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EET: Expanded Expression Tool

EET used as a self evaluation to check understanding of an art application.
EET used as a self evaluation to check understanding of an art application.
Photo taken of random children's art by Marianna DeBolt

How do you get your students to think about their art? Rubrics get confusing and checklists just get checked off. Sure, you can write up questions for every new project or purchase the balls, dice, and cards that never really apply to an art class. Or, you can use an EET!

Self evaluation
Photo and EET form by Marianna DeBolt

Originally, an EET, expanded expression tool was designed to help students improve their writing and oral skills. It's a "multi sensory approach to help with expression" according the their website, The tool consists of seven colored balls on a rope that represent a kind of question, created by Sara Smith, a speech language pathologist and national speaker.

Using the tool in my art classes encourages the students to describe, analyze, interpret and judge their work in easy steps. The colors are green, blue, an eye image, a wooden ball, pink,white and orange. The tool provides a tactile and visual aid for students.

Basically, the GREEN represents "group"- what group does it belong to? My art questions for green are: What kind of art is it? Drawing, painting, printmaking, pottery, sculpture, fine crafts, computer or film? In music, one may ask what instrumental family is a violin?

BLUE is "do"-what does it do? My questions are: What does the art represent? What was the main challenge of your art to demonstrate? The science teacher could ask, what did the chemical make up do when test tube A was mixed with test tube B?

The EYE represents "see or describe"- tell me what your art looks like. Tell me the details, explain as if you are helping a visually impaired person see your artwork. A math teacher might as you to list all the detail you see in the word problem to understand how to solve it.

WOOD asks to "analyze"- How is it made? What media did you create your art? Looking at a carousel horse, a speech teacher might ask one to guess what the horse is made of by using their five senses in a discussion.

PINK "parts" are asking to interpret. What are the parts? What art elements and principles of design did you use and how did you use them in your art? The reading teacher will ask to name and explain the parts of a story.

WHITE-"edit"- would you change anything in your work? If so, what? Would you have used a different media if possible? How could you have demonstrated the objective in a different media? The technology teacher will remind you to proofread the essay that is due Friday and list the errors you found.

ORANGE asks to "evaluate". My question is for the students to rate themselves on how they felt they did based on a scale 1-3, 3 being the best they ever did and explain their rating. The PE teacher will have students rate their last physical benchmark exam.

I first learned about this tool from our school speech teacher who uses it with her students for oral expression. Excited about creating a uniformed set of evaluation or "exit" questions, I combined my describe, analyze, interpret, and evaluation into this layout. One can make it easy or advanced depending on your students' ability.

I use the EET in grades K-6th grade. The lower grades self evaluate themselves by conversation with me and each other in peer evaluations while the older kids answer these questions in written form as part of their final art grade per project. Special education students dictate their answers or we use it for discussion.

Teachers across the nation use EET to help their students write with with more description. How often do you see- my dog lives in a dog house? When it can say- My black lab who is 4 years old lives in a red dog house in the summer, but in the warmer garage in the winter when it's too cold outside. Check out the research links on the website above. Try it with your students and watch the transformation in a little bit of time.

My current school had a school wide introduction to EET and from various comments, EET has been utilized in several of our classrooms in a variety ways.

On Sara Smith's website, trainings are available as well as the kits for purchase. I have a poster in my room of the colors and order to remind the students of their meanings and questions I chose to ask. Any question that fits your curriculum that matches the basic meanings will work. Also, the website lists several testimonials from teachers experiencing success in their classrooms using EET.

View the slideshow to see EET examples from unnamed student work in my 5th grade last year.

Share your experiences with the EET in the comments below. How do you use this tool to help your students?

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