Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Here's how I use Stickman Art to assess

Years ago I dedicated myself to drawing more with my students, so I searched the Internet for how to draw Stickmen. That's when I came across a college student's web site where they shared their stickman doodles. Here is a booklet that shares examples of how to draw stickmen doing all sorts of stuff.
Here is a booklet of stickmen pictures
that my students sometimes use to inspire
their projects.

Drawing is something I've never done very much of, and so it shouldn't be any surprise that I'm not very good. Because I am not very skilled at drawing, I make sure to draw in front of my students so that they see how I cope with doing something that I am not very skilled at.

I make a point of modelling patience and perseverance while drawing. I also make a point of never being ashamed or insecure about drawing. I want my students to see that I am pleasantly frustrated about learning to draw. Despite my modelling, many children are incredibly anxious about drawing in front of others. When it comes to their drawing skills, too many of them have what Carol Dweck would describe as a fixed mindset.

I provide my students with copies of the above booklet to help nudge and inspire them towards drawing something. Some kids don't need it while others are desperate for somewhere to start. For them, this little booklet of stickmen is a lifeline to doing something creative and original.

To integrate drawing into language arts, I often have my students try and draw new and challenging vocabulary that we encounter in our reading, viewing and writing.

In science, I've had students create comic strips that illustrate their understanding for concepts and vocabulary like buoyancy and density. I've often used these drawing projects as a substitute for the multiple choice tests that I used to think were necessary to assess student learning.

Here's an example of a project that two students collaborated on as a way to exhibit their understanding in science class. It was displayed on the wall as a mural in the hallway near my classroom door.

After missing a payment, the fish mafia
sent Mikey to "swim with the humans."

(Styrofoam, which is less dense than water, will float
because the particles are less dense, or crowded. It
has a low mass with high a high volume
making it buoyant)
Having children draw their understanding for what they are learning in school can provide them with the opportunity to create something from scratch that is their very own... or we can have them fill in 1 of 4 bubbles...

Unfortunately, I have to admit that some children would rather opt out of having to engage in doing something creative in favor of filling in a bubble sheet -- instead of seeing this as a learning style to be accommodated, I see this as a problem to be solved.

And stickmen are a great place to start.


  1. Love the mural idea.I can imagine a whole section of my school (indoors and out) dedicated to this type of presentation. Thanks for the idea and inspiration.

  2. I'd like to see you create an online magazine of drawings accompanied by writing done by you and your students. It's like what John Caddy does at Morning Earth John uses his newly found talent with a camera to merge images and words into a more whole piece of art.

  3. Joe, your post popped this into my head, though it is a bit off the topic of your post.I am a artist who is 39 days from my t-cert. I am in a year long internship in a city 25 miles north of Seattle. At the beginning of the year I encountered many fixed mindsets in the classroom. I also wanted someway of assessing the socio-emotional development of the students. I searched and found the work of Viktor Lowenfeld. Lowenfeld's work is an interesting resource to consider, not all of my students fit the stage / profiles, but the stages can offer some insights.


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