So, today was Day 1 of my attendance at the Annual College Board AP Conference. This year it is hosted in the beautiful city of San Francisco. Today is the pre-conference and I registered for the all-day workshop for New teachers of AP Art History. The group was led by the esteemed Michael Bieze, Ph.D. at the Marist School in Atlanta. He was an amazing resource providing lots of information on the AP examination itself as well as pedagogy and techniques. He even provided to us some examples of his syllabus, examples of primary sources that he incorporated, and various interactive projects and activities. It was a wealth of information!
First and foremost, it helped to calm some of my fears about the AP Exam itself. While I have taught Art History at the college level – Art History 101 & 102, Art Appreciation, and upper division Art History courses – I have never taught “the AP,” which is its own beast. I’ll admit, I was tossing and turning a bit about the simple wealth of material I’m expected to cover with the goal of students getting a 4 or a 5! This helped to assuage some of those concerns.
The most exciting project he presented, that highlights the skills students need in an Art course, is a visual PowerPoint analysis (or one could use Keynote, Preview, Adobe Illustrator, etc). In fact, it’s similar to my idea of having students make Infographics. Please note, the following are the content of Michael Bieze, Ph.D.
The Project Assignment is as follows:
- A list of art pieces are assigned individually to students.
- Students must create and present an informative PowerPoint slide outlining both essential information as well as informative/analytical points
- The slides are then assembled for dissemination to the class – a great use for DropBox!
These are the specific instructions distributed to students:
Your PowerPoint must include the following information at the top:
- Artist (if known)
- Style (period
At the bottom of the PowerPoint slide include
- Your name
- The URL or proper citation for the source of the work
Alongside your image include a brief description of at least 3 essential details of the work (one formalist and one social context) and 3 subtle details which require close examination
Additional Information and Requirements
- If you have chosen a building or sculpture, you may include multiple views
- Please make the background color and font simple and clear
- Make the arrows clearly point toward the details being described
- DropBox your PowerPoint in the “Shared” folder and it will be made available to the class as a study guide.
- Be prepared to briefly discuss your findings in class.
- 25% completion of the assignment on time
- 25% content of discussion
- 25% formalism discussion
- 25% iconography discussion
Here was the example that he provided for this assignment:
Some other teachers suggested some great other ways to take this, including assigning students to do this with local art pieces – exercising their analytical skills ‘out of the book.’
Another great project suggestion that he had was to provide students a canon of material – a bank of five or six images found at your local museum – and have them write a brief compare/contrast with an object of a similar theme from the book. Here is the example that he provided:
This is a short writing assignment that reflects the type of analysis they will have to do on the AP exam itself (when presented with an unfamiliar image). Forunately, the city of Fort Worth has a series of amazing museums that can provide a wealth of material: The Kimbell, the Modern, and the Amon Carter.
I also love that he provided us a great list of primary sources (as a historian, I love primary sources) that are instrumental in providing students context to the material – an invaluable tool for the arenas outside of my expertise (I’m looking at you early Chinese Art).
These ideas and the collaboration amongst colleagues has given me a lot of ideas for implementation – keeping the class from becoming a standard lecture, engaging the students, and teaching them the necessary critical analsysis skills that will help them to do well not only on the AP Art History exam, but in navigating the powerful world of imagery that confronts us every day.