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Best Practice [Question]

Sketchbooks in the Art Room

Started on Sep 03, 2012 by imagiNATION
Last post on Mar 14, 2015

How do you make sure students are doing their best on sketchbook assignments? I want it to be a space that they can feel free to explore and practice but also a space they use for something other than writing their crush's name. Do you use sketchbooks? Do you have any tips that have helped make them successful?

5 Keeps, 1 Likes, 9 Comments

  • Maggie_Dahn 09/03/2012 at 02:01pm
    I use sketchbooks in my classroom---as they get older, they get more sophisticated sketchbooks. I set expectations in the beginning of the year and criteria for success for what an excellent sketchbook entry looks like---"an excellent sketchbook entry..." includes a header with today's date, includes my best art, is on sequential pages (no skipping!)

    Maybe consider using sketchbooks during a do now---(or a "draw now")---for the first 5-10 minutes of class. This makes the expectation clear that they should be working on the quick draw assignment. If you use them for free draw at the end of class, just make sure to have expectations for what happens in free draw. Can they only draw something related to the areas you are studying? Give them a menu of options (or you will see names like Jeff and Damian scribbled across the pages.) If you have examples and non-examples right from the beginning, students will know what to expect. Employ positive reinforcement---if students use sketchbooks the right way, they get to keep using them. If not, they need to use paper. You need to make the sketchbooks valuable, the students need to be invested and excited to use them. Hope that helps some!
    Oh, and I did the sketchbook project with my students last year---they were so excited to be a part of the final product---and then they actually got to see the sketchbook when it was on tour in LA! Check it out here:

  • ArtKat0508 09/03/2012 at 02:35pm
    I teach middle school and use sketchbooks as a place to do practice work, early finishers, sub days, and what I call creativity exercises. I set an amount of time that a drawing should last and try to encourage them to add more (details a background a second drawing around the first etc..). I find that they don't really know what to do when asked to think on their own so I have a list of ideas that they can work from (but they are not limited to it). I grade them very generously. I wouldn't grade them at all except that some people won't do any work unless they think it "counts" for a grade. I think they just need some time develop their own ideas which is why the product is so awful in the beginning. The students who have me for two or three years really do begin to mature as artists and thinkers.

  • andreafuentes 09/12/2012 at 05:00pm
    I teach high school and some middle school. I also give them a list of ideas and weekly specific assignments (example, fill a page with patterns found in nature, do a Zentangle, etc.)For high school, I have them prep some sketchbook pages... one page watercolor wash, one page collaged item, one page cut pieces out of, one page of ink doodles. Then they work on top of the prepped pages.

  • remembertheshadows 10/02/2012 at 11:39am
    Vocabulary is added daily. 'Analogous' was the entry for today. (Fall is showing off via colors) Examples using a variety of materials Collage, paint, pencil, etc. decorate each page.

  • AndreaM 10/02/2012 at 02:15pm
    When i was in art school, our teacher collected them at the end of each semester...boy did we hustle; knowing they would be "graded", assessed and looked over.

  • Hope200 02/04/2013 at 05:16pm
    My Middle School students each get a sketchbook. We take 10 minutes at the beginning of class for sketching. They have a list of a 30 Day Drawing Challenge. They can pick any of the ideas, no matter the order. Or, they can choose their own idea. I ask that they always write the date, so they can see their progress. I just found a list of 10 key qualities for a sketchbook rubric, and have been reading them to my students. They didn't expect that they had to fill in the entire page. Since we don't have 30 minutes sketch time, they may not be able to accomplish this in one or two days. But, they can work on one sketch for several days.

  • ShannaLeigh 06/06/2013 at 06:01am
    Hope200, can you post the list of 10 key qualities for a sketchbook rubric? Thanks!

  • jbucher 07/09/2013 at 01:30pm
    I assign a weekend sketchbook assignment for my year long 8th grade students. Each drawing must fill the page and be complete ( colored or shaded etc.) If they turn in a 5 second last minute drawing, they get a 0. Each assignment in a 4 Friday month is worth 25 points. If it is a short month, like November, I may combine it with December, then perhaps each drawing will be worth 20 points. If they don't bring the sketchbook back on Monday, they may turn it in the next day for 1/2 credit.

  • lwelling 03/14/2015 at 07:20am
    I even have sketchbooks for my little people! K-6 students enjoy doing step by step drawings that I have laminated and stored in a box. When they are done with their current art project, they can pull out there sketchbook, come pick an image, and practice their drawing skills. They can't get enough of this! It also keeps kiddos who finish early working and I have definitely seen improvement on their drawing skills. Step by step teaches little ones to "see" the shapes that make the complex image.