Sketchbook Time

Starting TAB in fall of 2013, I noticed Sketchbook usage did slip, so rather than send SB’s home at end of year, students “graduate” SB to next years grade level basket. Any students that move away can take theirs, or sometimes they just want pages they used to put in portfolio to take along.  They do love the connection & belonging, plus their SB’s have really beautiful drawings & ideas. I thought this graduation idea would be the worst news, but they are cool with it & know they will get it officially at 5th grade graduation. It sounds so sparce of SB time, but here is the breakdown: 50 pages, 40 weeks of art class once a week (less for some with holidays/testing), usage varies but twice a month average. There are devoted students who love to draw and times devoted to drawing like:

1st find lines on campus playground & in nature

2nd garden sketching-we have produce & flowering gardens 

3rd Seeing Trees each season-each homeroom is named after a tree on our campus. 

4th Art in Action gesture drawings (I did have a few who desired to make their own SB’s)

5th Daily Draw -I open class with this first 5 min, then start class due to their learning style/vibe after recess;). Six new objects are set out each month. 

In my former years of teaching art before TAB when this post was originally written and now with TAB only #5 and #3 remains true!

Sketchbook Time evolved from “Free Drawing Time”.  After students had completed the assignment, stored work and cleaned their space they were allowed to do a “Free Drawing”.  For years, the studio had loads of paper donated to use.  People would drop of the old dot matrix printer paper, clear newsprint, rolls of butcher paper and pkgs of manilla paper.  So there was always a stash to replenish the corner of the Art Cart of everyday supplies.  In that Free Drawing time, I noticed students extending the project, mostly younger ones, like a mini-example to take home while ‘the real’ work dried in the drying rack.  Students were also very focused and drew similar images together: action figures, vehicles, nature, animals.  So in the year, after all the donated paper was used, I ordered a Sketchbook Diary for each student in the Sax Arts & Crafts catalog.  Picked up a basket at the Container Store for each homeroom and used Avery labels for names.  I developed a Sketchbook Time Guideline:

1. What can I draw list?  What Can I Draw?  Top 10 Drawing Challenges.

2. Fishbowl of Ideas (A fishbowl full of 100 laminated fish with ideas!)

3. Drawing Books (…Ed Emberley other Drawing books, so cute how they jot page # for next week to finish!)

4. Artist Library (various little paperback series)

5. Your own ideas!

This guideline has been very helpful to those who struggled with #5.  You can get the Sketchbooks in 50 or 100 pgs.  The 50 pages are plenty for our students in that they have Art once a week, use pencil or colored pencil & only front & back of one page per class.  Sounds strict but it avoids bleeding markers and plowing through!  Sketchbooks have also been great to warm up for Self-Portraits, practicing animals in Rousseau Jungles, etc.  This year we’ve enhanced the Sketchbook Time by adding a “Sketchbook Gallery” to the end-of-year Art Show.  Sketches were randomly selected and xeroxed to display.  Students take sketchbooks home in June.  For next year, I worked with colleague on developing a Top 10 Drawing Challenges for students to draw each month per grade level.  I have mostly stayed away from inspecting Sketchbooks and still will but needed to convey the value of them and let’s grow from them.  This artsaysthat small studies make a difference in the personal achievement of each individual student.

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