How to Journal Art Observations

Journal Format: What to Look For, and How to Respond Creatively


© Marvin Bartel, instructor, 2000

This is an Assignment Page for Art 311: Secondary School Art 

Secondary School Art students are to submit journals once every two weeks or sooner.

Send them electronically if you can. Begin with date, location, grade level, art subject, and a short summary of the observation. Attach a Word.doc to an e-mail to me. If you use a different word processor, send me a small sample file to be sure it works. If you include your initials and a number in the file name, my computer folders are easier to organize. Name the Word files mb1.doc, mb2.doc, mb3.doc, (using your initials - not mine). If you want to send images, use the .jpg file format to save them. Please include the word "journal" in the Subject line of your e-mail (for my filters to sort them). 

Write narratives of observations including direct quotes related to an observation. 
If possible, collect copies of any handouts. 
    Journals are to be Creative Reflective Responses
Art teaching is a creative activity. In every journal entry, think of and journal alternative methods one might use in a similar situation. Creative teaching is a constant search for the most effective practices. Even if something works well, another idea might work even better. 

Many teachers are quite quick to make suggestions when students ask for suggestions.  In your journal, document instances of this and propose alternative approaches.  Write some appropriate questions you could ask the student instead of making a suggestions.

When you look at the categories below, it is natural that some of the categories are emphasized more and others get overlooked. The purpose of our journal is not only to learn the current practice. The purpose of a good journal is also to dream and imagine what could be. Therefore, use the categories listed here to help you imagine things that could be. 

REQUIREMENT: Your journals must include alternative proposals and ideas that you imagine.  Your ideas do not have to be proven.

What to Look For in an Artroom
I. CREATIVITY How is creativity rewarded or encouraged? What is the attitude about copy work? Describe processes used to encourage preliminary development of ideas. To what extent is the work influenced by the expertise of the teacher? To what extent is the teacher able to draw out the students' ideas, subjects, and compositions? What unconventional and/or particularly enlightened work, comments, or behavior is observed?  II. COGNITIVE LEARNING How are art concepts, vocabulary, and historical facts presented and learned? Site examples of analysis and interpretation.  III. SKILLS How are skills, abilities, techniques and so on learned? How are new skills presented? How were old skills improved? Observation drawing is a skill. Crafts have many skills. Skills are things that are improved with practice. IV. MOTIVATION Why do the students produce? Why do they choose to learn? What is most interesting to the students? What is unique about students who are self motivated? Does the teacher have any specific methods or personal qualities that elicit positive work habits on the part of students?  What is done to get students to be on task and to focus on their work? V. CRITICAL AWARENESS What is done to make students aware of quality? What makes them want to achieve quality? What types of art are most valued by students? What aspects of art are they learning to respect? Are they becoming more aware of their surroundings and their environments? VI. AESTHETICS How are the meanings, feelings, values and purposes of art being learned? How is art being defined (literally or by implication) in this classroom? How are students developing compositional criteria for beauty, for their work, and observations in their lives?  VII. BEHAVIOR What are the most unusual positive and negative student behaviors observed? Describe the teacher's levels of control from non-verbal to overt punishment, from positive conditioning to negative behavior management, and describe how they are communicated to the students. What is positive and negative about group interaction and peer influence in the classroom?  What do students do that is helpful to others, and what do they do that is not helpful? VIII. LESSON DIFFICULTY What aspects of the lesson or the presentation are frustrating to one or more students? What aspect is too easy or boring for one or more students? Is enough content being covered? What could be added or deleted? How might the presentation be modified to make it easier or more challenging?  IX. LESSON SEQUENCE Can the order of events be improved? If examples are used to explain possible solutions, what alternative ways might there be to define and clarify the assignment without showing answers to the problems?  X. TEAM EFFORTS AND COLLABORATIVE WORK Describe and reflect on the group learning.  What are the pros and cons of groups assignments you oberserve?  If there are none, which of the assignments might lend themselves to student collaboration?  How might it be managed for better learning than when it is done by individuals?

back to Syllabus for Secondary School Art

© Marvin Bartel, Goshen College, 1999, OBSERV.html
updated 1-02