Name: Abby Hanser
School(s): Berry Intermediate School, Lebanon City Schools, Lebanon, Ohio
Grade Levels: 5th and 6th. I see my students once a week for 40 minutes all year.
Where do you fall on the choice spectrum? My classroom consists of 7 studios: drawing, collage, painting, sculpture, fibers, digital art and ceramics. We spend the first quarter of the year doing skill practice (Around the Room activities) for drawing, collage, painting and sculpture as we open each studio. Ceramics is a temporary studio (until the clay runs out). Students can choose from any of these studios. 2nd, 3rd and 4th quarter, class starts out with a mini-lesson and the students have time to work in the studio of their choice. I give themed assignments each quarter and the students can choose the studio to complete the assignment.
How many years have you been teaching TAB/Choice? I have been teaching over-all for 23 years and I have been using the TAB approach for the last three.
Your why? When I learned about Choice/TAB I didn’t want to touch it with a ten foot pole! But the more I learned about it the more I started to feel that it was for my students and my students were ready to learn art in this way. They were already trying to do things in my classes that were more student-directed. So I learned as much as possible by reading, joining social media groups dedicated to Choice/TAB and observing other teachers. I began the year three years ago with a buffet style set-up to ease into more independence for my students and then after Thanksgiving I switched to studios.
Do you have your own room, share a room, or travel? I am pretty lucky in that I have my own room and our building was recently remodeled. I call my classroom the “Limousine of Classrooms” because it has pretty much all I could ask for in an art room. However, if you were not granted with a “Limousine of Classrooms” this approach is definitely still very much achievable using various ways of storage and management.
What advice would you give someone transitioning to TAB/Choice? For anyone interested in transitioning to TAB/Choice I would recommend to read all you can about this philosophy, observe other TAB/Choice teachers and design your program to fit you and your students. The level of choice and independence you allow your students is up to you! The important thing is doing what works for you and your students.