Objective: To engage students in thinking and discussion using art.
In November last year I wrote about art appreciation and Chicago's Concordia University art lessons. At the time I was using the art lessons with a weekly group of grade sevens I taught during the school's weekly "English Corner". Since the art appreciation lessons were so well received with the grade sevens I decided to introduce the lessons to my grade eight class in the second term of the school year. I selected several pieces from the Concordia lessons and had them printed on card stock to use as handouts, which would then be put on the wall as a collection of pieces we had looked at. Each lesson started with a brief introduction of the piece where I would give the title, artist's name and the date it was created. Then, showing the piece on a projector and providing one printed on card stock, students were asked to fill in the attached handout and start to analyze the piece. I encouraged students to get up and walk around the room, viewing the piece from different angles. The handout provided prompts to guide student's thinking. At the bottom of the handout I asked students to consider their feelings when they look at the piece and why they think it was created. After about 25mins I would provide students with biographical and historical information about the artist and the piece. To conclude the lesson we would have a class discussion about the piece, discussing points from the handout and exploring thoughts and opinions of the peice.
On Tuesday afternoons I do a forty-minute class with the grade sevens at my school during the English Corner block. The idea of English Corner is to engage students in the English language through activities, discussion and interaction with the teacher; and in my case a native speaker of English. For the first couple Tuesdays I did songs with the students, similar to my other posting on Friday Songs. There are other teachers from the foreign teaching group who also do activities during English corner so I am able to plan activities for a small group of students (1-8 max). Although I like the song idea and will continue to alternate the weeks with songs I wanted to find something else to bring as the focus.
Upon reflection of topics, which interest me and might engage students I was reminded of an art history class I took in university. I loved the subject and found the topic engaging and the dialogue with others in the class very interesting. I have done art history or art appreciation activities with student before and so decided to include this into English Corner. The first painting I did with the students was The Girl With The Pearl Earring by Vermeer and it was well received with the students working to practice their English by sharing their thoughts on the painting.
Often, one of the challenges I have had with bringing art topics into the classroom is the time consuming research aspect of gathering information on the piece, the artist and the academic dialogue or debate around the piece. I like to have my students first connect with their own understanding of what they see and then as we go into discussion I like to share information that is known about the artist, the piece and then if it is widely discussed in academia, bring in the debate. However, to prepare this on a regular basis is challenging and time consuming. What I wanted to share in this posting is a fantastic resource I came across while preparing for my art appreciation lessons. It comes from Concordia University in Chicago Art Lessons and includes full lesson plans for grades 1-8 with a paintings, sculptures, or art pieces for each month of the school year. There is information about the artist, the piece and ideas on how to use the artwork in your lessons. The content is very transferable and could easily be applied to teaching higher grades and adapted in many ways. Throughout my search for teachable art appreciation resources I have not come across a more well put together collection of art pieces, information and applicable ways to bring art into the classroom.
I was really excited to see such a fantastic collection of lessons and had to pass it along and ask; have you come across any other great resources for teaching art history or art appreciation for grade k-12?
Ms. Kolshuk's Blog
Welcome to my blog where I post about my teaching practice, ideas, findings and discuss topics of an educational nature. Please feel free to comment and/or email with any topic suggestions.