Lately I have been thinking a lot about how to make my classroom more constructivist. That is, more student centered and student lead. A true studio is run by the artists and supports creativity through open-endedness. I want my students to think like artists so it is important that they get opportunities to work collaboratively (as artists do) and have a loosely structured task that they can use their imaginations to complete.
This project is perfect for that philosophy! I did a version of it last year and wanted to push it even farther this year with more materials available for student use. Students worked in groups of 2, 3 or 4 to create a person with garments, details, and accessories. We talked a lot about collaboration, communication, cooperation, and compromise. I believe this experience was invaluable for my students because they were able to practice their teamwork skills and ultimately created some excellent artwork!
A lot of people ask how I grade a group project and the answer is that students are still graded against a rubric based on standards but with the added component of if they were able to be successful in their team. Success in a team means that they contribute and practice kind behavior and patience as well as all of the elements of group work mentioned above. A group project is not more complicated to grade but it does require vigilance and great observation from the instructor to make sure things are running smoothly and all students are participating correctly.
Because students were able to choose the colors, materials, teammates, and outcome of their project, they were more engaged throughout the process and excited and motivated to work. While a project like this definitely requires some skillful classroom management, it is worth it to see the pride students have in their work and their deeper understanding of a true artistic process.