Monday, May 19, 2014

Tips for Teaching AP 3D

Now that my Advanced Placement students have submitted their portfolios to the College Board,
I finally have a second to breathe.

But, if you know me at all, then you know
that when given a break, instead of relishing in rest and rejuvenation,
my brain quickly moves on to the very next thing.
It's a problem really. 
{I wonder if there is a 12-step program for busybodies?}

Before I dive 100% into my next venture,
I thought I would take this opportunity to reflect upon
this school year with what worked and what definitely did not
in teaching AP 3D.


First things first, SUMMER ASSIGNMENTS!
I always assign my AP students four summer assignments.
With eight breadth pieces needed for the final portfolio,
my students walk in the door with half their breadth work complete.

These breadth projects are mostly experimental in nature
with materials that students
most likely have access to at home.

Last summer, I was recovering from a c-section,
so I really wasn't able to assist any students with their summer work.
As a result, the overall quality of the summer breadth pieces was pretty low.
Not awesome-sauce!

This summer, I plan to hold Open Studio once a week 
at school for my AP students to work on their breadth work.
Hopefully, this will help clarify any misunderstandings of summer assignments
and improve the overall quality.


The way my schedule is set up, I teach two sections of 3D art. 
Both sections are a blend of AP and non-AP students.
Once we get grooving, this is no big deal.
But the beginning of the year,
 it is pretty challenging to balance
 the AP 3D students with the non-AP 3D students.

When teaching the non-AP students about the fundamental elements of sculpture,
I incorporate four experimental projects that are quick but effective
at creating dynamic abstract pieces.
I have my AP students repeat these four assignments
to complete the Breadth portion of the portfolio.
I find this to be pretty effective because the AP students have already 
completed the assignment once before when they were non-AP 3D students, 
and have a pretty good idea of how to manipulate the materials to their advantage.


Developing one's concentration is the most challenging aspect of AP studio art.

For AP 3D, students must submit 12 images,
but the College Board leaves it rather open-ended
 regarding how many pieces are required for the final submission.
In my class, I require ten concentration pieces.
This gives students enough opportunity to grow and explore within their concentration
and allows them to choose to submit them all with a few second views of the pieces 
or select fewer pieces with more second views in their final portfolio.
I expect my students to create two pieces a month,
which is usually a pretty doable pace.

During the concept development phase {October},
I push students to think about materials they enjoy to work with
and specific art elements/principles they find fascinating. 
From there, they create their first concentration piece.

Once the first pieces are created, I facilitate a class-wide critique
to analyze whether or not the artist accomplished their original concept.
It is during these first critiques that students often modify their concentration concepts
and/or bounce ideas off their peers for additional approaches for their next piece.

I have found that these peer critiques are the SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT
aspect to students' concentration development.
This year I incorporated a critique per every two pieces,
but my students shared with me they wish there had been more.

Next year, I will try to be more intentional about the frequency of critiques
and I would like to start pointing them to more professional artists as resources and inspiration.
I will admit, my knowledge of past/present artists is rather superficial
 {just the bare minimum needed to pass a college art history exam}
and this is an area of growth for me.
Obviously, I will never know all the artists out there,
but I do need to find more resources for my students to discover
and research art and artists.


Can I get an Oy-Vey!?

This is the most challenging aspect of teaching AP 3D
for me personally.

Here are a few things I have learned the hard way:

Teaching AP 3D within a sculpture class means 
I have learned to assign my AP's a designated area in the classroom for storing their work and supplies.
Now, very few of them actually use my designated area for very long
before they find their own personal niche
 {which drives me bonkers because my other classes 
somehow, someway break/steal/ruin/play with their art}.
I think forcing students to use my designated storage is going to be my priority next year.

Since there is lots physical work in my classroom all the time,
I have my AP students take digital photographs of their work with their smartphones
 immediately after they finish (sometimes even in progress) 
and submit them to me via Dropbox.

This has been insanely helpful for several reasons.
1.) Storing student work digitally is much easier than storing it physically (for obvious reasons).
2.) The College Board requires digital submissions. 
Therefore, it is beneficial for me to grade and for students to critique images of their work 
to keep the evaluation process consistent.
3.) Recording pieces digitally, frees students from having to be "finished" with a piece.
Oftentimes, students will submit an image of a piece in progress just in case
they go a little too far in the next part of their creative process. 
I have even had a student deconstruct each piece after it was photographed,
to construct his next piece using the same materials -- very cost effective.
4.) Having students take their own pictures lightens my load tremendously.
Dropbox allows students to share their photographs with me instantly 
from their smartphones. We both keep digital copies of their portfolios,
which has been beneficial when uploading the final work to the 
College Board website at the end of the school year.

The submission process this year went a helluvah lot better than last year,
mainly because I was on maternity leave last year
and had students Facebooking me all sorts of questions
while I was just trying to figure out how to take care of a new human.
It was stressful.

This year was cake (relatively speaking).
Something I realized this year during the submission process 
was that my students need help remembering their sh"t.
Each student created an account on College Board just days
before submitting their portfolios, but NOT A SINGLE ONE
remembered their username/password (that THEY created) on the day they submitted.
To prevent this from happening next year, 
I am going to assign each student their username/password 
and its going to be a formula we can all remember.
Ex. usernames: LastnameFirstname  passwords: Birthdate

Also, I suggested but didn't require students to keep track of their dimensions when 
they finished their artwork. It was a HUGE pain in the rear and slowed the submission
process waaay down to a snail's speed when students had to locate past pieces 
to record their measurements.
I have already created a graphic organizer for next year
for students to record each pieces dimensions as the year progresses.
I am wrestling with the idea of making students responsible for keeping track of this paper
or if it should be stored in a safe place in the room.
Hmm...  I will have to ponder that one.

Hopefully, if you are not an art educator or if you find all this teacher talk a real bore,
you stopped reading a looooonnnggg time ago,
but if you do not fall into one of those above categories,
I hope you have found these tips helpful. 

Please share if you have any tips that you have developed over the years.


Ms. Ferguson said...

great suggestions!! Thanks for taking the time to write them down. I need to get organized now :)

Meagan said...

Thank you for the tips! This is my first year teaching the 3D component of AP and it is a very different bear than 2D. Did you find that the iphone photos were high quality enough to submit?

Taylor Norton said...

Meagan, I did!! My student scores have been very high and all photographs have been taken with their smart phones. They use peer's phone flashlight as a spotlight to generate dynamic shadows. Let me know how else I can help!

Rebecca Soderberg said...

Would you mind sharing some of your experimental projects that are effective at creating abstract pieces? I struggle with getting my students to create nonrepresentational work!

Mary Lambert said...

Yes, please share the summer projects you assign!?

Busbyjl said...

I am just reading this post and it is very helpful. We have started using google drive fore everything in our school. A spreadsheet on google docs shared with you from your student of their dimensions would be a great tool for keeping track of these things.

Ms. Ferguson said...

Great post. Question. What types of projects do you do in October to help them explore materials and elements that further helps them select a concentration idea? Is there any one project that you fell helps clarify things for them? or is it a combo of a couple projects? Thanks

Jeanine Gaston said...

I also teach AP 3D. We use Google classroom, students keep a digital sketchbook in google classroom. Each new projects begins the same way using a slide with reference artists and brainstorming. Next in the sketchbook is the "in progress" work about 3 times a week. Then finished images. Measurements must appear on the first finished image slide. Space is always a problem, I just finished putting together two shelving units. I have two AP3D classes daily, we are running out of space quickly. I also use Remind, which send out reminders to my students to helps remind studnets of upcoming due dates.