Thursday, August 9, 2018

Drawing Skills...Who's Got 'Em?

As a student you probably fit into one of these three categories when it came to illustrations.
  1. AMAZING. Your drawings were envied by other classmates and you ROCKED the art world.
  2. OK...you were really good at stick figures and simple sketches. Basically you could make things look "neat."
  3. Uhhh...what exactly is that? Even your stick figures and houses were sloppy and you HATED any assignment that required illustrations. 
Our students today aren't much different. Most of the time, in my class, it doesn't matter which one of the three categories kids fall into. They can (and are) successful in my class whether or not they're the next Picasso.

But...sometimes there's a project or activity that does require some artistic ability. Many times these are done in teams. As a student I would hate to be a "category 3" in a group with other "category 3's." That just sets them up for failure from the beginning, judging them on something they don't have complete control over.

A few years ago, I stumbled upon an idea from one of my amazing colleagues, Melodie Harris. Her method of differentiating teams based on illustration skills is one that I must share with you! It's genius! 

On the first day of school (or one of the days before a project requiring artistic ability) I have my students complete a different kind of bell work. They pick up a piece of paper that looks very much like this....


Then they get to work, drawing simple illustrations of the topics provided. Most of the time they're confused as to why I have them do this...but there's always a point. 

Once finished and turned in (I do not grade these), they are used for me as a tool to differentiate. I rank them from best to worst and keep them in a folder in my desk. Now anytime I want to group students for a project that is in need of some illustration skill...I start with my best ones and make sure each group gets at least ONE person who can handle a pencil and go from there. 

BONUS...many times the most artistic people in your classroom aren't the most academically successful ones or the most popular "first pick" teammates. BUT this is a great chance for you to brag on these kiddos a little by saying... "Wow, I hope your team realizes what a gift you have to have Mary in your team. Have your SEEN her artwork?!?!" This gives Mary a boost of confidence and stops any grumbling that may occur because she was assigned that group. 

Give it a try...I bet you'll find it useful! 

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