I sat down with our AP for my pre-observation conference. He asked me, "When I come for the observation, which of the standards will you be covering?"
"I am the standards", was my response.
Actually, I didn't say that. I thought it. But then I answered to the best of my ability. "All of them."
That wasn't the answer he was looking for so he asked again, "But which one, specifically?"
Well now, that was a good question. As an admin, he wanted to know what he should be looking for when he did the observation. This got me thinking, did we actually cover all the standards in one class? Or at least, in one unit? I decided to take a longer look at the Standards, in this case, the NAEA National Visual Arts Standards, and see if we indeed, did cover all of them. I made a surprising discovery.
My first impression of the Standards is how disjointed they appear. There are four Anchor Standards representing Creating, Presenting, Responding, Connecting. Creating and Presenting are rather obvious. Making art and presenting art at at the core of every art program.
The other two anchor standards, Responding and Connecting seemed separated. Almost a throwback to the DBAE days. Looking at art, interpreting art, connecting at some level with art... I imagined an art teacher is a room holding up a poster of Van Gogh's Sunflowers and asking her students to look, analyze, interpret and judge the art.
Visions of Robin Williams addressing his class filled my brain...
"Gentlemen, open your text to page twenty-one... Understanding Poetry, by Dr. J. Evans Pritchard, Ph.D."
"To fully understand poetry, we must first be fluent with its meter, rhyme, and figures of speech. Then ask two questions: One, how artfully has the objective of the poem been rendered, and two, how important is that objective. If the poem's score for perfection is plotted along the horizontal of a graph, and its importance is plotted on the vertical, then calculating the total area of the poem yields the measure of its greatness."
Out of Order
However, I made one very importantly but seemly overlooked observation about the Standards.. they are out of order. One doesn't make art, present art and then look at art for inspiration and meaning. Rather, we look at art, are inspired by art, and then create and present art. instead of Creating, Presenting, Responding, Connecting consider this:
Responding, Connecting, Creating, Presenting
When we consider the standards in this order we notice how well they align with the artistic process for creating art. Through the artistic process we are first inspired by art, we then develop and idea to convey meaning, we then plan and create, and finally we reflect and present.
To be clear, these are the anchor standards and more concise learning targets can and would be addressed through the unit or on an individual basis. However, in this manner, every student that is inspired, designs, creates and reflects on a work of art should be meeting all the standards.
The Final Word
One of the first parts of the process where we began looking at alignment with the standards was actually the last part of the process. That is to say, the final reflection. One of our goals this year was to increase student participation in written reflection. Earlier in the year, as part of the Art of South B Tool Kit, we updated our list of Question Prompts which students use when completing written reflection on Seesaw.
To complete our alignment between the artistic process and the standards, we rewrote our List of Prompts one more time, and arranged them, including color coding, by the standard's categories.
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