8th Grade Portraits


Each of the images in this post is the Before (on the right) and the After (on the left) drawings of my 8th graders.

Every year I am required by the state to administer a Classroom Based Performance Assessment to all 8th grade students enrolled in Art. We have several to choose from, I still have to grade them all, and all we do is report the number of kids that completed the project… we do not have to report scores. (so sometimes I wonder what the point is, but that is a different post.) In the past few years as a team we had chosen the 1-point perspective project. But it is not my favorite and I was never getting good results. I encouraged the team to switch to the portrait one.


I tweaked the unit from when I did it about 5 years ago and did it as a semi “Flipped” classroom idea. I showed short instructional videos on each part of the face for them to learn and then gave them lots of practice time, which allowed me time to travel the room and guide one-on-one.


At the beginning of the unit, we did a pre-assessment (a requirement for our data tracking for our evaluation system.) Kids were asked to draw a realistic face with all the facial features. It did not have to be of anyone in particular, although they knew the final would be a self-portrait. They had one full period to do this and a short multiple choice, pre-test on portrait related vocabulary.


We spent 2 weeks on lessons for the faces and then one full week on the rough and final drafts of the self-portrait. They all had a photo of themselves to use as reference. I allowed struggling newer artists to trace the outline of their face using a light box, to get them started.


I have to admit I am blown away, and amazingly proud of the results. Here are some images of the pre-assessment drawings side-by-side the final drafts.

While I did give them the choice to use drawing pencil, colored pencil or water color pencils… the majority of them stuck with the pencils in which they had been doing all their practice drawings.

Check out the rest in our Artsonia Gallery!


Does your state or district require you to do a visual arts assessment?

How do you approach that in a Choice Based Classroom?