The last day of summer vacation is finally here. My mindset is shifting from pools and parks to inside the classroom. I'm excited for what this year has in store. All summer Ian Sands, Kim Sudkamp and I have been planning exciting, challenging units of study centered around the concept of what artists do. Hint - it's not follow each step just like the teacher does it. Instead, we'll teach concepts, processes and techniques grouped around specific artistic behaviors for guided practice then ask students to apply what they've learned in open-ended projects. Neat, right?!
The big thing I'm thinking about today:
Differentiation. It's always important but for Art 1 classes it's the make-or-break issue. When presented with a conceptual, open-ended project some kids panic because it's outside of their comfort zone. Maybe they don't have the technical skills they feel they need or developing an idea presents an obstacle. On the other hand you have students who are filled with ideas and ready to jump in. To accommodate both, and those in the middle, it works best to provide a range of examples and options. I always include something concrete and something based on more abstract ideas. I try to present at least one option that doesn't rely on skill with traditional media to be successful. Creating multiple pathways to mastery of learning goals helps everyone. Art 1 is a huge opportunity to make life long supporters of the arts. The last thing I want is for students to leave at the end of the course without making art that they're proud of.
Now to add this in my plans...........
I'm an high school art teacher who's really interested in student choice and creating opportunities for self expression. I'm also a writer for The Art of Education and co-author of The Open Art Room.