The Studio Tracker

posted on Sep 3, 2020

My classes often begin with a five-minute demonstration, inspiration, or planning activity. Students decide what they’re going to do for the day, but they have to record it in a self-monitoring device for the TAB (Teaching for Artistic Behavior) classroom called a “studio tracker.” Students track what centers they’re visiting, what ideas they’re working on, and more.

I’ve tried different versions of a studio tracker over the years, and as a result, I’ve discovered what works best for my classroom.


Choosing a Format
A studio tracker can be a simple paper graph, digital form, or anchor chart, depending on the resources available and the teacher’s preference. When I’m developing a studio tracker, I think about what I want to know from my students and what information could be helpful in the future. I also try to make it age-appropriate. A studio tracker can ask for general information or it can be more involved. It really depends on what type of data you want to track.


I prefer a digital studio tracker because it eliminates paper and transitions in the classroom. One of the most significant benefits of the digital studio tracker is immediate data. I can track what centers are used the most and least, what students need from me, and what ideas students are working on.


Ethan H., grade three, fills out the studio tracker before starting art for the day.


Why Students Need a Studio Tracker
I believe that if students are in charge of their choices, it’s essential for them to track, monitor, and reflect on their learning. Learning how to watch and follow their own growth is a powerful skill for them to develop. My students periodically reflect on their studio trackers to monitor their growth. I model and create prompts for students on how to look for trends and patterns on their trackers. Some questions might include:

  • What centers have I used the most?
  • What centers have I used the least?
  • Do I come to class with an idea?
  • What skills do I need to work on?


Students reflect on the questions and set goals based on their answers. I’ve created a list of goals based on the Studio Habits of Mind to give students some options. They can also develop their own purposes and goals. This information is added to their portfolio and used in parent-teacher conferences.


Checking In
Beyond that, a studio tracker can provide me with the opportunity to check in with my students. I’ve added some questions to my studio tracker to see how my students are feeling for the day. I’ve found that having six classes and about 150 students a day makes it very difficult to build relationships. Including this quick personal check-in on the studio tracker lets me know who might need some extra support from me that day. Students can also request help with their art through the tracker. I know instantly which students I need to visit first. It has really helped me prioritize my time.


Making It Meaningful
The process has made me realize that a studio tracker can go beyond just a simple graph or chart. Studio trackers have also become a meaningful reflection and data tool for students in my TAB classroom. This reflection time helps students learn how to grow and set goals as artists, helping me achieve my goal, which is to grow artists! Every classroom structure and routine is designed to achieve this objective. What other ways can a studio tracker be used to build artists?


Jessi Ruby is on the board of directors for Teaching for Artistic Behavior and is an art teacher at Pete Mirich Elementary School in LaSalle, Colorado.


View this article in the digital edition.