Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Art Room and GASP...the Common Core.

I know, I know. I did it. I said those two dirty words. COMMON CORE.

But whether we want to believe it or not, it's here and we need to make sure we are workin' it!

Now, I don't know how your districts work, but mine is a little more fluid when it comes to curriculum planning.  Each art teacher is expected to adhere to the District's PowerStandards (which were written by art teachers four or so years ago and getting updated this year).  Our PowerStandards were aligned with the previous Illinois standards for Visual Arts, which is why we are working to give our PowerStandards a major facelift this year, a la Joan Rivers, may that hilarious woman rest in peace.

But basically, as long as we address our PowerStandards we have the freedom to design our own curriculum, which I personally LOVE.  After all, when we have the massive district art show at the year's end who wants to look at 100 of the same projects again and again?

When I attended and presented at the NAEA convention in San Diego this past Spring, I attended a lot of workshops and lectures about the Common Core.  I learned a lot, sweated it out a bit Richard Simmons style, and then felt relieved after hearing tons of great ideas on how to incorporate those two dirty words.

Below are some glimpses into how I've started to incorporate the principles of the National Core Arts Standards in my room this year.

I've blogged about my "What Are We Doing Today?" board before, but I'm revisiting it because it's become a great tool to get kids thinking about what's on the Art agenda before entering the Art Room.

When students enter and join me on the Reading Rug, I often share a story or share an inspiring artifact to introduce the story.  Having a routine is a nice way to start the teaching period with any of my grades.  I added my "I can" board to our rug routine this year to help clearly identify the lesson's objectives too.

After our rug routine, we transition either to the Teacher Table or to student art tables for the next steps.  I always have the WIPs (Works in Progress) on display, so the kids know what they will be working on.

Now, here's the big question: how does one design lessons to ensure that students are demonstrating GROWTH MINDSET, CRITICAL THINKING, CREATIVE THINKING, and COMMUNICATION all wrapped up with ENDURING UNDERSTANDINGS as they CREATE, PRODUCE, RESPOND, and CONNECT their way to a final piece of art?

Is your head spinning, because mine sure is!  Well, here's the answer...I have no magic art potion and definitely no sage advice, but here's my two cents on the matter.  It is SO easy to connect our effectively designed art lessons to the Common Core.  Cross curricular connections come so easy to the arts and I want to make sure my students are comfortable using the skills and vocabulary necessary to be a 21st century artist, so I try to constantly work the vocab into our lessons.  The Smartest Artist game I briefly mentioned here has become a fantastic way to assess my students' vocabulary understanding.  Plus, it's quick and who doesn't love using a light up microphone?!

Oh yeah, and those cornerstone assessments Jay McTighe talks about?  Well, we don't even realize we're cornerstone assessing our students sometimes, but quick things like a peer or self evaluation at the end of a lesson involves students in the assessment process.  Or even a small group or large group critique of artists' works give us the ability to quickly assess our students.  I like having my "Art Smart" vocab plastered around my room because it helps jumpstart students' ideas in a positive direction during our times o' critique.

Here's what we need to remind ourselves: we work hard to design an art curriculum every year that addresses different media categories, student abilities, art elements and principles, and aligns with our district and now Common Core standards.  Our assessments don't always have to be lengthy, but they should be authentic, ranging from critiques to portfolios to checklist/rating forms to journals.

Okay, for now, Miss French Fry out, but I'll be back soon with some glimpses into new projects on the horizon!