Teachers Connect
Jul 14, 2015

Institute 2: Advancing the Envisioning Process

Think back to working on the folded secrets book.  Reflect on your creative process and the habits of mind.  What habit seemed most needed as you worked?  Students need to be able to envision their final book to be successful at completing their project in a satisfactory way – both for him/herself and you, the teacher.  What kinds of questions can you ask to help students envision their project before beginning it and developing “a habit”?  During its execution?

22 Responses to Institute 2: Advancing the Envisioning Process

  1. zell rosenfelt says:

    In this project I must say I did not envision the final product. Having little talent in visual arts, I made a poor start at the outside “house” part of the project. However, I went on to write a poem about myself that pleased me very much. In fact, I was even willing to share it with the class. Once I was successful with the interior part of the project, I felt that I wanted to go back and redo the outside part of the project. I did so today, and am very proud of what I have done, which is a much better image of a house.
    To improve the outside part of the project I looked at some samples of the artists’ books that were in our classroom. This helped me greatly and gave me ideas on how I could improve the project.
    So, to summarize, I remade (refolded) the entire project because I was unhappy with it.
    I would say to students, it’s often a matter of trial and error.
    Maybe you didn’t do it well the first time, but you may do it much better the next time. Have a little faith in yourself and you will
    probably be successful, even without envisioning the entire project at the outset.

  2. Mary Ellen Fink says:

    I found the folded secrets book a challenge because I was not retaining the order and motions once done with first two samples. I am a direction follower and step-by-step person but sometimes need a lot of repetition. Strangely enough, though, I bet that the students with ADHD and/ or focusing issues will be the ones that get the hang of the boys immediately and begin mass producing them to the exclusion of everything else. I can picture past students’ faces as I write the statement. Questions to ask students might include (1) What does the sample remind you of? (2) What could you name the type of box? (3) What are the different shapes that are formed making the box? (4) What are some important actions you have to do to make the box? I think that third and fourth graders would fall in love with this project. They love collecting things or like having special containers for their treasures or even flash cards. For younger students, there will be a great deal of teacher prep involved. Examples are cutting, drawing fold line or folding, and in execution students work with partners as holders when gluing and assembling. I would like to make my next one out of some of the painted paper from craft night.

    • Kathleen Anderson says:

      I can just imagine students storing flash cards in the boxes – a box for each subject area! I believe it would make studying fun!

    • Denise says:

      I would love to see the folded secrets book made out of your crafted paper!!!!

  3. Mary Ellen Fink says:

    Darn the auto correct! I swear it corrects even after I’ve proofread. Please excuse any crazy words that are in place of those that actually make sense.

    • Kathleen Anderson says:

      Ain’t technology great!?

    • Julia says:

      Mary Ellen, I think you are right in saying this may be good for putting in cards of words that the students are learning. Not only can we have an “in” box, but also an “out” box of words they don’t quite yet know and words they do know.

      • Mary Ellen Fink says:

        I love the in and out box concept! Not only do they have ownership of the boxes they have made, but they take ownership of learning the words, facts, personal goals, etc. inside.

  4. Julia says:

    I loved making the boxes today, and I don’t need much prodding to do folding projects. What a beautiful idea Zhen Xiau Bao!!
    Students, however, may need to envision a project like this because as you’re folding it you can’t see the box take shape… it seems to pop into place at the very end. It would be very difficult I think to do this without having the example. While we were folding I was looking for the example to show up in my work, but it only comes at the end.

    I would most likely ask the students 1. How do you think this is made? (in looking at an example) 2. Which shapes do you see in the box? 3. Is it going to be flat or 3 dimensional? 4. If you did not have instructions, how would you figure it out?

    I would most likely only try this with 4th or 5th graders who can do most of the work themselves.

    • Kathleen Anderson says:

      I like your questioning sequence idea. I used to use examples in the same way when we were in the experimental stage of ABC and the students loved being able to make what they saw…it brought them great joy!

  5. Gina T. says:

    I absolutely was engulfed in the developing craft and engagement and persistence. I was really into crafting the boxes and trying to make them a little better each time I made one. I also was reflecting on how things were going, assessing if I felt comfortable or pleased with the outcomes of my work, what my students may be thinking at this point in the process, and what I might say to them to help them.

    I actually agree with Zell, that I absolutely had no vision in mind, I was simply following directions and then having fun exploring the process one choice at a time. It was sort of exciting to just focus on one step, make an artistic choice, and see what happened. However, I did have the luxury of knowing I could redo it, I had time, and there were lots of materials.

    In general, I think it’s helpful for many people to have a vision in mind. I think it allows people to plot out steps to achieving a set goal, regardless of whether it’s artistic or not. However, I don’t think it’s always so stringent. I think that for some people, the creative process is a bit of adventure, letting the art drive you, seeing where it takes you and where you end up. I’ve heard/read about many artists (visual, musical, writers, etc.) that say just that- they didn’t know what was going to happen, how it would turn out, but just followed where the thing(s) led them.

    I think it may be useful to keep both perspectives in mind. In general, I thing students perform well when structure and freedom are in balance. So perhaps I would guide my students by offering them some opportunity to discuss and/or journal their vision before starting a project like this. Even if it’s just ideas about materials, or a concept, it’s still a concrete starting point to get them thinking. From there, I honestly think much of the guidance and feedback would be specific to the student. I often find flipping the question back on the student is useful for fleshing out how to approach/work through/explore/discover, etc.

    • Kathleen Anderson says:

      Thanks for the reflection. It reminds me that today some of the participants asked me if they had to keep to their original plan from the application….how could it be the same since we’re learning something new every day…good thought process!

  6. Mark Montgomery says:

    In a project such as Folded Secrets there were 3 Habits of Mind that were most prominent. They were to Engage and Persist; to Observe; and Develop the Craft. It is often up to teachers to amp up the interest somehow so that students can engage in the project. A student needs to see him or herself being successful to help them engage in wanting to do it, and to have the commitment to finish it. After engaging in the project the student needs to keenly observe the process, which in turn, and not immediately, but over time the craft is developed. The vision for the project could show itself in the mind before or after aquiring the skill. Giving students a prompt for a think-pair-share warm-up or introduction should help. Asking students: What kind of uses can you find for this item, could open up dimensions for uses beyond what the teacher can envision. This is a super project for 4th and 5th grade students to create with many possibilities for use and kinds for decoration.

    • Kathleen Anderson says:

      Thank you for bringing in the habits directly. I am so happy you like this project and can envision the excitement it can bring to students in so many ways.

  7. Carolyn Kouri says:

    Perseverance was key for my success in creating the books. From the initial introduction of the book and the cultural and historical connections to having a hands on experience with two different examples helped me (and would benefit my students) with developing their ability to envision, develop technical skills (craft), and utilize other habits. I like the idea of having students explore books with a hands-on experience before making them because sometimes what you see isn’t the “whole story” like with the books from today. I would never have guessed that the book and its boxes would open and be functional in the ways that they were. From there, guiding the conversation to utility, creation, and hypothesizing possible challenges and solutions before actually making a book would be valuable. Sometimes students have a better way of explaining things too and having “experts” of different steps work with individual students can help alleviate confusion and technical challenges as well. This book project was incredible and leads to so many uses and cross content connections!

    • Kathleen Anderson says:

      Thank you for your response. I like the idea of helping peers and using a discovery method before making the books

  8. Emily Shevell says:

    The most needed habit for me was “Engage and Persist”. Personally, after a try or two, I mostly understood how to do the box but, while I was struggling, I saw a few of my classmates also struggling over certain steps in the making of the box. It was very cool to see all of us working together to truly dive into these boxes. It was even cooler to be someone that an art teacher could go to for advice. I grew up with origami so once I understood the process, I was very excited to help my classmates!

    As for envisioning, it depends on the project. In a musical sense, if I (stepping into a student’s shoes) am composing my own piece of music I must spend most of my time envisioning what I want it to sound like or represent. I must be able to answer a few questions such as:
    Who is listening?
    What should they be feeling?
    What are you feeling while composing?
    Why are you choosing this note versus any other note?
    However, throughout the composition and my constant reflection, I must be willing to change and edit my music as time goes on. I must not be completely set on the first “envisioning process” that I did. Things change. My vision can change too. On the other hand, if I am playing a pre-written piece of music, my vision will probably not change and therefore the envisioning can continually occur without revision. I feel that this correlates to artist books as follows. Composing my own music as a student correlates to creating my own kind of book while playing a pre-written piece of music correlates to following directions that are in front of me.

    • Kathleen Anderson says:

      Thanks, Emily. A good balance of envisioning and letting it go…a hard one. As a writer, I have to let lots of ideas go, but new and better always seems to come along.

  9. Grace Hulse says:

    The studio habit of mind I used the most today was engage and persist. In making both the forms and then the decorative aspects of the project I needed to concentrate, problem solve, and persevere to create the outcomes I wanted. I agree that a personal vision of what we want to create helps guide us and make the journey easier but I didn’t feel I had a clear vision as I worked today until I had spent quite a bit of time on the piece. I am the type of learner that likes to spend some time thinking about how to approach a problem and weighing different possibilities before working – so it felt frustrating to me to see the chinese objects and immediately make one (not having a plan for what I would use it for) and then adding designs to it. I think I ask kids to do this all the time and hope that they will be able to “grasp and go” to create meaningful artworks. A better approach might be to do some experimenting brainstorming first and get to know the limits of the materials as well as personal limits and abilities and then ask kids questions about how they could create this container. What would you use it for? How can you decorate or embellish in a way that reflects its use? Is this the form you want to use, or would you alter it in some way. We could take a look at other ways similar containers have been used like parfleches from Plains Indians or Netsuke/sagemono from Japan. How are these like the Zhen xian bao? How are they different?

  10. maureen berard says:

    I love reading everyones comments. I agree that the studio habit I most utilized was “engage and persist”. Since I arrived late I missed the samples, the discussion, and I just wanted to catch up. I relied heavily on my peers. When the samples came around the table again it was like a revelation. Oh, now I get it. It was still hard to accomplish but it got easier with a. repetition and b. help. I think the pre-construction questioning and envisioning are crucial to getting engaged. Maybe even having a box we could de-construct and play with (as I did with my neighbors’) would help the students I know it did me.

  11. Denise says:

    I love that everyone persisted – the books you made were amazing!!

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