Studio Thinking (ST) provides teachers with common language to talk about how we optimize class time – Studio Structures - and the various ways that students work during this time – Studio Habits of Mind (SHoM). The ST language guides conversations with students, colleagues, administrators, and families about the various types of thinking and decision-making that happen during art class. We can share what is happening using the SHoM, a framework to guide our observations and conversations with young artists. The Habits give us starting points so we can target thinking in our conversations with students.
When you look closely at Studio Thinking, you can see that it is embedded in all approaches to art education. These thinking dispositions are constantly emerging in your art classes. Though you may call Envision by another name, like “imagine;” or you describe the habit of Stretch & Explore as “trying something new;” most or all of these habits are being practiced every day in your classroom. Use the framework to see which ones you emphasize most and which ones least in order to get an idea of how your students are developing in their artistic thinking.
As a TAB teacher, I am quite pleased with how ST pairs with the principles of Teaching for Artistic Behavior (TAB). In TAB art programs, students are self-directed much of the time, following introductions to all available art media. As students initiate their work, making decisions about materials, concept, and purpose, their abilities are clearly visible because they are following their own direction. I recall a student who wanted to make a weaving with his name. He knew how to weave – weaving was a second-grade requirement for all students – and he had joined me in third grade for a mini-demonstration on tapestry weaving with shapes, tried it and liked it. But letters? I feared frustration and disappointment, having attempted this with past students. “Liam, I honestly do not know how to do this. You will have to figure it out on your own,” I told him. He studied the cardboard loom carefully, with its 15-thread warp and turned it horizontally. He blocked out the letters of his name – LIAM - with black yarn over two classes. After all of the letters were blocked in, Liam filled in the background with orange yarn. Another weaver observed his work and asked me to show her how to do this. “I don’t know,” I replied. “Ask Liam to teach you.”
Liam’s solution to woven text was so simple and obvious –filling in the entire background after all of the letters were in place. Why hadn’t I thought of that? This is an example of how our students may discover the answers we lack, when they have the flexibility to pursue their own lines of inquiry.
Which Studio Habits of Mind did Liam exercise during art class? All of them!
Develop Craft: Technique - Liam’s skills with tapestry weaving improved as he pursued his weaving.
Develop Craft: Studio Practice – During studio work Liam accessed his weaving and materials and returned them to the proper locations at the end of class.
Envision - Liam started with the concept of his name, in block letters, in a weaving. After the black letters were all complete, he envisioned several possibilities for the background color, settling on orange.
Engage & Persist - Liam was determined to pursue his idea, even on his own, when his teacher was unable to guide him in this process.
Express - Liam chose bold letters and colors, black and orange, to represent himself. Was Halloween an influence? Perhaps.
Observe - Liam had seen examples of weavings and watched a tapestry weaving video earlier in the year. He did not put those techniques to use until he had the idea to weave his name. As he worked, he paid close attention to the spacing of the letters to ensure that they fit, with sufficient space around them for the background color.
Reflect: Question and Explain – When Anna asked Liam for help, he explained his process to her and demonstrated the technique.
Reflect: Evaluate – Along the way, Liam had to evaluate his progress. He was very satisfied when the piece was completed. In his artist statement he commented: “I wanted to weave my name and my teacher said she didn’t know how to do it and told me to try to figure it out myself. So I did! First, I just did all the letters in black. Then I filled in all the spaces between the letters. The ‘A’ was the hardest letter to do. I really like how it came out.”
Stretch & Explore - Liam had to navigate this technique for himself. He studied the warp threads for a long time, then started to weave, making small adjustments as he figured out his technique, especially for the letter ‘A.’
Understand Art Worlds: Domain – Students looked at samples of Navajo weavings, including pictorial rug designs. They watched a brief video clip about tapestry weaving featuring the interlocking stitch to join two colors together.
Understand Art Worlds: Community – When Anna asked Liam for help, he immediately agreed to show her how to weave her name into the warp and, in that moment, they became a team.
Liam is the type of student who thrives in the learner-directed TAB art classroom, driven by his curiosity and self-challenge. This motivated him to successfully pursue his weaving with high engagement. Even without the lens of Studio Thinking, this much would be obvious. The story of Liam’s progress becomes much more complete when we trace his steps through the SHoM framework, where each of the Habits contributes to his artistic thinking. Being able to talk about these thinking dispositions with students and adults in the school community highlights the value of a visual art curriculum that focuses on long-term growth with artistic thinking dispositions.
Diane Jaquith is co-founder of Teaching for Artistic Behavior, Inc. and a retired art teacher following 25 years in K-8 public education. She directs the TAB Summer Teacher Institute and is an instructor in MassArt's Department of Art Education for the Saturday Studios youth programs. She is co-author of Engaging Learners through Artmaking, The Learner-Directed Classroom, and Studio Thinking from the Start: The K-8 Art Educator’s Handbook. Her blog is titled Self-Directed Art: Choice Based-Art Education.
How to cite this blog entry (APA 6th edition):
Jaquith, D. (2019, Jan 15). Studio Thinking and TAB: Happy Partners [Blog post]. Retrieved from http://www.studiothinking.org/blog/studio-thinking-and-tab-happy-partners