23 August 2019

TEACH-NOW . . . Module 5, Week 2, Activity 1: Assessing Project Based Learning

Subject: ART 

Objectives - Students will create a mask out of recyclables and air-dry clay. In the process, they will learn about the causes of air pollution, brainstorm solutions, and learn how to use art as a tool for activism.

Grade Level Focus: Bilingual Year 7 and 8 students.
Length: 4 - 6 weeks, 2 hours per week 

Product to Be Delivered: A finished mask out of recyclables and air-dry clay, a presentation about air pollution with possible solutions.

21st Century skills to explore:

  • Problem solving – Students will research and track air quality in Nantong, China. Based on their findings, the students will problem solve ways the community can cut down on air polluting practices and brainstorm solutions to the air pollution crisis. 
  • Communication – Students will communicate in a variety of ways throughout this project. Students will communicate with each other as they are building their masks and working with and around each other. Students will communicate with the class during their presentation, relaying information and facilitating questions. Students will communicate with the community by displaying their masks in a formal gallery setting, including process photos and research findings. 
  • Critical thinking – Students will evaluate and analyze research findings on air pollution. Students will develop best practices for building mixed media sculpture. 
  • Creativity – Students will use creativity in a variety of ways during this project. Students will use creative problem-solving skills to create solutions for the air pollution crisis in China. Students will use creativity to build and make their masks out of recyclables. Students will use creativity to decide on how best to present their information to the class using tech-focused tools.


Air pollution is a major source of frustration and health concerns in various parts of the world. Air pollution has become a major issue in China and poses a threat to public health. In 2016, only 84 out of 338 major Chinese cities attained the national standard for air quality. Because I am living and working in China, I have chosen to focus my project on air pollution.

Provocation Questions:
  • What is pollution?
  • What comes to mind when you hear the word ‘pollution’?
  • What different forms of pollution do you know of?
  • How does pollution affect our health?
  • What kinds of things cause pollution?
  • How can we reduce pollution?
  • What can we do to increase the awareness of environmental pollution?
  • Describe how human activities affect the environment.

Content, Knowledge, and Skills

  • Principles
    • Hand Building with Clay
    • Mixed Media Sculpture
  • Examples
    • Images of Mixed Media Masks
  • Clay Methods and Techniques
    • Pinch
    • Coil
    • Slab
  • Working with Recyclables
    • Fixatives to Use: Glue, Duct Tape, etc.
    • Best practices When Combining Clay and Recyclables
    • Adding Color to The Finished Product
  • Tech Skills
    • Presentation Format Possibilities
  • Presentation Skills
    • Preparing A Presentation
    • Visual aids
    • Managing nerves and anxiety
    • Projection, Intonation, Emphasis and Pacing
    • Non-verbal Communication
    • Structuring
    • Passion and Enthusiasm.

Assessment: Students will be assessed on 5 criteria directly related to the art making process.

Craftsmanship – Student’s project is carefully planned from start to finish. The mask is built with integrity and strength in mind. You can tell what the piece is and that it will be used as some sort of mask. 

Creativity – St
udent’s design is unique and displays elements that are totally their own. Evidence of detail, pattern, or a unique combination of materials. 

Production/Effort – S
tudent uses class time efficiently and is always on task. Time and effort are evident in the execution of the piece.

Work Habits/Attitude – Student is respectful and open to positive suggestions. Cleans work area thoroughly.

Tech Use and Presentation – Student’s research is thoughtful and presented well. Student has used a tech-focused presentation to present information and facilitate questions.

Each criteria will be assessed in a different way.  

Craftsmanship - Teacher Reflection. Each week, I will reflect on student progress via short--but valuable--paragraphs kept on a Google Doc. Each class will have a separate document, all kept in one folder labeled with the project name. And each of these class docs will be used for reference when semester and final grades are called upon. In each of these Google Docs, I can upload images of student work, write out questions I have for each student, create ideas for feedback, and make decisions about future lessons.

Creativity - Student Reflection. Self-reflections provide students with opportunities to think deeply about their learning and artistic achievements (Douglas, K. and Jaquith, D. 2009). Mid-way through this project, I will have students take partial class time to write a reflection on their tablets or laptops. This reflection will focus on the following questions:
  1. Think about the mask that you are creating and describe it in 3 sentences.
  2. What is your favorite part of this project and why?
  3. Were you inspired by any of your classmates on this project, or any of the artists we have looked at so far this year? List 2 reasons why or why not.
  4. What has been challenging for you during this project? Do you feel more confident in your ability to overcome creative challenges? Why or why not?
  5. What would you like to get better at? How can that happen?

Production/Effort - Group Sharing Session. While working, students receive a variety of comments from their classmates. Most students value and appreciate constructive criticism. But learning to filter out or ignore unhelpful remarks is easier for some than others. When students come together for sharing sessions, it is a time for the class to give their full attention to their classmates. Every two weeks, students will gather and share about their mask making: focusing on technique, effort, ideas, and/or meaning. 

Work Habits/Attitude - Survey. As a way to see if the students are engaged in their project and enjoying the process, I will conduct a quick survey using sticky notes and questions. A large poster with a question on it will be presented to the students as they leave the art studio at the end of each class period. Using sticky notes, they will respond with questions or affirmations. The responses to each question will be collated and reviewed at the beginning of the next class. Questions might be:
  • Were you satisfied with your work ethic today? Is there anything you would have done differently?
  • How was your disposition and approach to your project today? 
  • Did you have enough space and materials to work with today? Is there something specific you might need before next class?

Tech Use and Presentation - Rubric. Teacher and student will collaborate on filling in the rubric after the student's final presentation. I will meet with each student for 10 - 15 minutes to discuss feedback and we will grade the final presentation together using the following rubric.

This amazing idea comes from an artist friend of mine teaching in Taiwan.


Douglas, K. M. and Jaquith, D. B. (2009) Engaging Learners Through Artmaking: Choice-Based Art Education in the Classroom. New York and London: Teachers College Press.

Incredible Art Department. (n.d.). Retrieved June 23, 2019 from the https://www.incredibleart.org/.

Lee, M. @mizzzlee_art Instagram Feed. (October 24, 2018) Retrieved from https://www.instagram.com/p/BpUFFzYH8bV/?igshid=mr430ynjnp9q.

National Geographic. (2017, October 16). Air Pollution 101 [Video file]. Retrieved fromhttps://youtu.be/e6rglsLy1Ys

Pollution in China. (Last edited on 20 June 2019). Retrieved on June 21, 2019 Wikipedia:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pollution_in_China.

18 August 2019

TEACH-NOW . . . Module 5, Week 1, Activity 3: Data-based Modifications of Formative Assessments

Formative assessments are significant tools in any classroom, but they look quite different in the ART STUDIO. For me, formative assessments look like conversations between students, gallery walks, sketchbook journaling, one-on-one conversations between student and teacher, self-assessments, and ball tossing. It’s important for me that I find assessments that fit my teaching style, and it’s also essential that I not mess up the studio environment that has already been established by the students. 

I snagged the following paragraph from Wynita Harmonover at The Art of Education blog spot. I couldn’t have described my teaching and classroom culture better myself: 

“I personally teach from a Teaching for Artistic Behavior (TAB) point of view. The TAB website describes the learning environment by stating, “TAB classrooms are highly structured environments. Students scaffold their own learning, sometimes going deeply into specific subjects or media. They work at their own pace, following their own lines of inquiry, and develop skills as they need them.””

Essentially, the my art classroom is student-centered, enthusiastic, and the kiddos act and work as studio artists. This fits in well with my COMMUNITY and COLLABORATIVE norms and procedures. And creates individual thinkers who act and work like a TEAM, which really contributes to the idea of FLOW.

I teach skills and techniques, vocabulary and history daily. But not in the form of tests or projects or through books. I teach vocabulary through modeling how to talk about artwork. I teach history when it’s relevant to something contemporary that we are looking at (I don’t want the students thinking that the only important artists are the dead ones). And I teach skills and techniques based on individual projects and what each student needs. Of course, all of these things vary based on the age of students I am working with. But for the most part, all of my students Nursery – Grade 8 are creating work in this vein.

I teach in an IB PYP school. So I collaborate with homeroom teachers, other specialists, and I follow the Unit of Inquiry when it’s authentic to what my students are inquiring about. I modify my teaching and assessments daily, almost to the minute, really. I honestly try and focus everything I do with my teaching on my conversations with the students and what they feel like doing on any particular day. It took a long while for me to figure this out . . . But when the students are the facilitators of their own learning, they challenge themselves to do things they never thought they could do. I’m just kind of there to guide them along and assess as I need to.  

As a bonus, below are some arts-based assessments that could work for a variety of classrooms. I really love the examples given with each assessment, especially the Beach Ball and 3-2-1. This list was created from a more comprehensive list by Sarah Dougherty, also from The Art of Education University.
1. Conga Line – a great way to share ideas with different partners; two lines of students face each other, one line moves with same question or a new one.

2. Inner/Outer Circle – same as Conga Line except with circles, better for limited spaces

3. Pair-Share – activates prior knowledge or shares learned concepts with partners, can be timed

4. Jigsaw/Experts in Residence – each group becomes an expert on a certain part of the lesson, then debriefs the whole group

5. 3-2-1– good closer: three points to remember, two things you liked, one question you still have.

6. Quick Write/Draw — Given a topic, students write and/or draw freely during a timed period (I DO THIS ONE A LOT!!)

7. Gallery Walk – stations with information, participants can write on post-its or directly on the poster with thoughts, comments, or questions

8. Think-Write-Share – Same as pair-share, but gives students more time to organize their thoughts

9. Beach Ball – Concepts are written on a beach ball. As a student catches it, they give a thought or clarify the concept closest to one of their thumbs

10. SOS — Students write a quick Statement, an Opinion based on the statement, and finally a Supporting piece of factual evidence.

11. Poll the Class — Use a simple show of hands, white boards, or even a clicker program, poll the class on foundational knowledge, opinions, or even where they are in their learning.

12. Grade Yourself — Have students give themselves an in-progress grade, then explain why their work is earning that grade. Give them explicit standards and relevant vocab to use in their explanation.


Arts Achieve Impacting Student Success. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.artsachieve.org/formative-assessment

Dougherty, S. (n.d.) 20 Quick Formative Assessments You Can Use TODAY. [Blogpost].Retrieved from https://theartofeducation.edu/2013/10/18/20-quick-formative-assessments-you-can-use-today/

Harmon, W. (n.d.) 6 Strategies for Fast and Formative Assessments. [Blogpost]. Retrieved from https://theartofeducation.edu/2019/01/18/6-strategies-for-fast-and-formative-assessments/

TAB Teaching for Artistic Behavior. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://teachingforartisticbehavior.org/what-is-tab.html

Visual Thinking Strategies. (n.d.). Retrieved 
       from https://vtshome.org/

Visual Thinking Strategies – The Three Simple Questions. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://emprobstvts.weebly.com/vts-the-three-simple-questions.html