Draw Along Confusion

I have seen quite a few lessons in the last month or so that specifically have 'draw along' as part of the lesson.  I am very confused and slightly concerned about this - will one of you who do this explain to me your reasoning and purpose for doing them?

I tend to feel that all kids are super creative and I challenge my students to make their art their own.  I have never done a draw along, but I wanted to ask why some of you do them - because perhaps, I am missing the purpose of them.  I currently just don't get it. 


Mr. E said...

I will do some draw along with Kindergarten...because I feel they need to see the development of shapes into objects. However...past that...I don't tend to do it. I feel they need freedom to create within a given set of guidelines.

J. Cooper said...

My district calls it "Directed Drawing" and I only do it for certain projects and usually only for the lower grades. Directed drawing helps build direction following skills and breaks it down into steps that younger minds which aren't used to being focused can follow. It has been a useful tool for building stamina. I might start out in kindergarten with "I draw this one thing, you draw this one thing" and then by first grade I can say, "Draw these three things" and they'll remember them all. It's certainly useful for oragami when I have the kids follow along with me. Also, I've noticed that despite the fact that we're all doing the same steps - everyone gets their own original results. I directed a drawing of a horse, or a dog, or dragon or whatever - but everyone came up with their own version of that subject. I really don't see where it's different from giving them all the drawing directions in a demonstration where the kids all gather around. This just means I'll have less, "I forgot what to do" statments when they get back to their seats.

Pat said...

J Cooper said exactly what I was thinking. I hope this clarifies what "directed drawing" or "draw along" is for you. What we should never do, as an Art Community, is to insinuate that something one of us does, while teaching, is unacceptable. We are all individuals trying to teach art concepts the best way we know how to teach them to our students.

Ms Novak said...

Pat - I never meant to insinuate that 'drawing along' is wrong, I just have never done it. Perhaps I should have explained why I have never done it and what my concerns were about it -- I didn't explain any of that because I didn't want people defending their choice that way. I wanted to know why people did it - what their goal of doing it was.

I agree, Pat, that as a community we need to be supportive of each other and understand that each of us is teaching art, but in very different districts. Many districts go about teaching art concepts very differently depending on if they focuses more on art history and appreciation, process, or that my classes are 50 minutes while others have 30. I agree it's not okay to 'judge' how we each teach, however I do think it is our duty as a community to challenge each other to grow and to question how we teach what we teach.

I thank you each for your responses. I feel I have better understanding of 'direct drawing'. While I feel I still need to better understand it - I can see in certain lessons where it is appropriate and even helpful. For example I teach a lesson on drawing cylinders with 2nd grade. We end up making cakes which include 3+ layers of cylinders. First we start by looking at pictures of cakes and figuring out the individual shape. I do a step by step drawing on the board with the students directing what I do next. I can see where this lesson could have a direct draw and not effect the uniqueness of the students outcome - as there is really only one way to draw stacked cylinders.

While I still struggle with the idea of direct drawing an actual subject/object like a dragon - I am more open to the process. J. Cooper - do you ever have kids after a draw a long that say things like, "Mine doesn't look like yours" or "I want mine to look like so and sos"? I guess my concern comes from when I first started teaching and I had multiple students that really stressed if theirs didn't look like mine. So, I deliberately started to make my examples from class suggestions then erasing or limiting how much of the picture they could duplicate in their own. I use to have kids in serious tears and frustration when their didn't turn out 'perfect'. I guess, I always was concerned that doing a draw along would enforce the idea that there is only one way to do it. Please tell me more about how your kids react and handle a direct draw, because it doesn't sound like this happens for you.

Thanks for your responses.

Princess Artypants said...

As long as they're used in used in moderation (one tool in a very big toolbox), "draw alongs" are a great confidence building tool, particularly with young children.

When I first started teaching I wouldn't dream of touching a template or doing a draw along...or even doing a sample piece out of fear of sapping creativity!

I am a lot more relaxed about all of that now and I feel that I run a pretty balanced show process/product wise. Everyone's comfort level with this stuff is different, and it's that divergent thinking that makes teaching art so fun!

Good luck, Kristin

J. Cooper said...

Turn that moment of frustration into a teaching moment.
My responses to the "It doesn't look like yours" statements are always the same thing, "It's not supposed to look like mine, it's supposed to look like yours." I use those moments to teach the individuality that you were concerned about. I will often point out that that student's work doesn't look exactly like the students next to them either. I also point out that everyone did the same steps, but we all got different results. Every artist has different styles. This one (I'll point to mine) is my style. That one is yours, and this one is his/hers. It doesn't have to look like mine, in fact it shouldn't. It should always look like your own work. If you have the time, pull out some prints. Monet's landscapes aren't going to look like van Gogh's. Rembrant's people don't look like Picasso's. Everyone has their own style. Sometimes it makes it more concrete for the kids if they see that famous artists can do the same things and wind up with drastically different results.
If you have someone who is still panicing, tell them how old you are - how many years you've been practicing this - how long it took you to get good at it. I'll often tell them that it may not look good to them the first time, the second time, the tenth or two hundredth time. But sooner or later, they will get it right - only if they keep practicing. I have a poster in my room I made that says, "You don't always improve with age but you will always improve with practice." Often after that whole speil I'll have other kids in the class who chime in and start encouraging my teary-eyed students with echos of my own statements.
As they move up past kindergarten and first, that kind of panic ceases to be an issue. I don't really see it anymore in the upper grades that have had me since they were little.