Making, Art(s) & Design Critique Protocols

In the second meeting for the Making, Art(s) and Design Inquiry Group held last week, we continued to build on our reflection, critique and portfolio practices, and introduced examples of Critique Protocols. As mentioned in the last blog post, the purpose of these meetings is to discuss integrating portfolio work and documentation, possibly in a wider number of classes, in a way that encourages students to document their thought process. This week we introduced Critique Protocols as a routine of looking closely at other’s work.

art room

Screenprint carousel in the High School Art Room

The Opening Activity was lead by Eesuu Orundide, the High School Art Teacher, who shared this year’s opening project for his screen printing class. His students were divided into groups and invited to research a screen-printing and clothing company, analyzing its branding, price points, products, target audience, marketing, etc… Rather than having the groups create a standard presentation after conducting this research , Eesuu wanted to achieve a more dynamic and flowing result. Therefore, each group came up with a sales pitch to that company based on a screenprint they designed.

This project is based on the EL Core Practices, as the activity is challenging (researching a brand is complex and not immediate), meaningful (it relates to a real-life case), public (the final presentation is shared with peers), and collaborative (the students have to work in groups). It also has solid connections to career pathways, as the final “sales pitch” is based on industry standards and typical scenarios of a work environment. We will discuss career awareness and preparation for students in detail in the upcoming meetings, when Josh Weintraub will help us define how they can build on the Work-Based Learning Continuum.

work based learning continuum

Work-Based Learning Continuum

We then discussed the Critique Protocol as defined in the Edutopia article: this routine uses protocol rules “be kind, be specific, be helpful”, developed by Ron Berger. The students, according to the article, produce high-quality work of their own by being able to identify strong elements and exemplary work from others. This model is sometimes naturally followed in classrooms, as it encourages collaborative analysis and comparisons. This article however elaborates on the steps necessary for useful critiquing, following a chronological order.

screenprinting frames

Critique Protocols necessarily lead up to Documentation and Reflection in each student’s work. As mentioned in “Maker Centered Learning“:

“[…] the central purpose of making thinking visible is to provide teachers and students with physical documentation that allows them to see evidence of learning and to reflect on the learning process.”

When the unfolding of students’ thinking is made visible and they share this process with their peers:


  • “[…] students’ are able to see that knowledge-building is an evolving, dynamic process.”
  • “[…] each individual student sees how his or her ideas contribute to a larger whole.”

Documenting and reflecting on work, being able to share that work with others, and submitting it to scrutiny and critique encourages students to produce quality products and prepares them for higher-education and professional standards.

We will continue our Documentation processes and introduce Career pathways for our next Inquiry Group.


For more information on Critique Protocols, visit EL Education and Edutopia.

Anna Milada Grossi is currently an Americorps VISTA Project Coordinator, serving through MakerEd at Lighthouse Community Public School. She is assisting in the Making, Art, Design and Lighthouse Creativity Lab Programs.