Developing new projects
The following outline is designed to support the development of individual teaching projects. It provides a structure and approach when planning projects that use the presentations contained within this resource as a starting point.
All projects (and lessons) should have clear learning objectives. These should be clearly related to the Art and Design National Curriculum, and also to the wider knowledge and expertise that we bring as artists and classroom teachers. These learning objectives should be shared with the students fully; involve them so they understand both the short-term lesson objective, and how this relates to the longer-term project objectives – be transparent! Writing learning objectives so that a class can see them works well.
Objectives should be structured so that the learning is the focus, not the outcome, product or technique (although these will feature in that they will be integral to implementing the learning).
The starting points can take many forms, eg:
- observed drawing
- examples of work of other artists
- a shared theme
- a set of ideas
- media experiments
- the introduction of a new technique or process
- a combination of these.
Every effort should be made to ensure that this is rich and interesting for students right from the start.
Use the curriculum framework to develop a context for project work. Create this context for students so that they understand it too, ie Year 7: drawing and colour, Year 8: basic elements, Year 9: visual movement. Use examples of artists’ work to continually reinforce and develop a sense of artistic context (beyond the classroom) for each project.
Each project requires a specific link to the work of another artist or the art of a culture as part of the initial material. The presentations can be used to support this.
Ideas should be investigated through the use of materials and processes. This period of work should be structured to create opportunities and reasons for individual decision-making, for developing skills and for exploring art ideas. This will promote individual approaches and personal qualities in the work produced.
The teacher should provide a range of options. Media choice and variations in use are certainly important (technique), but also options of routes through a project should be presented (some of this could involve differentiation by task and sub-task). Allow students a measure of choice to decide how they tackle it. Individual support should reinforce the value of personal choice and assist the process of the students’ own decision-making.
Discussion should be used regularly to refresh project objectives, and to focus the understanding of the work for the students. Understanding is built through experience; however, it is through opportunities to articulate and speak that intuitive understanding becomes articulate understanding. Discussion and appropriate challenge should be part of the normal working environment in an art room.
This should be built on the preceding project work, taking the best ideas forward. Qualities of individual response should be evident, and there should be a range of variety in the outcomes of the work of a group.
Try to engineer success for all by ensuring that all students finish their work to the very best of their ability, but don’t let projects become over-determined and heavily teacher-led, task-based work. Try to support students in their discovery of the following ideas:
- They have responsibility in some measure for determining the course of their own work.
- What they can achieve is less determined by the limits of their teachers, as they are invited to be inventive and independent, and will sometimes go beyond what a teacher might anticipate.
- They witness that variety and diversity are integral qualities of artistic response.
- Invention, experimentation, investigation and imagination are highly valued as they are at the heart of artistic activity.
These are important messages, and need to be delivered.
Provide linked homework activities. More details and activity suggestions can be found in Homework.
You should ensure that the following take place:
Be careful to create the context for discrete stages; explain how one section links to the next. Give students a feel of how process can affect thinking, in the way that ideas and experiences can build over time and enrich final outcomes. It is not enough to say this once – keep the idea of continuity going.
Give high status to experimentation. Even where the results are unsuccessful, it shows that a student is prepared to work at the limits of his/her competence and knowledge. Support this process and channel it to enrich final outcomes.
Promote ownership of work by encouraging diversity. Lack of diversity can result from over-determining outcomes for students. Create a space in the project structure to allow for diversification, and personalisation, of outcomes.
Support the use of imagination. Do give critical and guiding advice, but, equally, be prepared to step back at the right moment and allow the abilities that students have to change and progress their images to be exercised with independence. This may entail uncertainty for both the student and teacher. Playful use of the imagination embraces experimentation and risk, so it’s fine to say to a student who is uncertain but has some ideas, ‘I’m not sure either, but try it and we’ll see’.
These qualities should form a part of our aspirations for all students as we seek to develop their ability to think and act creatively. Use these ideas to inform the structure and delivery of new projects.
A blank project outline has been provided for you to develop new projects:
In addition to this, a completed project outline is provided to support each of the topics covered within the resource. These can be found within the introduction to each project.