For the past few years, my school has done a finals schedule with each class meeting for 95 minutes for a “culminating activity”. I’ve done exams previously, and I’ve done writing activities. But eventually I came to the realization that we should probably doing art. Here is the process I have been using, with two preparation days and a 95-minute block of time for students to create the artwork. For being a product person, I think this process works out well:
Step 1: Start with a theme. In this case, for my seniors, it was comfort.
Step 2: Spend a couple of days brainstorming and talking out ideas and possibilities.
Step 3: Create sketches, hash out our ideas.
Step 4: Moved on to create sketches with specificity.
Step 5: Get all materials prepped–paper, paint, palettes, pencils, pastels, photoshop programs, and whatever else may be needed.
Step 6: The pressure is on to come in and, within 95 minutes, create a meaningful artwork from beginning to end. This is our final.
During that 95 minutes, we were drawing, painting, and editing our photo shoot:
We were also mixing food coloring and bubbles (I don’t ask questions–I just provide supplies).
We had some great ideas, and some great results (especially considering the time constraints). Comfortable places–beds, specifically–were a recurring theme, as were comfort food and objects which bring us comfort. Ideas were developed about comfort in solitude and comfort in our vices. It was great to see these ideas develop and come into fruition.
The one drawback of this process as a final, I felt, was my inability to give meaningful feedback. I obviously gave a lot of criticism during the brainstorming phases and during the creation of the project, but there was no way to give a worthwhile final critique. It was more of “turn your project in, I’ll grade it, and you can pick it up after school. Maybe I’ll see you next semester!”
I would say the end products were pretty successful, but more importantly, the kids enjoyed the process and responded well to the pressure of creating something within a 95 minute window. Apart from the lost opportunity for closure and feedback at the end of the project, I am really happy with both the process and the results.