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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« FOUNDATION PROJECT #3: Paper Model Making | Main | Looking to Next Year and Beyond...a Fresh Start »

March 23, 2020


By Stephanie Silverman 

The following post is a continuation of the March Monthly Mentor series "Designing Sequential & Scaffolded Studio Experiences to Deepen Learning and Optimize Technical Skill Acquisition" which feature a series of thematically connected lessons from my high school Architectural Design course. Each post includes an overview of lessons beginning with introductory exercises in form and design, through to the finished culminating project, an original scaled architectural model.

The final model project was broken down into 5 steps, systematically breaking down the design process to ensure clarity of benchmarks for completion/progress, and also to make the project less unwieldy and overwhelming.

Step 1: Choose: Students Select a Client and an appropriate Element or Principle of Art & Design to Drive Project Concept

The students first needed to choose a client for their architectural design project, and complete an in-depth “client profile” including an analysis of what elements and principles of art and design they most associate with their client. These elements and principles of art become the ideas and visual associations that inform the design and decision-making process that follows. Some examples of clients chosen by the class and their associated element/principle of art and design: basketball star Kevin Durant (motion), Olympic figure skater Gracie Gold (balance), artist MC Escher (symmetry, pattern), photographer Galen Rowell (contrast), musician Billy Joel (harmony). When you look at the students’ final models, you can clearly see that their designs were informed by these visual and verbal descriptors.

Step 2: Sketch Model Making, Research

By requiring them to explore several alternatives (a minimum of 5 design possibilities) and create sketch models samples for each option, it also demonstrates to me that the students considered a variety of possible formal iterations of their design. Students were also required to research green and sustainable features of architectural design (LEED certified buildings), and incorporate a sustainable sensitivity into their building designs.

You can clearly see in these two examples how the paper form studies directly informed the final model’s design, demonstrating the importance of this step:


Blog4_2Above: Malik, 12th grade   


Blog4_4Above: Austin, 11th grade


Step 3: Technical Scaled Drawings

Students then entered the creating/implementation phase of the project, assigning concrete dimensions to their designs using 1:1 scaled drawings in plan and 4 elevations.

Step 4: Model-Making Phase Once the scaled drawings are completed and approved students begin the model-making process and transition from the two-dimensional to the three-dimensional realm.


Final Models, 11th and 12th grade Student Work

Blog4_10Austin, 11th Grade

Blog4_11Joy, 11th grade

Blog4_12Malik, 12th Grade.

Blog4_13PJ, 11th grade.

Step 5: Evaluate

The Importance of Critique, Reflection & Assessment

Each foundation project described in this article concluded with a group critique or assessment, allowing students to reflect upon their work and the work of their classmates. These periodic checkpoints also provide valuable insights for me as their collaborator and guide.  Better understanding their individual goals and personal perspectives on each project helps me to ask the right questions and more effectively guide their individual creative process.



/100 Craft/Construction: Final model is well made, clean and considered. Care was used with adhesives. Pieces have been cut and created well. Joinery and connections between elements is seamless.

/100 Concept/Idea Model is ambitious and complex, final model provides evidence that student delved deep into three-dimensional design principles and construction issues. Final model remains faithful to original concept or idea from design phase 2 (sketch models and original technical drawings).

/100 Resolution The final model looks and feels complete. Student included all of the design elements and principles intended at the outset of the project. Student considered surrounding landscape, terrain and environmental context in the model.

Students also complete a self-evaluation at the conclusion of the course and the final project:

Architectural Design: Self Evaluation-40 points

  1. How closely does your final model embody the forms, descriptors adjectives, colors & style you associated with your client in your original client profile?
  1. Do you feel that your final model successfully incorporates the elements & principles of design you intended at the outset of the design phase? Mention specific, concrete examples in the design of your final model.
  1. Evaluate the overall craftsmanship (or quality of execution) of your model.
  1. Evaluate your work ethic and use of class time.
  1. If you could re-make your model or modify your design, what would you change or do differently?
  2. Do you feel that your technical drawings, concept models and your final architectural model represents a full term of focused creative effort (one term’s worth of work)?


National Core Visual Arts Standards Covered in the Course:


Anchor Standard 1: Generate and conceptualize artistic ideas and work.

VA: Cr1 Enduring Understanding: Creativity and innovative thinking are essential life skills that can be developed.

Essential Question(s): What conditions, attitudes, and behaviors support creativity and innovative thinking? What factors prevent or encourage people to take creative risks? How does collaboration expand the creative process?

HS Proficient VA: Cr1.1.Ia Use multiple approaches to begin creative endeavors.

HS Advanced: VA:Cr1.1.IIIa Visualize and hypothesize to generate plans for ideas and directions for creating art and design that can affect social change.


HS Proficient VA: Cr1.2.Ia: Shape an artistic investigation of an aspect of present-day life using a contemporary practice of art or design.

HS Accomplished VA: Cr1.2.IIa: Choose from a range of materials and methods of traditional and contemporary artistic practices to plan works of art and design.

HS Advanced: VA: Cr1.2.IIIa: Choose from a range of materials and methods of traditional and contemporary artistic practices, following or breaking established conventions, to plan the making of multiple works of art and design based on a theme, idea or concept.

Anchor Standard 2: Organize and develop artistic ideas and work.

Enduring understanding: Artists and designers experiment with forms, structures, materials, concepts, media, and art making approaches

Essential Question(s): How do artists work? How do artists and designers determine whether a particular direction in their work is effective? How do artists and designers learn from trial and error?

HS Proficient VA: Cr2.1.Ia: Engage in making a work of art or design without a preconceived plan

HS Accomplished VA: Cr2.1.IIa: Through experimentation, practice, and persistence, demonstrate acquisition of skills and knowledge in a chosen art form.

HS Advanced: VA: Cr2.1.IIIa Experiment, plan and make multiple works of art and design that explore a personally meaningful theme, idea, or concept.

VA: Cr2.3 Enduring Understanding: People create and interact with objects, places, and design that define, shape, enhance, and empower their lives.

VA: Cr2.3 Essential Question(s): How do objects, places, and design shape lives and communities? How do artists and designers determine goals for designing or redesigning objects, places, or systems? How do artists and designers create works of art or design that effectively communicate?

HS Proficient VA: Cr2.3.Ia: Collaboratively develop a proposal for an installation, artwork or space design that transforms perception and experience of a particular place.

HS Accomplished VA: Cr2.3.IIa: Redesign an object, system, place, or design in response to contemporary issues.

HS Advanced: VA: Cr2.3.IIIa: Demonstrate in works of art or design how visual and material culture defines, shapes, enhances, inhibits, and/or empowers people’s lives.

Anchor Standard 3: Refine and Complete Works of Art

VA: Cr3.1.Ia: Enduring Understanding: Artist and designers develop excellence through practice and constructive critique, reflecting on, revising, and refining work over time.

VA: Cr3.1.Ia: Essential Question(s): What role does persistence play in revising, refining, and developing work? How do artists grow and become accomplished in art forms? How does collaboratively reflecting on work of art help us experience it more completely?

HS Proficient VA: Cr3.1.Ia Apply relevant criteria from traditional and contemporary cultural contexts to examine, reflect on, and plan revisions for works of art and design in progress.

HS Accomplished VA: Cr3.1.IIa: Engage in constructive critique with peers, then reflect on, re-engage, revise and refine works of art and design in response to personal artistic vision.

HS Advanced: VA: Cr3.1.IIIa Reflect on, re-engage, revise, and refine works of art or design considering relevant traditional and contemporary criteria as well as personal artistic vision.


Anchor Standard 7: Perceive and analyze artistic work.

Enduring Understanding: Individual aesthetic and empathetic awareness developed through engagement with art can lead to understanding and appreciation of self, others, the natural world, and constructed environments.

Essential Question(s): How do life experiences influence the way you relate to art? How does learning about art impact how we perceive the world? What can we learn from our responses to art?

HS Proficient VA: Re7.1.Ia: Hypothesize ways in which art influences perception and understanding of human experiences.

HS Accomplished VA: Re7.1.IIa: Recognize and describe personal aesthetic and empathetic responses to the natural world and constructed environments.

HS Advanced VA: Re7.1.IIIa Analyze how responses to art develop over time based on knowledge of and experience with art and life.


Anchor Standard 10: Synthesize and relate knowledge and personal experiences to make art.

Enduring Understanding: Through art making, people make meaning by investigating and developing awareness of perceptions, knowledge, and experiences.

Essential Question(s): How does engaging in creating art enrich people's lives? How does making art attune people to their surroundings? How do people contribute to awareness and understanding of their lives and the lives of their communities through art making?

HS Proficient VA: Cn10.1.Ia: Document the process of developing ideas from early stages to fully elaborated ideas.

HS Accomplished VA: Cn10.1.IIa: Utilize inquiry methods of observation, research, and experimentation to explore unfamiliar subjects through art- making.

HS Advanced VA: Cn10.1.IIIa: Synthesize knowledge of social, cultural, historical, and personal life with art-making approaches to create meaningful works of art or design.

Questions? Please feel free to contact me at

- SS


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