Thursday, November 4, 2010

What's in a Name?

Can there be anything more frustrating than trying to grade a stack of artworks only to find that several have no names? Auugghh!!!

Fortunately, I have a few routines in place that cut down on this immensely!

During the hands-on demo, the first thing I do is demo 'First Name, Last Name + class number' on the back of the work if 2D. In 3rd & 4th grades we have begun our printing plates for collagraphs. The first day of the project they were required to show me their 'ticket' (the back of their base tagboard) before they could dive into the textures on the counter.

For ceramic pieces, everybody creates a 'name tag' (usually a piece of scrap construction paper 2" x 3") with same info that is applied/placed on the base of their clay work for easy identification (again first step of the demo). And again, they have to show me their 'ticket' before receiving their hunk of clay. To help with distinguishing the various classes, each class gets a different color of name tag so when it's time to write names on the ceramic pieces, I have a quick visual reminder of which class I'm dealing with... During the course of the project, we will probably have to make a 2nd name tag due to clay moisture but that's no biggie - I cut extra and keep them in the class drawer. And - yes - I am the one who writes the name on the base of the work!! In my early days/years of teaching, amnesia was a HUGE problem for my students!! Either I couldn't read the writing on the ceramic work or there was no name or no class number. Much time was wasted debating ownership rights...

I'm usually the one passing out the work - I call out names & place on a counter for the student to retrieve while the table helpers get materials to their groups. This way I identify unnamed work soon enough in the project to correct it. Sometimes, if the work is dry media starting with a drawing, it goes straight into the table folders and then into the class drawers. In that case, I need to check for names individually as I circulate the room during class.

Having said all this, there are some pieces that slip through the cracks but usually the number is very small & through the process of elimination, I can figure out who the anonymous artist is.

My worst nightmare came true a few years back when I had a less-than-stellar student teacher. In her haste to grade the work, she dumped out all the work from every table folder for one grade level (5 classes,approx. 7-8 folders per class) into a box to take home. She had been less than diligent checking for names during the course of the project and ended up with about 30 pieces (out of approx. 180) with no names, no class. Unfortunately, she didn't say a word until her last day (a week before grades are due) when she turned in her grade sheets. She casually mentioned 'a few' had no names so were missing grades and I would need to find out whose work was whose.. What a mess! Fortunately, the work was very individualized so students were less likely to mis-identify their work but it still took several days of tracking down the owners...

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