Article 7 of 10
A Day in the Life
by Debi West
One thing I have noticed over the years is that our students don’t really reflect on their daily actions very often. So I thought it might make for a fun lesson so have them journal “a day in their life” and see what sort of visual images they might come up with!
When I introduced my students to this concept they were a bit hesitant at first. I told them that each hour of each day is a gift, and considering how they utilized their time might actually be a win/win. So that week they were required to journal a minimum of three days and then brainstorm what these activities would look like as a completed artwork.
Immediately, students began to see the value of really reflecting on what they do and how they utilize their time. Here is an example of one student’s journal entry:
“I wake up and hit my snooze button, A LOT! Next, I take a shower and put on my make-up, brush my teeth, get dressed and make a coffee. Then I drive to school and I cuss a lot because of the traffic (that’s good to know because it’s probably why I’m in a bad mood by the time I actually get to school). Next I go to my 1st period class, which is math and I really hate it.
Then I go to my 2nd period, which is Library Science and I really love that so now my mood is getting better. 3rd period is Language Arts, which I enjoy sometimes and next is my 4th, which is early lunch. I usually go to the art room and work in my visual journal or a project and then 5th period I have my actual art class so that’s always great. I want to stay here all day.”
Sixth period is physics and my mood tends to get grouchy again. 7th period is Spanish and at the end of the day I am back in the art room working on my stuff. I leave school and go to work at Chick-fil-A and then I come home, do some homework and go to bed and start all over again the next day.”
As we discussed her journal entry, I asked her to go even deeper and think about when she was on her phone (which we all know is A LOT!), bathroom breaks, hanging with her friends, which she does a lot as well from my perspective. I had her consider the people she interacted with and how these people made her feel. I had her consider the music she listens to throughout the day, the clothes she wears, the getting gas in her car, shopping experiences, and so on.
I also had her dig a bit deeper into the emotions she felt and I applauded her for sharing them in her entry. What did the “bad mood” feel like, and what did it feel like to move into the realm of a “good mood” again? All of this reflecting becomes a wonderful way to think creatively and divergently about art prompts. These journal thoughts become journal sketches and these turn into big ideas. In AP art, it’s important for students to begin to think about their own prompts, which will ultimately become their AP concentration.
Once students had several entries in their journals, they began to consider the imagery that would tell their personal “day in the life” stories. The results were beyond fantastic and held so much meaning.
This is when student’s advanced art begins to move to the next level! And it also shows that we, as teachers, care about our students. I’ve always said that “they don’t care how much we know, until they know how much we care” (Thomas Jefferson) and when they know we care, their work becomes even stronger!
Next Up: “Verbs and Nouns.”
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A&A Contributing Editor Debi West, Ed.S, NBCT, was an art educator and department chair at North Gwinnett High School in Suwanee, Georgia. She is now involved with her two businesses, WESTpectations Educational Consulting and Crystal Collage Children’s Art Studio in Suwanee.