To that end we've been trying to let students in the art room decide more. Instead of the teacher setting up one still life, students in table teams set up their own, made up of my objects and their own from home objects. Students in photography did the same thing choosing to set up the still life and the lighting that supported the class assignment of showing texture. Students also provided the information for first day of school discussions about What is Art, What Makes a Good work of Art. They generated the discussion and were able to hit on most of the points that I would've provided in the old teacher-centered model of education.
I've also been experimenting with allowing students to choose what to work on during the class flow. So I give them all of the tasks that need to be accomplished and then they decide which aspect to work on and when. This allows for larger classes such as my Painting 1 class at 28 students to multi-task and not all be in the same area of the room at the same time. Some may be gesso-priming a canvas, while others are sketching and planning and meeting with me to discuss work, others might be painting and still others could be blogging on their laptops. It feels more chaotic at first, but the energy is fantastic and the students are all on task, directing their own decisions and learning. In photography some were shooting photos, others were loading photos onto the computer, while others were editing. They chose when to do what. They all got everything done, just not all at the same time.
The enthusiasm of this authentic classroom is catching. I actually saw a student jump up and down and say Ooooo-AHHHH as they got the perfect lighting, photo and effect. This kind of reaction is awesome and makes me so happy and excited to be facilitating animated learning experiences for all.