Friday, June 13, 2014

1st Grade Lines and Shapes

If you've been around here very much, you know that this year I switched to TAB (Teaching for Artistic Behavior) which is choice-based art education. There came a time, however, that I felt some of my students needed more explicit instruction and practice on some of the elements of art, mainly lines and shapes, to meet our visual arts standards. I decided to try explicit instruction on lines and shapes, and then let students have studio choices as long as they could show me in the end how they used different kinds of lines and shapes. You can see my full lesson plan on The smARTteacher.
I have mixed feelings about this process, choice within a formal theme, and feel it requires some more experimentation and some good old fashioned action research. I need to make some choices this summer about how I want to complete this research. I'm not at that stage in my graduate courses yet, but it might be something to consider when I do my final research paper.
To prepare for this project, we spent some time exploring a selection of artwork with lines and shapes, both organic and geometric. Identifying and describing the lines and shapes in the artwork helped students see some possibilities. I created Pinterest boards to organize my examples.
I think at this age, a lot of students couldn't see past using lines and shapes in a nonobjective way. Once I told them it was a requirement, lots made ONLY lines and shapes. It kind of reminds me of an article I read the other day on the Art of Education where Ian Sands talks about not grading art anymore. Great article, check it out!
While I feel that this assignment limited the thinking of some of my students, I guess this was a loosey goosey way of standardizing things. I think that will have to happen more and more as we will need to start developing and using common assessments in my district next year. I'm just trying to be positive about it and find a way to still allow choice and jump through the necessary hoops.
Check out some of the other student work. I think the majority did a really good job of showing the use of lines and shapes while still communicating THEIR idea.


  1. Katie, do you share your student assessments? I love that you integrate the elements and principles on the form itself and I am curious what your k-1/3-5 artist statements look like?

    1. I don't have a lot of formal assessments... I wasn't required to submit grades when I taught K-6 because I saw about 800 students a year. Now I'm PreK-12 and will only see the elementary students 9, 12, 15, or 18 times a year!