Charcoal Flowers – Padlet – Flip Grid – Critique Tokens

Am I nuts or what???  I went to Oaxaca for Dia De Los Muertos and had a sub deliver a charcoal project!  My room needs a serious scrub down, but their work looks fabulous.  I meticulously planned this lesson so my students would be busy and productive while I was gone.  For the most part, the plan worked, but of course, I do have several students who might as well have been on vacation with me.

The first step is to draw two contour line drawings of fresh-cut flowers.  The room looks so cheery and fun with flowers placed on all of their desks.  I just love it!  I also like that their time is limited due to wilting and manhandling.

Next, they learn about Georgia O’Keeffe.  I used Padlet and FlipGrid to collect their responses.  For this assignment, I ask them to post an art image and a fact about O’Keeffe using Padelt.  Padlet is like an online bulletin board that is great because the learning is student-driven.  I review and pull important facts from the bulletin boards as I give my spiel on O’Keeffe’s life.  I ask them to respond to a couple questions about an O’Keeffe quote using FlipGrid.  FlipGrid is a video recording program that I like because everyone (well, everyone who actually does it) participates in feedback.  What I don’t like about FlipGrid is our students are camera shy… go figure, right!?!?!  I tell them it’s an important platform due to our world becoming cyberspace based for job interviews and business meetings.  I give them a day to reply because some students feel more comfortable responding from home.  When we talk about their responses as a class the overall discussion is more lively because they have had time to think about what they are going to say.

Georgia O’Keeffe’s composition techniques are used to introduce the criteria for the next part of the assignment.  They design composition by cropping their favorite flower sketch and start the charcoal process.  I have created a video that documents this process and have incorporated it into the slide show.  I feel this project works because I have scaffolded it to be delivered after the “Introduction to Charcoal” and abstract project. Once they have completed their flower masterpiece they add a page to their digital portfolio documenting their work.  Finally, we have a class critique using critique tokens.

I’ve been using critique tokens during our gallery walks to facilitate a group critique. The first exercise of the year is a little rough, but as we advance in projects there is a noticeable improvement.  I give them a sheet of paper with 9 squares. Each square says something different. Some examples of the comments I gave for this particular assignment are “this project has the best craftsmanship out of the room” or “this project has a nice range of values.”  As a class, we talk about why each remark might be assigned to a project.  I ask them to cut their tokens out and put their names on the back of each.  We then do our first gallery walk where they can not put their tokens down.  On our second walkthrough, they place their tokens next to the project they feel deserves the critique comment.  Once everyone has returned to their seats and have looked through their tokens I ask who has received “xyz” token.  Hands go up, and I try to pick a project that I agree deserves that token.  Once the assigning student’s name is revealed he or she is asked to explain why they made their comment.  Sometimes I have to coach them on expanding past “I just like it” by asking leading questions.  In time, as we do more critiques I will limit the amount of verbiage on the tokens, have them fill in the blank or write their own comment.  It might feel like pulling teeth at first, but it’s a great tool to facilitate a meaningful class discussion.

Link to web-published version of the slide show: Web-published Charcoal Flowers

Link to editable Google Slide show: Google Slide Show Charcoal Flowers

Link to critique tokens: Charcoal critique tokens

Introduction to Charcoal

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Have you played Kahoot?  The game fell on a Monday, which was perfect for a review of materials and a scheduled observation.  Talk about a fun lesson to do with teenagers!  I know charcoal is a messy medium, but I love it.  Some of my students don’t enjoy the challenge, but their end results sure look great.  I went step by step with them and filled out digital notes as we watched a slew of “how-to” videos.  Having a flipped room for reviewing information is rewarding because they are literally telling you about the supplies vs. you standing in front of them lecturing.  Not to mention a really successful abstract charcoal drawing as the end result.  This lesson is really worth it!

Link to published version: Introduction to Charcoal

Link to editable Google Slide Show: Introduction to Charcoal

Grid Drawings


I am kicking myself for not being a rule breaker to my own rule years ago.  Isn’t it weird when you set rules for yourself and end up just going along with them?  In the past, I have asked my students to glue down half the photocopy, for what reason?  Actually, I do know why.  This exercise helps beginning artists see and match the value.  Is it necessary?  No!  My students have been doing such a great job this year with shading I didn’t see the point.  I changed this lesson at the last minute and gave them the option to glue or not to glue.  Nobody glued and I am so glad.  I love seeing these drawings hanging on the wall and they are so proud of them.

During this project, I introduced some peer and self-critique activities.  I think having students participate in critiquing each other is very powerful.  First of all, they are harder on themselves than I would ever be.  Secondly, it is hard for me to talk to every student each period.  I feel peer critiques give students focus and drive to keep working on their projects.  If you don’t utilize peer critiques yet, try it you won’t be sorry.

Link to published slideshow: Grid Drawings

Link to editable slideshow: Grid Drawings

Rulers and Grids

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“Teaching the grid method is an easy thing to teach,”  says, NO art teacher ever.  I think the first hurdle is making sure everyone understands how to use a ruler.  Let’s face it, fractions are not easy for everyone to grasp and there are a ton of little lines jammed into a very tiny space.  Measuring can be confusing.  I think this lesson has made the process a little less stressful.  I even left it for my students to use with a sub, how crazy is that!?!?   To my surprise, almost everyone did a fantastic job.  I hope this helps you out in the land of “Rulers and Grids”.

Link to web-published slide show: Rulers and Grids

Link to editable slide show: Rulers and Grids

Link to Marvin the Martian 1/2″ grid


Personal Monuments


This lesson is not my lesson, but one borrowed from an amazing teacher, Thomas W. Darneau.  We both belong to an art education group on Facebook.  I have learned so much from teachers who share their lessons in cyber-space.  I greatly appreciate this forum because I don’t have the opportunity to collaborate with other art teachers very often.  I feel I have learned more from art teachers around the world than I have during professional development days with paid speakers.  The digital world has really brought us all closer.

I am using this project as an introduction project with my advanced students.  I have enjoyed this project because it has given me the chance to re-teach some basic techniques using graphite or charcoal.  I was also able to introduce some basic composition guidelines.  My students applied these concepts to their still life photoshoots, which creates their source material.  I gave them the choice of using graphite or charcoal.  I lean towards charcoal and hope they will to, but I don’t force them to use it.  It was a lot of fun to watch them work!

Link to web-based: Personal Monument Project

Link to editable slide show: Personal Monument

Geometric Still Life


Out of all the things we teach, this isn’t my favorite lesson to deliver.   I’m going on my seventeenth year of teaching and teach six classes a day…. that’s a lot of spheres, cubes, and cylinders.  I have to say, I love using videos to demonstrate the meat of this lesson.  It’s great to walk by a desk and see a student rewatching a video a second or third time.  Of course, I sit and shade with my students for most of the period.  In fact, I have more time to shade with them because I am not spending the class period demonstrating in front of the room.  The ones “who get it” are moving along and my strugglers are able to receive one-on-one attention.  The overall success rate in the classroom right now is pretty high and that is the reward that keeps me going from sphere to sphere to sphere.

Web-based version of a Google Slide show: Geometric Still Life

Editable Google Slide Show: Geometric Still Life

Paper Twist

For years I went straight into shading geometric shapes and then into a grid drawing using graphite.  I kept thinking I wish my students had a little more practice getting the hang of how to shade.  I also feel being able to apply the vocabulary I need them to understand so I can communicate with them how to shade is very valuable.  If they know what I mean when I say, “this area here is a value one, the shadow here is a value 6, this is a soft gradient, and that’s a hard edge” half the battle is over.  Recognizing the value of the contour line and shading the inside of the shape the same value is priceless.  Being able to shade a smooth gradient is also key to a successful foundation.   Scaffolding on top of the drawing exercises we learned previously and moving onto this project has been the extra practice I think they needed.  My students have gained confidence in their ability to draw and the rest of the year is going to be pure fun.

Have you tried EdPuzzle with your videos? I took my video and added questions to it. It’s been a great way to hold students accountable for the information they should be getting and I don’t have to repeat myself when it comes to directions. Well, for the most part, I don’t have to repeat myself. Click here to try it.

Link to Paper Twist slide show published to the web.
Link to Paper Twist Google Slide show you can edit.