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Give Me Some Direction

Arts standards allow teacher leeway to teach the standards using different media and techniques.  Such flexibility allows the art teacher to differentiate for all skill levels and learning styles while still adhering to standards-based assessments.  I used to think standards-based assessment was akin to standardized tests but have come to learn differently.  The visual arts standard of Washington State provide teachers with guidelines and a framework to build upon so that students can move from school to school and feel comfortable wherever they go because the teachers are teaching what is expected at that grade level.  I personally like guidelines.  I am the kind of person who makes lists, outlines plans for trips, and uses patterns for sewing and recipes for baking.  I also like flexibility, both in my own personal guidelines and those provided for my art students.   For one assignment this year in Drawing and Painting, I used my mentor’s plan for teaching color theory through a color mixing project.  Here are the Washington State High School standards we used to guide us.

EALR 1—Visual Arts: The student understands and applies arts knowledge and skills in dance, music, theatre, and visual arts.

GLE: 1.1.6: Creates, analyzes, and evaluates the elements of visual arts when producing a work of art.

Elements of Visual Arts: Line, Shape, Form, Color, Value, Texture, Space

Differentiates between, mixes, produces, and uses—in various artworks and using a variety media—the following 

  • Primary colors (yellow, red, blue).
  • Secondary colors (orange, green, purple/violet); created by mixing primary colors (yellow + red = orange).
  • Warm colors (yellow, orange, red) and cool colors (blue, green, violet).
  • Intermediate (tertiary) colors; created by mixing selected primary and secondary colors (yellow + green = yellow-green

The assignment allowed students to choose their own subject while using only the three primary colors to mix all the other colors in the projects.  I required each student to mix four different oranges, four different violets (purples), four different greens, and four different neutral colors.  In order to complete this assignment, students first mixed colors for a color wheel using only red, blue, and yellow.  They also mixed several neutral colors.

Color Wheel worksheet

In order to make the assessment of student understanding truly standards-based, several different assessments were required.

Watercolor mixing rubric

I used ongoing observation, assessment of the color wheel, a self-assessment and rubric for the color mixing project, another color mixing assessment, inclusion of test questions on color theory and color mixing, and assessment of the art project itself.

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It seems like a lot when written down here, but by asking student to do, say, explain, and reflect, the art teacher can really discover if the student has learned what the teacher has been trying to teach them.

Using standards-based assessments is a way to check and improve my teaching practice.  If students do not understand a concept or have not learned a skill I must know that in order to reteach it in a more accessible way.

~ by anitawesto on May 3, 2013.