In keeping with the beginnings of class, we are working on how to see like an artist. I discuss tips such as:
1) Hold up your pencil in front of you so that you have something to compare other lines to.
2) Create a view finder from a piece of paper (cut a square/rectangle out) and hold it up in front of what you are drawing.
3) Close one eye (this makes you look like a pirate) so that you can see things flatter.
4) Hold up your hands and make the letter "L". Turn this into a rectangle so that you have an automatic viewfinder.
5) Grid your image. You can make a plus sign on your paper if you're drawing something from a flat picture or image. This will help you to lay it out on your drawing paper.
6) When shading, squint your eyes. It helps you to see the light and dark areas without worrying so much about the tiny details.
7) Don't be afraid to draw dark! You need to have contrast (various amounts of light AND dark) in your picture.
I'm sure that there are more, but these are a great way to get started!
I have the students crumble a piece of paper and place it on another white sheet of paper. They draw for approximately 20 minutes (or more) per piece. We practice contour drawing and (for some) shading. This is a great exercise.