Thursday, July 26, 2012

Getting to the Core of Arts Standards

As the summer winds down and another school year starts, many of us are looking for new and engaging lessons that both capture our students' attentions as well as teach them valuable skills that they will use to grow as an artist and person. When I am developing lessons, I use many factors to determine artist, material, and subject being covered. I consider what is being taught in other content areas as discussed in this past post, I also consider the student population and what they are interested in learning through the use of Google Forms discussed in this past post, and I pour over the Michigan Content Standards and Benchmarks that can be found here.

Just as all subject areas are moving from various State level Standards and Benchmarks to the Common Core, the Arts are also being revamped through the National Coalition for Core Arts Standards. This group consists of teachers from various Arts disciplines who are working together to create "the Next Generation Arts Standards." In addition to including videos and documenting the progression of their work, the group is also looking for contributors to add to the discussion. You can find more information about this on their wiki as well as see that Michigan is being well represented in the Visual Arts group by 2012 NAEA Middle Level Teacher of the Year, September Buys.

Some pieces of information I found particularly helpful when looking through their site was the draft for the Overarching Framework as well as the Review of State Arts Standards. I highly recommend giving them a look if you are as interested in developing curriculum using outcomes as a guide via backwards design.

Even with these guides, the possibilities are endless as far as what and how we teach Visual Arts. It is hard to know what is the right way because there are so many different ways to do it. What are some things that you use to help guide you through the development of lessons? What lesson do you do each year that you feel is able to hit all of the marks both with content and artistry? If you have any helpful suggestions on how to create and execute lesson plans, please share below.


  1. Janine, I appreciate your post. I have been looking into creating a more consistent curriculum while still trying a variety of lessons. It was interesting to look at some of the other states, especially New York, their benchmarks seem much more specific then ours. My biggest struggle right now is assessment. I have been asked to create assessment that shows growth, not just understanding. Any thoughts? How do you pre and post test creativity, effort, and skill?

    1. Creativity is probably the hardest to measure. I think skill is a little more well-defined. There have been teachers who are using drawing as a pre and post testing skill; but then you run into the fact that drawing is just one art making aspect (what about painting, photography, etc.). I use Moodle to test students on art concepts, art history, and materials/methods for making art (multiple choice, T/F, fill in the blank). I also keep student portfolios on Artsonia, which shows growth from year to year as well as within the current school year. I think that is probably the best tool I have to show growth with my students.

  2. The art they provide opportunities for self-expression, bringing the inner world into the outer world of concrete reality.

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