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Art Education 700 D
Responses by Wendy Ellis
  Investigating the Culture of Curriculum
by Olivia Gude
  In this article, Gude discusses how curricula can be revamped to focus on contemporary issues rather than the art basics (elements, methods, etc.). She brings up the important point that teachers need to ask themselves if the content being learned justifies the time being spent on that material. Gude reminds us that the basic art skills can be taught in combination with contemporary issues thus bringing meaning to the content for the students not just presenting them with basic skills. She tells us that the knowledge teachers gain while preparing for these new units will only broaden the teachers' knowledge and give them more information that they can pull from for future lessons. Gude brings up the point that most elementary and secondary programs are now taught having students sitting silently and working individually rather than allowing for group discussion and collaboration.  
  At Spiral Workshop, they consider four components when designing a project:
Each project should:
  1. deal with an issue of developmental importance to the students,
  2. be based on a contemporary social theme.
  3. include examples of past and recent artworks that have explored these themes, and
  4. teach a method (conceptual and/or technical) for constructing works of art.
  I agree that projects should deals with issues of developmental importance to the students because the projects can help students better understand these issues. Also, it allows students to work through the issues and see that others may see the issues differently or the same way. Building from others' viewpoints may help the students see a side of the issue that they had never thought about or may alter the way they had viewed the issue. The projects will also have more significance for the students if the projects center around issues that affect the students.
  I also believe that projects should include examples of past and recent artworks that have explored the same themes with which the students are working.  Allowing the students to see examples of other artworks along the same theme not only helps to tie in art history, but to also help students to think about the importance of the theme. Students will see that the theme is relevant to other artists and how those artists interpreted that theme. This may give students a jumping off point or help them work through problems they have found with the theme. Seeing both past and recent examples allows students to view how others' ideas about the theme have changed over time.  
  I feel that it is also important for projects to teach a method for constructing works of art. If projects do not teach methods for constructing art, some students may have ideas for what they want to convey in their artworks but may not know how to express those ideas. Teaching methods for constructing artworks gives students a basic knowledge to pull from later when creating other projects.  
  I do not agree that each project must deal with a contemporary social theme. I feel that some projects should deal with contemporary social themes because students need to explore these themes and be able to express their views on them. I also feel though that some projects should deal with themes that may no longer be as important in our society, but these projects can also extend to include contemporary themes. Dealing with past social themes will help students learn about history and why some themes may be more relevant today. Also, dealing with past social themes will help students understand why some artworks were created and may explain what is being depicted in the past examples.  
  Making It Count: Rethinking Art Curriculum
by M.G. Stewart and S.R. Walker
  In this article, the authors discuss the concept of enduring ideas and restructuring the curriculum to include enduring ideas. Enduring ideas link academic content with life focused issues. Enduring ideas allow students to connect more to the content that they are learning. Students are more interested in material that relates to their lives or that they are familiar with. I enjoyed the examples used in this article which showed how other educators are using enduring ideas in their curricula. After reading these examples, I began to better understand how one enduring idea lesson can build upon another. I feel  incorporating these enduring ideas into curriculum allows students to connect the content materials more than focusing on one concept and then switching to something completely different.  
  Students often complete art projects without understanding why they are creating what they are creating. Many educators have students concentrate on practicing skills and procedures.  Often times at the end of a project, students forget why they used those procedures and what content they were supposed to be learning. Projects are often thrown away because they hold no meaning for the students that created them. By focusing on humanized issues rather than just skills, educators can show students just how important the arts are and how their artwork can affect others.  Students become more interested in what they are studying and actually want to create the art that they making.  

1. Name 2 ideas that challenged you today about curriculum.


1. One issue that challenged my thinking on curriculum today was how to base units on contemporary issues. I did not think that my younger elementary students would understand the issues or be able to discuss them. I found from our class discussion that by giving the students basic background information about the issue and asking them key questions to further their thinking about the issue, the students would be able to discuss the issues and find a personal connection to these issues. Students would remember more of what we are learning because they would find the personal connections and would have the chance to explore the social concepts more thoroughly.

  2. Another issue which challenged my thinking about curriculum was how teachers can evolve their current teaching methods to include contemporary issues and contemporary art. I have rarely used contemporary art as examples for my students because I found the works too complex to explain to the students. I also felt that if I did not understand what the work was about or why the art was made, then I would not be able to help my students to understand or appreciate contemporary art. From our in-class activity about the tools that we need to give our students to understand contemporary art, I found that contemporary works could easily be broken down into parts that my students would understand. I realized that by asking students why an artist would make certain works, I could help the students realize the importance of contemporary artworks. Allowing the students to experience the works, discuss the issues involved with the work and the process used to create the work will help them to be able to discuss and understand other types of art. I now see how important it is to bring contemporary art into my curriculum.  
  2. Name 3 -5 things you want to remember to think about curriculum.  

1. The main idea that I want to remember about curriculum is the content needs to allow for students to relate to it. Students need to be able to make personal connections to the content in order to better remember it.


2. Another idea I want to remember about curriculum is that it is always changing and evolving to include more content and more relevant issues. Continually changing your curriculum to allow for new issues and new artists not only broadens the students' art knowledge base, but also broadens the teacher's art knowledge base which will help with future curricula.

  3. I want to remember that basic art knowledge (elements, principles, methods, etc.) can be incorporated with contemporary issues for a more authentic learning experience. Teaching the basics alone will not help students to remember the content as well as allowing them to explore contemporary issues with incorporated basic skills will.  
  Pepon Osorio  

1. What ideas would I take from this to teach to my class?

  • Originality
  • Cultural Representations
  • Rules for Artmaking
  • Role of the Viewer
  • Society

2. What Big Ideas/Theme would you use based on Osorio's work?

  • Displacement
  • Sense of Belonging
  • Identity
  • Community
  • Everyday Life
  • Contradictions

7/01/2007 – 8/05/2007


Duncum, P. (March 2003) Visual Culture in the Classroom

  Duncum gives us examples of guiding questions that assist the discussion process instead of questions that result in the agreement of the whole class. He wants to provide examples of how art educators can lead discussions in their classroom and make students aware of the issues in today’s society. Duncum provides us with four examples of lesson plans which focus on visual culture.  
  I like that Duncum supplies us with lessons about visual culture. It helps to know what kind of guiding questions to use with art lessons. I had actually cut out part of this article when it appeared in Art Education in 2003. I liked the Consumer Goods lesson. During my first year of teaching, I had my 6 th grade students try the activity where they cut out pictures of their favorite products from magazines. We tried to discuss consumer culture, but I do not think the students understood how mass marketing affects their lives. I would like to retry this lesson and see if I can engage the students more in discussion.  

Gude, O. (2000) Investigating the Culture of Curriculum

Gude discusses how teachers need to contextualize their curriculums with the reasons that they choose to teach a particular topic. She also discusses how the knowledge which teachers gain while researching a lesson adds to the depth of the curriculum in the future.  
I agree that we improve our ability to teach when researching lessons. This helps us to build upon what our students have learned as well. I try to connect the lessons I teach to lessons my students have learned in the past. I use guiding questions to see what my students recall and to see if they can connect the content. Often times, the students bring up lessons we have already done before I have to ask them. This shows me the students do use what they have learned to make the new content easier to understand.  

Parsons, M. (2004) Integrated curriculum, art and cognition

In this article, Dr. Parsons points out how art education is important to an integrated curriculum and how an integrated curriculum can make art education more meaningful. He discusses how art is a “thinking curriculum,” meaning that it is characterized as much by questions as it is by answers. Dr. Parsons points out that when different subjects are integrated together, students can better understand subject matter and better connect their present concerns with their own experiences making the content more meaningful. Dr. Parsons tells us that curriculum is influenced by three types of issues: social, psychological and epistemological.  
  I feel art is already an integrated curriculum. I know I feel pressured to integrate other disciplines into my art lessons so art will be seen as “important.” This may come from being taught as an undergraduate to include other subjects’ content standards into lesson plans along with the art standards. Art provides such a unique opportunity to help students learn about other disciplines in a way that is more meaningful to them or in a way that helps them learn the material in a new approach.  
  Although I do not often have the time to collaborate with the other teachers about what they are teaching, I try to choose a few content standards from their grade level to include in my lessons. For example, I teach a lesson that involves using simple algebra to create a geometric design. Some of the students struggle with the three algebraic equations they need to figure out to determine how many of each shape they need for their design. Students are given certain equations such as 3x = _______ triangles when x is =12. If students are having trouble multiplying, I have them begin by drawing three sets of 12 triangles and then counting the end result. When the students can visually see how the multiplication works, they seem to understand it better. Then, they are able to complete the next equation on their own (4x = _______ squares when x is =12).  
  Dr. Parsons comments, “art is more motivating than writing reports or essays.” I agree with this statement and therefore question the writing part of breaking down big ideas. With my younger students, they are so excited to be making art that when I ask them to write about their work, they become disheartened and unmotivated. This sometimes even causes some students to act out and create disciplinary problems.  

Smith, P. (March/ April 2003) Visual Culture Studies versus Art Education

  In this article, Smith discusses how art education needs constant evaluation and revision, but should not change so much that it loses its active learning atmosphere. Smith presents the differences in the theories of Visual Culture Art Education and Discipline Based Art Education. He discusses how art educators should always be aware of their students’ experiences and include them into the art curriculum. Smith points out that art educators should evaluate a lesson’s importance by comparing the long-term learning potential and the time needed to teach the lesson.  
  I agree that it is important to include your students’ experiences into the art curriculum so the content will be more meaningful. I survey my students at the beginning of the year to find out what they are interested in and what they would like to study in art class. I use the results to plan the lessons that I teach. Keeping in mind what the students want to learn and their interests, I can present the content I think is necessary in ways that keep the students engaged. Throughout the year, I also allow students to submit additional ideas that they find interesting.  

Stankiewicz (May 2005) Learning in Postmodern Art Education

  Stankiewicz points out how art educators constantly have to explain what they students are learning through visual arts. She tells us that art should be able to stand on its own and not be viewed as just another place to teach the other core subjects or for workplace preparation. Stankiewicz presents the point that a rt educators need to ask themselves three important questions: 1) who do we teach? 2) what do we want our students to learn? 3) why are we teaching? She discusses how art education can help students understand content in a way that allows them to respond and be engaged to create work that will hold meaning for them.  

I agree that when we create lessons we need to consider who we teaching, what we hope our students will learn and why we are teaching that particular content. When I write lesson plans for my students, I first think of what I want my students to learn and why they need to learn it. I then have to think about my students and the ways that they learn best and their ability level. The homerooms at my school are grouped by ability level for the most part. So, one class may be able to handle a lesson better than another class at the same grade level. I modify each lesson so my students can understand it at their level.


Stankiewicz discusses how students need to be able to self-assess their work. I agree to some extent. I feel that students need to be able to discuss their artwork and explain their artistic decisions. We have class critiques that allow the students to explain their work first before other students can give constructive criticism. I am not sure at what level this self-assessment should be introduced. In my class, we begin critiques in third grade. Can younger students self-assess their work? Can they constructively evaluate their peers work?


Walker, S. (In Review) Authentic Artmaking

  Dr. Walker discusses how classroom artmaking should be designed so it is more of an authentic experience than just focusing on producing artworks. Art lessons should help students make personal connections and artistic decisions within boundaries, such as subject matter, space, and media. Dr. Walker tells us that authentic artmaking is a way to connect the ways artists think and create and is not a way to imitate the techniques, media or subject matter of someone else. Dr. Walker describes how Kathy Romano used a “big idea” to guide her artmaking process. Romano structured her artmaking experience to connect the conceptual aspects to visual ones. She used essential questions to guide her process and keep her on task. When applying this method to the classroom, art teachers must remember to use appropriate scaffolding practices (p. 14), such as brainstorming key concepts, studying the work of other artists, and webbing.  
  I would love to have my older students choose a big idea and explore it the way that Kathy Romano did. While I currently have my students brainstorm the key concepts of lessons (we make class lists on the white board) and study other artists’ work, I do not have them create concept webs. I wonder at what age this is appropriate to introduce. While I understand the importance of dissecting big ideas for content and to make personal connections, I do not see this process keeping the attention of younger students. Will the students lose interest in the artmaking process if they have to break down the concepts and write (and create webs) about the big idea before they are allowed to create anything for themselves? With the time constraints of elementary art, how much time per lesson should be devoted to scaffolding?  

Walker , S. (2006) How Then Shall We Teach? Rethinking Artmaking Instruction

  In this article, Dr. Walker discusses how we need to reexamine the way we teach. She talks about using “big ideas” to design lesson plans. “Big ideas” relate to not only contemporary culture issues but also to the students’ lives. Lesson plans are made more meaningful for the students because they are relevant to their everyday lives. Dr. Walker points out that students can also all use the same big idea instead of choosing individual big ideas for their projects. Essential questions are used to keep the students as well as the teacher on task.  
  Currently, I do not use “big ideas” very often in my classroom. I do however choose a theme for projects that I think the students can relate to themselves. For example, my fifth grade students do a unit based on identity. We create a series of “self-portraits.” The self-portraits are not just of the student and what they look like physically. Students create portraits based on their interests, their families, their memories, etc. When the series is complete, the students write an essay telling about the different portraits they have made and how each picture describes a certain aspect of their lives.  
  I would like to begin to use “big ideas” more in my practice. I feel that my 3 rd through 6 th grade students would better understand “big ideas” than the younger students. At this point, I do not feel comfortable allowing my students to choose their own big ideas. Some students would be able to do this easily while some would struggle and might never come up with a big idea to work with. I also worry about time constraints and students being absent when we start a big idea.