The critical last step in making a work of art - reflection - used to be so difficult for me to fit in. I suffered from wanting to cram in as much creating as possible. The results were mixed. Mostly (I hope) my students had a good hands-on experience with making something but at worse, they were confused.
It seemed I was always rushing. Rushing my students from start to finish and then on to the next opportunity for creating. So well intentioned but really missing the point. I'd demo the lesson - including a cultural/historical reference - hope the students would see the relevance - then pass out materials and my encouragement. We'd end with an informal sharing...IF time allowed...and that was it.
Along came John Collins writing, and a school-wide initiative to implement writing across the curriculum. I will sheepishly admit that I was a big skeptic - initially. But I got on board and decided to see how I could make this work for me. Over time I saw the value of using FCAs (or Focus Correction Areas for the uninitiated) for writing (as well as creating - more on that in a future post).
There was a convergence of several things at this point. Technology had evolved to the point where individual student digital portfolios were possible. And there was a type of learning management system available to facilitate the specifications and handling of these new digital portfolios - which has only gotten better and better over the years. For example, when I started requiring digital portfolios they were a simple collection of .jpg images in a folder. Next came power point presentations (or keynotes), then iMoodle, GoogleDrive presentations, itslearning eportfolios and I am piloting Weebly blogs this year. The technology will continue to evolve but the goal remains the same.
What these all offered though, was a space for the student to reflect upon their work - which I now call "journal entries." Sometimes I will offer specific FCAs but a standard for every project will include:
- What is your favorite part of this project? What is the least favorite?
- What was the inspiration for the subject?
- What would you do differently if we were to do this project again? Why?
- What are some of the concepts you learned while creating this artwork?
- Did anything surprise you about this work of art?
Having students express this information adds depth to the creative process, supports their ongoing learning and supports my goal of examining instructional practices. The last critical step here is that we take the time for all students to present their portfolios (and reflections) in a formal critique. At this point the work really comes alive - and we all learn so much from each other!