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Each month, a different member and NAEA awardee is the guest writer for the NAEA Monthly Mentor Blog. Patty Bode just wrapped up her second year as interim principal of Amherst Regional Middle School in Amherst, MA. She is an art educator, researcher, lecturer, and activist. Bode’s research, teaching, and community collaboration focus on advancing student and teacher voices in art curriculum reinvention and transformation—opening borders and questioning what counts as knowledge. Throughout her work, she consistently asserts critical multicultural perspectives and teaches racial literacy through imaginative practices in art education. Click "GO" to read her full bio.

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September 13, 2017

Feedback and reflection: starting right away

From: Kristin Vanderlip Taylor

Even though the school year is just a few weeks in, I knew that one of the most important things my students needed to practice right away was giving and receiving meaningful feedback. I am using the Studio Habits of Mind (SHoM) to guide my planning, instruction, and assessment, and “reflect” is one habit I know will be an integral part of everything we do. Because I have both middle school general art and advanced art classes mixed together, with sixth, seventh, and eighth grades combined, everyone is working at different levels and has had different experiences in art. Reflection is something they can all do successfully no matter their prior knowledge.

We discussed the differences between self-reflection, peer reflection, and my (teacher) reflection on student work. Each valuable in its own way, when used formatively these types of reflection can help students move forward in making choices about or revisions to their works in progress. The questions, however, must be specific and detailed; asking a “yes/no” question won’t provide the rich insight students may be looking for, and questions pertaining to whether someone likes their work or not aren’t necessarily informative either. I’ve posted a variety of sample questions students may use (such as “What suggestions do you have for… ?” or “How might I improve… or communicate … more clearly?”), or they may develop their own. Summative reflections, such as artist statements, may also help students better understand and evaluate their artistic process at the completion of a project. Even though the work is considered finished at that point, they may decide later to revisit it, or their reflection may help them discover new pathways for their next project.

While my middle school students get to practice giving and receiving feedback almost daily, it’s a bit slower going with my younger students, as I only see them once a week for 12 weeks. However, they are gradually beginning to integrate feedback into their discussions in art class and are no longer asking me if they are finished or if their work is good - a positive move in the direction of student ownership!

-KVT

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