A Two Way Road: Integrating Art into the Curriculum


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  • For my thesis project, I was really interested in looking at how I could incorporate Core content (ELA, Sc, SS, M) into Visual Arts curriculum. As a result, I created a comprehensive 18-week curriculum for 7 th graders that creates an interdisciplinary approach to Visual Arts instruction.
  • Since school is beginning in the next month, it is important to think about what we are going to be teaching in the upcoming year and how we are going to avoid looking out to our students and seeing a seen like this. In order to avoid such moments of disengagement and sheer boredom, we teachers must be sensitive to what lessons we develop as a part of our curriculum. When doing research for this thesis, I came across this quote from Elliot Eisner who I think really captures the power of what curriculum does. Eisner calls curriculum a mind-altering device… a program designed to teach children what to think about. With this responsibility, we have the capacity to fame and decide what we want our students to think about. Im most cases, art teachers are often left to create curriculum on their own because administrators in our districts do not know about art. As a result, we are left with the task of deciding what students think about on our own. When dealing with creating curriculum, there are three components to consider: written curriculum, which is what we write and say we are going to teach. These are usually templetated into lesson plans and turned into building principals or kept for our own records; the second component is the taught curriculum, which may vary from the written. It is what we do on a daily basis in our classroom. And the third component is the result of the written or taught curriculum and that is the student learning. This component allows us to know if our curriculum is effective or if we need to adjust through differentiation based on current student ability, skill, or knowledge.
  • So once we consider the components of curriculum and their purpose, we have to specifically look at the purpose of Visual Arts education and why we teach art. In this picture, you see a teacher (whom I have censored) smiling boldly as she holds her artwork of a hat. On either side, she is surrounded with students who have copied her model. When looking at this image, the question of curriculum and what these students are being taught to think about comes to mind. We all have different ideas on how art should be taught and how curriculum should be developed to do so, but one thing that cannot be argued is the expectation that those curriculum developed follows the Visual Arts Content Standards and Benchmarks set by the state of michigan. Within these standards and benchmarks, we are expected to create curriculum that allows students to meet expectations within each of these criteria. Now, how we deliver the curriculum that embeds these standards and benchmarks is (just like curriculum creation) often left up to us. Three models to choose from are choice, DBAE, and integration. When delivering instruction in a choice based model, students are left with the choice of how they express their ideas. Often teachers will model various methods for producing art and students choose what they would like to work on. This is often done with stations set up in the room. Teacher who employ this instruction method says it allows students to act as artists do. Those who are critical of this approach argue that it is too much like the laisse fair attitudes of that past that have given art a bad name. The next instructional method is DBAE. In this classroom students focus on aesthetics, criticism, history, and production, allowing students to participate in all facets of what is done with art (we look at it, judge it, place it, and make it). It is a teacher-led model where students are given little room for variation. Critics of this type of instruction do not like its narrow focus on western art, nor its lack of choice for student interest. The third mode of instruction is AAI. In this classroom, teachers work toghether to create comprehensive lessons that coordinate. Through a Visual Arts Specialist, all teachers are on the same page. This instruction is flexible in nature and is interested in creating a curriculum around student interests. This integration model is most interested in creating real-world learning situations that place art a the heart of instruction. Integration is criticized as dissolving the arts, and putting them in a place of vulnerability. That if we do not teach art for arts sake, they will soon fade from school’s completely. Proponents of integrated curriculum will argue back that it helps link student learning and allows for greater depth of understanding to occur when more than one class tackles a topic or subject. As a result of that thought, I became interested in exploring integration further.
  • Now our school district cannot afford an AAI approach due to its requirement of a Visual Arts specialist. So I looked at other concepts of integration and came across a slew of names used to discuss integration: multidisciplinary, interdisciplinary, cross-curricular and so on. I also found there are various degrees to which integration can occur in the class. In this chart I took the three basic ways to integrate and explain how they are used in classes. After researching these methods and thinking about my teaching experiences and situations, I was most interested in finding a common-ground between the interdisciplinary and co-equal approach to VA.
  • The first thing I did when I was developing this curriculum was email my colleges. I chose one person from each subject area as to not be redundant and asked them to just give a brief list of main concepts or themes they work on each marking period. Since our teachers align curriculum between and among classes I know that they are all doing the same things at the same time and so I was able to use that information as a starting point. After getting responses, I sat down and thought about what I already do in my classes and how I could rearrange or restructure some of the things I already do to what is happening in those other classrooms. Once realizing I needed to find some additional lessons to better coordinate with my peersI went to the website mel.org. This site has links to the GLCEs, which will allow you to not only see what expectations are for other subjects, but also allows to find and use resources that have been linked to and between various GLCEs. This resource is incredibly useful for any subject area teacher regardless of if you integrate.
  • By going through and doing this examination, I found so many connections among and between subjects. I found that not only could I link to one other subject with in a lesson, but often times more than that. Finding those connections made me become more aware of what students are doing in their other classes. Because I took the time to communicate with my peers and look at their GLCEs, I was able to gain an understanding of what students are learning and use that to my advantage. When we do our lesson on Greek Art, for example, I can bring up things that they already have learned or will learn in their SS class for that unit. This type of connection making aligns learning to gain the biggest impact on students. Lessons taught become much more rich because instead of just hearing or studying a topic in one hour, they are doubling or tripling that exposure depending on how many teachers are involved in the integrated activity.
  • When receiving feedback from my peers, I found that Social studies had the most relevant and easiest connections between art. Since social studies looks at culture in a similar way art does, they have a natural affinity for each other. In addition, our core classes do an IDU each marking period around SS and what they cover.
  • First marking period studies Africa. This includes speakers who come in, students create books of hope for Uganda in their LA classes, as well as incorporate other activities in their core classes when this is being studied. 2 nd marking period they look at Asia. As a result, they create an Asia Travel fair where students research and create displays to “sell” their location as a tourist destination, which ends with a community celebration. 3 rd marking period students study ancient Greece and Rome. Students look at mythology in LA, as well as participate in other IDUs, and finally in 4 th marking period they study Australia.
  • The integrated lesson I am going to share with you goes along with the Greek and Roman study in 3 rd marking period. In this lesson students will analyze and discuss artworks from ancient greece and rome, make connections to contemporary artists, and create a piece based on our findings in this study.
  • The first piece students are shown is from the pediment at the parthenon. We discuss what the parthenon was used for, other sculptures that existed there, as well as its current state. We discuss the formal qualities of this sculpture and the pose. After going over that history, students are shown work by current artist, Karen LaMonte. She is a glass artist who is interested in the human connection to clothing. She uses castings of human forms to create her pieces. Students compare and contrast these pieces, noting the similarity between the poses and the attention to detail in the fabric. Through this comparison we are able to discuss how the past can influence the present.
  • In this next sculpture study, we start with the Early greek peplos kore figure. We talk about her purpose and the formal qualities of her pose and attire, in addition to the missing part of her arm. We then look at the work of michael stutz which includes this kore figure. Students guess what it is made of until finally realizing it is made out of shreaded cracker, cookie, and popcorn boxes. This paper mache piece is as brightly colored as the original kore might have been in her original state. The discuss then turns into using materials that are typically thrown away to depict this once ideal concept of beauty. This discussion of recycling materials and how the material can effect the way a piece looks as well as its meaning is allowed through this comparison.
  • The next sculptural piece we look at is the monumental sculpture of Constantine. This roman figure is examined before students look at the work by Igor Mitoraj. This sculpture uses the broken asthetic to create the ideal representation of classic forms in a fragmented way.
  • The three examples students are shown with contemporary artists whose work harkens back to the days of ancient greece and rome are then followed by the examination of various pieces of pottery from that time period. We discuss their purpose as well as their design. As a result, students notice the figures and often repearing patterns that develop through the use of contrasting positive and negative shapes. Through the creation of scratch art paper and researching images of people in action as well as planning various line designs, students create these pieces as a modern take on an ancient idea. Through this lesson I am able to achieve a variety of Arts standards, discussing concepts of history, design, production as well as connect to other standards in other subject areas. Many fear integration will lead to a sacrifice of something within Arts, but I would argue that these types of connections allow for a deeper understanding of what the arts can do.
  • When finding these connects, we create holistic learning experiences, showing students that what they are learning is not within a vaccum of one class, but something that reaches out into their other classes and daily life. When we take the time to create curriculum that involves these learning experiences, we are more likely to be innovative, enjoy our jobs, and have good relationships with our students. Integration may not happen right away, but if you are willing to step outside of your comfort zone, there are so many opportunities to see new and interesting ways to incorporate other subjects. Through the communcation I have had with my fellow teachers, I have been able to build better relationships with them, have a better understanding of their goals, and they of mine,. This impact on relationships allows me to enjoy teaching more because I can see how what I am doing impacts others in positive ways. In addition, students are aware of the connections you are making and feel more connected to your class. If they know through your prompts of what they are doing in their other classes, that you are taking the time to notice what they are doing they feel cared about. Through this we create a more concise and well-rounded curriculum. Again, if students are exposed to a concept multiples times in multiple classes, you do not have to spend as much time on it individually. Those experiences become componed and more impactful. This repetition created environments that allow students to be focused and engaged, which is what we want each year and not an image of this.
  • Thank you for your time! Any questions?
  • A Two Way Road: Integrating Art into the Curriculum

    1. 1. Janine Campbell Summer 2010
    2. 2. Curriculum Construction Curriculum is: “ a mind-altering device… a program designed to teach children what to think about.” Elliot Eisner, 1988 As art teachers we are often left alone to develop curriculum because others in the district usually do not know anything about art. Anglin, 1993 <ul><li>Components of curriculum include: </li></ul><ul><li>Written curriculum </li></ul><ul><li>Actual taught curriculum </li></ul><ul><li>Student Learning </li></ul>
    3. 3. Nd <ul><li>Visual Content Standards and Benchmarks </li></ul><ul><li>Performing </li></ul><ul><li>Creating </li></ul><ul><li>Analyzing in Context </li></ul><ul><li>Arts in Context </li></ul><ul><li>Connecting to other Arts, Disciplines, and Life </li></ul><ul><li>Choice-Based Model </li></ul><ul><li>2. Discipline-Based Arts Education </li></ul><ul><li>3. Authentic Arts Integration </li></ul>
    4. 4. Types of Integration Subservient Interdisciplinary Co-Equal <ul><li>Superficial in Nature </li></ul><ul><li>Does not attempt to make deeper connections </li></ul><ul><li>Without deeper connections the project does not fulfill needs in either subject area. </li></ul><ul><li>Example: Doing a connect the dot project of a country. </li></ul><ul><li>Arts used a starting point </li></ul><ul><li>Other subjects develop around Art concepts </li></ul><ul><li>Active attempts to find connections between subjects </li></ul><ul><li>Usually taught in a core classroom </li></ul><ul><li>Example: Students view a painting as the catalyst for a writing assignment in Language Arts. </li></ul><ul><li>Teacher trained in all subjects </li></ul><ul><li>All subjects are taught in concert </li></ul><ul><li>A Big Idea or common theme is used as the link between and among the various subjects </li></ul><ul><li>Example: Students study the migration of Monarchs and find connections in each subject to this study. </li></ul>
    5. 5. To begin…
    6. 6. As a result… <ul><li>Found many connections between and among subjects </li></ul><ul><li>Became more aware of my students’ exposure in other subjects </li></ul><ul><li>Aligned learning to gain the biggest impact on students </li></ul>
    7. 7. Social Studies
    8. 9. Greek and Roman Art <ul><li>Analyze and Discuss Artworks from Ancient Greece and Rome </li></ul><ul><li>Make connections to contemporary artists </li></ul><ul><li>Create work based on our findings </li></ul>
    9. 10. Karen LaMonte
    10. 11. Michael Stutz
    11. 12. Igor Mitoraj
    12. 13. Red/Black Figure Pottery
    13. 14. By finding connections… <ul><li>We create “holistic learning experiences” (Strand, 2006) </li></ul><ul><li>We are “more likely to be innovative, enjoy (our) jobs, and have good relationships with students” (Abeles, Burton, & Horowitz, 2001) </li></ul><ul><li>We “create a more concise and well-rounded curriculum” (Lee, 2007) </li></ul><ul><li>We create environments that allow students to be focused and engaged (Boldt & Brooks, 2006) </li></ul>