Mar 18, 2014

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10 Creative Critiques to Try This School Year

Many of us might cringe thinking back to our days of college art critiques. A poorly-facilitated critique can not only be a waste of time, but can also be disheartening for students. Many of us have been on the teacher side of things too, asking students to respond and engage and getting crickets in return. So, the question is, how can we make the critique process useful? Dare I say, enjoyable? I’d like to share some incredible critique activities to try in your room. You just might find yourself in the midst of a fantastic, meaningful discussion!


art critiques


Here are 10 Creative Critiques to Try This School Year 

1. Table Top Twitter: Place a piece of art in the middle of each table on top of a large sheet of paper. Have students use 140 characters or less to leave a written response on the large paper.

2. Ping Pong Critique: Write thought-provoking questions on ping pong balls and place them in a jar. Students must draw a ball and talk or write about the question. As they get better, students can write their own questions to place in the jar.

3. Strengths/Weaknesses: Make a two-column graphic organizer. For each piece of art have students write three strengths and three weaknesses. Always have them back up their opinions with visual evidence!

4. Interview: Have students use a set of questions to interview each other about their art and the process of making it. Students must report to the class about their partners’ work, rather than their own.

5. I Wonder…: Rather than forming statements or opinions, limit the students to only writing questions about the work. Warn them that they may never know the real answers!

6. Limitations: Give students a limitation (sometimes the path to the most creative thinking!) on how they participate in the critique. For example: You must comment 3, and only 3, times.

7. Love Letters: Write a love letter or Dear John letter to a piece of art. Bring some student emotion into the discussion by having them explain why they love or hate the piece.

8. What happens next?: Ask students to extend their thinking by making inferences. Have students look at a piece of art and create or write about what happens in the next five minutes of the scene, or in the five minutes before the scene. This works best for narrative pieces.

9. Reflection Process: When reflecting, have students get into higher order thinking by asking these questions in this order – What did I do? What was important about it? Where could I use this again? Did I see any patterns emerging? How well did I do? What should I do next?

10. Devil’s Advocate: Have students write both an argument for why a piece is successful and why it is not successful. By having to explain opinions opposite of their own, they must think even more deeply.

Have you used any of these methods in your classroom? 

What would you add to the list?


Sarah-DThis article was written by AOE Team member Sarah Dougherty.  Sarah is the Visual Arts Curriculum Coordinator and Arts Integration Specialist for the largest school district in Iowa, prior to which she served as an elementary and HS art teacher for 7 years.

About Sarah | Sarah’s Articles

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  • Amy Hartman

    These are great! Thank you for all the new ideas.

    • Sarah

      Thanks, Amy! Let us know if you use any of them. We’d love to hear how it goes!

  • Kelli

    fun ways to add depth to critiques! thanks

  • Kathy Hughes

    I used a version of Table Top Twitter yesterday as an exit slip. I had the students create a hashtag on a post it note about how they felt about the project we were working on and how they were doing. I got everything from #soboredanddon’tlike Surrealism to #Surrealismrocks. Thanks for this list, it came at the right time.