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Stepping Stones Stepping Stones is a monthly column that breaks down seemingly daunting tasks in art education into simple, manageable “steps” that any art educator can take and apply directly to their classroom. Stepping Stones will explore a variety of hot topics and research in the field today. Five Ways to Increase Craftsmanship in the Art Room by Jessica Balsley A “craftsman” is defined as: “One who creates or performs with skill or dexterity, especially in the manual arts.” Art educators consistently strive to coach and model good craftsmanship to their students. Sure, teachers can check to ensure students are understanding the art concepts, test them on the vocabulary or even assess students on their color mixing strategies. If these art standards are performed in a sloppy manner (i.e.: lacking craftsmanship), however, the project can go from fab to drab in a matter of minutes. It’s easy to enforce careful work habits in the art room, which will ensure both the process and the product is a source of pride for you and your students. things in their own art. It only takes a few minutes during your demonstration, and it is so worth it! used in the past is to explain to students my display plans ahead of time. I will tell them, “This project is definitely going up in the hall,” or “This is the project I will be choosing a few pieces from to put in the art show.” It may seem like briber y, but if a student knows their work will be on display for all eyes to see, they may think twice about rushing through. 4 EXPLAIN YOUR DISPLAY PLANS One trick I have students are using good craftsmanship in the art room is to have them check in with the teacher before they can move on to the next step. If the teacher is able to “catch” students in the middle of the project, and give constructive and helpful feedback, the student can use that feedback to make changes to their artwork and ensure they are working with care. SHOW EXAMPLES Some may think showing examples, especially the teacher’s example, can be quite intimidating for students. However, showing any type of example that visually displays the quality you are looking for in the finished project can be a source of inspiration for a student. Show another student’s example if you don’t want to show your own. Lift it up and brag to the class about the great craftsmanship you see. Students thrive on a little healthy competition. This is a great way to build peer confidence, as well. Without a target to see and shoot for, students will often miss. SHOW NON-EXAMPLES Showing non-examples to students may be an even more effective strategy than showing examples. When the teacher demonstrates painting in a ver y sloppy manner, students cringe. If you make a big production (at any grade level) of what not to do, adding in a little comedy and drama to make it memorable, students are sure to remember to watch for those 14 1 CHECK IN One really simple way to monitor whether focused on what they think the teacher wants to see from their work, they can easily forget to be their own best critic when it comes to craftsmanship. Have students honestly evaluate themselves using a self-reflection form on the back of their artwork. (I’ve done this with students as young as first grade!) Allow them to share how they think they’ve done in terms of careful work habits. You’d be surprised at how honest kids are. Self-reflection helps students 5 USE SELF-REFLECTION Sometimes students are so 2 Self-reflection helps students define their own learning targets, and helps them improve their work habits for the next project. define their own learning targets, and helps them improve their work habits for the next project. As much as teachers care about student process and creativity in the arts, at some point, we must also be focused on the end product by ensuring our students are taking pride and care in the artwork they have spent so much time on. By focusing on both process and good craftsmanship, your students are bound to have successes in the art room. n Jessica Balsley is a K–5 art educator and the founder of the website, which offers a wide range of services designed just for art teachers. januar y 2012 3 x

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