Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Token Response...getting kids to talk about artwork

I feel like one of the hardest things to do in my class is get kids to talk about artwork. And when they do talk about it their response is, "yeah, I like it because it's cool". I have tried different things with the kids...pulling Popsicle sticks and forcing the kids to talk, allowing them to participate in online discussions, but then this summer I was introduced to "Token Response" by a fellow art educator. Instantly I knew this would be a great idea to get my kids talking about art and making judgements about it.
So here is how it works...

For 6-30 players
Grades K-12

Each student plays a set of tokens on the art reproductions presented in class. Students discuss their choices, express their preferences and make judgments.

30 sets of 8 different tokens
10 or more art reproductions
Copied worksheet

Getting ready:
Make enough front to back copies of the worksheet for everyone in each class to have one.
Lay the posters out on the tables. There can be more than one per table but be sure to space them out.

Meaning of the tokens:
Heart=Preference: Which piece of artwork do you like the best?
Circle=Dislike: Which piece of artwork do you like the least?
House=At home preference: Which artwork would you most like to hang in your house?
Hour Glass=Time expenditure: Which piece of artwork looks like it took the most amount of time?
Money= Economic consideration: Which piece of artwork do you think costs the most amount of money?
Hand=Craftsmanship: Which piece of artwork requires great skill?
Light bulb=Originality: Which artwork has the most creative or original idea behind it?
Ribbon=Judgment: Which artwork is the best?

1.      Give each student a set of tokens and a worksheet. Have students write their bag # on their paper.
2.      Explain the meaning of each token
3.      Discuss the importance of looking at all of the works of art before playing the tokens.
4.      Encourage students to play the tokens however they wish. Stress that there can be many different responses.
5.      Direct students to write a response on their worksheet for each token they play.
6.      After all tokens have been played, ask students to look carefully at the groups responses. Guide your students in a discussion of the tokens assembled under specific works. Discussions might center around the following:
·         Clusters of the same tokens
·         The absence of certain tokens
·         Variety of tokens at one work
·         Works not attracting any tokens
·         Obvious favorites and disfavorites
·         Interesting combinations of tokens
·         Reasons used to explain token placements and debates between disagreeing students
If students are not talking, call on #’s labeled on tokens at each reproduction to call on a student.

Here is a list of questions that can be asked to get the discussion flowing...

Students will turn in their worksheets at the end of class.
Students need to collect their numbered pieces and place them back in the numbered bag for the next class.

Here is the worksheet I used. I drew in pictures of the tokens that I cut out (using our industrial die cut machine)

Token Response



Positive Preference

I like it because…

Negative Preference

I don’t like it because…

At Home Preference

I would like this in my house because...

Time Expenditure

I think it took a long time to make because…



Economic Consideration

I think it’s worth a lot of money because…


I think it’s well-crafted because…


I think it is a very original idea because…


I think it is the best artwork in the group because…

You can buy token response on Amazon but I decided to make my own to save money and it worked out really well.

I hope this is something that you can use or modify to make it work for your classroom!

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