Monthly Mentor

Natalie C. Jones (February)
Each month, a different member is the guest writer for the NAEA Monthly Mentor Blog. Natalie C. Jones is an artist, small business owner, and the director of education at the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture. She has 10 years of experience working as an art teacher and teaching artist throughout the east coast and the Midwest. Click "GO" to read her full bio.



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August 22, 2016

Questioning Strategies in the Art Classroom – Student Exit Ticket!

Perhaps you have spent some time with a young child that is somewhere between 3 and 10. My experience with young children is that they ask LOTS of questions – about EVERYTHING! They can even ask questions that we are not quite ready for, like the proverbial “Where do babies come from?” question as you are standing in the grocery checkout line! It’s not uncommon for adults to get weary of so many questions that just keep coming and coming. But then something changes somewhere along the way – the number of questions they ask either slows way down, or worse, they stop all together. 

I’m beginning my 12th year as a high school art teacher, and every year I have taught freshmen in foundation art classes like Art 1: 2D Design and Drawing or Art 1: 3D Design and Sculpture. My observation about the majority of my freshmen students is that they do not ask many questions. Peer pressure, feeling uncomfortable in a classroom environment and thinking they will be judged on everything they do, locks them down tight. If they have had art before, the majority of 9th grade students seem to be totally disconnected to that experience, almost as if it never happened. My colleagues and I find that on our campus, there’s a significant percentage of freshmen art students that have a fixed mindset about their skills in art and are not easily budged out of that mindset.


I suggested to my team last year that we start a Question of the Day activity that lined up with the Artist of the Day Video we showed every day. Their answer to this question would serve as an “Exit Ticket” for each student from each class, every day. I prepared an area by my door with colored paper and the words “Exit Ticket”. The question of the day was posted on the white board and was discussed after the Artist of the Day video was over. It was in a prominent place so they could refer to it during the entire class. I had a stack of different colored Post-It Notes, and I would let each student choose the color of Post-It they wanted to record their answer on. It was fun to see what color they wanted to choose! Then, during their work time, they would respond to the question, being sure to put their name on their Exit Ticket so they would get credit for their answer. Before they left class that day, they would place their Exit Ticket on the area by the door as they left. I would scoop up the classes’ responses before the next class came in. I devised a simple hash mark grading system in my grade book to keep track of their responses, and made it a weekly grade according to how many they turned in that week. I LOVED reading their responses every day!

Fiza%202One student’s response to the question: What do you hope to learn in Sculpture class this year?

This continued day after day for the entire year. I would plan the questions for the week when I did my weekly planning on Sunday.  It was amazing addition to our daily routine. Since I have taught without the Exit Ticket, I experienced several years of working with my students, without really  knowing what they were taking away from a day’s lesson. You think you are resonating with them, but it’s not always evident. This activity has completely changed that dynamic. Some students might dash off a quick response, but MANY others give thoughtful responses. Some, like the student’s Exit Ticket above and below, even include a sketch, incorporating their visual thinking along with their written response!

This student’s response to the question: How can creating art be healing?

I loved finding out what my students were thinking as we journeyed through the year! The shy, quiet students now had a voice! And, I could see that many more students were digging into their thinking more deeply, connecting with higher level thinking. But, I wanted to hear what they thought about the Exit Ticket. So one day, I asked them if the Question of the Day was beneficial to them. 82% of them replied “Yes”, 13% were “So-so” about it, with only 5% responding negatively to the daily exercise. Here are just a few of their responses:

  • I like answering the question – it actually gives me something to think of when I watch the videos.
  • I think they’re cool because it gives me a chance to focus on something other than stress.
  • I think the questions are very think worthy. They make you think of stuff you generally don’t think about.
  • It helps us understand our thoughts.
  • I like the questions because I like how I can say my opinion.
  • They make me think more not only in art, but in other stuff too.
  • I think it is good for the brain.

A new school year is about to start, and the Question of the Day will be returning in all of our school’s art classes. I’m changing the physical format of them this year, because buying so many Post-It Notes is expensive, though they were really fun. You can use an app like Exit Ticket (that can be found for iPhones & androids), or an old fashioned, small piece of paper that could be put in a hanging file by the door with a divider for each class. I hope I have gotten you interested in having an Exit Ticket activity in your class!  Play with it and find out what your students are thinking about!



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