The first lesson I usually give my Art 2 class is a pen and ink still life. This project allows me to see their drawing and composition abilities, especially since many of the students may not have been Art 1 students of mine. This also sets the bar for the rest of the year as they quickly see the level of work that I expect from them. After they complete the assignment we have a class critique where all of the students are expected to speak in order to receive a final grade.
For this lesson I asked students to quickly grab items in the classroom and set up a still life in their close vicinity. All drawings had to be done from life so they had to set up their objects where they wouldn't be disturbed.
They also had to show a foreground, middle ground and background in their drawings.
Even though the kids made a couple of mistakes, like forgetting a shadow here and there, I feel they did a great job on their first class assignment.