Put it Into Practice – Exhibiting student work

(a post from Lou Barrios, 8th grade math and science teacher, HTMMA)

This week’s “Put it into Practice” can be done with other teachers, with your students, or on your own.

I often struggled with what to do with the project once the students exhibited their work. The truth is that while I was really thoughtful about a lot that went on in the project, I was not nearly as thoughtful about how the project would live on.  I was moved to action after speaking to Jeff, a colleague from our high school who once told me a story that was quite piercing. He was watching a teacher from his school throw away all of his students’ work the day after exhibition, and he asked why do the project if it was going to end up in the dumpster. Now, I at least have the decency to store the project in cupboards and shelves for a month or so before throwing them away.  Anyway, the point is that students should have a place to see their products after all the sweat and tears have dried. Being transparent and upfront about displaying the end product makes it so students are that much more precise about the work they are doing.

Jeff Robin is an Art Teacher at High Tech High who does amazing work with curating projects, and he breaks down project curating quite well in this video.

Curating a project is not too unlike decorating a room. So, you want to add mirrors to make the room look bigger and not break the bank? Great! Just make sure when you bring them home from Ikea that they are the same color, evenly space them, level them, and they will look really nice. Symmetry, consistency and simplicity are beautiful things AND they don’t cost too much OR take too much time.

I am planning on stopping by Ikea on the way home to grab these $2 frames.

I like 8.5” by 11” because it’s so easy to put up student work without the hassle of cutting.  I also likes these frames because they can be held up by push pins, which makes it less difficult for students to put them up. I will go over how many frames we need per row and let my students do the measuring and spacing. It won’t be perfect; the first few times they put it up, but they will get to the point where they are all evenly spaced and level. This gives them another level of accountability and ownership over their school space and keeps this from being another thing on a busy teacher’s plate.

Action Items:

  1. Find a place in your classroom or school that could house student work.
  2. Ask your students what work they would be most proud of hanging up.
  3. Ask staff about creating a space where school-wide student work could live (sometimes 3D work needs more of a permanent space).
  4. Give students ownership over how the work is displayed
  5. Share some before and after pictures with the DLMOOC community through G+ or Twitter.

4 thoughts on “Put it Into Practice – Exhibiting student work

  1. This information is practical and makes the concept of displaying artwork achievable and meaningful for students as they can own the process with minimal guidance from teachers.

  2. I really enjoyed Jeff’s comments. Symmetry, Repetition and Surprise. I will take these thoughts and apply them to the First Grade musical I am directing. I think these thoughts will work well.

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