Teaching Students to Critique

Helping your students learn how to creatively critique each other’s work

What is a critique?

A critique is an oral or written discussion strategy used to analyze, describe, and interpret works of art. Critiques help students hone their persuasive oral and writing, information-gathering, and justification skills.

Provide direction and guidance with the critique to ensure that students stay on task and address the purpose and objectives of the lesson.

Below is a sample set of focus questions for an art critique related to four major areas of art criticism: description, analysis, interpretation, judgment. (The number of questions and aspects of specificity will vary according to the art form and number of works in the critique).


Describe the work without using value words such as “beautiful” or “ugly”:

  • What is the written description on the label or in the program about the work?
  • What is the title and who is (are) the artist(s)?
  • When and where was the work created?
  • Describe the elements of the work (i.e., line movement, light, space).
  • Describe the technical qualities of the work (i.e., tools, materials, instruments).
  • Describe the subject matter. What is it all about? Are there recognizable images?

Describe how the work is organized as a complete composition:

  • How is the work constructed or planned (i.e., acts, movements, lines)?
  • Identify some of the similarities throughout the work (i.e., repetition of lines, two songs in each act).
  • Identify some of the points of emphasis in the work (i.e., specific scene, figure, movement).
  • If the work has subjects or characters, what are the relationships between or among them?

Describe how the work makes you think or feel:

  • Describe the expressive qualities you find in the work. What expressive language would you use to describe the qualities (i.e., tragic, ugly, funny)?
  • Does the work remind you of other things you have experienced (i.e., analogy or metaphor)?
  • How does the work relate to other ideas or events in the world and/or in your other studies?
Judgment or Evaluation

Present your opinion of the work’s success or failure:

  • What qualities of the work make you feel it is a success or failure?
  • Compare it with similar works that you think are good or bad.
  • What criteria can you list to help others judge this work?
  • How original is the work? Why do you feel this work is original or not original?
Additional Resources

Towson University has an arts site that contains various lessons related to all the arts, including critiques for many grade levels.

Most of the major art museums have some or all of their collections online as well as lesson plans and critique formats for teachers to use with the collection. The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s education site contains lessons and a gallery of some of their collections for students to use.

I AM AN Artist ! … No I am a Teacher .. ?

Image result for sacrifice

What Is Sacrifice?

When we hear the word sacrifice, we often think of completely selfless acts in which someone does something for another person entirely for the other person’s benefit. The image of a soldier sacrificing his life for his comrades frequently comes to mind. But sacrifice isn’t purely altruistic. The best definition of sacrifice is this: “To forfeit something for something else considered to have a greater value.” (American Heritage Dictionary).

To me sacrifice does not mean giving up something for nothing; it means giving up one thing for something else we believe is worth more.This does not at all take away from the virtue of sacrificial acts. Instead of locating the merit of sacrifice in unselfishness, we can find it in our own chosen value system. I think I have experienced and continue to experience this as a teacher and aspiring leader in education.

So if we have a definition of sacrifice, what is the law or purpose of sacrifice?

The law of sacrifice says  ” you cannot get something you want, without giving up something in return.”  In order to attain something you believe is of greater value, you must give up something you believe is of lesser value. People in all walks of life practice this everyday so what makes it different for educators ?

Society today tries to deny the law of sacrifice at every turn, promising people that they can fulfill their desires without having to forsake anything at all. The fantasy that you can have whatever you’d like without ever paying for it is an incredibly seductive fantasy. But it is only a fantasy. There is always a price to pay.

If you want to lose weight, you have to give up junk food. If you want to get ripped, you have to work out regularly. If you want the nice things in life, you have to work hard and save your money. for me is being an artist , not just making the art but going the whole nine yards with it . Could I find happiness as a working artist ?  Yes I can and I have in the past . I also have found the same fulfillment as a teacher of art . Both Teaching and Creating bring me joy so why would I have to give up one for the other?

This is the beauty of the law of sacrifice. As a teacher you provide so much to other humans no matter how great or small they may be. You give more than just time ,or information ,or instruction a good teacher gives what ever they can to students. At the same time a good teacher has personal goals focused on achieving a higher level of knowledge and experience to provide an even larger student group with the services of education. This path can be rough , and a teacher can get lost or confused along the way. Not only is the  path a rough one when a teacher is truly  achieving their  goals, but the path itself prepares you to handle life at the top. True sacrifice for a teacher is a real education in becoming a leader of others .

Sacrificing not only gets you to your goals, but hones and shapes you as a leader along the way.

Frederick Douglass said: “A man, at times, gets something for nothing, but it will, in his hands, amount to nothing.”

To reach your goals, you must move forward, which necessitates leaving some things behind. But the person who believes they can get whatever they desires without sacrifice tries to hold onto everything in an attempt to have it all. Instead of moving forward, they are stretched out horizontally and sitting on the fence of desicion making.

What happens when we fail to acknowledge the necessity of sacrifice and subconsciously hold the idea in our heads that we can have both things at the same time. You must embrace the fact that there are trade-offs in life and that you can’t have one thing without giving up another.

For me it all started with the burned out oil field worker who gives up his six-figure  salary to become a high school Art teacher.

The law of sacrifice reveals and operates according to our personal value system.  At the end of the day then, the most important question we should ask ourselves when evaluating our dreams, desires, and goals, may not be, “What am I willing to do to attain them?” but “What am I willing to give up?”

I gave up the mohawk for a job…

I gave up the job for an education…

I gave up money for freedom…

I gave up freedom to serve…

I am a leader…