Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Can We Teach Creatively? (part 5)

Current research presents a favourable picture of creativity-training programs as a viable option for improving creativity. Creativity-training programs appear most effective when they are targeting creative problem-solving or divergent thinking and provide structured instruction and practice around problem-solving steps.

Thimmesh C. (2014). TEDxUniversityofStThomas. Creativity in the classroom (in 5 minutes or less!). 


Continuing my summary of Lai, E. R., Yarbro, J., DiCerbo, K., & de Geest, E. (2018). Skills for Today: What We Know about Teaching and Assessing Creativity. London: Pearson.


Today, I look at two curricula that the reading mentions, the Learn To Think (LTT) program and The DISCOVER project.


The Learn To Think (LTT) program (China - evaluated by Hu et al. (2013))

Was designed to develop thinking abilities (including aspects of creative thinking) in primary and secondary students in China.
The program is based on the thinking-ability structure model, which includes:
  • thinking content (mathematics, language and literature, science, society, art, other disciplines and daily life experience);
  • thinking methods (observation, space cognition, comparison, classification, inductive and deductive reasoning, reorganization, brainstorming, transfer, questioning);
  • thinking quality (profundity, flexibility, critical thinking, agility, and originality.
LTT study was implemented in more than 300 primary and secondary schools in China, with more than 200,000 students participating over a period of ten years.
Hu et al. (2013) examined the impact of LTT on creative problem-solving within a scientific context for secondary-school students (aged 12+) who participated in LTT activities every two weeks over a two-year period.
Six months after the intervention concluded, creative problem-solving scores were significantly higher for students who received the LTT intervention, when compared to the control group.
These results indicate that the LTT program can positively impact the development of
scientific creativity in secondary-school students, with fairly long-lasting effects.

A list of Active Learning Strategies can be found here https://www.mcgill.ca/skillsets/files/skillsets/engaging_students_using_interactive_strategies_active_learning_strategies_handout-ltt_nov_2012_marcy_and_eva.pdf

The DISCOVER project (Maker, Jo and Muammar (2008)

A curriculum and teaching model organized around the following six principles:
  1. Integrate multiple intelligences through self-selected product formats, available/accessible tools, and choices based on student interests and strengths;
  2. Pose a variety of types of problems and, at times, encourage students to design their own problems;
  3. Include collaborative and learner-centered environments with lots of flexibility;
  4. Organize content around broad-based, interdisciplinary themes;
  5. Model a variety of processes and give students opportunities to practice
  6. Encourage students to develop varied products that reflect the diverse strengths, interests, and preferences of students.
https://pathwaystrainingandelearning.wordpress.com/2015/03/30/elearning-and-the-theory-of-multiple-intelligences/

Students demonstrated higher levels of creativity after being in a classroom where the DISCOVER curriculum was more fully implemented. This study provides evidence of an academic curriculum that can foster creativity without taking time away from academic content.

You can read more about Dr June Maker and the DISCOVER project here   http://discover.arizona.edu/overview--uploaded.htm

Maker J. (2013). World Council for Gifted and Talented Children. 20th Biennial World Conference Keynote.




These two structured curricula identify some valuable points that make strong links for me to my school's curriculum (IB, PYP). I found it is easy to integrate the content and method aspects of 'thinking-ability' (LTT) and organize content around broad-based, interdisciplinary themes (Discover).

My modifications have been more based on posing the 'right' problems,and  transitioning to a learner-centered and collaborative environment where varied work products are developed by students.

Last year I introduced media choice to Y3-4 students (ages 7-9). I offered offered media they were already familiar with, like acrylic paint, dye, oil pastels and wax coloured pencils. Then I introduced 3 new media - water colour paint, aqua pastels and aquarell pencils. I modelled these media and asked students experiment with them first before deciding on what to use for their personal exhibition work.

The students were excited about choosing their own content and media, and were highly engaged. I felt I was trying to introduce too much when added to management of resources and  also striving to develop student independence. When students have a long gap between art terms, routines need to be re-established each year as our students rotate between art specialist each term (art, music, dance, drama).

The Y3 focus was Explorers (based on their classroom unit of inquiry) so we explored our favourite places around the school with our iPads and took personal photos to base our work on. I printed out each student's personal photo in colour for reference. A couple changed their minds during the drawing phase and selected another student's photo to work from. Here are examples of finished work product with the original student photo in the background and the student work over-layed.



Oil Pastels - Y3 cubby house

Dye (liquid water colour) - walkway to gym

Water colour paint - pylons (this student was inspired by a photography student's work from the year before)

Acrylic paint - Y3 playground

Aquarell pencils - the school pond

Aquarell pencils - orchard blossoms

Acrylic paint - water feature

Wax pencils - school pond from bridge

Dye - liquid water colours - blossom trees

Y4 were looking at migration so they used iPads to research the beauty of New Zealand that makes it unique and a preferred destination for migrants. Combining aspects of their favourite images, each student compiled a unique landscape composition which they completed in a media of choice. Here are a few examples:
Aquarell pencils

Oil pastels (L) and Water colour (R)

Wax pencils

Dye (L) and aquarell pencils (R)

Oil on canvas (TL - student's own), Dye (TR), Oil pastels (BL), Aqua pastels (BR)


Currently I am investigating ways to model a variety of processes and give students opportunities to practice, with the view of raising skill levels and deepening conceptual connections (thinking quality), without converging their thinking to my way being the 'right way'.

A method I am trialling at the moment with Y1-2 (ages 4-6) is to model skills in isolation, then share examples of student work (in progress and completed) demonstrating these skills, before students practice their own. Time is always a consideration when I only see students for a maximum of 18 hours a year. The obvious problem with this is that there is no time for students to try first and create a starting baseline to see where their skills are at. The skills component becomes a blanket instructional session which by its nature will only apply to about one third of the class and this will become evident in the quality of their personal pieces.

One could view it as a longitudinal learning process and be informed about student skills based on their previous year's work - if you teach them all year. With my school's current rotation system, this continuity is challenging.

With Love

Timea


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Sunday, 15 April 2018

Risk to Blossom (part 4)




The words in this poem by writer Anais Nin sum up my current position: https://allpoetry.com/poem/


Risk
And then the day came,
when the risk
to remain tight
in a bud
was more painful
than the risk
it took
to blossom.

Over the next few posts I will be reviewing the following White paper on Creativity:
Lai, E. R., Yarbro, J., DiCerbo, K., & de Geest, E. (2018). Skills for Today: What We Know about Teaching and Assessing Creativity. London: Pearson.

Today I looked at the Definitions and Models of Creativity:
image from: https://wegrowteachers.com/

One of the most enduring theories associated with creativity is the model of divergent thinking, which Guilford (1950) popularized. Adapted for the framework of the Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking (TTCT).
Divergent thinking is generally understood as a composite idea-generation skill. The original model of divergent thinking captured in the Torrance tests comprised four subskills:
  1. fluency—the ability to generate many ideas;
  2. flexibility—the ability to move fluidly between different representations;
  3. originality—the ability to produce novel and unusual ideas;
  4. elaboration—the ability to fully develop ideas.
Divergent thinking could be viewed as an indicator of creative potential.
image from:www.slideshare.net/

Amabile’s (1988, 2012) componential model of creativity identifies four main components of creativity:

1. domain-relevant skills, which include factual knowledge and technical skills: This highlights the value I bring as the teaching expert, to include subject specific knowledge and model skills relevant to developing my students. I aim to deliver this through media or technique introductions with small and large groups as well as on a need to know basis with individual students. Besides these teacher sessions, I also record the skill/media introductions and load the videos onto our class blog for future reference. For example, this is a clay introduction lesson taught by me to Y2 students in small groups and the video has now been loaded to our class blog for future reference.  http://timeawillemse.blogspot.com/p/3-clay-skills-flipped.html    


Furthermore, these teacher directed lessons are NOT for assessment. They are only the teaching component. Students are given time to develop their own creations using the skills learnt during teacher intro to create their own items considered for assessment.
Below is an example of 6yr old student work. His teacup from the learning session and his Kiwi with fern leaf and grub from his independent session.
These teddy bears were a learning session for 9-10yr olds but by this stage, more confident students are already expanding on the basic teacher instructions as can be seen by the varied details.


Independent work that followed included a range of original ideas, from frogs to foxes.


2. creativity-relevant processes, which Amabile defines as cognitive styles related to taking new perspectives, as well as aspects of personality such as a tolerance for ambiguity and risk-acceptance, plus heuristics* for ideation and divergent thinking: I want my students to become more open-minded so include regular buddy feedback sessions and group conferencing at the start of term. (video augmented with CLIPS to protect student identity)




As student realise the value of (divergent) feedback and one-to-one conferencing, I have noticed that they soon seek this out independently. Another way is when they work on collaborative projects or in collaborative ways. I found play, both structured and unstructured, to be a fantastic avenue to advance heuristic development. Media gets put out in exploratory centres for students to discover. One example of this was when I put out only primary colours and a range of texture making tools - no paintbrushes for a Y2 (6yr old) exploratory session.
The brief was to create with the paint on your card. Their explorations yielded a range of textures and effects plus a range of original colours that they created through mixing. The spontaneous learnings and teachings occurring between students was tremendous. Later they were asked to use this card as both the inspiration as well as the backdrop of their collage design, see examples below.




 By progressing beyond teacher directed projects and developing a Design Thinking Process (DTP) for my classes that supports them to design and create original work, I am also building their tolerance for ambiguity and a true understanding about learning through mistakes that we make along the way. I will elaborate more about the DTP that I am trialling with my students in a later post.


3. intrinsic task motivation: I see this internal, self-motivation coming from the connection that a student feels with the piece that they are working on. This has been true in the past for some students following teacher directed projects, possibly because they are enjoying the making process or prefer being guided as they are low level risk-takers. When students devised and created their own designs for the first time, I noted a sense of apprehension mixed with excitement. As the term proceeded, exceedingly greater engagement was clearly evident. That first trial showed me that time must be built in for students to prototype, especially with media that they are considering using for their display work. They get really nervous about spoiling this and like to have a 'play' first. So I built this session into the programme as a purposeful exploratory time to explore any number of 2D media and then to reflect on the outcomes. I provided different types of paper, for wet and dry media, all cut down to A6 (trading card size). This intervention reduced anxiety about spoiling work as students had the opportunity to learn how the media would perform for them. 
(video augmented with CLIPS to protect student identity)
 


4. the social environment in which the creative process is taking place, including any extrinsic motivators, organizational norms, or constraints that may operate against the individual. I am lucky enough to have a classroom that students come to. It is known as The Art Space and students make that mental shift as they move between classes. They leave their classrooms where lessons and testing around Literacy, Numeracy and units of Inquiry occur... and arrive in a room filled with artwork on display from other students that is regularly changing as different pieces are progressed. Filled with a wide range of media all visible and promising any number of possibilities. Organisation is quite rigid and students follow this well. On arrival all students must stow away personal devices for safety and until needed, clean hands as all equipment is shared, collect on the mat for a roll call and daily briefing. This may be followed by centre choice, teacher guided lesson, sketchbook explorations or independent action on own work. Most lessons conclude with a reflection which is posted onto students' individual Seesaw accounts, followed by clean up. A music track is played and the room must be re-stored for the next class by the time the track finished (+- 3 min). If not achieved, that class packs up 3min earlier in their next session. Further constraints are imposed in the form of the 'creative box'. Students and given a brief based on the unit of Inquiry they are currently working on. They work through our DTP structure and create original work. Students can break out of this 'creative box' with justification.

For e.g. when a 9yr old made the clay horse above, she broke out of the 'endangered species' box by claiming that if we don't look after our planet and its wildlife, soon its our domestic animals that will be threatened. This was her way of hitting home with her message of concervation.
     
Csikszentmihalyi (2014), although not offering a definition of creativity per se, locates it at the intersection of three systems because no creative achievement can be interpreted or judged in a vacuum.

Image from: www.researchgate.net



  1. the field in which the creative accomplishment must be judged, whose members act as gatekeepers for the domain - for example Visual Art, Drama or Vocal Music subject areas

  2. the cultural domain, which will be responsible for taking up and preserving creative ideas for future generations - the programme, curriculum, principles and attributes valued by the school and its teachers

  3. the person responsible for generating the creative ideas (including motivational, affective, and cognitive factors) - the student 
The investment theory of creativity (Sternberg & Lubart, 1992; Sternberg, 2006) begins with creators taking on unknown or unpopular ideas that show growth potential and pushing these forward until they become accepted. Creativity occurs within the interactions of a number of factors:
Image from: www.mindforlife.org


  1. intellectual abilities or “creative intelligence,” including the ability to synthesize (break the bonds of conventional thinking), and analyse the values of one’s ideas to decide which are worth pursuing, and persuade others (practical-conceptual skills),
  2. knowledge about the domain or discipline, Goldilocks principle applies - some knowledge of the domain is necessary to generate insights, but too much knowledge can make thinking rigid rather than flexible,
  3. thinking styles, or “preferred ways of using one’s skills,” including “a preference for thinking and a decision to think in new ways”, 
  4. personality attributes, such as a tolerance for risks and ambiguity, self-efficacy and perseverance,
  5. intrinsic motivation to engage in the creative tasks,
  6. an environment that supports the creative individual 

In Runco’s view (1996, p. 4), personal creativity ultimately involves some kind of transformation that takes place when a person interprets their experiences. It is inherently subjective and reliant on the perception of the individual. Encompasses problem-solving, problem-finding and articulation. The expression of personal creativity depends on:

 

Image from: www.researchgate.net



      1. motivation;
      2. certain cognitive styles (interest in novelty, information-seeking, and tolerance for ambiguity);
      3. metaphoric logic, or an aptitude for unconventional ways of thinking; 
      4. discretion or “mindful choice,” about what and how to transform, in an effort to ensure the transformation has utility and value; 
      5. the intention to create, and the use of processes, strategies, and heuristics to support that intention;
      6. relevant domain knowledge and experience.

      To conclude: Elements held in common across these various theories and models include:
      • intrinsic motivation to engage in creative tasks, 
      • domain knowledge and experience, 
      • certain cognitive styles related to unconventional thinking, 
      • a particular set of personality characteristics, 
      • and a supportive social environment (which can include a person’s home and family life, the classroom environment, and the broader social context). 
      image from: https://cdn-images-1.medium.com/



      Each of these elements can be seen as a supporting factor for creative expression or potential.

      Creative construct still requires the elements of novelty or uniqueness, and  relevance, utility, or appropriateness for some purpose.






      *Definition of heuristic: discovery or problem-solving by experimental and especially trial-and-error methods, heuristic techniques, of or relating to exploratory problem-solving techniques that utilize self-educating techniques (such as the evaluation of feedback) to improve performance (https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/heuristic)

      With Love

      Timea


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      Monday, 9 April 2018

      Identify your purpose - Find your motivation (part 3)

      For me the biggest push to modify my teaching practise in Visual Art was my learning about 21C skills.

      Partnership for 21C learning http://www.p21.org/our-work/p21-framework really got me to examine  the potential added value of my role in the school and helped me to realise the importance of what I could be doing, beyond teaching art.

      For content knowledge and themes, P21 lists Art as the 3rd most important subject - after language arts and world languages, only then is it followed by Maths and the other conventional subjects.

      Mmm! The gravity (and responsibility) of this did not escape me.
      Free image from:images.sipse.com

      To prepare students for an increasingly complex life, 21C learning needs to focus on creativity and critical thinking as a priority, combined with communication and collaboration - the 4Cs.

      What are the 4Cs? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QrEEVZa3f98


      On their website, P21 also have downloadable PDFs of ways to assess these 4Cs. Here are the link to the Creativity one:
      http://www.p21.org/component/content/article/36-general/2307-skillsfortodaycreativity
      and
      http://www.p21.org/storage/documents/Skills_For_Today_Series-Pearson/Educators_-_Creativity_Executive_Summary.pdf

      To be effective 21st century citizens and workers, we must be able to create, evaluate, and effectively utilize information, media, and technology.

      P21 identified the following essential Life and Career Skills:
      • Flexibility and Adaptability
      • Initiative and Self Direction
      • Social and Cross-Cultural Skills
      • Productivity and Accountability
      • Leadership and Responsibility
      Well...
      This sure has left me with a lot to think about, and what Cindy Foley spoke about in her TED talk video was gaining more substance for me. (See previous post https://timeawillemse.blogspot.co.nz/2018/04/dive-in-slowly-do-research.html)

      I started reading this White Paper on Creativity from P21 and here is my summery of the Forward and Introduction:

      Lai, E. R., Yarbro, J., DiCerbo, K., & de Geest, E. (2018). Skills for Today: What We Know about Teaching and Assessing Creativity. London: Pearson.

      Creativity - ideas that not only are original and make a unique contribution to the field but also serve some purpose or fulfil some need.
      Nearly every profession can benefit from the infusion of fresh and relevant ideas.
      free image from: realisingtheself.files.wordpress.com


      Creativity is a continuum and can be improved by:
      • teaching approaches that focus on cognitive strategies for problem-solving and divergent thinking, 
      • cooperative or collaborative learning,
      • observational learning, improvisation, role-playing games,
      • some types of diversity training that focus on breaking down stereotypes and challenging assumptions.
      Factors that can contribute to a person’s creative potential include:
      • intrinsic motivation to engage in creative tasks, 
      • domain knowledge and experience, 
      • a facility for unconventional thinking,
      • a particular set of personality characteristics (like openness to taking intellectual risks), 
      • a supportive social environment, whether at home, at school, or on the job.
      Creativity may not always be rewarded in the classroom, because the personality attributes most associated with creativity - independent thinking, nonconformity, and openness to risks - are not necessarily valued by teachers (Westby & Dawson, 1995).
      Likewise, Beghetto (2007) found that prospective teachers tended to prefer student responses that were relevant rather than unique.
      image from: wegrowteachers.com


      Assessing the positive benefits of 'teaching for Creativity' on other areas of learning is challenging because gains are not linear, nor parallel. And benefits may only come into fruition later on.

      Several recent surveys and interviews of executives and human-resources professionals in companies within many sectors and in multiple countries indicate that creativity skills are among the most important skills for employees,
      63 percent of managers and executives agreed or strongly agreed that creativity and innovation would be priorities for employee development, talent management, and succession planning during the next one to three years (American Management Association [AMA], 2012).
      72 percent of global senior executives responded in a survey that innovation was a top priority for their company, (an increase from 64 percent only one year earlier) (Andrew, Manget, Michael, Taylor, & Zablit, 2010).

      Image from: www.supplychain247.com


      Work teams that engage in more creative practices have higher performance than teams that engage in more standardized practices (Gilson, Mathieu, Shalley, & Ruddy, 2005).

      IBM Institute for Business Value (2016) funded a study involving interviews with over 5,000 CEOs from nineteen different industries worldwide, finding that the most financially successful firms in their sample had CEOs who established a culture of innovation that encouraged employee creativity.

      Individual creativity “is the production of a novel and appropriate response, product, or solution to an open-ended task.”

      While innovation requires implementing a creative idea and bringing it to fruition, despite organizational constraints and challenges. Thus, innovation occurs within an organizational environment and requires a host of other skills in order to materialize - such as perseverance, a willingness to take risks, social skills, and good communication (Amabile, 1988). These elements are now informing my assessment practises.

      Factors that help create a classroom environment supportive of creativity include - autonomy, low stakes for making mistakes, and opportunities for collaboration and playfulness.

      Ken Robinson - What is creativity ? (2017)  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X1c3M6upOXA

      In this video, Sir Ken makes the point that as teachers, we need to go beyond teaching for creativity and teach with creativity.


      He quotes this poem by writer Anais Nin which also sums up my current position: https://allpoetry.com/poem/8497015-Risk-by-Anais-Nin


      Risk

      And then the day came,
      when the risk
      to remain tight
      in a bud
      was more painful
      than the risk
      it took
      to blossom.

      I guess the time has come to blossom!



      Thank you for visiting,
      With Love

      Timea

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      Thursday, 5 April 2018

      Dive in slowly - Do research (part 2)

      I had my reservations about a complete and immediate switch from my teacher-directed and skill based art programme, to a student-directed one http://teachingforartisticbehavior.org/

      So I moved slower - for 2 reasons.
      One was to have the time to reflect on the effect that degrees of choice had on a range of students, giving me time to observe, be observed, interview students, adjust, create support as needed and research.
      The other was to build confidence gradually in the students who had already been learning in the conventional teacher-directed method.

      With students who moved from experimentation at Kindy the year prior, I used a 50/50 combination of teacher-directed mini lessons and students directed choice sessions that I alternated with. This year group probably had the most influence on me.

      Due to their, as yet, uninhibited approach to creating in visceral, haptic (active exploration) and tactile ways, their level of engagement, independence, free collaboration and detailed explanations were second to none.

      In comparison, when I engaged the same group in teacher-directed mini projects, their neediness multiplied tenfold and the words "can you help me", "I can't do this", "mine's not good", "I made a mistake", etc. were continually repeated. Self-criticism rose and confidence seemed to diminish rapidly when students were expected to conform to the same outcome, at the same pace. In hindsight, I believe these clues were always there but I just didn't know to look for them.
      Yes the skill level shown in the teacher directed pieces seemed more developed, but when they returned to independent work, this 'learnt skill' seemed to evaporate.

      Last year, I compiled some points that emerged from observations, in this table. Green boxes are the positives I noted at the time.

      I also rewatched one of my favourite TED talks - https://www.ted.com/talks/ken_robinson_says_schools_kill_creativity/transcript?language=en



      Sir Ken Robinson - Do Schools Kill Creativity?

      And came across this amazing video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZcFRfJb2ONk&t=24s


      Cindy Foley - Teaching art or teaching to think like an artist?

      I was feeling nervous about the innovations I was contemplating as it opposed the reality of current practise in our classrooms. I had been fortunate to attend an inspiring key note talk by Professor Welby Ings from AUT at a previous art teacher conference, and was glad to find that in his book - Disobedient Teaching, he argues that positive disobedience is a fundamental teaching behaviour among successful practitioners, and excellent teachers show the ability to change learning programmes and learning environments to suit their students.

      Here is his TED talk from 2013  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aumxbgOdkRU



      Welby Ings - Disobedient Thinking:  at TEDxAuckland

      Books that opened my perspective still further included:

      Ings, W. (2017). Disobedient teaching: Surviving and creating change in education. (Kindle Edition). Otago, New Zealand: Otago University Press.


      and

      Jaquith, D. B., & Hathaway, N.E. (2012). Learner-directed classroom : Developing creative thinking skills through art. New York, United States of America: Teachers College Press.




      and articles by:

      Gaw, C. (September 05, 2016). What is an ethical pedagogy? Retrieved 12 August 2017 from http://clydegaw.blogspot.co.nz/search?updated-max=2017-02-28T16:44:00-08:00

      Jaquith, D. B. (2011). When is Creativity? Art Education, 64(1), 14-19.

      Purtee, M. (2016). Teaching skills for the 21st century: Creativity. The Art of Education. Retrieved 7 August 2017 from https://www.theartofed.com/2016/04/20/teaching-skills-21st-century-creativity

      Social and online media also played a big part:

      The TAB website http://teachingforartisticbehavior.org/ was a minefield of ideas,

      Block paper Scissors podcasts by Clyde Gaw and Clark Fralick
      and their personal blogs which can be found at:
      http://clydegaw.blogspot.co.nz/  and    http://sceart1.blogspot.co.nz/

      And the Facebook pages for Teaching for Artistic behaviour are great places to ask questions.

      All this research and reflection takes a lot of time but is well worth it. You need to feel confident in your deeper levels of knowledge and not run merely on superficial impressions. The chances are you will be challenged - by supervisors, colleagues, students, parents and members of the on-line teaching community.



      http://clipartmag.com/research-clipart#research-clipart-20.gif
      If you are also wrestling with these issues or have some great resources to recommend, I would love to hear from you so please comment below.

      Thank you for visiting,
      With Love, Te Aroha

      Timea


      Sunday, 1 April 2018

      A better way - Reflecting on the start of my journey to TAB principles (part 1)

      Post Mindlab - a retrospective

      It is so interesting how much your perspective changes about education, the minute you step outside of your single cell classroom.

      As a classroom teacher for many years, I believed that I knew best what my class of students needed to progress their learning, and to some extend that was true. But it is only when I moved into a specialist role, teaching across 7 age groups that I got a much wider indication of some of the traps I fell into in the past.

      It is so easy to think only of that one year that you are teaching and to meet your targets at all cost. But once you see students develop from ages 4 to 11, you quickly become aware of the long game.

      When I took on my current role as Visual Art and Digital Media specialist, I had a big learning curve ahead but was ready for the challenge. I have a passion for learning, the creative arts and technology, the rest was going to develop through research and observation.
      I started with a teacher directed approach that focused on practical skill development and scaled formulaic projects up across year levels. Nothing new to see here as this is the best way to teach skills in art, or so I thought.
      After pulling together the first art show (in my first year in this role), I knew there was something not quite right about this way of learning art. The final clincher was when I shows student work at a school cluster art show in the local shopping mall. Several works from a range of schools were instantly recognisable as Pinterest staples. Very embarrassing. 

      I wanted more variety of work from within the year levels and started trying to modify the same recipe for each class but wanting them all to still be getting the same skill development. Basically, I was still focusing on the skills that I felt they should be developing, rather than what individual students really needed.

      Some early attempts at teacher-directed differentiation across 4 Year 2 classes - Seasons using Collage technique:
      Spring Winds

      Summer Flowers

      Winter Snowglobes

      Autumn Leaves



      Some early attempts at teacher-directed differentiation across 3 x Year 3 classes - Savannah Habitats using the Crayon and Liquid water colours (Dye) with drawing technique:
      Zebra

      Elephant

      Giraffe

      Some early attempts at teacher-directed differentiation across 3 x Year 4 classes - Monet using the Tache technique:







      Then, I first came across Teaching for Artistic Behaviour (TAB) in one of my many online explorations.

      In 2016, I discussed the notion of offering some choice options to my Year 5 and 6 students (last 2 years of primary) to see how they would cope, with my assistant principal . We were staging 'The Lion King' for our school production, so I thought - what a great opportunity to engage the students with all things Africa.
      The rest of the year groups I continued to teach through directed lessons with a skill focus, apart from Kindy, who came in to explore with different media each week.

      I offered Paint (acrylic, water colour), Drawing (pencil, coloured pencil, oil pastel) and Sculpture (papier mache) centres to my Year 5s to select from.
      The Year 6s also had  collage, photography and clay on offer.
      The only guidance I gave initially was to  show how the same concept can be created in a range of sources and I collated some Youtube videos on techniques for most of these resources. I linked these into our 'in-house' student digital resource page.

      Choice centres across 3 x Year 6 classes - Africa:
      Liquid water colours (Dye) and Collage

      Acrylic on Canvas Board

      Clay Elephant

      Photography

      Photography

      Photography

      Clay African pots

      Clay Rhino

      Papier Mache Rhino

      Papier Mache African Mask


      I also would spend 5-10 minutes in a centre to introduce or review specific skills or techniques during lessons but would roam the rest of the time to support individual students on request. While they were learning independence and building confidence in themselves, they were teaching me to let them be, to let them self discover and construct personal knowledge, and to share these learnings through collaboration with their peers. 

      Yes I had my worries but was so excited to see what the students would do when given the choice to pursue personal passions. 



      Te Aroha, with love

      Timea


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