Article 10 of 10
Performance Final / Capstone
by Debi West
What a joy it has been to share a few of my student’s most successful advanced art lessons this year. I am really excited to see how well these work for you and the creative ways in which you will springboard from them.
One of the questions that I am always asked is, “now what?” How do you wrap up a successful school year through an innovative assessment, and it’s a great question and one that I can’t wait to share!
In my county, we are required to have our students involved in not only a written assessment final exam, but also a performance final of some kind. Many teachers have their student’s write full essay critiques, but I am not a Language Arts teacher and honestly can’t imagine trying to read and grade over 30 essays at the end of the year.
I also question how relevant an essay would be in authentically assessing my student’s overall learning through a school year of creating. I did, however, think that by having them create full brochures of their body of work as a reflection tool might be a good place to start.
Once my students created their unique, beautiful and professional looking brochures of their art—complete with images, media, sizes and titles—we took it to the next level. We knew we needed to exhibit these brochures so they were also required to exhibit a minimum of 10 pieces in an Advanced Art Student Community Art Exhibit.
Each year this event grows larger and more successful and students truly enjoy mounting or matting their work, creating labels, setting up their section in our commons area complete with easels, tables, table clothes, drapes, hors d’oeuvres, accessories and anything else they can think of that might enhance their curated mini gallery space. Finally, students are required to create an invitation and invite at least 10 community members to the exhibit.
And WOW, is it ever AMAZING! It has become one of our art department’s most celebrated and anticipated events. Students now know that their advanced art will culminate into this capstone exhibit and they start planning it early in the school year.
They consider their body of work and, more specifically, what the title of their show might be. They take photos after each project and document the necessary information so they aren’t too stressed in mid-April as they begin to put their final brochures together.
They usually make extra invitations because they know that their other teachers want invites, as do their friends and family members. It’s just an incredible learning opportunity for them and a wonderful way to reflect on a successful school year.
Not to mention what a great advocacy program this becomes to keep your art program and students at the forefront of school and community activities.
I look forward to writing an intro 3D series of lessons next year and would love to hear from you if you have any thoughts on what you’d specifically like to know more about. Thank you for all that you do for your students and art education!
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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.