July 26, 2010

Responding to Heather...

Heather, thank you so much for your question & for trusting me to help you with it.  I did not have an e-mail for you or a way to contact you...so I hope you find this post!!!  

Curriculum mapping is challenging...and when you're a new teacher & it isn't your actual trained field..WOW!  Blessings to you as you work through this.  I will tell you that there is no one perfect way!  So give yourself grace as you work through it.  Plus..I'm sure your administrator will allow some wiggle room as you are progressing through the year if you deviate from the original plan. 

Take your State or National Standards to reference as you are planning.  You may want to base your projects on themes.  The themes could run for a week or two....or could last a whole nine weeks(or however long your grading period lasts).  The themes could cross over multiple media/concepts/projects.  This type of consistency of theme will build excitement in your students.  Say you want to do farm animals in the lower elementary age....they could do a drawing, a tempera painting, and a clay animal.  In the lessons you can focus on space/landscape, texture, color/color mixing, proportion..etc.  You have covered a grading period & hit a ton of standards.  In this...you can bring in elements of art/principles of design...AND art history.  Breaking these up and teaching elements, principles, history for the sake of teaching them feels too disjointed. Approaching it more fluid will feel more natural to you and the students!  I'm not sure how much this helps...but it was a really big question.  Get back with me and ask more questions...that will help!  Or..if you feel comfortable..it may be easier to talk on the phone.  You can e-mail me if you like at artwithmre@yahoo.com

Here is Heather's comment/post to me...if any of you have other thoughts you'd like to share with her..please post a comment under this post!  Thanks so much for your help.  Together we're stronger!
Hello Mr. E.

I have just accepted a position as K-8th grade Art teacher in a private christian school. This is my first teaching job and I only have a minor in art. (So I did my student teaching in a regular ed. elementary class.) Currently, I've been instructed to come up with a curriculum map of what I will be teaching and when (for the year.) My question for you, where do I begin? ha ha.. big question I know! I have been given a few art curriculum books but have been told to "run with it."  I'm not sure if I should divide the year up into the elements of art and teach history, periods, and different mediums in with that or if I should section it by; elements, periods, artists, 2d, 3d art...


  1. I have a blog that I am starting to post to with examples and I can post my curriculum document there for you if you want. Email me: jmatott@liverpool.k12.ny.us
    I'll give you my blog address.

    Thanks for sharing your ideas here Mr.E! You inspired me to start a new blog.


  2. Heather,
    Congrats on your new job. It can seem overwhelming when you begin and when you are the only art teacher in a school there isn't anyone to talk to. I too teach K-8 Art in a private Christian school. I have done what Mr. E has done and used themes. For example for 5th grade we look at God's creation: plants, animals and ourselves. Another unit for 5th grade is architecture. We look at Frank Lloyd Wright. We do elevation drawings and floor plans of their dream bedroom. I will be posting lesson plans on my blog so feel free to use any of them. http://www.itsacreativejourney.blogspot.com/
    or email me at brendaleentjes@yahoo.com

  3. I am so glad Mr. E responded to Heather in a post instead of an email! Because ART is so broad, every art teacher faces the same dilemma each year. It is hard to narrow ART down, but having a theme, for me, is the best plan. You can easily cover many standards in one project that way. I usually have an overall theme for the year...Earth ART or the ABC's of ART are some I've used. I then break the theme down into subjects. The ART of Africa for example. Last year I used ART Is... and it was the easiest theme yet, because I had more freedom to cover a variety of topics. Themes keep me in line or centered. And the structure helps the students. It also helps since my system has the mistaken idea that I teach math, writing and reading with a little integration of ART, instead of teaching ART with the integration of the academics. ART naturally lends itself to crossing the curriculum. Fortunately, themes give ART more creditability, and help to insure you are following the guidelines put forth by your system. I agree, with Mr.E, you can do many different types of projects, touch on many different elements and principles, and if you center them around a famous artist you can cover social studies, and even science too. Art is so flexible! Sometimes administrators don't get that, but they can follow along better if you have a theme. Long, rambling response, but I do understand what Heather is going through...even after all my years of teaching ART.

  4. Heather, I have the same position, K-8 in private school and my principal did the same thing to me when I started 10 years ago. I remember being overwhelmed. The hardest part was I had all of these lesson ideas but couldn't figure out a way to organize them that made sense. I made list of all of my lesson ideas and identified what artist and concept was the objective. Then I started grouping them by age appropriateness and they started forming general themes. Now I'm always focusing on an element or concept while also incorporating an artist or culture. I have it so that in K and 1 they are learning the elements in connection with a lot of books, Mouse Paint, Eric Carle books, etc. In third grade I cover a lot of cultures. This way I can hit a variety of media and concepts while having a unifying theme. 4th, I do artists, 5th, is very media heavy, I do more 3D and more in depth with printmaking and fibers. 6th, being the beginning of middle school, I start to get more serious and go back to reenforcing the elements/principles. We do a ton of color theory. 7&8 is when we really focus on technique and concepts that they're finally ready for like shading, proportion, perspective. I try to do every media in every grade but do it different each year, (ex. 1st grade does rubbings, while 7th is carving lino blocks) it helps to do that at the same time so you have all your supplies out together. Now I'm always flexible and if I want to try something that doesn't fit this, I do it. But it also helps keep me organized, so when I see I new project, I know where to put it. Good Luck, I hope this helps.

  5. Mr. E you are so generous with your time and we all apprecite the time you spend making this blog and responding to questions!!