Thursday, September 20, 2012

Art and Common Core Standards

 by Casi Hamilton

As I’m sure it did to many of you, the beginning of the school year came crashing down on me in a wave of professional development days and meetings. I find the beginning of the school year to be a conundrum of emotions. Feelings of excitement over seeing the kids and getting started on new projects battle with waves of despair as, during the first three or four of my contract days, my eyes glaze over while we discuss test scores and a host of acronyms that stand for all sorts of things that I don’t want to get into.

However, I was shocked and surprised when this year, I was lead into a small group meeting with my fellow elective and projects-based course teachers by our district instructional coach to discuss OUR new common core state standards.

What’s this? I thought to myself. Since when does administration care about non-tested subjects meeting their standards?

Since Kansas adopted the Common Core State Standards, that’s when.

For those of you who may not yet know, or understand Common Core Standards, They officially address standards for English Language Arts (ELA) and Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science and Technical Subjects (basically ALL subjects).

During this meeting, which is one that I am assuming many of my fellow Junior High and High School art educators attended at their districts, we were coached in ways to tackle this newly recognized responsibility .  We were reminded that reading and writing is a requirement in all classes, and were informed that, through the CCSS, we now face more accountability for our student’s success in those areas.

Knowing that this was a bit overwhelming for some, our academic coach eased our minds by pointing out that for the most part, we already do the things required by the new Common Core State Standards. The hardest part for us as projects-based course teachers would be identifying how we incorporate them, and then documenting that process.  We were walked through curriculum mapping and shown multiple online resources for understanding and documenting the Common Core in our classes.  Then, we were all assigned the task of meeting these rigorous demands. We should each be addressing the CCSS in our classes, and documenting our work throughout each nine weeks.

To many, this was quite the challenge. After a brief moment of panic at the beginning of the meeting when I was handed stacks of official looking papers, I began to sort through the information being presented to me and realized that I really do address most, if not all, of the CCSS for ELA and Literacy in my classes throughout the year. I began to mentally catalog the ways that we use reading and writing in art and prepare myself for the paperwork that lay ahead.

When I returned to my classroom, I looked through my first nine weeks lesson plans intending to fill in the boxes on our new curriculum maps while the information was fresh in my mind. As I leafed through my resources, I came across my teacher edition of the September/October issue of Scholastic Art. I sprang for a classroom subscription last spring, something I had been debating about doing for the last few years. As I looked through the pages, I was thrilled by all of the connections the articles and assignments made to the Common Core. I was even more excited when I pulled out the inserted Teacher’s Guide and saw that Scholastic Art had mapped out the National Art Education Standards and the Common Core Standards together! They had basically filled out my curriculum map for me.

Needless to say, I was, and am still excited to try out Scholastic Art in my High School and Middle School art classes this year. I’ve discussed the magazine with our Instructional Coach, and she agrees it will help me take steps in the right direction toward meeting our district’s expectations for addressing the Common Core State Standards in Art during the 2012/2013 school year. I have yet to try it out with my students, but I feel like it will be engaging and effective. 

Watch for future reports in the newsletter on  keeping you up do date on our successes and struggles as I begin to implement the CCSS in 7-12 Art curriculum by using Scholastic Art.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Creating Community with Circle Painting

The Theme of the 2012 KAEA Professional Development Conference is Creating Vibrant Communities through Art and Design. KAEA Asked Art educators to write about how they fulfill the conference theme.
Circle Painting is a community-based Art movement founded by artist and teacher, Hiep Nguyen. Nguyen’s goal is to make Art accessible to all! Circle Painting is bold, interactive, collaborative, and fun. Participants are all working together to make Art based on the idea of circles. Having a common design element makes the end product just as impressive as the experience of painting. Besides providing an organizational element to the artwork, circles were chosen for their symbolism. The Circle Painting website says,

“The circle is a universal symbol everyone can relate to. Simple yet profound, it symbolizes wholeness, enlightenment, and the universe in all cultures. For us, the circle means connect, create, and celebrate. What does the circle mean to you?”
Last spring my 4th-6th grade students gave Circle Painting a try. After watching a few short YouTube videos of Circle Painting events and viewing paintings on, I placed large pieces of paper (24x36 inches) on the classroom tables. I relaxed my usual seating charts to let students move around the room to work. Each table chose brightly colored tempera paint- save black for the end*- and set to work. I encouraged the students to start by painting some very large circles then layering smaller circles and designs on top. We talked about how to work together on a project like this by adding to the work, not just covering up what someone else painted. The students in following classes added to the paintings started by the first class or started new paintings when we decided they were finished.
*Saving black tempera paint for the end made the finishing details stand out and prevented over mixing and muddy colors.

I saved the 20+ circle paintings and will hang them in the hallway before school starts. The paintings will make the school fun and inviting from the beginning of the school year and will remind the students of the sense of community they felt when working together to make the wonderful artwork.

You can learn more about Circle Painting by visiting

Katie Morris
KAEA Webmaster