Monday, June 6, 2011

Instructional Strategies

"Leaders establish the vision for the future and set the strategy for getting there." John P. Kotter
      I use a wide variety of instructional strategies to encourage student development in the fine arts. Just a few of these unique strategies are listed below. These strategies involve the acquisition of materials and the adaptation of technology in order for me to teach them effectively. My resources may include books, power-points, costumes, scripts, films, music, and visual aids. 
  • Clusters are diagrams that look like spider webs. There are two types, unorganized and organized. Very young students usually draw unorganized clusters that look something like a drawing of the sun with rays drawn around the circumference of a circle. The student writes or draws the main idea in the center of the circle and then writes additional descriptive information about the main idea on the rays surrounding the sun. In the second cluster version, The main idea is connected through a series of lines and additional ideas that are somehow related to each other. This makes the graph look like a giant cluster or spider web.
  • Cubing is an excellent way to teach students how to examine topics related to themes in art. There are six dimensions in this instructional procedure: describe, compare, associate, analyze, apply and argue. This strategy may be conducted by rolling a large dice with numbers 1-6 represented on each side. The numbers are referenced on a poster listing that describes the six dimensions of examination in my classroom. Students then research the dimension they have "rolled" concerning their topic and share it with the class on a predetermined date. I've included samples of cubing in the clay slab people lesson plan
  • Data Charts are often used in my class during a large thematic unit. Data is collected and added after the students read articles and view power points and sometimes even after completing a studio project. Organizing and collecting this data helps students to self-assess their understanding of what goes on in an art classroom and how to apply it to their projects. I also use this strategy when reviewing a unit before an exam or before beginning a new studio assignment. When data informs art, students comprehend it's art uses and meanings on a much deeper level. Included here is a sample of a data chart that I developed for a lesson plan called "Gustav Klimt Trees," it is attached to the end of the article.
  • Grand Conversations - What I have learned from planning a discussion based lesson plan is that it is a very complicated form of curriculum that must be planned well in advance. There is most definitely an art to communicating with multiple participants who come from multiple points of view about culture, religion, politics and literature. This lesson plan introduces the students to entirely different perspectives on the European settlement of North America. It challenges ideas that they have traditionally seen from the point of view of a conquering nation plus, it forces students to ask themselves questions that require deeper thinking on the subject than mere listing of events and opinions. I hope to develop a broader experience of literature for my students to draw artistic inspiration from and lessons such as these will certainly increase that very possibility.
          In this discussion, I also have configured a variety of groups for students to participate in. The small group is a place where shy students might share with others without feeling inhibited. The larger class discussion is a configuration that is somewhat intimidating for students such as these but, for those who thrive on performance, the large group discussions are a necessity. Individuals are also encouraged to write down their thoughts and organize “how” they will respond well in advance. So, this lesson plan not only introduces a “diverse” form of literature/history but also, it makes allowances for a diverse selection of learning styles as well.
  • The Hot Seat Strategy - The Hot Seat is a role-playing strategy that encourages students to build upon comprehension skills. It is a very popular way to promote literature and keep students pre-occupied with the story selections used most frequently in a drama or a literature classroom. Students may also learn to refine their oral language skills while pretending to be someone of an alternative time period/culture depending on the characters selected.
      I also require students to use critical thinking that is developed during routine critique sessions. Students are expected to use art vocabulary while referring to the work of their peers, themselves and master artists. This kind of social intercourse is needed in order to nurture confidence, respect, patience and tolerance for individuality in the arts. Critique is difficult and awkward for most young people but with practice, they learn to conduct themselves appropriately without giving offense. I include vocabulary terms in all of my lesson plans and post these around the classroom as well.
      My older students are also sometimes explore and reflect on questions and articles assigned for sketchbooks/journals purposes. This problem solving strategy integrate all three of the active learning agenda: critical thinking, problem solving and performance. I've included here a selection of sample questions I might use during a typical journal assignment. Students would keep their reflections inside of a journal that would be routinely inspected and graded at the end of a semester. In a high school class, I may also even count a journal such as this as a midterm or final exam.

all articles, photographs and lesson plans are copyrighted 2011 by Grimm 

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