January 14, 2015

Critique Sandwich-How to Critique with 1st-6th graders!

Every few months I have a catch up day in the art room. I use this day to catch up the straggling students, pass back complete work and update students about their Artsonia account. As easy as it is to assign a free day in the art room to make all this happen I feel like that isn't educationally sound practice. So I pull out my trusty Critique Sandwich handouts for my students to work on. These handouts are a life saver and can be used on any project and with grade 1 and up. (And if you have Kinders who can write, go for it). They aren't fancy, but they get the job done.
So how do I implement this?
First, you need to explain what a critique is and how to properly do one. I pull the handout up on my smartboard (get the smart notebook file here) and use a child's project from another class as the example. I explain that the buns are compliments and the middle is where you tell the artist something they could improve on. We discuss what an opinion is and how to back it up with a fact. *Cue character education* I use this as an opportunity to explain a particular situation that this grade is struggling with
Example: So Johnny told me he didn't like me today. I don't know why. Johnny needs to support his opinion with a fact or a reason.
Johnny: I don't like you because you didn't play with me on the playground today and that made me sad.
Students are truly amazed with the concept: That they are entitled to opinions as long as they have facts. It's a great life skill that our kids need to learn! 
We critique a student's work as an example. Something you like and why, something that needs work and why, and something that you like again and why. Encourage every child to give an example (use my non-volunteer system). When done partner the kids up and here is the trick. Let them work anywhere in the room. Under tables, against a wall, on the floor, by the sink. This makes this activity novel and not a boring writing activity.  My first graders were incredible with this last week!
I put a word wall up of words kids may need help with but encourage them to
Stretch the words out and spell the best you can. 
Have student get to work and then share verbally with their partners when they get done. I circulate to make sure everyone gets a good start and then I can pull students to finish projects or begin passing back old work. Students who get done early share with their partners and can write extra compliments on the back. It's really incredible to see the students working on these. They investigate the artwork, use art terms and skills and are using their critical thinking skills. 
How do you critique or don't you bother?  How do you et artwork back to students? 

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