Are You Setting Goals for the Remainder of Your Summer or the Beginning of the School Year? I am!

Goals Pages… Binders… Interactive Notebooks… Call it what you like, this is the general look of them this year.

I recently received an e-mail regarding the effective use of my Interactive Notebooks (Binders, Goals Pages… whatever the students may want to call them) in my upper level art classes. I am a true believer in setting goals. While my goals for this years Marathon Training never materialized in my calendar (ugh) I firmly believe that the use of the interactive notebook and the written goal is essential in the classroom environment. The use of the interactive notebook is great because it keeps every day in the kids art class  in reach and ready for reflection and self-evaluation. Here are some of my thoughts from that recent e-mail (Thanks Sue-anne, you got me thinking!) The below has been edited for length (you’d never guess though).

“Dear Sue-anne,

It is wonderful to hear from you again and I am happy to put my brain back to use as I think about the use of the interactive notebook, goals, Marzano’s 9 and the school year that is coming upon me quickly.

“Question: “Do you think the format of the left and right side for student notes and teacher notes is essential?”

Short Answer: No
Long Answer: When it really comes to left side / right side of the pages for art design and idea / conceptual development, I have never considered left / right in a sketchbook (interactive notebook) that as something to put into practice. I look at my own sketchbook and think about how I plan my works and the organization is never in that fashion. The ONLY thing I teach and emphasize about the use of the sketchbook page is that only one side of each piece of paper is to be drawn on, marked up, written on in the event that something incredible happens. If the other side of the piece of paper is marked up, both sides will suffer in the end. I do not think that there is a need for the left / right side in this case. As a matter of fact and practice on my end, I do not use that format in any of the classes I teach.
When it comes to the interactive notebook, I use a 3 ring binder that is printed and assembled for the kids each and every day. This binder is the same for all of my classes. The differences are that I include, as the year progresses, supplementary lecture notes / note taking / chapter worksheets for different classes.
When it comes to the student to student feedback, we will often open the sketchbooks (or lay the artworks out) and the students will have about 10 – 15 minutes to walk around the room and write about their responses (positive or negative – no names – yet something substantial that they feel would be of benefit to them) to help the ideas flow, recognize something that the artist didn’t see, help develop the ideas further… I will also walk around and try my hardest to write an idea / though down for each kid. When it comes to teacher notes, I may make a notation or two in the sketchbook itself, but my feedback is generally spoken. I will be using, for my records and formative / summative evaluating, a class roster to carry with me so that, when I make a comment to the kid, I can keep track of who I have spoken to and the general ideas I have shared and then, in the end, if the thoughts were heard and dealt with.
Our daily goals are designed by looking at the US National Visual Arts Standards and the National Educational Technology Standards and then editing them to that days particular task at hand. I have changed the way I have used and written the goals over time and I have also made certain that the GOALS are not the ACTIVITIES for the day. I do list the activities on my daily website and that is more-so for the kids who are missing from class, but they are separated from the overarching goals. By doing it this way, the kids have a larger picture of the particulars that we are going to be working on for that day / period / hour and their minds are activated, turned on to the activity at hand.
The link I have to the National Standards and Technology Standards are even more simplified (unpacked) because the original ones were full of teacher speak that made them harder for the kids to understand… this is easier and the kids can get their heads around it better. In addition to the physical writing of the goals, every day (one or two… no more than that and they may be repeated for a number of days – they still get written down – interacted with) I am going to be encouraging the kids to read the goal I have posted and then rewrite it in their own words so that it makes more sense to them when they reflect later on.
At the END of the hour we take a moment to look back at the goal from the day or the activity of the day and reflect / write our response to the prompt I come up with. “What was the most successful thing that you accomplished with your pastels today?” or “What about the soft pastels gave you the most trouble?” Sometimes they will write their reflections down in their goals pages, sometimes it will be a face to face with their neighbor as I walk around and listen to the conversation, sometimes I will give them a moment to talk or write and then I will call on them for out loud responses or I may give them sticky-notes (post-it notes) and they have to write a response and stick it to the chalkboard before they leave.
I GANAG all of my classes (have for a few years now) and find that it works. It isn’t always the kids favorite thing to do, but they know what to expect and they know how each day begins and end with me. It is a lot of work in the first year or two, but as time has gone by, it has become easier for me and more effective for the kids. Here is a brief (10 minutes or so) look at the beginning and end of my class from a couple of years ago… GANAG Style.
All my best,
Congratulations if you got through it all… here is a cookie for you. Comments, questions, thoughts are ALWAYS Welcomed.
A cookie for your efforts!

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