Positive reinforcement is a classroom management strategy that I use as often as possible. Recent research solidifies my reasons for using these techniques.
I have one particularly challenging class this year and all my tricks of the trade have not been working. As a result of my frustration, I developed the “Website of the Week” positive reinforcement program to motivate students to behave appropriately.
I started by gathering a list of fun websites appropriate for students to access independently. I created a slip of paper for each site that included a compliment on their excellent behavior, the web address and an image from the site. Since the “website of the week” is only given to students who demonstrate good classroom behavior, I needed to create a system that was easy to track, but also respectful to all students.
My tracking system involves keeping a sheet of paper with the homeroom teacher name on it on my desk. If a student acts innaproiately (talks while I am talking, runs in the room, etc.) I quietly ask the student to write their name on the sheet of paper. At the end of class, I only give the “website of the week” to students whose name did not appear on the list at my desk.
Also at the beginning of each class, to generate excitement, I ask the students what they thought of the site from the previous week – knowing very well their answer would be positive. (Any child without computer access I allowed to come in for a few minutes during lunch to try it out.)
I went from about 10 students a month ago who did not receive the “website of the week” down to one last week. This once challenging class has transformed into one of my easiest to manage while also using technology to learn and reinforce art content!
Here is a list of fun websites you might like to use for “Website of the Week.”
- Artsology: Games and Activities
- Asian Games | Freer & Sackler Galleries
- Curator Collection
- Go West, Young Artist: ArtEdventure
- Leonardo da Vinci
- Brain Pop- Architecture
- Portrait Detectives
- mr. monster head
- Mr. Picassohead
- Visual Illusions
- Albright-Knox Artgames
- Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery for Kids
- Artsology: Coloring Book
- Cézanne’s Astonishing Apples
- ARTSEDGE: Playing with Shadows: An Introduction to Shadow Puppetry
- Detail Detective
- How Van Gogh Made His Mark – The Metropolitan Museum of Art
- Street to Studio: draw online
- The Dancers and Degas
- Aminah’s World
- The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis
- Tate Kids . Games . My Imaginary City
- The Metropolitan Museum of Art – MuseumKids
- Cartoonster – Fun Flash Cartoons and Animation Tutorials!
- Make-a-Flake Snowflake Maker
- Paper airplaines
- BuiLD YouR WiLD SeLF
- color and meaning
- National Museum of Wildlife Art | Carl Rungius
- A Lifetime of Color – Intermediate
- The Artist’s Toolkit | Minneapolis Institute of Arts
- MoMA | online projects | Art Safari
- MoMA.org | Destination Modern Art
- Paper University
- Design a room – Geffrye Museum
- Architect Studio 3D
- The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis
- The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis Glass
- The Cleveland Museum of Art
- Living Colour Australian Museum online
- Make a Monster – Universal Leonardo
- Discover Art–Creatures at the IMA Home
- GettyGames (Getty Museum)
- KidsArt Top Ten Art Lists
- Matisse for Kids
- Hands on Crafts
- SAAM: Meet Me At Midnight
- Kids Corner – Bottlecaps to Brushes
- Jewellery Designer
- Portrait Detectives Homepage
- New Britain Museum of American Art – Family Programs > Online Games
- Smithsonian: Kids
- Design a Coat of Arms
- BBC - CBeebies - Print and Colour
- Rain-forest Drawing Lessons
- Crayola Creativity Central™
- Drawtoy – a drawing toy
- Every Coin Tells a Story
- Etch a Sketch online
- Kaleidoscope Painter
- Museum of Childhood Kaleidoscope
- Sketching Symmetry
- Haring Kids
- Jackson Pollock painting tool
- Learn How to Draw with Billy Bear
- Mark Kistlers Drawing Lessons
- ProtoZone Interactive Games
- The Toy Maker
- Bembo’s Zoo word games
- Street to Studio: The Art of Jean-Michel Basquiat
- The Renaissance Connection, from the Allentown Art Museum
- Material World – Fun with Animal Materials
- National Museum Scotland – Egyptian Tomb Adventure
- Design a Tile- International Arts and Crafts
- Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery for Kids
- Face It!
- Gallery Game with Sounds
- Be a Roman Artist – Mosaics and Murals
- National Gallery of Art
- Decorate a Gingerbread Man
- Getty Devices of Wonder
- Learn about Color
- Aaron’s Awesome Adventure (The Met)
Learn how to shrink or customize any of these URL addresses with Tiny URL.
After you get all of the routines and procedures in place, how do you reinforce those positive student actions? One way is by creating a Positive Reinforcement Game Board for your art room. I discovered this system from my colleague, Cassie, when I first started teaching and we shared a classroom. The game board can be as simple as a piece of poster board or as elaborate as your imagination can make it.
When I started using the game board it was called the “behavior game.” I know, how unexciting, but the kids didn’t seem to mind. This year I asked my students to come up with a new theme for the game board and they choose Artopoly based on Monopoly. Many of the game board spaces have images of public art found in Chicago instead of the traditional Monopoly spaces. You can pick any theme for your game board such as an artist palette, a book like Mouse Paint or a museum such as the Art Institute of Chicago. The idea behind it is simple but very effective in motivating my elementary students. Follow the classroom rules and you can advance around the game board to earn a reward.
Here’s how it works:
- The game board rules are your classroom rules.
- Each day your classes can earn a certain number of spaces to advance on the game board by following the classroom rules. My classes earn up to five spaces a day, but you can pick a number that works for your classes. I keep track of how many spaces my classes have earned by drawing stars on the dry erase board.
- When the students are lined up at the end of art class, move their class game piece forward the amount of spaces they’ve earned for the day. At first my class game pieces were little flags made out of construction paper and push pins. Now they are made of scrap leather bookmarks that a local bank had extra of from a free give away and T-pins.
- When a class reaches the end of the game board they earn a big reward! Remember, because this is a long-term incentive, the reward needs to be very enticing to your students. For my classes it’s an art party with numerous art centers to choose from while an art-themed movie is playing. Art centers can be a collage with scrap boxes, free draw, scented markers, gel pens, stamps, tracers, modeling clay, play dough, puzzles, leftover chalk pastels, leftover oil pastels, colored pencils, how to draw books, watercolor, crayons, weaving, markers, computers or murals on butcher-block paper. Basically, art centers are any media that encourages exploration, development of fine motor control or won’t cost extra.
New Twist on the Game Board
This year my school district adopted new nutrition rules that do not allow food to be used as a reward. I used to have a popcorn art party when a class reached the end of the game board with the art-themed movie and a few extra art activities. To replace the popcorn, my classes generated a list of art centers (listed above) that they would like to earn as they advance around the game board. When a class lands on a ? space I ask them an art question based on the content we studied that day or from previous years. If they answer the question correctly they earn an art center. To keep track of what each class has earned, I drew fish bowls to go with our all school behavior system The Fish Philosophy. This new twist on the game has worked out great! Students are working even harder to earn an art party but they don’t realize it. It also gives me another way to review content studied each day in class.
Tricia Fuglestad, an art teacher at Dryden Elementary School in Arlington Heights, IL, uses technology to enhance learning in her art room. We love the movies she uses to teach art concepts, and wondered how she created them! Read the Q and A below to gain some tips and insight into the process of movie-making in art.
Our interview with Tricia Fuglestad:
Q: How long have you been creating movies to teach your students? My earliest movie dates back to 2002 with the Godzilla Educational Movie. I took some video clips from the movie Godzilla and used voice over and text to point out the art concepts I wanted students to use in their “Dinosaur in the City” project.
Q: What motivates you to create these movies? These movies become an entertaining learning tool that quickly illustrates/teaches/defines art concepts. Students seem to pay attention to the videos (and even request them). Funny, they don’t beg for me to lecture, but they do beg for me to show them these movies.
Q: How do you begin? What is your plan? I write a storyboard. This helps me put images and text together for each scene and shot of the movie. I always try to think short and to the point. I throw in as much “meat” as I can get away with and sugar it with as much humor as I can invent.
Q.) What software do you use to achieve your outcome? I make movies in a variety of different ways. I have drawn and animated movies in flash (ie. Repeat) I have shot and edited movies in iMovie (see Interview with a Pencil at end of page) sometimes using Stupendous Software for split screen and picture-in-picture special effects. I’ve also tried using chroma key effects in Final Cut Express to replace the green screen with anything we wanted (see Swept Away.) Finally, my latest movies have been in Keynote where I animate images set to music (see Digital Portfolio)
Q.) What advice would you give a teacher who is considering using digital media to create similar leaning experiences? I’m still learning the answers to these questions. I find that AFI’s ScreenNation resources online have been really helpful for me in learning how to organize my movies and organize my students who want to make movies with me. Also, Jason Ohler’s website and Digital Storytelling in the Classroom book is a great resource. I also enrolled in an online graduate class through Wilkes University called Digital Storytelling where I was introduced to these resources and expected to apply their concepts in my classroom.
Q: What kind of permission process do you go through with the students before releasing a movie on the internet? I use permission slips to gather my movie-maker volunteers. Whoever turns in their signed permission slip by a certain date is included in the movie experience. This permission is redundant in my district since parents sign a media release form that gives blanket permission for internet, cable, and other media. However, I find that the permission slip is a great little advertisement for the art program and keeps the parents informed on the unique experiences available to their student. I have learned to ask for parent email addresses on the slips. This gives me a way to send the movie link to them directly when it is uploaded to my site.
Q: Do you use any specific hardware to help with filming or to capture sound? We just have a mini DV camcorder, tripod, USB external microphone, green screen, wireless mic, and lights. I’m always writing grants for more things when I see how it can improve our movie-making. Our newest addition is a 25 foot AV cord that plugs into the video camera and to the classroom TV monitor so all the students can help frame the shots. We used this technique when making What a Cheap Trick. Students on camera could see for themselves how they looked in the camera.
Q: I’m sure all of your students want to be in your movies. So how do you choose who participates in each film? That’s a good question. I intend to give each group of 5th graders one movie-making opportunity. But, time is a limiting factor. Movie-making is very exciting, energizing, and an extraordinarily creative process and I would encourage all art teachers to give it a try…your students will love it!
One of Tricia’s latest movie adventures conducts an “interview with a pencil”. Tricia asks, “Do your students press too hard with their pencils when they draw making erasing mistakes impossible?” According to Tricia, instead of lecturing on this topic let Mr. Pencil give some advice to your young artists.
(Trouble viewing video? Try this link.)
One of the most common times in the art room for students to become off task or lose their focus is during clean-up and transitions. Learn key strategies to keep your class on task such as creating a clean-up map to help students know what to do next (Example). Or how to handle students who have trouble moving from one location to another. Keep your students productive and gain more instructional time in the process with our “Transitions and Clean-Up” tip sheet.
I’m always looking for a meaningful and exciting way to convey art history to my students. With limited student attention spans it can be a challenge to convey the excitment of art history. One tool I discovered is a series of podcasts by EwArt Productions called Art History in Just a Minute. Each podcast is narrated by Dr. Christopher L. C. E. Witcombe about a specific work of art such as Leonardo’s Last Supper. These highly entertaining video podcasts are full of information that will give any middle or high school student a deeper understanding of specific artworks. Just check out their video about the Mona Lisa and you will be hooked on the whole series. These not so typical art history lessons are the perfect addition to any art class. Plus with a price tag of free, they are sure to fit any art budget. The Art History in Just a Minute series is also available for free through iTunes.
Elementary art rooms often have a whole different set of disruptive behaviors that need attention. With limited student contact time, you need art specific strategies that work. Check out our our easy to read “Disruptive Student Behavior/Dealing with Difficult Situations” tip sheet. Learn how to diffuse and mediate arguments, stop running and pushing or handle a student who lies. These particular art teacher tested tips will help you gain control of your classes so you can concentrate on what is important, teaching art!
Print a copy to keep on hand and add to it as you discover solutions that work for your classroom. Or customize the tip sheet and put it into your substitute folder as a reference tool.
One tip is to have pre-printed “concern” slips ready (example). Students can write down concerns and turn slip into teacher to look at when time allows. If applicable to class, discuss during next class period. If the solution needs student “buy-in” then have the class decide on 3 possible solutions/consequences (acceptable to you and have the class vote on the solution/ consequence they would like to implement).
The elementary art room can get overwhelming with materials, paperwork and demanding students. Learn how to obtain student attention and keep it focused. Get organized and get your students into a routine with our “Prevention and Attention” tip sheet.
Some of the helpful tips include:
- Use a binder to store important information containing monthly planning sheets, class lists, schedule, and notes.
- Keep a container for pencils to be sharpened. (Avoids having kids distracted by pencil sharpening.) Have any student that needs to serve recess with you sharpen pencils.
- Do not begin giving directions until ALL children are looking at you.
- Use kinesthetic (movement) learning – show/have students practice directions in addition to verbal. Have children move often, avoid long periods of sitting.
- For our complete Prevention and Attention tip sheet, click here.
Student conversation in the art room often inspires collaboration and creative thinking. However, these conversations can also become excessive and disruptive to learning. Learn strategies on how to keep students on-task and control noise levels through clear and consistent expectations. Check out our tip sheet for “Dealing with Excessively Social and Off-Task Classes.”
Create an elementary art environment that praises and encourages desirable student behaviors. Learn how to reward good behavior in a meaningful way that helps develop intrinsic motivation. Check out our “Positive Reinforcement” tip sheet that gives creative ideas that can be adapted for any classroom.
- Some examples of positive reinforcement from our tip sheet includes:
- Create a slip of paper with a fun website of the week. Distribute it to students caught doing the right thing.
- Xerox fun “how to draw” pages. Give out to hard working students.
- Create a compliment slip for children to fill out about other children (example). This can be filled out at any time during class (except clean up). You need to teach that the compliment must be specific. (Not just Joe was nice.) Read compliment out loud for class to hear and give to compliment recipient.
- Create a positive reinforcement game board (example).
- For the complete positive reinforcement tip sheet, click here.
I have always been fascinated by the beauty of Indigenous Australian art. Even more impressive is how the art is combined with a functional instrument. The traditional didgeridoo instrument is made from a Eucalyptus tree branch or trunk that has been hollowed out by termites. Listen to the sound this work of art creates.
1. What kind of sound did you expect to hear? Why?
2. How is this instrument like other instruments you are familiar with? Can you think of an another instrument that was created by a visual artist? Do you think changing the shape of the didgeridoo would change the sound?
3. Why do you think the Indigenous Australians created this musical instrument?