Sunday, October 18, 2009

TAB Choice

When I took over as art teacher last year at my son's school, I changed the entire curriculum for seven classes. I wanted the projects to be fresh and to be ones that I tested. I got a lot of compliments on the work that was produced and the kids enjoyed the projects. The only problem was, it was cookie cutter art. Most looked like my examples. A teacher that I met through one of my art groups (our schools swapped ATCs) told me about TAB - teaching for artistic behavior. I started researching it over the summer, joined another Yahoo group dedicated to it, got a book on it and was convinced it was the way to go. Fortunately my principal is very cool and open to new ideas and gave me the go ahead.

So what is TAB you ask? It is a choice based art room filled with art centers where the students move from station to station creating their own art work. Studies and experience from other teachers show that the kids are more invested in their work because it is their work. The art may not be as pretty, but it is real and creative. Centers include; drawing, painting, fiber arts, collage, print making and short term stations like paper mache, book making, puppet making. It puts less pressure on me to create new lessons and gives the art back to the kids and gets them thinking like artists. Mistakes are a good thing as kids learn what works and what doesn't. I give a short demo each class on a technique and then step back and offer individual instructions or help when needed.

I didn't want to go right into this, so we started the year creating murals. I gave each grade a theme and let them work together to plan and create the murals. It went over very well and we had some great art work on the wall for open house. I followed this with the drawing and collage centers. The younger grades embraced this new system and really wowed me with their work. Kindergarten produced some books, first and second grade some very cool paper sculptures. My ADHD student was so engaged, he had no trouble focusing and produced some cool art. This past week I had a set lessons and second grade was dissappointed that the centers were not open. The upper grades were the ones that were lost. They have spent years being told what to draw/make, that they were unsure with this new freedom. I think they will need baby steps!

I hope to be fully switched over to a choice based room by December. Kindergarten will continue to alter between choice and lessons. I want to make sure they have help with basis skills such as tracing, scissor work, painting and drawing. I have a few kids that can't cut - they keep saying the scissors do not work. I am looking forward to this year and seeing what great art work the kids come up with.