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Specialist Corner: Making More Time - Using Video Instruction in the Art Studio

Mr. Ohm shares his strategies for maximizing time for exploration and experimentation in the Art Room.

As the art teacher at Hamlin Robinson School, my goal is to create a space where students don't need evaluate if their work is right or wrong. Instead, trying something new, having a positive attitude and keeping an open mind are the goals. 

When you consider that the diversity of learners and learning styles in our school, you have to appreciate the diversity of ideas and experiences that come with it. These students are, at their core, unique and creative.

Now in my second year at HRS, I’ve started implementing strategies that give our students even more time to explore, interact, and create. While there are some simple things I’ve changed about my teaching practice to maximize working time, such as talking less to focus on giving the most important instructions, or stretching projects over four or five weeks, my magic potion has really been the “10-Minute Art Lesson.”

As the art teacher for all 283 students, my biggest challenge is making sure we have enough time to really explore and create projects that make these curious and talented kids proud.

When I would introduce a new project in my first year at HRS, class time often went something like this: My six-minute demonstration would stretch into fifteen minutes with questions, distractions, and interruptions. By the time we had collected our materials and started our work, it was time to clean up and much of our class time had been eaten up by instruction. Kids were frustrated because they weren’t finishing projects. Time really is the most valuable resource in the Art Room.

The idea came to me last year. I had used videos before, but only to connect parent volunteers with instruction and cultural context of certain projects. It occurred to me that this kind of tool could really connect with the learning styles that our kids have.

Each 10-Minute Art Lesson on my YouTube channel shows the process for a particular project, from block printing to painting human eyes. They’re short, to the point, and only feature my hands, the materials, and a plain background. In editing, I’m able to pay attention to the timing, sequence, and order of instruction so that I can feel really confident that it will work for the kids.

When I introduce a project using these 10-Minute Art Lessons, students absorb the information more completely because there aren’t any distractions. If there’s a part of the lesson that’s unclear, they can go back and revisit each step to be sure they’re doing it correctly.

After 10 minutes, the demonstration is complete and kids can get started on their creations. It gets us to where we want to be faster, and it gives kids the time to create and build their confidence in the Art Room.

I think that it’s working. Whenever kids have guests in the building – parents, friends, siblings – they love to bring them to the Art Room. Students take ownership and pride in the space, sharing their favorite materials, work stations, or projects they’ve completed.