I feel that rewarding student participation in a school art show is extremely important in encouraging creativity. When I organized my school art show I tried to reward as many student artists as possible in several different ways.
One way was by placing the art work into numerous categories so that many awards were given out. Each category received 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place ribbons plus as many honorable mentions as the judge felt were deserved. Because I taught in a school of 5th through 12th grades, I also organized the show so that there was a separate high school section, junior high section and 5th and 6th section.
I used the following categories:
- colored pencil
- computer art
- oil pastel
Each year the categories changed a little depending on the students and what we had done that year in class. If I got an entry that didn’t fit in any category I put it in miscellaneous. Sometimes I combined classes if there were not enough entries to give the students some competition. My goal was to give as many ribbons as possible, but to have the ribbons have meaning. To me a 1st place ribbon out of one was not really meaningful, thus I combined classes.
In addition to class winners in each grade section, I had the judges choose a Best of Show from the 1st place winners. So there was a Best of Show High School, Best of Show Junior High and a Best of Show 5th and 6th Grade. These winners received a special ribbon or certificate and a donated award.
The awards came from generous sponsors my students had written to during the year. Students wrote telling of our school show and asking for donated prizes. Sometimes a whole class signed the letters. We never knew what or if anything would be donated so we were always surprised as donated awards came in the mail. I announced the awards and showed them to my classes. This always increased the excitement of the show.
Through the years our school show received awards from First Bank of Anderson, Dlick Blick Art Materials, Da Vinci Paint Company, Sax Art Materials and art patrons that donated gift certificates for various art supply stores. I even had one patron that called me each year wanting to donate certificates plus wanting to purchase a piece of art work from a student. What a blessing that patron was. What a reward it was to the student to sell their work.
Another award that students could receive in the show was the People’s Choice Award. This award was voted on by students, faculty, staff, administration, and parents. Slips of paper were left at the front office under the supervision of our wonderful secretary. She monitored the voting.
Voting was allowed before and after school, during lunch and between class. I took my classes to see the art show as an assignment. They had to judge the show and vote for People’s Choice. People were asked to choose a favorite piece in the 5th and 6th grade, one in junior high and one in high school. I tallied the votes, and announced the winners the day after the awards ceremony.
I also awarded students for participation with an art reception that was held one evening for a few hours. Parents, students, school board members, administration, faculty and staff were invited. Cake and punch was served. I handed out art show programs that listed all the student participants and award sponsors. Parents seemed to really enjoy having a keepsake of the show.
During the reception, ribbons and awards were announced. Students attending received an extra 100 for a test grade. My students loved putting their names on the sign-in sheet, but most didn’t need the extra grade.
After 10 years of having an art reception the attendance really slacked off. The art show had so much competition with athletic events, FFA functions, and other things that it became next to impossible to choose an evening where most students could attend. So I adapted.
I changed the awards ceremony to a school assembly in which only art show participants were allowed to attend. Teachers were given a list of participants and released them for a 30 minute ceremony where I gave out all the awards. Students enjoyed getting out of class (another reward) and I was fortunate to have the support of the administration, faculty and staff.
Rewarding student participation in a school art show can be done in many ways such as giving out ribbons, prizes, bonus grades, making a program keepsake, or holding a reception/school assembly. I was personally rewarded with a sense of great satisfaction seeing the pride filled faces of my students when they showed others their work. It was a great experience!
So, art teacher, I would like to hear from you. Tell me about your art show experiences. How do you reward your student artists? How do you encourage student creativity?