Motivating Students to Write about Art

By New, Robin | School Arts, November 2005 | Go to article overview

Motivating Students to Write about Art


New, Robin, School Arts


Why? As the word "write" comes out of my mouth, I immediately hear the groans of the middle-school students surrounding me. They no longer look at me with excitement, and truthfully, I have mixed feelings about this writing thing myself. Before incorporating writing we must convince ourselves that, as most research supports, writing is an invaluable tool to the instruction of any curriculum. After realizing writing's validity, we have an obligation to make every effort to make writing beneficial to our students and their lives.

Ways to Motivate

In researching factors that motivate students, I assumed I would find innovative techniques including time consuming and materialistic rewards. Instead, I have discovered that teacher enthusiasm and ability top the list. It makes sense: When teachers are excited about what they are teaching, this, in turn, gets students excited. We need to have experienced the lesson, to be a model for our students, and to actually do the assignment ourselves. Only at this point can we set high, realistic expectations for our students.

Real-world relevance is a huge factor for student motivation. Do not add writing because you "need" it. Instead, find a way to connect the writing to their lives; ask them how the art reflects their own thoughts and feelings. Students are more motivated when they see good samples of other students' writing and art, understand how they were assessed, and also, understand how it impacted those students' lives.

Student choice and variety allows students more ownership in their learning while creating a more valuable and authentic learning experience. Modeling through mini-lessons and workshop settings allows variety to become manageable for any teacher. This learning environment also teaches students how to make good independent choices, set goals for themselves, and remain committed to those goals.

Incorporating writing in art class can benefit students and teachers. Through some positive experiences, the negative vibe as well as the groans will be a thing of the past when writing in the artroom.

Resources

Davis, Barbara Gross, "Motivating Students" from Tools for Teaching. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass Publishers, 1993.

National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), Motivation Writing in Middle School. Illinois, 1996.

Zaijek, Faith, "Seven Activities for Artful Writers" from Teaching PreK-8. March 1995, Volume 25, Issue 6.

Zemelman, Daniels, and Hyde, Best Practices, New Standards for Teaching and Learning in America's Schools. Second Edition, Heinemann Publishing, New Hampshire, 1998.

NATIONAL STANDARD

Students make connections between visual arts and other disciplines.

WEB LINK

Standards for the English Language Arts, www.ncte.org/about/over/ standards/110846.htm

RELATED ARTICLE: Opportunities to write.

The following is a list of ideas about incorporating art and writing.

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