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Nov. 2, 2016
LeDonna McIntosh, an art instructor at Northwest Missouri State University’s Horace Mann Laboratory School, is passionate about art education.
“Everything I do is to prepare students to respond as an artist to art centers and take charge of their own learning,” she says.
After observing a choice-based art classroom two years ago, McIntosh was inspired to implement the approach at Horace Mann. She understand learning is a process for adults as well as children that takes time for development and changes in thinking.
Using art journals to record their learning journey, students in McIntosh’s art classes are recording the process as it moves from inspiration to completion.
During the 2015-2016 academic year, McIntosh began with a drawing center that students used as an independent center when other works were completed. The practice is known by the Teaching for Artistic Behavior, an organization developed by and for art teachers, as Choice as Reward.
Students enjoyed visiting the center and used supplies for their own ideas and creations. However, the product did not fit the assessment criterion that includes allowing students to take risks, going deep with a preferred medium or technique, experimenting, and bringing aspects of their life into their artwork.
This fall, after careful consideration and more experimentation, McIntosh is implementing a center for collage, sculpture and fibers. Her goal is to move from Choice as Reward to Modified Choice and on to Near-Full Choice. These options provide students with more choice, moving from teacher-selected content and media to students choosing content and media.
Horace Mann fifth grader Kenzie McMillen likes what McIntosh is doing in art classes.
“I think when you do sculptures you create in 3D and bring images to life,” McMillen said. “I like to be creative and like art a lot.”
According to Teaching for Artistic Behavior, “Choice-based education regards students as artists and offers them real choices for responding to their own ideas and interests through the making of art.”
The approach to learning supports diverse needs of students in a learning environment that provides opportunities to construct meaning and knowledge while enjoying art. Organizing the physical space of the art room to accommodate centers is continually changing to meet the needs of the students to provide better access to all areas of learning.
To learn more about choice-based art visit www.teachingforartisticbehavior.org.
Horace Mann serves children in grades kindergarten through sixth grade and is a clinical teaching environment for students in the University’s School of Education. Students attending Horace Mann reap the benefits of low student-to-teacher ratio in classrooms that implement innovative teaching practices and provide learning experiences designed to stimulate each child’s creative learning abilities and problem-solving skills.
For more information about Horace Mann and its Phyllis and Richard Leet Center for Children and Families, visit www.nwmissouri.edu/horacemann.
Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager
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Northwest Missouri State University
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