Recent Blogs & Online Sources by Carrie Jeruzal
Carrie Jeruzal: Redesign- Make it Bad, Then Make it Better
Just like great art, great art education is often inspired by personal experiences. But, not always in the way one might expect…. A couple of years ago my oldest daughter’s class was holding a...
Just like great art, great art education is often inspired by personal experiences. But, not always in the way one might expect….
A couple of years ago my oldest daughter’s class was holding a bake sale during a community event as a fundraiser for a field trip. I don’t have much confidence or experience in baking so I thought this one “treat recipe” that I found online would be cute, easy and perfect for a busy mom like me. Well, it wasn’t so easy and I messed it up terribly. Turns out candy kisses look the same slightly melted as they do burnt and one should not let them stay in the oven, “just a little bit longer!”
So I took a deep breath, ate some burnt chocolate, regained my strength and senses and decided to persist by getting creative with my odd sense of humor. So, tongue-in-cheek, I created a new recipe embracing the struggle. I called it “Mommy Can’t Bake Mix”.
Mommy Can’t Bake Mix
Step 1: Wait till the last minute to make baked goods for your daughter’s bake sale. Go to the store at night when most of the other crazies and overworked moms are out.
Step 2: Look up easy recipe on phone that literally requires two minutes of baking time. Step 3: Screw up baking and throw tantrum / blame husband for no reason.
Step 4: Pout for a minimum of 5 minutes.
Step 5: Think to self, “Failure is Impossible,”- Susan B Anthony.
Step 6: Throw failed ingredients into a bag anyway along with random treats found in cupboard like pretzels, m&ms, crackers, marshmallows, croutons, cough drops, glitter, etc.
Step 7: Get computer genius husband to make cute labels.
Step 8: Put it on social media like a legit baking mom would.
If these treats were going to be bad, I was going to make them really bad. It became fun and funny. They became a novelty. I hoped people would buy them, not for the “treat” that was inside, but for the clever concept behind them. I ended up selling 5 bags! Turns out homemade brownies taste and sell better than clever concepts, however, I still counted success points in creativity!
So, what did I learn from this “lemons to lemonade” moment, and how did I apply it to art education? I learned that when the objective of a problem becomes to make something really bad, the doors of humor and creativity become wide open. That’s where I got the idea for my middle school “Redesign” learning unit which leads to the MAEAI V.T209 Performance Task: Redesign- Make it Bad, Then Make it Better.
“Redesign” Learning Unit
Introduction: I start by introducing my students to the concept of object/product design, design thinking and the design process. We look at examples of everyday objects and talk about the differences between good design and bad design depending on factors such as the object’s intended use, intended customer, cost of materials, durability, demand, etc. All students share a story of a time when a product broke or failed. We also look at and describe the evolution of a product’s design such as a car, the telephone and the vacuum cleaner. Students get concrete examples as to how visual arts have inherent relationships to everyday life through these product designs. Then it’s time for students to engage in a 2-4 day performance task.
Performance Task V.T209: I start the task by asking students to all select a different everyday-manmade-designed-object by having them cut one out of a magazine ad. I have also modified the task by asking all students to start with the same object, such as a shoe. I have instructed students both ways and by settling on one object for everyone to focus on I do sacrifice the variety of outcomes, but I also save on time and the need for cutting and pasting materials. Either way, once the object is selected students are asked to reflect upon and explain the current relationship of the object to everyday life.
Then begins the fun part. Instruct students to make it bad. Invite them to redesign the product so that it is truly terrible by transforming it into something impractical, unappealing, and/or harder to use.
In order to do this, the student must recognize the object’s intended use and successful design attributes and design against them. I tell my students that as long as their ideas are school appropriate, (no potty humor, nothing mean spirited or overly violent), that there are no limits to their creativity! At first some of my more regimented students don’t quite understand me, they don’t believe that I’m actually telling them to make something bad. I have to clarify that they are exercising their creativity in a new way by thinking about a design problem from a fresh perspective.
By exploring what makes something really bad, you in turn are also open to exploring its opposite design, what might make it really good. Then lightbulbs. Then students sketch truly creative results that they can’t wait to share with the class.
One of my favorites created by a 6th grade girl was a design that we quickly knick-named, “Shark Shoes.” What would make a pair of shoes the most uncomfortable shoes ever? Well, the answer is tiny sharks swimming in the bottom of your shoes that would bite your toes all day, of course! Pair that with slippery seaweed soles and fish hook laces for added discomfort and you have a terribly creative design!
Students overwhelmingly enjoy this part of the process. They will fly around the room to share their ideas with everyone and anyone, each trying to one-up the others. It’s like I’m giving them permission to be silly and a little naughty and they love it! They reflect on their design through this verbal exchange and then in writing.
Then the next day the instructions flip. Students are asked to reimagine the design of their object to be even better than the current design. They must solve the problem of how to improve it. Again, there are no restraints to their creativity and they must reflect upon their design once it is complete. The first image above is a “good design” for a shoe that can not only adjust the temperature of your feet cooler or warmer depending on comfort zone required, but can emit four different pleasant fragrances including lavender and grape fizz from a secret compartment in the heel.
In conclusion, instructing to develop student creativity doesn’t always take a safe and expected path. Just like in real life, approaching a problem from a fresh point of view can open our minds and force us to think in new and interesting ways. Design problems can be fun and silly. Our best ideas sometimes arise from our failures when we give ourselves and our students the opportunity to flip the measure of success.
This task is one that I wrote for the Michigan Arts Education and Instruction and Assessment (MAEIA) project. Here are links to the complete task booklets available for V.T209.
Chunk and Bundle: The Bundled Assessment Approach for Demonstrating Teacher Effectiveness by Carrie Jeruzal
Navigating the world of assessment can be daunting, especially assessment in the arts. Arts assessments come in a variety of forms, all dependent upon a variety of factors: resources available, specific arts discipline, grade level,...
Navigating the world of assessment can be daunting, especially assessment in the arts. Arts assessments come in a variety of forms, all dependent upon a variety of factors: resources available, specific arts discipline, grade level, etc. While information and research regarding assessment in the arts begins to mount, and the importance and pressure of reporting data from assessments becomes critical for demonstrating teacher effectiveness, I would like to offer up a “take a deep breath,” “let’s get organized and take it one step at a time,” practical approach to Visual Arts Assessment in the secondary classroom. Chunk it and Bundle it.
I teach K-12 Art in a small rural public school that serves just under 300 students in the entire district. I teach 2 hours of High School Art, 2 hours of Junior High Art, and 2 hours of Elementary Art each day. Just writing that makes me tired! Providing data on all these students at all of these different grade levels is too much and would literally become a full-time job on its own. So to keep data management realistic, I have selected a small portion of my population from which to pull my data. Since my High School students have a summative exam already worked into their semester schedule, the practical choice for me was to start with a selection of 16-25 high school students from which to pull data.
That’s right, instead of trying to pull data from all 200+ of my students, I focus in on a manageable set.
The data that I collect from these students is a bundle of 4 chunks:
- MAEIA High School Level 1 Visual Art Performance Assessment Data
- Digital Portfolio Performance Data using Google Classroom
- Pre and Post Knowledge Data using Google Forms and Flubaroo add-on
- Pre and Post Perception Data using Google Forms and Flubaroo add-on
This style of data collection requires forethought and organization at the very beginning of the school year. I often incorporate my assessment plans right into my curriculum maps and I store the data digitally. I also use an Student Learning Objective (SLO) document to serve as a kind of roadmap for my bundled approach. Although this type of document may not be necessary in every district, I do find getting organized in the very beginning very helpful.
Also I feel using a bundled approach gives my students many options and chances for demonstrating their growth as opposed to relying upon a single assessment that may not be holistic. It’s comforting to know that my students have multiple opportunities to demonstrate their growth by using 4 different assessment methods.
MAEIA Performance Task
This year my High School year long curriculum consists of three-dimensional art and design. The MAEIA assessment that I selected was the V.T409 3-D Wire Sculpture. After administering the task to my students, I collected performance assessment data by way of digital photos submitted to students’ Google Classroom Accounts. I also collected numeric data (point scores or grades), based on the rubric included in the MAEIA assessment. This process lasted approximately 5 class hours.
The second chunk of data that I collect is actually collected by my students. Students post all of their work into a digital file organized and housed in their Google Classroom accounts. When reporting my data I often have students select, print and document their own pre-proficient work and also proficient work. This method allows students to visually self-assess their own learning and report that learning in a visual manner. I use the 5 C’s strategy (Content, Craftsmanship, Creativity, Communication, Composition) to guide students through this evaluation process midway through the year and then again at the end of the year.
20 Questions Pre and Post
This set of data regards Knowledge Data. Think of a traditional multiple choice exam. I select 20 questions mainly focused on knowledge of key terms, concepts and image recognition. It is given within the first two weeks of school and then again during the final exam. I use Google Forms to administer the test and the Flubaroo add-on to grade the assessment and then chart and report the data. This chunk of data is collected fast; It only takes the students 15-20 minutes to complete. Technology is a huge timesaver and the forms can be reused again when I re-teach the same curriculum.
Perception of Growth Survey
The final set of data I collect and report is Pre- and Post-Perception Data.
This answers the questions:
- Does the student know and realize when he or she is meeting a standard?
- Is he or she trying to meet a standard?
- How does the learner perceive his or her own growth?
This is where a student offers up a short narrative of his or her perceived growth.
There is power not only in the numbers and visuals of student growth data, but also in the student’s own story. Confidence, knowledge, experience, goals and learning in the arts are addressed in the student’s own voice.
Bundle up all these chunks of data in a cohesive digital dossier and present them to your administrator during your final evaluation to demonstrate your effectiveness in not one, but in four different ways. This kind of data bundling presents visual, numerical and reflective narrative that all highlight the growth and learning of your students through cohesive methods.