I adore organized visuals that students can use to increase their skills, productivity, and creativity. Constantly, our district and so many more than that, are reminded to provide references for students when they are trying to create “good” work. Yes, a rubric can be effective for helping students know what is expected but it also allows them a choice of where to land without much for example. This can lead to a lack of creativity, an overwhelmed student not know what to do, and a general sense of confusion regarding expectations.
So, we’ve been told to provide examples of what we expect. And I quote many consultants, “Show students the best example of the work expected and they will know where to land.” Great. Dandy… but within this concept lies a serious problem. Copycats. Of course, it is
very unlikely in an English class that a student would copy the best example word for word because the plagiarism is astoundingly obvious. But in the art room? We’ve all run into situations, such as project demonstrations or using examples for guidance, that create the “copy” effect. This is especially apparent in the younger classes, when for example, you’re drawing a landscape scene and 7 of the 18 students all have a very similar concept to the quickly sketch example you offered at the beginning of class. And you think, “But, but I was just quickly showing you ideas! This is not creative! This is not original! This is not developing any skills!” I have thought this in my beginning years of college when I was being taught to teach both by reflecting on my growing strategies and those of other teachers. There is nothing that you can really do to undo that moment but your first fix should be establishing with students “that nothing can look like your example because creativity is key”.
So. Provide examples. But then don’t. But then…shoot. You get stuck in a vicious cycle of “What can I do to make them see? Oh crap, now they see…and they’re not doing anything but what’s been done!” I have a solution! What about a reference? An analogy of another situation in which students can relate the concept of your rubric and expectations. And it works, too. I call it the “Scrumptious Rubric Reference”.
It’s very simple. Students can look at this rubric and think, “where do I want to fall” when they are doing goal setting (I do goal setting and you can see more about my project rubrics here). If they want to fit in the “right on” category, they can see the visual of a well made meal with a literal explanation of the meal and an analogy to what the student work might look like. As you go down the line, you start to see the meal decinegrate pathetically into nothing. It brings a sense of humor to the class and allows students to grasp what their work *should* look like without hindering their creativity with examples.
Of course, some projects need good examples because of their abstract ideas and unique processes but when they aren’t necessary and students just want a general idea of what to shoot for, they can look at the scrumptious meal in front of them (I have it as a large poster in my room.) and think, “Clearly Miss Jorgensen wants the whole meal and not just bits and pieces.”