Cloud drawings

The best judges of drawings done with crayons are kindergarteners.

As children age they start to factor in the potential social impact of judging a drawing. As children mature they start to temper raw reactions with empathy for the artist as a person. Kindergarteners are binary: this one is a good one, this one is a bad one.

They run on first reactions and apply no subtleties of composition, lighting, consistent use of style, accuracy in forms and colors. Beautiful or not, awesome or ignored.

Keeyana, photographed by Tristan

Laboratory eight in intended to be different from the other more mathematically focused laboratories. In previous laboratories the class has explored mathematical models, physical processes, and hypothesis testing. Laboratory eight has a different focus. Laboratory eight focuses on observation and recording in a scientifically accurate manner what is seen. Science has many fields that focus on careful observation and labeling.

Keeyana deemed this drawing to be "so beautiful" Photo by Tristan

The ability to observe and accurately record observations are valuable scientific skills. Science has long depended on accurate and careful drawings of objects and phenomenon. This laboratory focuses on observation of clouds and attempting to accurately depict a cloud. That said, drawing clouds is a difficult endeavor at best, and the drawings often leave much to be desired artistically.

Tristan with the drawing he said is "awesome" and "so cool" Photo by Keeyana.

I tend to view myself as a biased judge of cloud drawings, and have avoided the task of judging when and where I can. Laboratory eight also introduces an art based rubric, providing those students who are majoring in elementary education another tool for future use.

Keeyana's favorite

Although I usually use the rubric, this term I opted to let the kindergarteners make their "good" versus "bad" cloud drawing distinction. This removed me and any biases I have from the decision loop. This also meant the applying the rubric was not a practical option - not for two who see everything as binary: the cloud drawing is good, the cloud drawing is bad.

Great art inspires others to be artistic. Tristan and Keeyana decided to draw their own clouds based on their favorite drawings.

Student learning outcomes are also equally binary. "The student will be able to draw an accurate depiction of a cloud." One either can or cannot. Of course one winds up seeing shades of gray - some are better than others. The kindergarteners are on the cusp of understanding this: there are good drawings, bad drawings, and their favorite drawing. They already sort "good" into "best" and "all the rest." Within a couple more years of school they will be able to sort things into a finer gradient of quality. A versus B versus C versus D and maybe even F. I am not sure that is a good thing.

Tristan with his favorite

For now they are happily binary and not worried about how exactly to define a D - passing but not promoting? Not passing? No realization that student learning outcomes - binary beasts - are incompatible at a measurement level with grades. Is bad an F? Probably not. A grade of D? Maybe. Arguably a C, unless one decides C simply means "average" in which case "bad" is clearly "below average" and thus a D or F. In the end they decided that only four drawings were "bad" - they were lenient judges.


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