We all have relative strengths and weaknesses, and one way to look at those is through the lens of the Studio Habits of Mind. As for me, I’m a pretty good envisioner. I make a lot of plans and love to think through possibilities. And I can reflect, and over reflect, and over reflect on my over reflecting. On the other hand, I could benefit from some better observational skills. That’s something I know about myself generally, but also became really apparent to me as I sat down to watch my queue of YouTube videos recently.
I’m a knitter and so my corner of the YouTube world includes fiber related podcasts. This includes the Wool, Needles, Hands podcast by Tayler, a knitter who hand dyes gorgeous yarn and owns an Indie yarn dying business. Recently, Tayler chronicled how she dyes colorways for her Bird in the Hand series of sock yarn sets. Each month, she creates a colorway inspired by a bird. This month is the crowned crane, which is pictured here.
I normally look at these bird photos and think, “oh, pretty” and describe it with my short list of superficial adjectives:
It’s brown, black, orange.
There’s some mohawk action happening.
Generally Thanksgiving turkey shaped.
And then, eventually…
I don’t know... It’s a bird.
I see things, but as usual, I don’t see with the same level of detail as Tayler (or really, any other human with eyes) does. My eyes don’t want to slow down and I have trouble focusing on visual images. But within about 30 seconds of talking about the bird photo, she begins her descriptions of the “deep, creamy grey.” And I think,
Oh, hey, you know, that is grey. And I guess it is sort of creamy up towards the neck.
Then she’s talking about poppy red.
I completely didn’t even take in the red details in my first looks. Throughout the five short videos, as Tayler makes decisions about dye colors and techniques, she refers to her inspiration of the bird photos and her close observations of what she sees.
Each time I watch these videos, I learn a little bit about how to slow down, how to deeply look, and get practice in noticing new things. For me, those are my weaknesses and so those are the parts of these videos that stick out to me. But observing is certainly not the only Studio Habit to be seen here. Because we see her whole process—from finding inspiration, to making a plan, to using technical skills and content knowledge to make decisions, to experimenting with new techniques, to reflecting on how the yarn has reacted to the dyeing process—we get a chance to see a variety of SHoM in action. Maybe if I were a bad envisioner, I would instead be amazed by the way Tayler plans out which colors she’ll use, when, and in what order. And if I had a hard time engaging in artmaking, maybe I’d instead be fascinated by how something as simple as a photograph can help get me going with my making process.
I am particularly susceptible to taking in these observation lessons from watching these videos because I am motivated to watch them. I’m choosing to do so, and I’m engaged. This is what I watch on YouTube for fun, yet because I’m watching a maker, I get to see examples of the Studio Habits, and also practice one of my weaker habits.
Not everyone’s a knitter, so yarn dyeing may not be everyone’s cup of tea. But what makers are your students viewing on YouTube? Students can steer you towards an endless array of content that they are already watching. Ask them to find you examples from YouTube, TV, stories they’ve read, that show one of the Studio Habits in action. The Studio Habits are always hiding in plain sight, and we can see them all over the place – in what new places can you and your students find them?
Jillian Hogan is a Ph.D. student in Developmental Psychology in the Arts & Mind Lab at Boston College. In her research, she uses mixed methods to investigate what we learn through arts education and how those findings align with public perceptions. Her primary research interest is the teaching and learning of habits of mind in visual art and music education. She taught for six years in schools that specialize in gifted, inclusion, and autism spectrum disorder populations. When she's not reading or writing, she can be found knitting, spoiling her cats, or playing the piano poorly. www.jillhoganinboston.com
How to cite this blog entry (APA 6th edition):
Hogan, J. (2019, May 11). Hiding in Plan Sight...Even on YouTube [Blog post]. Retrieved from http://www.studiothinking.org/blog/hiding-in-plain-sighteven-on-youtube
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
Welcome to the newly launched Studio Thinking website!
We hope this site serves as a resource for you as you think about Studio Thinking and how it can be used as a lens for viewing the important work that goes in on your classroom.
Every classroom is different - student personalities and needs, classroom cultures, teacher priorities and values. . .all of these things make each situation unique. We hope you use the information here as a springboard for creating resources for your particular setting.
We created this website with several purposes:
We hope to hear from you!