Each year I spend a good majority of my last few weeks of summer brainstorming what activities and projects I will use to kick off the year. I am always trying to find inspiring and collaborative prompts to get students thinking about art in a different way. I want students to challenge their ideas about what art is and learn how to interpret art like they learn to interpret books and movies. This year I was inspired to start off the new school year by introducing my middle school students to the game In/Out/Maybe. I fell in love with this activity when one of my old art teacher colleagues, the fabulous Elizabeth Kamper showed me at one of our beginning of the year art club's with 2nd-5th graders when we taught in Detroit. This is a great ice breaker activity that gets students interacting in groups and allows them to begin to talk about art in a way that is fun and engaging.
There is a little bit of prep work that goes into making this activity a success but totally worth it.
-You will need to gather a collection of images including art, non-art, and nonsense. ( some examples in slideshow below) I chose about 60 images total.
-Print however many sets of images that makes sense for your class size, laminate them, and cut them all into the same size, creating little art cards. I clip them together using a binder clip.
-Create another set of cards to add to each set of art images as a heading; IN, OUT, MAYBE
-This is a group activity so whether you separate them by their assigned tables or let them choose their groups, you will want them to be in at least groups of 4 or more.
-I begin the activity by writing WHAT IS ART?! on the board and I ask students to share out loud their definition of art before we begin. As they discuss/debate/ and offer their ideas, I write their answers on the board around our big question.
-After the discussion about what they believe art is, I explain the rules of the game and tell them to apply their groups definition of art to each image and separate them into the categories IN, OUT, or MAYBE. if they choose IN it means that they are pretty sure that the image is art, if they choose OUT then they believe the image is not art, and each group may only choose 1 image to be left over in the MAYBE category which means they are not sure, it could be both.
-Once each group has all of their images sorted into the 3 categories then they are allowed to tour around the room to see what other groups have decided. Once everyone has gotten a chance to see what each table has decided then each group will present one image from each category and defend why they chose them. This is done towards the end of class and once a group presents you will want to allow a few minutes for the class to ask questions, or comment on each groups choices.