Friday, October 19, 2012

Art in the Lower Grades (K-2)

It is MEA weekend and I am excited to blog.  I have been reflecting about my teaching philosophies this weekend and feel that it would be important to share these beliefs to my readers.  What is art education?  What purpose does it serve in an elementary school setting?  These are loaded questions with ever-changing answers, and I will continue to explore the depth and complexity of them throughout my teaching career.

Students are given many opportunities for choice and independent thinking to foster their creative growth. Through playful exploration of materials and concepts, students become artistic inquirers, innovators, and storytellers, constructing their own knowledge about what being an artist means to them.  Skill development is embedded into all lessons where students can find balance between meeting standards-based objectives and growing as an artist. 

The experiences that young children have in art are focused on the process, never the product.  Although the product is used for proof of learning a particular skill (like drawing a person, for example), the focus is on the process, or experience, that the student went through to produce the product (examining the shapes within a human form, watching their body move as they dance and pose, and exploring different perspectives to capture the form of a person).  

Each student comes with a set of unique, artistic skills and it is important to recognize a student’s individuality as an artist.  Because students are coming from many different skill levels, assessment for these grades is largely based on effort and participation.  Letter or numeric grades for art projects are inappropriate at this age and are not used in grades K and 1.    Instead, Observational notes, 1 on 1 conferencing, and self-reflections for projects are used both formatively and summatively.  Students feel like equals that are growing together as creative individuals. 

Students learn through conceptual and thematic art units, which I have developed during my time as a PYP art teacher.  These units last 6 weeks, always connect conceptually (through the key concepts used in IB schools) to what students are learning in their classroom.  This enhances their understanding of the interconnectedness of learning in all subject areas.  My art POI is very new, and I am always modifying and adjusting it to make it better.  Just like the art we make, it is a process, not a product.

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