By Meaghan Mittler, Art Teacher
“So, what do you do in art class?”
Parents ask me that question a lot.
As most of you know this is my second year (of many!) at Mallinckrodt. I could not be happier here! The students, families and staff are so dedicated and so positive. This is a happy place to work and a happy place to go to school. It is my goal to make the art room and myself as much a part of that good feeling as I can.
Last year was all about getting to know the kids and setting up a good foundation. My projects were focused mainly on basic art skills appropriate to each grade level with some art history or multiculturalism thrown in for good measure.
While I believe in that model, I also believe art education can be more. I want to ask bigger questions of my students. I want to teach them how to think about art in relation to themselves and to the world. I want to promote ownership in my classroom by providing basic skills and then allowing students to choose the direction of their work. In short, I plan to encourage more critical thinking, problem solving, and personal goal setting with my curriculum this year.
All of my lessons include one or more of the following components:
- Art history/famous artist reference
- Multicultural foundations
- Basic art skills, knowledge and vocabulary (primary colors, stippling with a paintbrush, learning about color “value,” etc.)
- Interdisciplinary curriculum (relating art back to the regular classwork – i.e. color mixing and fractions)
- Missouri Grade Level Expectations (GLEs are included in every lesson)
- Reference to local resources or events (right now 2nd grade is doing color-value hot air balloons in reference to the balloon glow in Forest Park)
This year is about “Choice”
The curriculum for these grade levels will be focused on basic art skills and concepts (think cutting, drawing, the color wheel, painting, positive/negative space etc.)
I will often include art history and multiculturalism. I will ask the bigger questions as well (How does art help us communicate feelings? What do you think artists are trying to say?) But, my main goal will be to give these grade levels the necessary foundation for a self-guided art education.
The first quarter of this year will consist of a few teacher-led projects that I know the kids love. Projects will be skill- and concept-based, with some art history or multiculturalism included.
The last 3 quarters I will move to a new curriculum called “Choice Art” or “Teaching for Artistic Behavior (TAB).” As opposed to a “one size fits all” approach, Choice Art accommodates many different learning styles within a class and allows students to take charge of their learning.
In this model students decide what they will make and how they will make it. I will provide different art centers (painting, drawing, sculpture, printmaking, fiber arts, collage, clay, technology, etc.) for students to utilize. Each day I’ll give a quick demonstration of a skill or concept from one of the available centers – creating value or shading in the drawing center, or sewing fabric together in the fiber arts center – and then the students decide if they will use the new skill or explore something else.
All demonstrations will be based on the Missouri GLEs in order to meet our state expectations. Sometimes the demo will be an introduction to an artist or culture and a relative concept. All student work will require an artist’s statement and a brief written plan. Students will need to explain the “why” and the “how” before they can begin to work. This model is completely focused on the process rather than the product as it puts greater focus on the thinking and problem solving that goes into a project rather than just making a “pretty piece of art.”
I’m going out of order here, because 2nd grade will be a bit of a combination approach and I wanted to explain both first.
Our first semester will be teacher-led and we’ll revisit basics – skills and concepts.
Second semester, I’m planning to do a modified Choice Art. I’ll be teaching the kids new skills and giving them some prompts or essential questions to guide their work, but allowing them to choose the materials. For example, the class might have a discussion about how artists communicate ideas and emotions through color and medium and then I’ll have them create something that communicates an emotion or how they feel at a certain time of day.
I’ve visited other TAB classrooms and the kids love it! I am excited about this new approach to art education. I believe this is just right for Mallinckrodt and it supports our PBL (Project-Based Learning) and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) focus. I can’t wait to see what our kids come up with.
Please feel free to get in touch any time! firstname.lastname@example.org
p.s. Artsonia will be back! More info is coming soon!