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The Independent Art students presented their year-long inquiry process on Wednesday evening, May 16, 2012 with their Independent Art Show in the library/art wing of Trinity High School from 6:00pm-8:00pm. The girls were madly rushing in and out of the artroom throughout the day putting finishing touches on art pieces or repairing a piece that may have gotten bumped in the artroom. At 3:00 pm, the girls came running into the artroom to begin setting up racks in their chosen area,moving display cubes into strategic positions and hanging their artwork, “tweaking and re-tweaking” until their guests and the art community arrived. The unveiling of the installation piece, “The Spark Within”, a series of 36 panels depicting “Ah-ha” moments in the lives of these 9 talented young ladies was very well received! The girls stood proudly at their displays and discussed their artist statements  and processes with the viewers and circulated among the crowds to admire one another’s displays. This was the girls’ night to shine and so they did! At the end of the evening, 4 artists had sold artwork which I told them they are now considered professional artists!

Helping the students plan the show is a ton of work, but it was well worth it! Giving the students the opportunity to use inquiry and make their own choices regarding the creation of their art was definitely worth all the worK. What great artwork was created with the help of my cig group and AE2.0.



Our April 16th CIG meeting at the IU was much more relaxed and everyone feels very comfortable about our meetings, our inquiry question and what is going on in our classrooms regarding motivation and effort by our students. We had a skype meeting earlier in the second semester and a few members of the group met at the IU on March 2 (I was attending the NAEA  in New York that weekend- what a great conference!) , so now it is time for everything to come together! We all updated our wikispace, which became the script for our movie presenting our findings in working on getting students motivated to practice music and art outside of the classroom. We also discussed other options for our presentation time (handouts/ question and answer/ visuals, etc)

How can inquiry strategies be incorporated into music and arts classes to improve motivation and effort toward students’ practice habits?

I realized that trying to work with all of  my art classes regarding our group’s inquiry question was overwhelming, so I began to narrow it down to which group(s) I thought would best benefit by increasing their motivation and drive to create exceptional works of art both inside and outside the classroom. My Independent Art class, which consists of nine young ladies, 6 seniors and 3 juniors, are higher end art students, but have been procrastinating about production and seem to be “looking for their style”. Their lack of motivation was disheartening, as these girls opted to be in a year  long, high level skill and motivation art course. I began by scheduling an “interview” with each of the girls to have them talk about what they had been doing with their concentration and what they thought they could visualize by stepping outside of their comfort zone and pushing their art with different materials and ideas. I have worked with these girls in other art classes over the years and knew that they were creative and could break “out of the box” in trying new and exciting ideas. Individual interviews grew into small group interactive discussions with a few directed questions or comments and then into question and answer sessions with little or no direction from me. The classes went from “I don’t know what to do” or “what you think that I should work on next”to“what do you think of this idea?” As new ideas emerged from students who originally kept falling back on traditional drawing and painting skills, my comments to them were “where were all these ideas and concepts hiding?” I started pushing more “research” into new techniques- mixed media using found objects, altering books not as a journal, but as a sculptural forms, trying materials that were not normally considered art materials and encouraged the girls to find other artists that were also experimenting or working with similar concepts so they would realize that they were not alone. The group went from “what should I do now?” to “look what I was working on last night” or “I found this out in the parking lot of the mall and I am going to incorporate it into this piece of art”. Direction and inquiry was no longer teacher based, but student driven and the level of motivation was off the scale! I forced the students to talk about what they were doing and how “boring” their ideas were to really exciting works of art! They stated to think about their process and began to listen to one another regarding the production of their art. The more personal the artwork became, the more motivation and effort were visible. The girls were asking one another to be critical in viewing their progress and listened carefully to suggestions and questioned reasons for the comments. They became more critical in their own thought and creative process and more motivated, spending study halls, lunch and after school time in the art room. Now I am seeing the artwork that they are working on at home! The more they explore, the more they have been motivated to create!

Our January  13th CIG meeting at the IU was in my opinion, a little stressful. We had designed our survey in November and I distributed it to all my classes in early December. I shared the results with the group at the December meeting. At that January meeting, I felt that we were still unsure of what we were trying to do with our classes regarding motivation and effort in regarding student’s practicing outside of the classroom to improve their music and art. It is just frustrating sometimes to get the students to get the required work done for class, especially sketchbooks in Drawing class and definitiely grades are not a motivating factor! Students that have incredible drawing skills will fail drawing 1 because they refuse to do a sketchbook which is part of the course requirement. We spent the meeting talking about the survey, putting it into our wikipages and discussing our final project.


November sketchbooks are due tomorrow, December 2, 2011 for my Drawing 1 students…

looking over the survey that M and D created at our last meeting and thinking about the questions in the survey  that are proposed to the students such as what motivates them in the art classes to do well and turn in sketchbooks- grades, the ability to become better, etc? Rewards seem to be the feeder in motivation. Right now there are opportunities for the students to earn money for contests and I have offered them bonus points and gift cards in addition to the recognition and that is not even working. Is it the time of year?

Reading 2

Creativity and Imagination: Tools for teaching Artistic Inquiry by Karen Heid

Professor Karen Heid states through her research that “The cycle of visual inquiry  suggests that artists arrive at decisions for making artwork by perceiving  conceiving, expressing and reflecting” and that this theoretical model provides guidelines that can assist art educators in the creation of art lessons for our students. We all do this in our everyday teaching, but I have never thought of putting so eloquently!

The study group for the research was an elementary art class (11 kindergarten and 11 third graders) who were being taught about Surrealism. Using synectics as an approach for the students to understand how two objects that are not normally put together appear normal and metaphors, the students were able to complete multiple tasks which took them through the creative inquiry process. Students created a chart of organic and inorganic items and then brainstormed (fluency) with team members to join an organic and inorganic object into one idea and then perceived how the two objects could become one. The students came up with many ideas and began to formulate images that would mesh the two images into one. The students conceived concepts from the words on the list which lead to drawing (creating) what the two words which became images (symbols). The students elaborated on the ideas and the images visually created by joining the two ideas into expressing in concrete representation of how the two images could believably become one. They used the metaphoric images which took the idea from a literal translation to a visual translation (such as if pigs could fly). With all other aspects of visual inquiry in place, the student could look at the final results andreflect on their ideas, compilations and choices and how they all joined together to produce the work of art AND what was learned throughout the process!

As a high school visual art teacher, I know that these steps are crucial in understanding a process from first conceptions through the finished product… brainstorming, researching, creating and reflecting back on the process from the initial ideas/sketches to the finished product. There is not one step that is more or less important than the other- they are all gears that make a machine run. Without the whole  “package”, there may be skips in the machine or just not function at all. All components create a true artistic inquiry.  This article refreshed me because it helped me to remember that a wheel is a wheel- I don’t have to reinvent it, and I may already be using it, just under a different name.

Required Reading #1: Key Ideas about Inquiry

Sometimes the students just think too hard! The simplest challenge can be overwhelming because they are trying to do more than is needed; in looking “outside the box” they are wedging themselves into the corner. The idea of an artist block is frightening… your mind going blank and the frustration that goes along with that block. This is a problem that I feel shared inquiry can be used as an active quest. A student that is frustrated due to an artist block or is having difficulty coming up with the “right” idea can create a inquiry group to actively seek help/ ideas/ work out artist block outs/ vent frustrations and discuss what could and could not work in a piece . Kids that are working with similar materials, like concepts etc. can work together to solve their problems and reflect on the solutions they come up with.

Our CIG group, which was named “M and D” (Motivation and Determination) grew out of concern on how to motivate students in our classroom… how to encourage them to want to be creative and create and how to put forth effort to be successful. Our question was formed-

“What inquiry strategies can be incorporated to improve student motivation and effort in art and music classes?”

In discussing the most frustrating problems in our group (outside of budget cuts and administration), the group felt that getting students excited about art and motivated to create art was the biggest challenge. In visual arts, the student says that he/she sees no importance in learning about art and creating art- how do you motivate that student to open up to see that art touches our lives every minute of every day and that the creation of art is an outlet, a career and can encourage higher level thinking? In music, the problem continues with not only motivating the student to understand the importance of music, but to motivate them to practice to become better. We know that this is not just a concern in the arts, but in all areas. Our plan, through inquiry, is to develop strategies that will encourage and motivate students to become more productive in our classrooms.

I rely on many things in developing inquiry in my classroom. I feel that by getting to know my students personally and developing a rapport helps me to get them to open themselves to understanding art and the importance of art is very important. Use of visuals and tangible items such as prints, books, and artifacts (such as my artwork, artwork from collections, student artwork, items from my travels) stimulate inquiry in my art room. Technology has increased the level of inquiry, especially with the introduction of the I pad, ladybug document camera and the Zoom Q3 for documenting discussion and presentations. The students have access to these materials at all times and have increased our interaction. If a student has a more indepth question regarding an artist, art style, technique, etc. I will give them information where they can find more indepth info to answer their own questions and fill their own need

As an art teacher, I am always working closely with the students on developing their own ideas and concepts and making them “push the envelope” regarding the depth and production of their work. Instead of “telling” the students how to correct and improve on their artwork, I prefer to talk one on one or in a small group, such as students sitting at the table and randomly begin asking a few directed questions about colors, images, brush strokes, etc. Getting the students to begin talking about what they are “seeing” is the first step. Instead of the students asking me “Am I finished”?, I work with the student to formulate their own questions about the completed work where they ask themselves questions regarding the objectives of the project, techniques used, and understanding of the basic concepts. This means of inquiry is also used in small groups to determine if a student is truly finished with a piece of art and they can talk about the process in which the piece was created.

Inquiry changes the roles in the classroom- the teacher takes a passive role in the educational process and can, in many cases, become educated (in more ways than one!)as the students engage in the teaching aspect. The students become the active participants, asking questions, challenging information, etc. I think that a teacher needs to feel very comfortable and secure with the subject, the classroom environment, his/her self and the class to be able to permit inquiry oriented work. In my Asian Arts and Culture class last year, I used the inquiry-oriented approach for the students to become more global in their learning of Korean, Japanese and Chinese arts since it was only a semester class and the students had some many different interests! They researched information on the different arts and the techniques/traditions used to create the arts and them disseminated the information to the class, sharing not only the product, but also the rationale and history in its creation.

I feel that my area of “expertise” would be assisting the students in collecting appropriate data which would lend assistance in the learning process. With my opportunities to travel outside the United States and also with my students to art museums and galleries throughout eastern United States and my willingness to experiment with technology, I feel that I can work with the students in directing them to areas that would enhance their learning capabilities and open them to finding out more about topics, materials, cultures and art forms. These opportunities open more doors into inquiry and the willingness to learn.

Key ideas that are repeated in the six quotes from our first required reading all deal with inquiry- in the classroom, skills for developing and supporting inquiry, reflection and research.

The discussion question that is the most interesting to me at this time is “What problems do you encounter with your students that could stimulate shared inquiry as an active quest? I feel that this is a challenge to all of us in the classroom and as an art teacher I can get the students to become involved in collaborative inquiry.The key quote that I look forward to discussing with members of my group is #1because I would like to hear if and how they would work with students to stimulate shared inquiry.

“We have a hunger of the mind which asks for knowledge of all around us, and the more we gain, the more is our desire; the more we see, the more we are capable of seeing.” (Maria Mitchell)
Inquiry Based Education allows students to explore outside the confines of a regular lecture situation. How would you be able to implement this quote into your classroom situation?

The key quote that speaks about the role of the teacher in facilitating inquiry with students is quote #4 “ Inquiry requires teachers and students alike to take up multiple roles and responsibilities within and across classroom activities…”
The teacher is working with the students through collaborative inquiry techniques and supporting the students to increase their learning in and outside the classroom.

The quote that inspires me is Quote #4 as it talks about teacher and students taking multiple roles and responsibilities, and encouraging and supporting students to create, develop and explore their own questions and find the answers. This quote is very encouraging to me as an educator as this is how I feel that teaching should be… not just lecture and instruction, but exploration to encourage learning.
The quote that I would consider controversial would be Quote #5, which compares the “traditional” classroom situation in which the teacher lectures and the students listen and there is no room for the students to challenge information and how inquiry oriented classroom encourages interaction and questioning/sharing of information.

September 2020

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