I had an idea for an assignment for my Art II students for quite a long time before acting on it. I wasn’t quite sure how to implement the plan. I wasn’t sure what materials I would use. I kept putting the assignment on the back burner and pushing it out of my mind.
Finally one day I had an afternoon where I could work in my classroom. Teachers had been in in-service training earlier in the day and had been encouraged to use cooperative learning groups in our classes. I decided to bite the bullet and put the project together as a cooperative learning art project.
The project is rather simple and anyone can implement it for any grade or level. I call the project Creative Creation. In a nutshell, each group of students are given the same exact art supplies and told to create a work of art. Sounds simple, doesn’t it?
The hardest part of the assignment for the teacher is planning and preparing in advance. After the assignment begins, the teacher is the facilitator. The teacher makes sure things run smoothly and helps students get additional supplies that are needed.
Here are the steps to this assignment:
1. Divide your classroom into groups of 3 to 4 students.
2. Give the students a list of jobs the members of the group will have. My groups had 3 members. Their jobs were: Group Leader, Supplies Manager, and Designer. Here is how I described the jobs:
- Group leader – Keeps group on task, leads planning discussions, makes sure the work area is cleaned to satisfaction of teacher.
- Supplies Manager/Time Keeper: Keeps up with all supplies, gathers any necessary tools, puts items away at end of class. Keeps group aware of time left in class and whether or not group is working on schedule calendar wise.
- Designer – Makes a list of group member ideas for design, creates preliminary sketches for planning purposes which will be turned in to teacher with finished art work. Determines who does what in the actual building of the finished artwork.
In addition to the jobs above, each student also had to give themselves and each group member a grade for their project using a rubric that was provided.
3. Have the Supply Manager collect the materials for the group.
4. Let students spend a week or two (whatever time you decide) brainstorming, designing and ultimately creating their Creative Creation.
Each group was given exactly the same materials and supplies. Groups were told they could add to but not subtract from the supplies. Therefore, they had to use all the supplies given. This tended to be difficult for some of the groups because some items did not work with their design. One group chose to not use one item because they couldn’t figure out what to do with it.
I did not have any idea how long this assignment would take so I monitored the progress to determine whether or not the students needed more time. I did not have any problems with students goofing off or wasting time. It took my students two weeks of class time to finish.
The supplies for this assignment where randomly chosen. I looked around my classroom and grabbed items I had large numbers of. Here is a list of the items I can remember:
- 1 large piece of cardboard
- 3 cotton balls
- 4 wooden spools
- a paper plate
- a piece of pink tissue paper
- a square of beige felt
- a coffee can with plastic lid
- 3 pipe cleaners
- 4 wooden oval shapes
- 2 pieces of colored acrylic
- and 30 craft sticks.
The photographs in this article are the finished products of three groups. I was surprised with the designs. In my mind I thought I knew what they would do. They did not. They had other ideas. It just goes to show that we all think differently.
I was pleased with the results. It was really interesting to watch the students fall into their chosen roles as well as learn how to work together. Have you done a similar assignment in your class? I would love to hear about it!