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Art Students Develop Lifelong Habits

Jefferson Middle School art teacher Lisa Corey and her students are using this school year’s changes and obstacles as an opportunity for growth.

Mrs. Corey enjoys thinking up new lesson ideas and has been incorporating more “choice” projects, which increases student engagement by letting them decide on their own subject matter or materials they want to use. This year, she is adding specific lessons about the 8 Studio Habits of Mind, developed by a research team from Harvard: Developing Craft, Engage & Persist, Envision, Express, Observe, Reflect, Stretch & Explore and Understand Art Worlds. These habits tie directly to the NYS Art Standards of creating, producing, responding and connecting.

Her students are provided with mini lessons to cover the Studio Habits of developing their craft and observing. These include how to use and care for a variety of art materials and how to look more closely at things. These skill-building lessons create confidence that results in a solid toolbox for students to be able to choose from for their choice projects, allowing them to explore the habit of expression.

The hybrid and remote teaching formats have introduced a new platform of Google classroom for Mrs. Corey to explore. She is increasing student engagement by adding progress documentation to their assignments. The digital format of Google slides is a great way to have students record their daily progress by uploading a photo of each day’s accomplishment, especially the mistakes and rough drafts, which help them understand where the process started and how it affects the end result. Students date and journal their thoughts right next to the photos, keeping them accountable each day, focused on their objectives and meeting deadlines. The visual and written documentation has become a significant focus in the project evaluation as it provides evidence of student learning and growth throughout the entire creative process from the beginning to the final result – a way of recording their habits of stretch and explore, as well as engage and persist. It creates an excellent opportunity for the student to reflect as well.

“I think that doing art this way lets you reflect on your mistakes,” said Jefferson Middle School eighth grader Jarren Cotter. “It allows you to take a step back and think about how you can do different things. I like art because it is freeing. It is a different way to express yourself.”

Currently, Mrs. Corey is talking about the habit of envision.

“Some people formulate ideas like fireworks, where one thought sets off another,” said Mrs. Corey. “Some people develop their plan like a coffee pot. All the information goes in the top and slowly, drip by drip, an idea forms. All of these habits will hopefully have a lasting impact on my art students, even if they choose to travel down a different path. I’m not only teaching them to be artists, but to be thinkers who can communicate their ideas to develop new solutions.”  

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