don’t understand is how are we combining? Like how do we talk about that? And at AP level or those advanced levels, you can start talking about why you’re making the choices that you’re making for media. Maybe you love to draw in charcoal. Okay. So what about the charcoal? Why are you loving working with charcoal?

Tim: Yeah. Yeah

Janet: Is that the best me medium to use to convey your message? To talk about you or whatever it is? And so it gets kids really exploring, too. Because they might be pushed outside their comfort zone. I had a student make a self portrait out of like washi tape and bandaids. And that was really interesting.

Tim: I like it.

Janet: Yeah. Right? I was like, “Oh, okay.” I had a student make one out of strung beads.

Tim: Nice.

Janet: Just really interesting stuff that I’m like, “Huh.” And I didn’t even think about that. It’s exciting to see what they create. Right?

Tim: Yeah.

Janet: Okay. All that to say, there are some teachers out there that I’ve recently been hearing also on the boards say, “Wait a second. I just started school with my students like a week ago.”

Tim: Yes. Yeah. So what do you do with kids who didn’t do summer work and you didn’t start school until mid-September or late September?

Janet: Yeah. First of all, that’s crazy. And I get that. That’s totally crazy that they might not have any of that time to build and understand and get ready for a sustained investigation.

Tim: When other teachers started literally end of July or kids were showing up the first part of August.

Janet: Yes! Right.

Tim: Yet we all still have to turn in our portfolios at the same time.

Janet: At the same time. And they might not have had any warmup time. Okay. So I hear you all. I see you. Okay. So I do like to integrate these kinds of ideas throughout my practice. Even if my students are starting off right away working in their sustained investigations. Okay.

First of all, how do you do that? The first thing that you want to do is teach students, even if you on day one have to jump into SI because that’s the time that you have, you want to teach students how to ask questions. Right? They don’t always know how to come up with the best questions. You need to teach them how to generate them, how to dig deeper, how to ask more specific questions. How they can change the path with their questions, but still stay aligned or connected to their original, overarching, larger questions.

Tim: Okay. Can I interrupt you here?

Janet: Yes.

Tim: I would love to just do a thought exercise here. Like can we go back to that Chicago patterns idea, the patterns of Chicago landscape? Can we talk through what that looks like? Just as an example for people?

Janet: Sure. The first thing I would say to my student is maybe they come up with a broad topic that they’re interested in, right?

Tim: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Janet: My student might have been like, “Well, I really like patterns.” And so we’re trying to connect these ideas, right? They might be like, “I notice … ” Oh, I will say this. This is the first thing I often have my students do, too. I forgot to mention this. Okay. I often have them go through all their old artwork and put them on slides.

Tim: Yup.

Janet: I’ll say their historical best or I’ll say, “Pick five of your favorite pieces.” And I’ll literally have them reflect on their work as a whole and say, what interests you? What media interests you the most? What have you noticed? What’s your strongest? Because they might really like something, it might not be their strongest suit or whatever. And so that actually helps them start.

I had to backtrack because that made me think of that. The student might not have known that she loves working in patterns unless she had looked at all of her artwork and went like, “Oh, yeah, I use a lot of shapes and lines to create patterns.”

Tim: Yeah, yeah.

Janet: Okay. Okay. She might start with that or he, or whoever it is. Patterns found Chicago landscapes is maybe this bigger thing, but it took us a bit to get there in the first place. They don’t just always come up with this idea. They could be like, “I like patterns. I like to travel into Chicago or I liked being on the L or whatever it is and looking.” Okay. Now we have a big concept. So how do we kind of get that?

So the first thing I would have her do is flip it into a question. So what does that mean that you’re interested in patterns in Chicago? Well, she might say something like, “How is Chicago defined by patterns or defined by repetition?” And so that gives some sort of structure. And then you might ask another question. Okay, so go a little deeper, a little bit more specific. And through that she might reflect and say like, “Well, I really love being on the L and traveling around the city. And I notice that as I’m doing that, my travel is almost dictated by the patterns that I’m drawn to,” for example.

Maybe she goes only into certain areas because she’s most interested in what she sees. Like Garfield Conservatory has a lot of nature. Maybe she’s drawn there often. Or maybe she’s drawn to the lake or whatever it is. Or maybe she’s drawn to being on the L because of all the crisscrossing construction pattern or whatever it is. Architectural.

Then how do you take that more? Okay. So Chicago is defined by repetition, aesthetically. How do repeated patterns found in Chicago landscape impact how we navigate the city? It’s still a pretty big question, but it’s even more specific.

Tim: Yeah.

Janet: And she might not have even gotten there until halfway through the school year.

Tim: Right.

Janet: Also don’t expect students to just be like, come up with these really amazing questions.

Tim: Yeah. Again, it’s a process that we’re working toward. You’re not beginning with your answer. Like you’re working toward your answer. That’s fine.

Janet: Right. Exactly. Exactly.

Tim: Let me ask you, too. I’m just thinking, as we’re talking about developing questions, I’m just thinking about how I always have my kids develop work. Which is brainstorming and then sketches and then composition and then color scheme. And then we get into the work. Do you have a specific process that you have kids work through or a type of development that you have them work through?

Janet: Well, there’s a couple strategies that I try. I’d want to say, I say, “Oh, this is the way I structure it.” Because it often changes. I’m pretty flexible if something doesn’t fit or doesn’t fit for all. I’m changing.

I like to give them a lot of different ways of approaching it so that they can find what works for them, because that’s what this portfolio is about. Right? Is showing their thinking and decision making.

Tim: Yeah.

Janet: One way I do is that having the students thumbnail a storyboard, right? Storyboards are really great, because it helps us generate ideas, but it also helps us put it down into a visual format.

It might be like writing down a question under each box. Maybe I have them do six boxes. Maybe I have them do 15. It depends on where we are in the process. Usually it’s either at the beginning … I like to do these things in the beginning, also in the middle. Because I think we lose our direction a lot of times. We’re so in the bubble of working. And then I also have them, if I have time, I will have them do like a mini investigation. That’s lower risk. Right? It might give a real simple prompt, but that maybe I can give three options. And so, I know that I’ll have group of kids that will explore that particular option.

I might say something like exploration of your childhood toy or what is a memory to you? Or something like that, that is not about them having to pick the question. But it just focuses again on how to explore that. And maybe they’ll do … Again, maybe that’s the mini series of three or something like that. Or like a quick artist card size, artist trading card or something like that.

Tim: Yeah.

Janet: And then I also do like a mid-path check-in, I guess you call it. Check in for development. We practice a lot of visual journaling in my class. So I teach them different ways to use the visual journaling. And one of them is to actually clarify your path or redirect your path.

And so a lot of times the students have already been working on their inquiry and maybe they’ve created a few pieces. And a lot of times this is when things get a little slow, a little stagnant, they’re not sure where to go next. They’re kind of tired of working in that same maybe mindset or something like that.

Tim: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Janet: I’ll take a moment and I’ll say, “Okay, open up your sketchbooks. We’re going to visual journal today.” And I just have them write out their inquiry question in a cool, big font. And then they start exploring that. Right? And so, they can maybe ask questions, make that pathway. They can use different media to explore the pathway as opposed to exploring the artwork. And it feels a little bit more like a safe place to generate ideas. It’s always like that with visual journaling. You get to come up with all these ideas, you don’t have to take them all. But it helps them kind of make sure that they’re still answering the same question. And maybe it helps them, at that point, define that question a little bit more. That’s always important.

And then the last thing that I don’t want to forget is that, remember I said about materials and processes and that exploration? If you don’t have time to explore that …

Tim: Yeah, yeah.

Janet: And that’s a big piece. Students will get into their zone and want to stick with their medium or stick with their scale or stick with their whatever. Right? And we need to expose them and encourage them to try things and fail or whatever, and that it doesn’t have to ever be used in their artwork. Right?

Tim: Right. Right.

Janet: It could. They could. And I’ve had some … Okay. I’ll come back to this. Okay. I’m getting ahead of myself. I get so excited about this. Okay. So I oftentimes toss in technique Tuesdays.

Tim: Ooh, yes.

Janet: I always schedule my days. Technique Tuesdays were days where we just focused on play. And so, one time we did image transfers. Another time we made paper, homemade paper. It could be something serious, like writing or something like that. Right?

Tim: Yeah.

Janet: That is more about that. Instead of play, but it would be maybe more playfully approached. And then through that, the students … I had a student come up with an entire SI that she started with a collage or photos and then went into collage and then started stitching through it. And then she, because she learned about print making and paper making, she started making her own paper. Printing on top of it, stitching on … It was so fascinating watching how just this one thing that she would never have thought about before, became this whole investigation for her.

And I think that’s really important. Because our students don’t know what they don’t know. Right?

Tim: Right. Right.

Janet: And the other thing that … I just love to keep on adding more stuff. But the other thing that I love to do is motivational Mondays. Right? That’s a big one, too. And that helps introduce our students to artists that are actually doing this well.

Tim: Yeah.

Janet: And I think that’s really important. And I wrote an article about that, that talks about contemporary artists that support that. With some guiding questions to help you understand how you can prompt your students in these thinking. Because I think again, like I said, some of these artists, they’re doing some pretty complex things. And that’s really hard sometimes to wrap your head around as a 17-year-old.

Tim: Right. Right.

Janet: Okay. That’s a lot. Sorry.

Tim: All right, Janet. We are talking for way too long, as we always do. But I still wanted to chat with you about kids documenting their work. I want to talk with you about writing. So can you come back for another episode and we can chat about those things, too?

Janet: Of course. I’m always happy to come back.

Tim: Awesome. Awesome.

Janet: Thank you.

Tim: Love it. All right. Thank you, Janet. All right, another long discussion with Janet. And mostly my fault. Because we only got through about half of what I wanted to talk about. So we will continue and finish. We’ll continue and finish the conversation next week. And hopefully we can keep that episode to a more reasonable time.

We’ll have four different articles listed in the show notes that you can check out. All the ones that Janet discussed there. One on contemporary artists and how to bring them to your students or bring their work to your students. So they can see that, they can be inspired. They can help that kind of guide their own work to see how artists are dealing with some of the same topics that they are. An article on visual journaling, an article on the portrait lesson that she talked about. And then a really good article on creativity slash idea generation slash thinking outside the box. It’s a really good one if your kids are stuck on how to do brainstorming or seeing how questions can lead into other questions. Or how to continue developing that sustained investigation.

Anyway, all four of those articles are really good and they all have ideas that you can pretty much implement immediately in your classroom. Definitely check them out if you think any one of those four would be helpful. But hopefully the discussion today, those articles we linked, all of that can help you as we continue to try and figure out best practices for AP studio art. And of course, there’s still more. We will keep on with this topic next week.

Art Ed Radio was produced by The Art of Education University with audio engineering from Michael Crocker. Thank you for listening. And Janet and I will be back with you next Tuesday.

Magazine articles and podcasts are opinions of professional education contributors and do not necessarily represent the position of the Art of Education University (AOEU) or its academic offerings. Contributors use terms in the way they are most often talked about in the scope of their educational experiences.

2 months ago
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