As good teachers are apt to do, whenever you sit down to plan lessons or activities for your students, you keep in mind where they are in their learning. Where do their abilities typically lie? What are students of this age group interested in learning about? What would build their learning and experiences from last year through to next year? What would challenge and motivate them? How can I excite them and foster their curiosity?
All of these questions also come up when we write curriculum. What I especially appreciated when we were examining standards this time was how developmentally appropriate the National Visual Arts Standards are. The writing team must have taken time to thoughtfully consider not only how to scaffold skills in each artistic process, but also where students of each grade are typically at in their physical, social-emotional, language and cognitive abilities and development. When we first started writing curriculum using these new standards, we received a little push back about how we were challenging our kids. We often heard we weren't being "developmentally appropriate" in the tasks that we were asking students to participate. Although this feedback was in reality from a few outliers, when you are trying something new, you can be more susceptible to criticism. "Are we doing the right things for our kids?" "What exactly does it mean to be developmentally appropriate anyway?" "What does that look like for my students?"
Keeping these needs in mind, we can better develop a course that fits the child as opposed to making the child fit the course. The arts truly are integral to allowing students to stretch and grow, if we let them. How do you feel about your curriculum and the way it fits your students? Are you able to meet their specific individual needs while also encouraging and fostering their skill development and growth? I'd love to hear more about the needs of your students and how you structure a curriculum to meet them in the comments below...
SHould Art Education be for Profit?
Recently, PBS News Hour had a segment titled, "Why teachers selling lesson plans have sparked debate" that started conversations online about the nature of teachers making a profit off lesson plans and materials. As an art teacher, I have had to make many of my own lessons and materials, as I know other art teachers have done. I have had many conversations with high school teachers from other subjects such as ELA, Math, Science, Social Studies, etc. over the years about why I can't "just go the teacher's manual or materials" for the hand out or activity I want to do with my students. Most of the time that doesn't exist. Or I should say, it didn't exist. (and as a side note, most of the time, wasn't the type of thing I was really looking for...art needs way more engaging materials than a fill in the blank worksheet!)
With the rise of Pinterest and social media connecting more and more art teachers across the country, reaching out to others for ideas became easier and easier. Sometimes it is an open request on a forum for help or examples, other times it is a direct ask through email, and an even easier way is by following the ever growing number of blogs and websites run by art teachers that are sharing the fantastic and exciting things going on in their classrooms. So many generous teachers are adding to the collective, supportive environment of art education by sharing ideas and materials openly - without a paywall. Now while I don't begrudge teachers finding a way to supplement their (too low) income by using their professional skills, I am also a big believer in collaboration and putting good out into the world. If we stopped sharing and always insisted on getting paid, the collective strength in our profession would be diminished. We need to be willing and open to give away some ideas, because, let's face it...not everything we do is truly 100% original. We do not work in a vacuum, we stand on the shoulders of giants, influenced by the ideas of others whether that be by artists, other art educators, or our students. Now, do we deserve to be compensated for our time and expertise when it comes to being adept at graphic design, layout, etc. and when we create a reproducible? Sure. But personally, I have always believed that we should give as much as we take. So if I have benefited from the inspiration, help, and materials from others, I should be turning around and offering as much to others.
behavior and even said it makes them wary to share as openly as they do. Does the existence of sites that charge for lessons then unintentionally promote unethical behavior? Do we continue to share as openly as we do, even if it means others may profit without us? Do we band together to continue our virtual PLN and stand stronger together, sharing materials as opensource goods and promoting good ethics and practices in art education? How do we keep each other in the right frame of mind to benefit as many students in art as possible? I'd love to hear others thoughts in the comments.
Happy New Year!
We are all inundated with year end countdowns, best of lists, and articles about resolutions for the new year ahead. This time of year always has me reflecting on my life, my relationships, and my work. What do I want to focus on? Where could I be more or do better? I implement a couple of strategies to help in making my resolutions stick a little better and stay with me. One is that I have a public resolution that is reflected in a single word. You may have heard about this from various hashtags on social media, #oneword2018, or associated with a couple of different books out there. In short, it is a movement to consolidate your long list of resolutions into one simple word and to look back throughout the year to this one word to remind you of your resolution.
How will you approach the new year? Do you set resolutions to guide your path in the new year? Is this a time you use to reflect? I'd love to hear more in the comments!
Happy New Year!
Make It Your Own
like this and that leaves many teachers with questions about curriculum, assessments, and best practices in instruction. My hope is that if you have found your way here that you will be able to use what I share as a resource, using it as you think about your own students and try it out in your classroom. I believe the best lessons are the ones that we are able to put a personal stamp on, thinking about how we might personally interpret it and in turn share with our students. I am reminded of the Art of Ed podcast host, Tim Bogatz, and how he tells his students to "make it their own." The same goes for lesson plans or unit ideas you hear from other teachers. Delivering a lesson straight off a page without first internalizing your own thoughts about it is a recipe for disaster. Sometimes all it takes is a small tweak to infuse an idea with our own voice, and sometimes the circumstances and situations in your classroom require major changes to really make it fit.
My desire with the units and lessons I share is to provide just one example of how the National Core Arts Standards can be taught, looking at the big picture of an entire year (and eventually an entire K-12 span). I know there are many, many, many different ways that incredible art teachers all over the country are using the NCAS to engage their students with the artistic process and artistic literacy, and I would love to hear how others are doing it. What big ideas do you use? How do you connect artists and art history? How kind of juicy questions are your students tackling? How do you engage them in creative and critical thinking?
Leave me a comment sharing your ideas and what you are doing. Or if you try some of the lessons or units how did you make it your own? I can't wait to start a conversation about it.
Well, this is new...
Welcome to this website and my blog! This project is simultaneously exciting and terrifying. An introvert by nature, letting people inside my thoughts can sometimes be uncomfortable and make me quite nervous. Other times my opinions spill over quite readily and I am usually always willing to share what I know if it will help someone else out. Especially if it helps kids and students come to love and learn about art and the world.
My intention with this website is to provide art teachers and administrators with a resource that can help them when creating curriculum and assessments as well as resources to help with instruction. While I know there is a lot I don't know, and that I am limited by my own experiences, I also know that I have encountered many people who have questions that I can help answer. While there isn't always one right way to do things, there are some practices and methods that have proven to be successful for myself and others that I want to explore and share. There are so many moving parts in our world of teaching art. While the website isn't completely finished, and may be continually evolving, I hope you will come back to check it out often and find it useful as you practice your craft.
They cover some fantastic topics and have great guests that talk about all sorts of relevant issues we face in the art room. I typically like to listen to this one as I drive to or from our state art ed conferences. It gets me in the right frame of mind to get my art ed learning on! But, I've also recently started to listen as I get ready in the morning. It starts my brain buzzing and jump starts my own questions and thinking.
I hope that like the way this podcast series gets me thinking and reflecting, that this website can also do the same for you. I'd love to hear from anyone that is using this website, or reading this blog, and start talking about what we are seeing in our art rooms. Everyday is an adventure and I am really looking forward to this one!
I'm Michelle. I am very excited to try my hand at blogging and sharing my thoughts and reflections in the field of art education.
Original NAEA Blog Posts
NAEA Blog Posts
I started blogging at the invitation of the National Art Education Association for their Monthly Mentor column. See those original blog posts here.