|Welcome to The Art Educator, a newsletter of helpful tips to ensure that both your students and you the teacher get the most from the Art in Action curriculum. We feature teachers and their ideas, suggest how you can integrate art into your classroom, and more. Our goal is to be practical and useful. Subscribe. We welcome your feedback and suggestions.
Your editor is Jim Garrison, who taught art for 36 years in grades 6 - 12 at Crystal Springs Uplands School in Hillsborough, CA and was Head of their Fine Arts Department. He is presently on the board of Art in Action, where he has served since 2006.
|It can be somewhat overwhelming beginning the year with a brand new curriculum: too much information, too many possibilities. What’s the best way to begin? Talking with several teachers who have taught Art in Action for many years, we find some common suggestions that we would like to pass along.
Alvaro Orozco, 3rd grade teacher at Montague Elementary School in Santa Clara, CA. has the full attention of his 25 students on this Friday afternoon. They think they will be learning about and making African textiles - but little do they realize they will be learning language arts, math, science, and more!
The lesson begins with reading comprehension as students take turns reading aloud about Adire and Kente cloth from the Art in Action lesson projected on the SmartBoard. Mr. Orozco asks questions to check their understanding of the content and to review vocabulary. Next, time for math and science! Students watch the Discussion videos to learn about Adire cloth and Kente cloth. Using a Venn diagram on the Smart Board, they are ready to compare and contrast the two cloths. As students make observations, Mr. Orozco refers back to the Discussion video to check facts and review vocabulary. Students identify shapes, patterns, and lines in the cloth and make connections to similar ones in nature. Now they are eager to get out their sketchbooks, practice drawing their African designs, and finally make their own paper textile!
Mr. Orozco values the structure of the Art in Action lessons which allow him to reference a variety of other concepts and ideas that his students are learning and at the same time give him the confidence and assurance that he is also covering the necessary art concepts. He finds that the assessment questions at the end of the lessons are a nice review and do a good job of reinforcing what the students are learning.
Tanya Narasaki, 1st grade teacher and Lead Teacher of the Visual Arts, at Rancho Rosal Elementary School, CA, uses student journals as a record of students' artistic growth. This also serves as a tool for the development of their process of seeing. When Tanya's students write about art, they get practice in processing and retaining new vocabulary and concepts.
To begin a lesson, students look at the piece of art for one minute (see her Use Your Eyes to Explore the Artwork). Then in silence students spend about five minutes jotting down their ideas about what they see. This is "a quick and dirty" process. Students are encouraged to keep it simple, to make sketches, to think of these as their own personal notes. They are assured that they do not have to be beautifully written, that they will not be on display, that the teacher will be the only other person to see them. The important thing here is process, not product. Later, Tanya looks over a student's journal, treating it as a "toolbox," as she reviews her Rubric for Visual Analysis. Does it contain the vocabulary of art? Does it show growth? Do concepts build on previous concepts? All of this takes time; it is an ongoing process for the teacher and student.
“It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge.” Albert Einstein
“The practice of writing can enhance the brain’s intake, processing, retaining, and retrieving of information. Through writing, students can increase their comfort with and success in understanding complex material, unfamiliar concepts, and subject specific vocabulary." Judy Willis
Jennifer Nelson, art teacher at Village Elementary School, CA, loves to expand upon the Art in Action lessons. She enriches them to include more history, music, dance, foreign language, and even film.
“The Art in Action program allows me to add drama and music to the lessons,” says Jennifer. “For the first grade Marc Chagall lesson I showed Russian folk dancers and pictures from Fiddler on the Roof (although a different period); I also played music by Stravinsky and Tchaikovsky. For the fourth grade Dali lesson I played Spanish guitar music and showed the dream sequence in the Hitchcock movie Spellbound. I often check out art books from the library relevant to the lesson.”
“We have a giant time line going all the way from medieval times to now, showing the Renaissance, Impressionism, and the other art periods. I copy a picture from the Art in Action lesson and hang it on the time line. I also tie in foreign language by teaching students to say “hello” and “goodbye” in the artist’s language.”
“We are tremendously enjoying Art in Action, the students are not bored, and we have no discipline problems. We often hit PLAY ALL on the discussion page – we may not view it to the end, but the students like it. I also show them the samples that others have produced, and that motivates my students to do even more challenging art projects. Our motto is, ‘if they can do it, I can, too.’ “
“The three most important attributes of Art in Action: standards-based, technology based, easy to use.”
|Watch how Art in Action 3rd grade teacher Ame Szasz at Longfellow Elementary School in San Francisco uses an interactive whiteboard to highlight key concepts in a guided discussion of a landscape painting (video on the right).
4 Tips for Engaging Your Students
Art in Action and interactive whiteboard