HighSchool Art Room: instruction and providing choice to students

Growth Vocabulary in the Art Room

Hi there! School’s first days are fast approaching or in some parts of the country, already here! Growth mindset is such a hot topic in classrooms right now, but it’s always been our bread and butter in the art room! Making these posters are an easy way to discuss and show evidence of your student’s learning. It’s also super classroom decoration and great to add on and refer back to during the year.  

I used these posters with my students for about 10 min during one class, sometimes two if I could spare the time. It doesn’t have to be a huge commitment! First we would talk about growth mindset or the beauty of making mistakes.  This is favorite topic of mine! I love to use storybooks to introduce the topic.

Great Books for Talking About Growth with Younger Students:

Beautiful Oops


The Book of Mistakes


It’s Okay to Make Mistakes

What Do You Do with a Problem?


Awesome Books to Share with Older Students

(3rd-5th gr):

What Do You Do With a Problem? — New York Times best seller: Kobi ...

Your Fantastic Elastic Brain

Mistakes that Worked

What Do You Do with a Problem?

The Book of Mistakes

After reading and discussing that might be it for the day.  Sometimes I let the students chew it over for a week before we revisit. When we do, we work on posters with one main growth mindset word.  Each table works as a group. I ask the students to talk about their words and write down some definitions for it.  These are the words we used.








For example, ‘What does it mean to be persistent? How do we show persistence?’.  Their thoughts do not have to be a complete sentence. What students are building is more like an idea web. I encouraged students to use different colors of markers to make it flashy. Then I would collect all the posters and we move on or line up to go.  It was a quick thing, but meaningful and often re-visited in my classroom practice.

I started this pretty late last year and didn’t have a chance to rotate each group through all the words, instead most classes did just one word per group, some were able to have a second rotation.

How do you work with children who don't confidently write yet?  Well, with Kindergarten and some Firsts, we talked about each word as a group. I wrote their thoughts out for them. (this was hysterical by the way. I remember one of the lines was, “make it into a cat!”)  But as we encountered different bits of information, in an artists’ biography, for example, we could refer back to the posters and even add to them.

Persistence, especially, is a theme that pops up over and over again when learning about artists’ lives and personal challenges. Whenever it came up, I was able to refer back to our growth wall and maybe even add a line.  

My idea for future display is to have a growth wall of fame that uses visuals of artists we learn about or anecdotes from our very own classroom to display along with the vocabulary.

If you also address Studio Habits of Mind, you are discussing many elements of growth mindset! It really is everywhere in the art room.

Do it next time you have a grade level finishing off work a bit early.  Maybe it's a stretch to fit it in right at the start of school, but it is well worth addressing with your students. With more and more value placed on student led learning, this is great evidence to share with your admin on one way you address that.  Bonus, the kids' answers will make you laugh! Their honesty and optimism shine through every time. 

Thanks for reading!

signature photo, emily mceneely