Observing playful behaviors in the art room


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Observing playful behaviors in the art room
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Diggs, Zandrea K.
College of Fine Arts, University of Florida
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Gainesville, Fla
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The following Capstone is research conducted over the course of ten weeks with a focus on observing playful behaviors in third grade children via a bookmaking unit. Throughout this curriculum unit my students have been engaged with writing and creating books in the art room. Through action research I studied what happened as this curriculum unfolded. I collected observations in a teaching journal, conducted student surveys, documented art images made by the children, and maintained a blog with a weekly update of my findings: http://diggsart.weebly.com/blog.html. Upon investigating the history of education, Piaget and Froebel were authors that sparked my curiosity about the benefits of playful behaviors in children. I wanted to know how implementing more opportunities for playful behaviors in my art curriculum might enrich the way my students learn. Several findings stood out in this study. First, the implementation of writing has allowed me to develop another facet in my relationship with my students. A second finding is that because of the interdisciplinary concentration of reading and writing skills in this art unit, classroom teachers in my school have started to show more interest in my curriculum and have implemented more creative approaches in their own. My third finding is that not only have I created opportunities for my students to behave more playfully, but also I have found myself becoming more playful and enjoying the spontaneity that makes learning more meaningful. My findings section of this paper discusses these findings in more detail. I conclude this capstone paper with some insights about my own professional beliefs and how this research project has changed my teaching practice.
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Art Education terminal project

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PLAYFUL BEHAVIORS 3 Acknowledgements Over the past two years there have been consistent groups of people that have kept me going. I would not have made it this far if it were not for my husband, Matthew Diggs who would brew me coffee night and day as well as spend countless hours at the kitchen table with me. I am very grateful for my parents, Tim and Vanessa Jackson w ho prayed for me diligently and encouraged me the whole way. I want to thank my undergrad uate professor Lee Benson for nd Dr. Roland have made this journey worthwhile by sharing their wisdom, insights, and encouraging me to be open to the endless possibilities of art education


PLAYFUL BEHAVIORS 4 ABSTRACT OF CAPSTONE PROJECT PRESENTED TO THE COLLEGE OF FINE ARTS OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS OBSERVING PLAYFUL BEHAVIOR IN THE ART ROOM By Zandrea K. Diggs December 2012 Chair: Dr. Elizabeth Delacruz Major: Art Education Abstract The following Capstone is research conducted over the course of ten weeks with a focus on observing playful behaviors in third grade children via a bookmaking unit. Throughout this curriculum unit my students have been engaged with writing and creating books in the art room. Through action research I studied what happened as this curriculum unfolded. I collected observations in a teaching journal, conducted student surveys, documented art images made by the children, and maintained a blog with a weekly update of my findings: http://diggsart.weebly.com/blog.html Upon investigating the history of education, Piaget and Froebel were authors that sparked my curiosity about the benefits of playful behaviors in children. I wanted to know how imple menting more opportunities for playful behaviors in my art curriculum might enrich the way my students learn. Several findings stood out in this study. First, the implementation of writing has allowed me to develop another facet in my relationship with my students. A second


PLAYFUL BEHAVIORS 5 finding is that because of the interdisciplinary concentration of reading and writing skills in this art unit, classroom teachers in my school have started to show more interest in my curriculum and have implemented more creative approac hes in their own. My third finding is that not only have I created opportunities for my students to behave more playfully, but also I have found myself becoming more playful and enjoying the spontaneity that makes learning more meaningful. My findings sect ion of this paper discusses these findings in more detail. I conclude this capstone paper with some insights about my own professional beliefs and how this research project has changed my teaching practice.


PLAYFUL BEHAVIORS 6 Table of Contents Title Page ................................ ................................ ................................ ................................ .... 1 UF Copyright Page ................................ ................................ ................................ ...................... 2 Acknowledgements ................................ ................................ ................................ ..................... 3 Abstract ................................ ................................ ................................ ................................ ...... 4 Table of Contents ................................ ................................ ................................ ........................ 6 Introduction ................................ ................................ ................................ ................................ 8 Statement of the Problem Purpose of the Stud Literature Review ..11 11 What is Playful Behavior?.................................................................. ...............................12 Why Playful Behavior i Benefits Implementation: Purpo Conclusion 17 17 .18 Data Collection Procedures an Data Analysis Pro


PLAYFUL BEHAVIORS 7 20 Finding: Getting to Know 21 Finding: Interdisciplinary .22 Finding: Becoming a Play Summary of all F 24 Discussion and Conclu Disc ussion and Interpretation Significance, Implications, an d Re .. 43 ..4 4


PLAYFUL BEHAVIORS 8 Introduction I believe that play is an important component of learning, especially learning in art. However, as an art educator who has worked with a variety of age ranges, I consistently find that my students do not always understand what it means to play within an academic context, that is, in school. Many times when I ask my students to pretend or imagine a situation, there is an awkward silence or a struggle to think beyond the concrete. My observations from teaching are that pressure for students to perform better on standardized tests teaching approaches that prescribe specific out comes, and a stressful home life may limi t opportunities for children to play in my classroom Many people in the school in which I teach seem to view recess as time off task or a distraction from study. On the other hand several work colleagues have expre ssed concern expectations in schools. The purpose of this research is to reconsider the role of play as a catalyst for learning in my art room. I have spent much tim e writing lesson plans that produce a predictable result or a n attractive presentation of what a child learn s in art but I have a desire to move beyond constructing an art program where the success is determined only by the technical proficiency demonstra want my art p rogram to provide a beneficial learning environment that uses art and play. Pitri observes fully chosen and well maintained materials and by teachers who are convinced that such play is vital throughout the 2001, p. 51). My plan for this research project is to explore this possibility in an art unit that incorporates play. I hope to facilitate a playful environment that encourages students to engage in creative thinking, problem solving, and build a sense of community. Action


PLAYFUL BEHAVIORS 9 research methods will help me observe and reflect on whether and how such an art curriculum that funct ions as a catalyst for learning. Statement of the Problem After reading newspaper articles, magazine features, and education journals that speculate why children in America are lacking creativity and problem solving skills, the role of art education seems to be even more important. Gude (2010) wrote in her articl necessary component of any creative process, is the first (and foundational) principle of the possibilities that can emerge from a quality art curriculum (p. 35). The research I proposed was based on the following questions: a) What are the benefits of play in schooling? b) What are the implications of these benefits for contemporary elementary art education? and c) What happens in an elementary art class that is designed to promote playful behaviors? In my curriculum I design ed and implement ed group and individual activities that incorporate more student choices and presented more open ended questions in an attempt to create opportunities for play within my classroom. I observed what happens in relationship to what the literature describes as the likely outcomes of play as a part of learning. After my observations were made I began alterations to my curriculum. I hoped that the alterations improve d my pedagogy, encourage d creative thinking skills in my students and improve d my communication w ith students. Through this research project, my website, my paper, and through future presentations I will share my discoveries with my art education peers to create an opportunity for dialogue and community. Art education can be an environment that can f acilitate and encourage children to engage in critical thinking activities, creative problem solving, and enhance cognitive development. Even though these activities are often related to the types of learning that happen in the arts (Reifel & Yeatman, 1993 ), the literature I found related to educational play has limited examples


PLAYFUL BEHAVIORS 10 of an art classroom implementing childhood play to promote learning. According to Van Horn et. al (1999) the arts can be indispensible to a successful curriculum because children s ( cited in Pitri, 2001, p. 51). My research adds to this dialogue. Purpose of the Study Teaching at an elementary school has been a wonderful learning experience and has provided me with numerous opportunities to observe and interact with children. After four years of working with students, I have noticed that they have difficulty engaging in play ful behaviors in the learning environment For example, when given the opportunity to use blocks or play dough for an activity, students have a hard time engaging with the items. Students are constantly seeking my advice about what to make or how to use the items, perhaps because they do not have opportunities for play o r access to these materials in their classrooms or at home or perhaps As I beg a n to approach my curriculum from a different angle one that allows students to cho ose what medium to use for a particular project or allow s them to choose to work in a group or individually, students have been excited to tell me about their project s and discuss with their peers how the chosen medium affected their ideas Children could recall and connect their projects from one week to the next, something that rarely happened before. After this observation, I recognized my need to come up with better questions and projects This experience led me to this research. Art educators can use this type of research to their advantage when questioned about pretty things. An art room should be a place that is risk free an d develops the whole child. As


PLAYFUL BEHAVIORS 11 Piaget (1970) observed superior to one that consists merely of providing the young with ready made wills to will and ready Literature Review Lack of Play in American Education Since the beginning of formal Western education, there have been many debates over the most effective way to teach children P lay is one of those ways. Rothlein and Brett (1987) note that numerous forefathers of education suc h as Plato, Aristotle, Rousseau, Piaget, and Froebel all recognized the benefits of childhood play Piaget (1962) brings to light the fact that many other educators and adults consider play a distraction or that the act of playing is only for pure pleasure she mentions how Piaget was to the exclusion of other facets of human development, as a sole focus on academic achievement in schools may be o verwhelming for young children. Other scholars have similarly noted that educational system is still very much concerned with academic rigor and the opportunity for children to engage in playful behavior is lacking (Bronson & Merryman, 2010). Pitri (2001) and Venable (2001) argue that children are currently exposed to the rise of poverty, abusive homes, constant technological a dvances, and academic pressure; these children need time in their day to be themselves. Reifel and Yeatman (1993) also speak to the importance of incorporating play and creativity within the classroom. Yet f e w classroom studies offer specific strategies to promote balanced implementation of playful behavior in the classroom. E ven fewer recognize art potential role in promoting healthy cognitive development of children through play The articles chosen for this literature re view were among the few I found that expound on playful


PLAYFUL BEHAVIORS 12 behavior within the context of a creative classroom These studies are specifically interested in the opportunities art teachers could take to encourage learning via playful behaviors Within this literature review, I will discuss the se suggested curriculum engagement of varying a spects of play ful childhood behavior What is P layful B ehavior? A uthors and researchers I have examined have classified categories of observable play ful behavior Play ful behavior is observed in many different forms: role play, exploratory play, symbolic play, and construction play A ccording to Reifel and Yeatman (1993) other types of play are dismissed by some psychologists as educational due to the argum ent that they may be considered to be examples of less mature behavior ( such as rough and tumble play, jok es, and word play ) Pitri (2001) views play as an artistic means to promote thinking as well as being (p. 47). Schwartz (1973) focuses on materials and toys that inspire play. Venable (2001) encourages role play techniques to en gage students in a meaningful experience. Incorporating play in the classroom is an effective learning tool based on the afore mentioned but Lieberman (1976) has a slightly different view of play Lieberman instead seeks to gain an u nderstanding about the playfulness of a child. In Lieberman view, p pers onality trait of the individual how to play and the behavioral qualities associated with playfulness. She argues that the teacher is the key in facilitating a playful environment or extinguishing a playful quality in the classro om. Nevertheless, Pitri (2001), Venable (2001), and Lieberman (1976) appear to be in


PLAYFUL BEHAVIORS 13 agreement that if any learning is to take place, teachers need to provide some basis or structure when implementing play in an educational setting. Why P lay ful B ehavior i s I mportant The importance of encouraging playful behaviors in schools is noted by many psychologists and educational theorists. Rothlein and Brett (1987) observe that through active involvement and interaction w 51). Yelland (2011) observes collection of skills and overt behaviours that can be measured by multiple choice 4). Bronson and Merryman (2010) as well as Isen berg and Jalongo (2006) argue that levels of intelligence do not equal levels of creativity, but work toge ther rather than independently. Along the same lines, Nachmanovitch (1990) quotes notable psychiatrist Donald Winnicott as saying, and only in playing that the individual child or adult is able to be creative and to (p. 50). Bronson and Merryman (2010) provide an example of an America n educator traveling to China only to discover that that their education system is moving away from standardized testing and towards problem based learning i n hopes of fostering better creative problem solvers. The Chinese educator explains that the change s were made to reflect what they thought was a standard in American education Isenberg and J alongo (2006) offer a similar view point as to why play ful behavior is important to learning imaginative thought because it offers a risk free environments should not be over regulated by adults; they should encourage children to make their own choice s. Gude (2010) encourages educators to promote


PLAYFUL BEHAVIORS 14 creative play Educators that are flexible in their instruction strategies can provide this type of environmen t. Children in Rothlein and s (1987) research were observed learning with their peers by being playfully and actively engaged in what they were doing. They note research that finds that c hildren that spend considerable time watching television instea d of reading or socializing with peers miss opportunities to learn, strengthen motor skills, and engage in problem solving; skills beneficial for their future. itch, 1990, p. 45). Brown (2009) consistently notes in his book that even the most primitive of animals use playful behavior to learn. In summary, s cholars are in agreement that understanding t he benefits of play ful behaviors are critical to understanding the importance of implementing play as a learning tool in an educational environment. Benefits Earlier in th is literature review, I provided a brief listing of different types of play ful behavior Role play, also known as dramatic play as described by Venable (2001), is beneficial to several developmental areas such as language art skills, math skills, social skills, and critical thinking skills. The benefits associated with role play also lend themselves to create a safe environment to interact with pe ers and/or teachers by developing a sense of community. Wenner (2009) also recognizes that the benefits of play ing in a risk free environment are to reduce anxiety and stress, to have better emotional health, and share positive social interactions; these b enefits can improve test scores and develop a better classroom atmosphere. Teamwork activities another approach that can incorporate playfulness, benefit a child by promoting risk taking, strengthening conflict resolution, promoting critical thinking, an d giving them a gl impse of real world situations.


PLAYFUL BEHAVIORS 15 Some scholars note the importance of how materials are used playfully in lessons. For example, Schwartz (1973) observes making more explicit and based on providing materials or a type of toy to engage the child. Children that participate in this type of creative play begin to learn how to refine craftsmanship, explore ideas, rese arch, and communicate as a team ( Schwartz 1973). Pitri (2001) similarly believes that using materials to problem solving attributes espoused for effective l ear Rothlein a nd Brett (1987) emphasize afore mentioned benefits as well as the increased motor skills that are encouraged by using materials creatively and in open ended ways Implementation : Purposeful Play Lieberman (1976) and Pitri (2001) a rgue that an educator must facilitate an environment that allow s In other words, a n ed ucator needs to facilitate an environment that makes tools available so students can make more choices. Venable (2001) gives an example of an arts based approach to encouraging play ful behaviors by implementing a role play activity that has students partak e in the roles of an art gallery owner, curator, art critic, or art historian to have a better understanding of these jobs. He also points out that when children dialogue with one another in these instances, their verbal skills are enhanced because they ha ve to communicate thoroughly in order to achieve their goal. As Pitri (2001) observed in her arts based implementation of play the actual process of the activity becomes more important than the end result. An example of her observation comes from an acti vity that allowed the children to form groups or work alone to help solve the problem


PLAYFUL BEHAVIORS 16 of a character in a story. Children used collected materials to build an object that would protect the character from rain. The process of gathering materials, testing th e materials, and engaging with one another was the focus rather than the aesthetic outcome. Schwartz (1973) suggests another way to encourage students to engage in a creative problem solving activity would include the use of excess materials to make a toy The toy, (p. 8) and a toy can facilitate the act of play on its own Reifel and Yeatman (1993) play research involved observing two girls paint ing at a n easel The girls used the pa int as a point of verbal communication, inspiration, and also involved a small role playing situation. In all of the examples, the initiation of play was connected to the materials, environment, and the encouragement of the educators. Conclusion Lieberman (1976) and Zimmerman (1982) suggest that not all chil dren are self motivated and offer some simple guidelines or expectations that would help the child know how to play and when play is appropriate. Zimmerman (1982) also usually self motivated and explains that there are many factors that should be considered for successful learning via play ful behaviors The articles regardless of the time in which they were written, all demon strate the need to encourage playful behavior in an educational setting. Whether that educational setting is in a regular classroom or in an art class as Pitri (2001) and Vena ble (2001) describe the benefits are plentiful. Brown (2009) encourages children and adults alike to maintain playful behaviors in order to continue learning experiences. These readings leave me with fundamental questions about my own practice: a) W hat c an I do to en c ourage my students to play ? and b) W hat can I do to let my students know when p lay


PLAYFUL BEHAVIORS 17 exploration is appropriate? I believe the research these authors provide a strong rationale for my attempt to encourage art educators to shed traditional education pedagogy and to implement more activities that facilitate playful behavior w ithin their classrooms. Educators and the education system need to engage and experience the a in order to promote the change in children they wish to see. Methodology Action research is my preference for acquiring information to support my inquiries about encouraging play ful childhood behavior in my own classroom Through action research, the main question this study explored According to Lodico, Spaulding & Voegtle, a ction research, or in my case practical action research, helps identify problems in a classroom setting and by observing, journaling, and reflecting I can create a plan to solve those problems. I chose action research becaus e I am already established in my school and classroom, allowing me full access to a deeper more meaningful research experience. Action research is about connecting and being a researcher involved in the process of observation and program delivery and impro vement, all at the same time Subjects The subjects I studied are students where I currently tea ch. There are approximately 12 5 third grade students participating in the s tudy. The school is eligible for Title I due to the fact that currently 80% of the s tudents qualify for free or reduced lunch This elementary school is located in a suburb outside of a principal city and inside an urbanized area with a population of 250,000 or more. Being a Title I school, the primary focus is promoting higher test score s in reading and math. Because of this school wide focus, I chose to focus on r eading and writing


PLAYFUL BEHAVIORS 18 skills needed for producing the written portion of a bookmaking unit in my third grade art curriculum Research S etting The action research took place in the K 5 elementary art classroom where I currently teach. I met five third grade classes for 45 minutes once a day in my art classroom from 12:3 0p 1:15p and a sixth third grade class for 45 minutes from 10:30a 11:15a once a week. There were eight tables that allowed three students to sit comfortably with plenty of surface area for art making. Materials for the project were organized in plastic boxes on smaller tables and chairs making accessibility easy for the student. Materials available for this project inc luded the following: chuck board, construction paper, white copy paper, cardstock, miscellaneous hole punchers, glitter, sequins, beads, wrapping paper, magazines, string, ribbon, acrylic paint, tempera paint, glue, markers, colored pencils crayons, penci ls, and stencil s. Data Collection Procedures and Instrumentation Dick, Stringer, and Huxham (2009) paraphrase American action research founder Kurt of action research as plan, act, observe, and reflect As an educator, planning, acting observing, and reflecting is also a basic way to develop lessons that build a curriculum. When the research took place I used a few previous lesson plans and new ones to implement in the classroom I observed art making activities, asses sed their social interactions and verbal responses, and reflect ed on the outcome s of the project looking for instances of playfulness The data collected from the observations and reflections helped me refine my c urriculum and improve my teaching methods. Action research is not only intended to solve problems, it is also about strengthening the process of inquiry (Dick, Stringer, & Huxham, 2009).


PLAYFUL BEHAVIORS 19 attend to the nuanc es they often miss in the blur of routine practice, try to become more 118). journals, videotaping oneself, audiotaping and keeping a consistent dialogue with students or colleagues. I used several of the methods suggested by May. I wrote my observations in a journal during the class time as well as a reflection at the end of each day. Index cards served as e xit slips that ask the students what they learned will be given at the end of class after each section in the bookmaking unit is comp lete : technique, writing and art making Upon completion of the bookmaking unit a brief survey was conducted that ask ed of the bookm aking experience, see Appendix F All of the notes, observations, exit slips, and surveys are kept in 3 inch three ring binder divided according to class. I updated a blog weekly with images and my observations of the bookmaking process in the hope of gaining feedback or creating dialogue with my peers and colleagues. Overall, gathering data and impleme nting the bookmaking unit took approximately 10 12 weeks of the 2012 Fall semester. Data Analysis Procedures I implemented projects from my current third grade curriculum and designing a few new projects. The next phase, act, presented the six third grade classes of students with the activities at the beginning of the 2012 Fall semester The third phase allowed me to observe authentic interactions of play ful behaviors at a time when stud is reflecting. Reflecting on the information collected from the plan, the activity, and the observations allowed me to compare and contrast parts of the activity that were successful in


PLAYFUL BEHAVIORS 20 fac ilitating an environment of play ful opportunities The activities were implemented again with helped define the benefits of encouraging play ful behavior and refine d my art curriculum to facilitate opportunities for play as learning. Limitations The limitations I have found upon implementation of the bookmaking unit is the short time span, 45 minutes a week is not enough to dialogue with my students, teach techniques and allow uninterrupted writing to take place. These students struggle with grade level reading and writing skills, which can put the class behind schedule. Materials and the time to use the materials is very limited due to lack of a budget and a once a week class time. The bookmaking unit could go on well over 12 weeks because the students are really engaged in the process, but the res earch needs to come to a close Findings My research began as a way to investigate why my students had difficulty in exploring ideas, using their imagination, and working with one another. The questions I want ed answered were: a) What are the benefits of play in schooling? b) What are the implications of th ese benefits for contemporary elementary art education? And c) What happens in an elementary art class that is designed to promote playful behaviors? There are three significant findings and outcomes that came to fruition through this research process. Th e first of these findings /outcomes is the new relationship I now have with my students by getting to know their interests and the way they think through their writing. The second of these findings /outcomes is the interdisciplinary connection with the third grade teachers and their interest in my curriculum


PLAYFUL BEHAVIORS 21 that developed from the project. The last of the findings /outcomes is I have become more playful in order to encourage playful behavior in my students. Getting to Know my S tudents The previous school year, I had several students express interest in partnering with their peers to write and illustrate books. I thought this was a very ambitious project for second graders at the end of the school year, so I promised that we would do a bookmaking project in third grade. On the first day of class I gave students an opportunity to create a quick quarter fold paper that had a beginning, middle, and end Figure 1 shows the front cover of a quarter folded book. I expected the typical response about not wanting to write in art class, but the eager look on their faces to make a simple book gave me hope. Students would find me in the hall, at lunch, or waiting for their ride and tell me what they wanted to add to their stories. I was used to telling students how to m ake something and then in turn they would express themselves visually. To my surprise, with my new approach, s tu dents that are usually quiet or unassuming wrote reall y intricate, thoughtful stories. Students that usually have difficulties with beginning a project were excited at the choice to work with a partner. Since students were allowed to writ e about their choice of subject, I was e xposed to their real interests something I do not get to see that often I enjoyed listening to students act out their ch aracters, play with their materials as they approach me every day excited to show me a new way to use a standard material. This bookmaking project allowed me to visually see their ideas and the writing aspect opened up an avenue of dialogue I would not normally get to explore so easily.


PLAYFUL BEHAVIORS 22 Figure 1. The rough draft of a student fold booklet. Interdisciplinary Opportunities My school is very concerned with promoting higher reading scores and the bookmaking unit could possibly generate more interest in reading. I briefly explained my intentions to third grade teachers at the beginning of the year and told them I would be keepi ng a blog of what the students were doing every week. Figure 2 is an example of m y blog layout including images and written observations of the week. After the first week of bookmaking techniques and story development, teachers were commenting about how mu ch the students talked about art class and their projects. I shared my blog on Facebook with my work colleagues and I was approached by other educators asking my opinion on their classroom reading curriculum. After many attempts


PLAYFUL BEHAVIORS 23 to connect my art curriculu m to the classroom curriculum, finally there was dialogue with my colleagues that was never there before. There is now a connection and opportunity for sharing more relevant interdisciplinary projects. Figure 2 An example of a weekly blog post on Diggsart.weebly.com. Becoming a Playful Teacher The most important finding is also the most personal. Pressure to produce results, raise test scores, and manage a classroom can stifle the playful side of any teacher and in turn stifle the student. My goal was to change my curriculum and the way I teach which m eant I also needed to change my disposition I had to step back and allow the students room to explore even if that


PLAYFUL BEHAVIORS 24 meant the p roject did not finish that day. I noticed that students would get their own materials, clean up after themselves, and help each other when I interfered less with constant reminders to do those things. By the end of the class time, I would give a five minute warning and they would automatically divide themselves into clean up jobs. The environment of the room began to change; I noticed that I was not as concerned with making sure every flake of glitter was put away. I was more concerned with talking to my students about their progress that day and what new discov eries they had made. Figure 3 shows students putting away materials at the end of a class session. Figure 3. Students p lacing materials back in bins at the end of class Students that wer e very dependent on me became more independent and started t hinking through their own questions. I n turn, I had to retrain myself to not give students an automatic answer, but instead I would rephr ase their question or encourage the student to engage with their peers. When students came to me for answers I would tr y to get them to answer for themselves and rials


PLAYFUL BEHAVIORS 25 do you think will work T he writing aspect of the bookmaking unit mad e me very uncomfortable because I was not familiar with the classroom writing writing skills. My playful side came out more towards the second week af ter the initial writing process I realized that the important part was that they were u sing their imaginations and talking to their peers about their ideas. I thoroughly enjoyed the discussions with the students and the playful banter that developed while working through ideas The bookmaking unit is not a project that has to look a certain way or produce a similar outcome than the rest of their peers ; it was very open ended. Stress levels seemed to decrease and a more playful environment took over. Summary of Findings All of my findings include benefits of encouraging playful behavior. The benefits of play in schooling are that students beca me more engaged by exploring a new medium, idea or both as they did with this bookmaking unit Allowing s tudents the choice to work with peers for this proj ect gave them confidence to try new things and encouraged more creative thinking. Figure 4 i s an example of students collaborating to complete the first page of their book. Contemporary elementary art education can benefit from encouraging playful behaviors because the students beca me less dependent on the teacher and more comfortable with exploring their own ideas. The element ary art curriculum shifts from more product driven projects to more idea driven projects. An elementary art class that is designed to promot e playful behaviors has engaged learners that are excited about their explorations. The environment changes from the attitude of something they have to do to something they want to do.


PLAYFUL BEHAVIORS 26 Figure 4 Students working together to complete the front cover of their book. Paint, m agazine images, markers, and die cut punchers were used. Discussion and Conclusion The goal of this research was to find ways to encourage more playful behaviors in my art room. The literature I read provided different aspects of encouraging playful behav iors such as exploratory play, construction play, and symbolic play. Access to a variety of materials also encouraged the aforementioned types of play The authors gave examples of how children became more engaged in the learning process by participating i n different types of playful behavior. I decided to create a curriculum unit that incorporated some of these strategies, a bookmaking unit that had ties to the language arts curriculum at my school. While the students were working on the bookmaking unit I kept a teacher journal with my observations, took updated my weekly findings on a blog, and surveyed my


PLAYFUL BEHAVIORS 27 students to collect my action research techniques and materials used as well as my reactions to the class that day. My curriculum produced pleasant surprises as well a challenge on most days. I had to overcome my own apprehension to somethin g new in order to encourage my students to do the same. The connection with the other teachers at my school helped bridge a gap between disciplines as well as encourage a more playful approach to their curriculum. Attitudes have also changed in the student s, the faculty, and myself. The remainder of this paper will discuss and interpret my findings, the significance and implications of my study on art education, as well as recommendations to the art education field, and end with my concluding thoughts. Disc ussion and Interpretation of Findings I was very excited to implement the bookmaking unit with my third grade students this year. Students remembered that we discussed bookmaking the previous year and already had some ideas. These students are very prompt driven in their classrooms, which made the writing portion a challenge. I found that students were very hesitant and would not try spelling words on their own or had very little understanding of story structure. Everyday I stories and I enjoyed getting to converse with them about their ideas in the next class. Many students wrote about movies they liked, books they read, comic book heroes, or the ever popular zombie. Looking back I should have established on day one a few guidelines on what was school appropriate content for the project. This gave way to lots of discussion about how to take something we already know and play with the idea, then make it your own. After those discussions there were many changes and more original stories pr oduced. There were quite a few individuals and pairs of students still struggling with completing a story once the art making commenced. Eventually, I had those students start on their images and


PLAYFUL BEHAVIORS 28 let the story form as they went along. Another observation I had was that students still had difficulty in understanding that they needed pages for the inside of their book. Once the front cover was completed, they thought they were done making their book. This made me realize that the project had gone on too long and that I should have established a more structure d system in the making aspect of the project. I will definitely shorten the bookmaking unit for next year and clearly state the order of the process in the beginning. The interdisciplinary connection th at was made with the third grade teachers is a good start to establishing future curriculum endeavors. In the beginning, it was a frustrating endeavor to get information about classroom curriculum from the teachers. There has b een a lack of communication among special area teachers (art, p.e library, music, and guidance) and classroom teach ers as to what is being taught at each grade level. I am hopeful to continue working with classroom teachers on their curriculum and creating more relevant art projects for my students. Students that may have a difficult time grasping concepts in the classroom may find that exploring similar ideas in a playful manner in the art room c an make their learning experience more relevant. Even though my blog did not receive an abundance of comments, the conversation that stemmed from them gave my colleagues a new perspective as to what happens in my art room. Many different grade level teachers have offered specialty books for examples and materials to be used for the bookmaking. I n a way, the bookmaking unit developed a small community of supporters that are excited to see the students so actively involved in a project. The biggest revelation in teaching this bookmaking unit is how much I have changed I believe any educator would change if they allowed students time to explore their thoughts and ideas. The students I teach do not receive much encouragement at home or have opportunities to explore new things. When they get to school they are put in suc h a rigorous routine that


PLAYFUL BEHAVIORS 29 opportunities are missed because there is no time for exploring or playing with ideas. My personal goal is to stop teaching for an outcome and to start presenting opportunities for exploring ideas. The playful behavior that was ex hibited in this project has to continue not only for the students, but also for myself. Every d ecision was made by the stu dent and not by me, which allowed me more freedom to converse with my students, rather than oversee each step. I have gotten so much j oy by observing how these students speak with each other politely, experiment with materials, and giggle about their mistakes and then try s omething else. After this experience I feel I have a better sense of how to balance my curriculum to encourage more playful experiences and explore ideas. Significance, Implications, and Recommendations Students need opportunities to explore ideas. I thou ght art class naturally provided these op portunities, but good questions, choice of material s, and peer interaction enriched the environment even more. The findings from this res earch imply that encouraging playful behavior in the classroom leads to a stronger learning connection. Any educator would benefit from implementing activities that allow students fr eedom to explore ideas. I would recommend that art educators and classroom educators communicate, if not more frequently to establish a relevant curriculum for their shared students. When I include the bookmaking in my curriculum next year I plan to sync t he unit with the classroom writing instruction, that way there will not be wasted art making time due to the writing development in the art room. Even though students had exposure to various types of books and wrote down qualities of the book s they enjoy ed, the memory of those books seemed to f ade once the art making began. My mistake was not keeping the books visible the entire unit. I should have had students choose a style of book to reference and commit to that style Sadly, many of the students defau lted to


PLAYFUL BEHAVIORS 30 what they know, two dimensional drawing and color with words below. Students made such vibrant examples of pop up books with their subjects after the initial technique instruction. Figure 5 s 2 dimensional artwork as o dimensional book page. Materials were an issue because they were very limited due to a small budget. Over the course of a year I c ollected various materials for this b ookmaking project. I wanted students to explore materials that they normally use as well as new mediums. The problem with the new mediums, die cut punchers, laminating plastic, glitter, and cardboard is that they became so pre occupied with the medium itself. I found students covered in tiny die cut bunnies when in f act their story had to do with aliens because they wanted to take them home. Figure 6 is an example of students distracted with the die cut punchers. Glitter is rarely used in my classroom because it incites glitter greed; there were many glittery ninjas and spiders, which left the fairy and princess books glitterless for that day. The students did enjoy the materials and di d learn new techniques,


PLAYFUL BEHAVIORS 31 but providing so many new materials at once was not a good idea. Eventually I selected days that students coul d add glitter or another new material to their book or pages once their layout was more complete. This took care of the time consuming lines that had star ted forming for these materials. Figure 6 An example of students using die cut punchers, these soo n become a distraction away from finishing their project for that day. The books Engaging Learners Through Artmaking by Douglas and Jaquith and Cr eative Thinking and Arts Based L earning by Isenberg and Jalongo contain many great organizational tips for materials in the classroom. I would recommend those books when introducing new materials and establishing a more choice based art room. Play by Brown is a must read for anyone that needs t o get out of a rut of routine and rediscover their playful side. Educators and their classroom environment would greatly benefit from the examples and suggestions given by Brown. I would also encourage any art educator to consistently explore other art edu as well as maintain one themselves. E xpressing my observations and gathering images of student


PLAYFUL BEHAVIORS 32 work gave me something to reference as well as a new perspective on my teaching. Being an art educator can be very isolating, but I found that it is important to communicate with peers and keep a playful disposition. Conclusion I look forward to refining my art curriculum and observing different methods of teaching art to children. Now that there is a new found connection with my colleagues I inten d to expound on that interdisciplinary connection frequently. Eventually, I would like to facilitate professional development activities that unite regular classroom educators and art educators. Over the course of a year I have kept a list on Delicious.com http://www.delicious.com/zdiggs/play and creativity that has many links to websites, books, and educational materials that deal with playful behaviors, creativity, and bookmaking My profe ssional website www.diggsart.weebly.com not only hosts the blog that was updated for this research, but will have a more complete listing of my bookmaking unit and other lesson plans. After graduating I will wor k to make the website more easily accessible to the community of local art educators.


PLAYFUL BEHAVIORS 33 References Bronson, P. & Merryman, A. (2010). The creativity crisis Newsweek, 156 (3), 44 49. Brown, S. & Vaughn, C. (2009 ). Play: how it shapes the brain, opens the imagination, and invigorates the soul. New York, NY: Penguin. Carroll, K. L. (1997). Action Research and preservice teachers. Art Education, 50 (5), 6 13. Dick, B., Stringer, E., & Huxham, C. (2009). Theory in action research. Action Research, 7 (1), 5 12. Elkind, D. (2007). The p ower of play: how spontaneous, imaginative activities lead to happier, healthier children New York, NY: Da Capo Press Gude, O. (2010). Playing, Creativity, Possibility. Art Education 63 (2), 31 37. Isenberg, J. P. & Jalongo, M. R. (2006). Creative thinking and arts based learning p reschool t hrough f ourth g rade Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 53 55. Lieberman, J. N. (1976). Playfulness in play and the player: a behavioral syndrome viewed in relationship to classroom learning. Contemporary Educational Psychology I, 197 205. Lodico, M.G., Spaulding, D.T., & Voegtle, K.H. ( 2010). Methods in educational research: from theory to practice. Hoboken, NJ: Jossey Bass. May, W. (1993). Teach ers as researchers or action research: w hat is it, what good is it for art education? A Journal of Issues and Research, 34 (2), 114 126. McKay, S. W. (2006). Living the questions: technology infused action research in art education. Art Education, 59 (6), 47 51. Nachmanovitch, S. (1990). Free p lay: improvisation in life and art. New York, NY: Penguin. Piaget, J. (1962). Play, dreams, and imitation in childhood. New York: Norton. Piaget, J. (1970). The science of education and the psychology of the child. N ew York, NY:


PLAYFUL BEHAVIORS 34 Viking. Pitri, E. (2001). The role of artistic play in problem solving. Art Education, 54 (3), 46 51. Rothlein, L. Early Childhood Research Quarterly 2, 45 53. Schwartz, B. (1973). A fresh look at play objects: Clues for art teaching. Art Education, 26 (1), 6 9. Seeley, C. (2011). Uncharted territory: Imagining a stronger relationship between the arts and action research. Action Research, 9 (1), 83 99. Spaniol, S. (2005). Learned hopefulness: an arts based approach to participatory action research. Art Therapy: Journal of the American Art Therapy Association, 22 (2), 86 91. Venable, B. (2001). Using role play to teach and learn aesthetics. Art Education, 54 (1), 47 51. Wenner, M. (2009, February). The serious need for play. Scientific American Mind, 20 (1). Retrieved from http://www.scientificamerican.com/ar ticle.cfm?id=the serious need for play Yelland, N. (2011). Reconceptualising play and learning in the lives of young children. Australasian Journal of Early Childhood 36 (2), 4 12. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 7, 204 216.


PLAYFUL BEHAVIORS 35 Appendix A UFIRB 02 Protocol Submission Form UFIRB 02 Social & Behavioral Research Protocol Submission Form This form must be typed. Send this form and the supporting documents to IRB02, PO Box 112250, Gainesville, FL 32611. Should you have questions about completing this form, call 352 392 0433. Title of Protocol: A Study of Play in an Arts based Bookmaking Curriculum Principal Investigator: Zandrea K. Diggs Degree / Title: Masters in Art Education Mailing Address: Email : Department: School of Art and Art History Telephone #: Co Investigator(s): n/a UFID#: n/a Email: n/a Supervisor (If PI is student) : Dr. Elizabeth Delacruz, PhD Degree / Title: Adjunct Asst. Professor Mailing Address: Email : Department: School of Art and Art History Telephone #: Date of Proposed Research: Source of Funding (A copy of the grant proposal must be submitted with this protocol if funding is involved): unfunded


PLAYFUL BEHAVIORS 36 Scientific Purpose of the Study: The purpose of this study is to implement a more student oriented approach to the contemporary elementary art education curriculum. Due to students are losing essential learning skills that develop during play interactions. I want to give students the opportunity to playfully approach academic learning in the art classroom by allowing t hem to use writing methods from their classrooms and art techniques to create a book. Students will ultimately have the choice in designing and defining their book. The data collected throughout the bookmaking unit will help develop future art education cu rriculum. Describe the Research Methodology in Non Technical Language: The research will take place at my teaching placement, Vena Stuart Elementary in Gallatin, Tennessee. Third grade students, ages 9 10 will have the opportunity to participate in a bookmaking unit for 8 weeks starting in August and ending in October. Students will meet once a week for 45 minutes during their regularly scheduled art class. Each class period students will develop a different part of their book. After each class session students will complete a regularly implemented exit slip with the exception of the final class session, students will be given a formal survey (see attachment). Throughout the 8 sessions I will informally interview students about their progress and take in process photographs of their artwork. All of the collected data: exit slips, survey, interviews, in process photographs, and observations will be kept in a private teacher j ournal. Students will not be identified in any way. The data will be kept in my locked office during the school day and then taken home to be stored in a locked filing cabinet. Data will be kept three years and then destroyed. This type of research will be treated as a case study. Describe Potential Benefits: The potential benefits I hope to glean from this research are the following: 1) A deeper understanding of oriented curriculum, and 3) Possible ne w approaches to


PLAYFUL BEHAVIORS 37 implementing play within the contemporary elementary art education classroom. Describe Potential Risks: There is no known risk of economic, social, psychological, physical, or any other type of harm as a result of this study. Describe How Participant(s) Will Be Recruited : Students will be asked on a purely voluntary basis via an ascent form. No student will be pressured or c oerced to participate and will be treated the same regardless of participation. Students will have the option to withdraw consent from the study even after completion. Maximum Number of Participants (to be approached with consent) 26 Age Range of Participants: 9 10 yrs of age Amount of Compensation/ course credit: 3 course credit hours Describe the Informed Consent Process. (Attach a Copy of the Informed Consent Document See http://irb.ufl.edu/irb02/samples.html for examples of consent.) (SIGNATURE SECTION) Principal Investigator(s) Signature: Date: July 16, 2012 Co Investigator(s) Signature(s): Date: student): Date: Department Chair Signature: Date:


PLAYFUL BEHAVIORS 38 Appendix B Educator Consent Form Dear Educator: I am a graduate student at the University of Florida. As part of my capstone I am conducting a case study with a select group of third grade students. The purpose of this case study is to observe their participation and responses to a unit of art projects. Selected students will be surveyed on paper, verbally interviewed, and their projects will be photographed for data in the case study. The art projects will take place during your regularly scheduled art day from months August October, 2012. Parents will have consented to the case study before it is to take place. I would like to interview you and collect your response for the case study as well. You will not have to answer any question you do not wish to answer. Your interview will be conducted by phone or in your classroom after I have received a copy of this signed consent from you in the mail. All identities in this case study will be kept confidential to the extent provided by law and identities will not be revealed in the final manuscript. There ar e no anticipated risks, compensation or other direct benefits to you as a participant in this interview. You are free to withdraw your consent to participate and may discontinue your participation in the interview at any time without consequence. If you have any questions about this research protocol, please contact me at 452 1486 or my faculty supervisor, Dr. Delacruz, at (352) 392 0201 Questions or concerns about your rights as a research participant rights may be directed to the IRB02 office, University of Florida, Box 112250, Gainesville, FL 32611; (352) 392 0433. Please sign and return this copy of the letter in the enclosed envelope. A second copy is provided for your records. By signing this letter, you give me permission to report your re sponses anonymously in the final manuscript to be submitted to my faculty supervisor as part of my course work. Zandrea Diggs ___________________________________________________ I have read the procedure described above for the case study in art education assignment. I voluntarily agree to participate in the interview and I have received a copy of this description. __________ __________________ ___________ Signature of participant Date I would like to receive a copy of the final "interview" manuscript su bmitted to the instructor. YES / NO


PLAYFUL BEHAVIORS 39 Appendix C Parent Consent Form Dear Parent/Guardian, Vena Stuart Elementary and I am a graduate student in the Department of Art and Art History at the University of Florida. This upcoming school year I will be trying out some new art projects with the third grade classes. The art projects are based on reading, writing, illustrat ing, and my art education curriculum. Projects will take place August October in time for the annual Vena Stuart Elementary Fall into Readi ng program. Students will be able to create their own book individually or collaborate with other students. Throughout the bookmaking process, I will interview your child about their storyline and methods. During each 45 minute art class, I will photograph The information gathered will be kept confidential, no identities will be revealed. Although the children will be asked to write their names on questionnaires for matching purposes, their iden tity will be kept confidential to the extent provided by law. Results will only be reported in the form of group data. Participation or non participation in this study will not affect the children's grades or placement in any programs. The information gath ered may help strengthen art education curriculum. These results may not directly help your child today, but may benefit future students. With your permission, I would like to ask your child to volunteer for this research. Your participation is completely voluntary and you may withdraw your consent to participate at anytime without penalty. There are no known risks or immediate benefits to the participants. No compensation is offered for participation. Results of this study will be available in December up on request. If you have any questions about this research protocol, please contact me at 452 1486 or my faculty supervisor, Dr. Delacruz, at --------------. Questions or concerns about your child's rights as research participant may be directed to the IRB0 2 office, University of Florida, Box 112250, Gainesville, FL 32611, (352) 392 0433 (352) 392 0433 Mrs. Zandrea Diggs I have read the procedure described above. I voluntarily give my consent fo r my child, _________________, to ____________________________ ___________Parent / Guardian Date Bookmaking Project Opt Out Form I __________________________________ chose to withdraw my consent for my child,________________________ involvement in the bookmaking project. Appendix D


PLAYFUL BEHAVIORS 40 Parent Consent Form in Spanish Estimado/a Padre, Madre o Guardin, Soy Zandrea Diggs, la profesora de su hijo o hija en Vena Stuart Elementary y soy una estudiante de posgrado en el Departamento de Arte e Historia del Arte en la Universidad de Florida. Este prximo ao escolar voy a ensayar algunos nuevos proyectos de arte con las clases de tercer grado. Los proyectos artsticos se basan en lee r, escribir, ilustrar, y crear libros. Me gustara recopilar la informacin sobre las opiniones de los nios, la eleccin de material de lectura, e imgenes para mi plan de estudios de arte. Los proyectos se llevarn a cabo entre agosto y octubre durante e l programa anual de Fall into Reading de Vena Stuart Elementary Los estudiantes podrn crear su propio libro de forma individual o colaborar con otros estudiantes. Durante todo este proceso, voy a entrevistar a los nios acerca de sus cuentos y sus mtodo s. Durante cada clase de arte de 45 minutos, voy a fotografiar el libro de su hijo o hija para documentar el progreso del proyecto. La informacin obtenida ser confidencial, no se dar a conocer las identidades. Aunque a los nios se les pide que escriba n sus nombres en los cuestionarios para los propsitos de comparacin, su identidad se mantendr confidencial en la medida prevista por la ley. Slo se reportarn los resultados por grupos. La participacin o no participacin en este estudio no afectarn l as calificaciones de los nios o la colocacin en cualquier programa. La informacin recopilada puede ayudar a fortalecer el plan de estudios de la educacin artstica. Estos resultados no ayudan directamente a su hijo o hija hoy en da, pero pueden benefi ciar a los estudiantes futuros. Con su permiso, me gustara preguntarle a su hijo o hija para ser voluntario para esta investigacin. Usted y su hijo o hija tiene el derecho de retirar su consentimiento para participar en cualquier momento sin consecuencia s. No hay riesgos conocidos o beneficios inmediatos para los participantes. No se ofrece ninguna compensacin para la participacin. Los resultados de este estudio estarn disponibles en diciembre bajo peticin. Si usted tiene alguna pregunta acerca del pr otocolo de investigacin, por favor comunquese conmigo al 452 1486 o mi supervisora, Dra. Delacruz, en edelacruz@ufl.edu Se puede dirigir las preguntas o inquietudes acerca de los derechos de su hijo o hija como participante en la investigacin a la ofic ina de IRB02, University of Florida, Box 112250, Gainesville, FL 32611, (352) 392 0433, (352) 392 0433. Mrs. Zandrea Diggs He ledo el procedimiento descrito anteriormente. Yo voluntariamente doy mi consentimiento para que mi hijo o hija, _________________ participe en la investigacin de la seora Zandrea Diggs. He recibido una copia de esta descripcin. ____________________________ ___________ Padre / Custodio Fecha


PLAYFUL BEHAVIORS 41 Appendix E Student Assent Form Dear Student, I am so happy to have you in third grade this year! This year in art class, we will be writing, drawing, and making books. You may choose a partner to collaborate with or choose to work alone. There will be many materials to choose from and we will play with different ways to make books. T he subject of the book is your choice. You will use writing techniques like you use in your regular classroom. I am asking you to take part in a study because I am trying to learn more about how you think, what art materials you like, and how you used the art materials for your book. If you agree, you will be asked to complete a survey. You will be asked about your choices of art materials. You will be asked about your choice of subject matter. You will be asked about how you made your book. You do not ha ve to be in this study. Even if you start, you can stop later if you want. You may ask questions about the art project. Your parents and your teacher know about this project. Your name will be not appear on anything that anyone sees. Signing below means t hat you have read this form or have had it read to you and that you are willing to be in this study. Signature of student______________________________________________________ Signature of investigator__________________________________________________ Date___________________________


PLAYFUL BEHAVIORS 42 Appendix F Bookmaking Unit Survey 1. Describe (tell about) something new that you learned when you made your book. 2. What was your favorite part about making the book? 3. If you could change anything about your book what would you change? 4. How has this bookmaking project changed the way you think about books? 5. What will you do with your book when it is finished?


PLAYFUL BEHAVIORS 43 List of Figures and Figure Captions Figure 1. fold booklet. Figure 2 An example of a weekly blog post on Diggsart.weebly.com. Figure 3. Students placing materials back in bins at the end of class. Figure 4. Students colla borating to complete the front cover of their book. Paint, magazine images, markers, and die cut punchers were used. Figure 5 dimensional book page. Figure 6. An example of stu dent s using die cut punchers. These soon became a distraction from finis hing their project.


PLAYFUL BEHAVIORS 44 Author Biography Zandrea Diggs is in her fifth year of teach ing elementary art in Middle Tennessee. She taught both middle and high school art in West Tennessee two years prior before moving to the area. Diggs received her B.A. in Ceramics and Art Education from Union University in 2006. She is a member of the National Art Education Association as well as an active member of the National Council on Education for t he Ceramic Arts When Diggs is not teaching she is working in her ceramic studio and attending workshops. She lives with her husband Matthew and they are expecting their first child in the Spring of 2013. Diggs will graduate in the Fall of 2012 from the Un iversity of Florida with her Masters in Art Education.