The Dot by Peter Reynolds encourages us to make a mark and see where it takes us. International Dot Day is a day inspired by Peter Reynold’s book and is celebrated each year on September 15th-ish. This year the 15th fell on a weekend, so we celebrated in Art Education class the following week.
The day started with students and teachers wearing anything, and everything, with dots. There were polka-dotted rain boots, scarfs, shirts, pajama pants, dresses, and socks! The abundance of dots gave the room a festive feel. I passed out snacks to the students, Dots Candy, and Trix Cereal that not only fit the dot theme but added to the colorful atmosphere. The students watched The Dot video and read the book.
Each student table group had discussion questions that they answered together to reflect on the broader themes in the book. Discussion questions can be downloaded here.
After the small group table discussions, students learned the Dot Song, singing and doing the actions along with the following youtube video. Each student finished the day creating their mark and displaying them on the bulletin board.
It was a great day of creativity, courage, and community!
When I started college way back in the 1990s, I was an Art Therapy major. That never worked out for me because it was too much Psychology and not enough Art. In one of my Art Therapy classes, my professor went over the medical format of SOAP notes. Used primarily in doing patient intakes SOAP notes are an acronym, so each letter stands for a word and in this case SOAP Notes stand for Subjective-Objective-Assessment-Plan.
This year I began using the SOAP note format as writing prompts in my art class. I think it is essential for students to be self-reflective before a class critique and the SOAP notes help them gather the information they would like to share with the class about their inspiration and studio processes. As some of you know, leading a class critique can be challenging to get students to go beyond, “I like it” to explain why they like a piece of art, or what prompted them to go in a particular direction or make a decision regarding their artwork. The students writing their answers to the SOAP notes beforehand also focus their attention during the critique on studio practices or patterns they have not thought about previously.
Subjective: Here you document your inner experiences of your creativity in class. Here is where you can record your stream of consciousness. You can also document your observations about the research you did, and our previous class discussions. (Example: How is gesture important in my work? What did I learn from the thumbnail sketches I did? Why do my drawings need to look dark and moody for this topic? Etc.)
Objective: Here you write feedback that you receive from me (the teacher) during the class, or you can also document peer comments from previous critiques or working sessions. What did you take from this feedback?
Assessment: Write what you believe contributed to your most successful moment for this assignment or artwork. Also, write what contributed to your least successful moment in class. In other words, in this portion, you document your diagnosis of yourself in class including research, participation, and studio time.
Plan: In this section, you need to state what you feel is the most important plan for you to adopt for next class. What can you do to make your participation in class a better experience? Write a one sentence plan of action for the next class.
I hope that SOAP notes are something you will consider implementing in your class critiques, and please share your tips for successful critiques.
Sticks of Fate is a creative spin on the classic technique of a teacher calling on students to ask them questions. The teacher has a cup with popsicle sticks each with a student’s name on them. The sticks are stirred around, and the teacher randomly calls on a student to answer a question or contribute in the classroom. There are endless ways the sticks can be used in the classroom, but some important ways would be during discussion, brainstorming, presenting individual or group ideas, or even paring students for projects.
When the can is picked up by the teacher and swirled around it gets everyone’s attention because it uses randomness to the teacher’s advantage; therefore, students feel more accountable to not only listening in class but listening to their peers in class to summarize and demonstrate active listening techniques.
Sticks of Fate: May the odds be ever in your favor!
Lemov, D. Teach Like a Champion: 49 Techniques that Put Students on the Path to College (2010). San Francisco, Jossey-Bass Publishing
I teach future art teachers at Emporia State University. Here is what is going on in my classes.