If you’re an art teacher, there’s a good chance that you’ve run into challenges when it comes to getting your students talking about their artwork—regardless of which grade(s) you teach. Often times, this happens when students don’t have the proper vocabulary they need to communicate about their art, but other factors can also come into play. Fortunately, there are three different techniques that art education professionals can implement in their own classrooms to improve students’ verbal communication about their work.
Start With an Example
No two students have the exact same learning style, but many learn through example. When you first introduce verbal communication about artwork in the classroom, then, consider leading with your own example. Show your students a piece of artwork you’ve created, and share with them the method you used to create it, what you were thinking about when you created it, what challenges you encountered when you made it, and the like. This will help to give your students a better idea of what their own dialogue might involve.
Spend Time on Vocabulary
Because a lack of exposure to art vocabulary can pose a major challenge to art students, it can be helpful to spend some time reviewing relevant vocabulary in the classroom. Rather than assuming students know the proper terminology for various techniques and styles of art, provide students with a glossary of terms—and don’t be afraid to quiz them on it. After all, art is a niche with its own unique language, so it’s unfair to expect students to be able to speak in a language they aren’t familiar with.
Provide Speaking Prompts
Another great way to get students talking about their art is to provide them with speaking prompts; this can be especially helpful for earlier in the school year, when students are learning to have conversations about their work for the first time. Specifically, consider announcing to the class, “we’re going to work on talking about your art today.” Then, pass out some prompts with questions to stimulate conversation about their work, such as:
- what techniques did you use to create this?
- what inspired you to create this?
- what does this piece of artwork mean to you?
This is an excellent way to get the dialogue started in your classroom without putting students on-the-spot.
Teaching your students how to talk about their art can be a challenge, but by planning your lessons accordingly and providing your students with the tools they need for success, you can have them confidently talking about their work in no time. As a teacher, what techniques have you used that have helped your students talk about their artwork?