Defining Quality in Arts Education

Arts Education Demonstration Project of the Marin Community Foundation

Studio Habits of Mind by Kathy Piscioneri

For me, this year's Open House in the art room was a very different animal! I took a chance at proposing that we forgo an all school exhibition of children's work this year and instead create displays that illustrate the learning that happens in art.

To begin, Annalisa Chasen and I got together to brainstorm and through our conversations, I decided to take on the Studio Habits of Mind as a theme for exhibits about student learning that would use photos, student artwork, quotes from students, and teacher generated text to flesh out the learning in all 8 habits. The 8 habits of mind are: Express, Engage and Persist, Develop Craft, Reflect, Observe, Understand the Art World and Envision.

Lois Hetland, et al, articulated the Studio Habits in conjunction with Harvard Project Zero. The habits create a framework for the types of thinking and learning that happen in an art program and the ramifications of this learning for the student as a whole. For me, they articulate things I've always thought about art learning but never had all the right words to express!

I have to say, I had such fun gathering the photos and artwork for the displays and writing the text to explain the Studio Habits in my own words that it really didn't feel like work.  Amy Fredricks even came in for a full day to interview students and take photos for the boards--this was an incredible treat. In listening to the recordings of her interviews with students, I learned so much about their thoughts and processes of revision and heard all of the subtleties in their thinking that I normally miss. I am convinced that somehow I need to do this kind of audio recording regularly.

While I think the hectic energy of Open House wasn't a perfect match for displays like this which required parents to stop and read and generally take more time than they had, it definitely generated some very interesting conversations that evening and beyond.

Even now, I love seeing children walk around the room, read the quotes, look at the pictures and talk to each other about what they're seeing. This is a great introduction for them to the Studio Habits, our new common language of learning in the K-8 art program moving forwards.


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Comment by Liza Mathews on May 7, 2013 at 11:47am

Kathy, I loved visiting the Art Room and reading your walls - wow, what a window into what kids are learning and how they are thinking through the arts! I hope everyone can check out your Studio Habits walls before summer. Thanks for sharing.


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