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Before & After Shots: Tracking Student Learning & Progress

Being asked to provide evidence of student growth and learning is a large part of teaching. Traditionally teachers marked and kept a grade book, wrote reports at the end of terms that would be shared with students and parents. However, this system is abstract and often both students and parents get fixated on the number or the letter without really thinking about how the student has developed.

There is a push in some circles to get rid of grades. Fine, but in that case what is the alternative?

Whilst reading the latest feed on the Art Teachers facebook group I came across a post that is such a clear indication of student progress that I can't wait to try it out.

Before and After Shots.

We all know these from 'health and beauty' ads. "This is me before I tried the carrot soup diet - here I am 2 weeks later and 200 pounds lighter". Images are powerful evidence of change.

Why not use it for showing the change in art (or any other subject for that matter)?

My thanks to Farryl Essig, Art teacher and Fine Arts Chairman of North Myrtle Beach High School, South Carolina, USA. He shared an image of this students' drawings that show cased the 'Before and After' approach.

Farryl had students choose an object and draw it. He photographed their work. Then following the lessons on drawing techniques and skills he had the students draw the same object again. The differences were so noticeable. You didn't need to grade the works - student progress was so obvious.

I would like to try this. I think it would work well with self-portraits, for example. I would also have the students document their own work and put it on their e-portfolio with a written reflection at the end comparing the two drawings.

Really can't wait to try it. Not only does it showcase student development, it is also a confidence booster for the students who as Farryl put it think "I can't draw".

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