Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Aligning to Common Core in the (Online) Art Classroom

As the 2012-2013 school year continues to tick by, we continue to align the Art 1 classroom to meet the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), which will be mandatory by 2014-2015. Though it seems far away, my teammates and I are already working towards 100% alignment. Of course we all still have many questions. We spent last week together in PD brainstorming ideas for aligning our Art 1 curriculum to the CCSS. In many cases we are adding small written assignments to accompany drawing projects. This has lead to some shifts away from reading quizzes and towards short writing assignments. We also have changed some projects to incorporate more ideas of visual communication as a form of writing. As far as CCSS, I am continuing to follow the idea that art is a text meaning students can read artwork as a text and write artwork as a text to meet these standards. 

One of the lessons we’ve changed is the still life lesson. Before: students are instructed to choose 3 objects, set them up in a still life scene, and draw them using 7 different values. After CCSS changes: students are instructed to look at examples of still life paintings/drawings that tell a story. They will choose 3 objects that tell a story (drawing instructions are the same as before) and they must title their still life drawing something that describes their story. A rather small change not only aligns with CCSS but also incorporates more meaning and excitement into this project.
In addition to artwork as a text, it is helpful to know what your school offers in the way of textbooks or online resources to provide students with readings at grade level that go along with your content. 
In the texture lesson, students currently learn the differences between simulated (2D) and tactile (3D) textures and create a texture study by drawing out 4 different textures. We thought this would be a good opportunity to have students look closer at sculpture through an article in Scholastic Arts Magazine. For teachers who don’t know about this resource, it is an amazing way to align to CCSS. It provides articles, images, videos, and even written and multiple-choice assessments for grades 4-12! Right now, all the digital resources including issues of the magazine are free, though at some point will become viewable only to subscribers. We are going to use the section on sculptures from a recent issue to have students write about the role that texture plays in whichever sculpture they choose.  
 Looking at our lessons to align them with CCSS has allowed my team to focus on changing lessons that have been weak in the past. A lesson many students have trouble with is our Cubism lesson. Students learn about the style of cubism and about Picasso and Braque. With this knowledge, they create 2 pieces of art, one that is realistic, and one that is a cubist version of that same subject matter. We discuss the differences and similarities between analytic and synthetic cubism but students still have trouble with this concept, especially when it comes to making their cubist artworks. Thus I have added a reading and sorting activity to this unit to help students spend time looking at synthetic and analytic cubism more closely. Students will get their reading from Encyclopedia Britannica and use the reading to guide them in arranging characteristics of analytic and synthetic cubism into the correct categories.  

Whatever lessons you teach in your art classroom, aligning to CCSS does not have to mean big changes and extra work. Small changes and additions can make your lessons more meaningful and help students succeed.

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