Art Lesson Plan: Independent Project - Grace Hall

The Independent Project

Submitted by: Grace Hall, Bogalusa High School - Bogalusa, LA.
Subject: Visual Arts
Title: The Independent Project
Grade: 9-12 (Could probably adjust for any grade level)



TSW: choose a challenging subject and media to create an independent project.

TSW: use art class time wisely by working consistently on it during all free time in the class.

TSW: employ knowledge of good craftsmanship with neatness and care of storage.

TSW: develop significant skill and technique with the chosen media.

TSW: employ prior knowledge of composition and the role played by the elements and principles of art in the creation of a successful work of art.



For students to develop an artistic work ethic, fostering confidence, responsibility, experimentation, and originality as well as develop skills, and techniques with a variety of media by creating content additional to the regular assignments to go into the final portfolio.


. Time:

This is an ongoing project, using any time that is available after the student has accomplished the day’s assignment.  This is a project students work on during any free time that they have in the art room.  The deadline and the amount that should be accomplished by that time are decided by the teacher.



Any and all art supplies that the student is familiar with using.  These may be materials that are available in the art room or purchased by the student to use in this project.  The teacher should conference with students individually to address this, decide on, and dispense what will be needed.



  1. Introduce this project at the beginning of the year/term and instruct students that they are to work on this assignment whenever they are done with the day’s assignment. Let them know that you understand that everyone completes assignments at different rates, and that this is the assignment that is to take up any extra time they have in the art room. This is also a time for them to work on a project that they want to do, after they have done what the teacher wants them to do, giving students choices in art. Inform students that they will be developing an artists’ work ethic as they develop this assignment.

  2. Based on your own judgment, assign the amount of work that should be accomplished by a given date.  For example, by mid-term the student should be able to accomplish a minimum of one complete work of art, and then assign a new Independent Project for the final term.

  3. Inform students that this is not a time to learn a new technique or skill; it is a time to develop skills and techniques that they already know.  Let them know that this is not the time for the teacher to teach individual lessons on individual projects; this is the time to work independently on skills and techniques that they enjoy doing after completing the days’ assignment.

  4. Inform students that they should choose a challenging project, one that will take up a considerable amount of time.  For example, create large projects with detail that can be developed over a period of time.  If the student completes the Independent Project before the due date, have them do another work of art using a different composition with the same media.

  5. Begin to monitor progress by setting a deadline for students to accomplish the task of choosing the project and starting it.  If you do not do this, some students will waste valuable time choosing, and not spend enough time working. It was probably an artist that invented the word procrastinate; help students avoid modeling this by setting a deadline to begin working!

  6. It is best not to make this a homework assignment for different reasons.  First, this is an assignment in teaching students to use their time in class wisely. Second, students often forget to bring the work back to school and then there is nothing for them to work on during this time.  Third, the teacher isn’t at home to observe, assist, or make suggestions to improve the work, and there is the chance that someone else besides the student may have done the project.  However, there are in deed some students who have no trouble working both from home and school, and it is ultimately up to the teacher to decide if the student should be allowed to work at home.

  7. Monitor student progress as they work. This isn’t a time to teach a new technique, but it is a time for the teacher and student to collaborate and discuss ways to improve technique, skill, and the final outcome of the artwork.

  8. Have students store their independent projects in their portfolios in the classroom where they will not be disturbed.  Impress upon students that this is a lesson in taking care and pride in the final outcome of the work, by not folding, tearing or mutilating the work while still in the constructive stages.


  1. The teacher may choose to assign the subject matter that students use, for example if students are studying particular styles and movements in art history, have them demonstrate their understanding by creating compositions along the same lines. Or perhaps to integrate science or social studies the teacher could assign animals or landscapes as the subject for the independent project.

  2. Have students write an artist statement regarding each completed composition to address the motivation and reflections that describe the artist intentions.

  3. Assign students to write an art criticism essay in regard to the completed works to address description, analysis, interpretation, and judgment.  OR, have students write the art criticism essay in regard to the work of a peer.

  4. Have students incorporate technology by creating a Power Point presentation as a digital portfolio by scanning or taking photographs of their work, and including the artist statements in the final presentation.

  5. The teacher may choose to allow students 1-3 days during the term to devote entirely to the independent project and assign participation grades for working on the project that day.

Closure and Evaluation:

  1. Upon the deadline for work to be completed, conduct a class critique session to address student accomplishments and needs. Those students who created more than one composition for the assignment should choose the best example to display for critique.

  2. Start by having students discuss their goals and intentions with the class, giving everyone a context from which to judge the work. Students need to understand the artists’ intent before proceeding with the critique.

  3. Have each member of the class say something about each work of art that would help the artist improve the work or offer a compliment to evidence their participation in the critique.

  4. Use the following rubric to evaluate the artworks and to assign grades. Circle the number that best describes the student behavior.  Add the numbers achieved for each criterion and multiply the sum by 4 to arrive at the grade percentage.  Adjust this rubric as needed.

National Content Standards:

#1 Understanding and applying media techniques and processes.

#2 Using knowledge of structures and functions.

#3 Choosing and evaluating a range of subject matter, symbols, and ideas.



  • To what degree has the student chosen a challenging project to work on for the duration of the independent study?

1- Not very challenging/ having no detail and the work seems incomplete to the teacher.

2- Slightly challenging/ having minimal detail work to focus on.

3- Moderately challenging/ having detail that may or may not be completely developed.

4- Challenging/ completely and consistently working to improve technique and detail.

5- Extremely challenging/ highly developed detail in a completed work of art.

  • To what degree has the student used his time wisely in class towards the creation and completion of the project?

1- Used most time socializing project incomplete

2- Used a considerable amount of time to socialize yet accomplishing the work minimally

3- Used some time to socialize, however accomplished a fair amount of work

4- Used time wisely and accomplished the objective sufficiently

5- Invested every free moment of class time to successfully develop the intended skills and techniques into an exceptional work of art.

  • To what degree of craftsmanship has the student exhibited the high quality of a professional artist?

1- Poor craftsmanship/sloppy/careless

2- Low regard for craftsmanship/minimal quality

3- Development of craftsmanship/shows improvement

4- Good Craftsmanship/improved and developed well

5- Exceptional craftsmanship and presentation of the completed work

  • To what degree has the student developed skills and techniques with the chosen media?

1- Chose a media that they had no prior knowledge of using

2- Chose a media that they had little knowledge of and minimal development of skill

3- Chose a media that they were somewhat familiar with and developed further

4- Chose media that they were familiar with and made efforts to improve development

5- Chose a media that they were familiar with and considerably improved development of technique and skill with that media

  • To what degree has the student involved the elements and principles of design to create an interesting composition and successful work of art?

1- The composition shows no evidence of student knowledge of elements and principles

2- The composition shows limited evidence of student knowledge in using the elements and principles of art to create a successful composition.

3- The composition exhibits the students’ awareness of the elements and principles

4- The composition exhibits the students’ knowledge and intent to employ the elements and principles to create a successful work of art

5- The composition exhibits a high degree of originality in the use of the elements and principles of art in the creation of a successful work of art.


Note on Independent work from Sharon Henneborn:

I never taught High School but I felt it was important for my 4 to 8 grade students to do independent work. I required them to develop contracts with a proposal, materials request from me, & list of materials they would provide (very specific with sizes, amounts etc.), home/community work and research, and a rubric for assessing progress. In addition they needed to include a coach to review and write response to any work outside of the art room and support the work done in the classroom. I sent a brief guideline for the coach so they had an understanding of the work. I accepted any responsible person in high school older because I couldn't assume parents were available. Not supposed to be a chore for anyone so what ever they could make work was encouraged. Some produced volumes and some were limited but whatever the case when we reviewed the rubric I sent them back to stretch themselves once again.


I practiced my teaching in a coil / spiral so I did much of what is taught in HS. You continually spiral around and touch a concept over and over again becoming more complex at each level. The students skill level determines how advanced we approached the activity. I found in my teaching that I was constantly amazed at what level I could introduce complex concepts. Two of my students went to Art Students League and have been earning a good living in the art world for many years. They enjoyed telling me the story of their first year in the advanced studies. Every time a new lesson was introduced they would look at each other and whisper, "Mrs H. taught us that in 6th grade." After weeks of this their classmates joined in and said it before they did. "Yeah, we know! Mrs. H taught you that in 6th grade." Of course it was the same concept but could be approached in a more advanced level each time it was visited. They had the advantage of being familiar with the concept and building on previous experience.

Perhaps a HS teacher will find something useful in what I found successful.

*NOTE: Grace Hall is no longer teaching at Bogalusa High School.



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