How to Journal Art Observations
Journal Format: What to Look For, and How to Respond
© Marvin Bartel, instructor,
is an Assignment Page for Art 311: Secondary School Art
Secondary School Art students are to submit journals once every two weeks
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
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
What to Look For in an Artroom
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.
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.
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?
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?
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
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
Bartel, Goshen College, 1999, OBSERV.html