For quite a while, I have read about TAB and choice based art ed. There is a lot that appeals to me with the theory but I have never seen a structure that I felt would work for me in my classroom. In the weeks leading up to winter break, I started thinking more and more about gamifying the classroom. I decided to take the plunge and so now my 1st-5th grade students will have a range of choices but with clear structures and support to make it manageable.
I decided to utilize Google slides as a means of managing the game. It is free and a slide deck can provide secure, personalized communication between me and the students. I started by setting up a template. My slide deck has the rules of the game, a slide to track badges they earn and then numerous slides of challenges students can complete in order to earn a badge. The beauty is that since slides can have links, my challenge slides can have the learning targets then a picture of a sample project that would hit the targets. I make the sample image a link to a video demonstrating how it was made. My students all know that I dont want a copy of the sample but it provides a structure so they can visualize the targets and learn the techniques they need. I like that this menu of projects gives them meaningful choice but also a system that helps them learn how to follow a demo to acquire a new skill.
After a student completes a challenge they can photograph their work right on the slide using their iPad. When they show me a slide with work that meets my criteria, I give them the badge. I am sticking with simple digital badges with icons displayed on their slide. One slide has all the badges in grayscale. I simply tap and colorize the icon to award the badge. (Technically there are two images on top of each other. The bottom layer is color and the top layer is grayscale. I tap and delete the top image revealing the color version of the badge.)
For the game, I decided on 4 levels:
Level 1 (Noob) focuses on basic skills learning different media. Students will earn their marker badge, their clay badge, their collage badge, printmaking, weaving etc. After they earn 5 different badges, they will level up. I will give them a new slide deck with new challenges as they level up.
Level 2 (Expert) is a little more self directed. At this level, students will have broader, more conceptual goals. The challenges will be to do things like make a grid drawing or to make an abstract portrait etc. Students will choose the media and in many cases the subject matter but they will have to demonstrate an understanding of different approaches and broad categories of art.
Level 3 (Pro) will focus on responding to art, analyzing works and making connections. Students will be challenged to make work inspired by the style of different artists/movements/cultures. As with the previous levels, they will need 5 badges to level up.
Level 4 (Goat) will be entirely student led. Students who reach level 4 will have a strong foundation with a wide range of topics and skills. They will propose their own projects then present their work at the end.
It's been a lot of work getting the ground work laid but the kids seem excited about the change and I'm excited to see what happens as kids go off exploring different topics and hopefully sharing their discoveries with peers.