September 18, 2014
Over the past several years, Portsmouth City Public Schools has steadily increased lesson plan requirements. First, it was Bloom’s Taxonomy. Then, higher-order thinking questions, differentiation and Marzano strategies. Administrators began stipulating that lesson plans be turned in weekly. Several teachers, myself included, experienced frustration as lesson plan expectations seem to rise each year. Putting overwhelming responsibilities aside, however, many of these additional requirements have been part of art instruction for a long time. The only difference is that now, teachers are asked to document these strategies in greater detail.
Art educators have an advantage regarding effective teaching strategies, as many of these best practices are holistically part of quality art teaching. Like previously stated, the only difference now is that these strategies are to be documented in lesson plans. Most recently, Portsmouth Public School teachers have been asked to document their use of formative assessment. Formative assessment is essentially the same as checking for understanding. Summative assessment, on the other hand, is a more final form of assessment. How do these terms apply to art education? Art teachers are conducting formative assessment when sketchbooks are checked for evidence of understanding concepts, when questions are asked to see if students learned from a discussion, and when circulating around the art room to see that all students are on target. So, like previously stated, formative assessment is very common in the art room.
As teachers are now asked to document these strategies, however, some may look for more formal strategies. Over the past few weeks, I have made a concerted effort to incorporate quality formative assessment in my lesson plans. Here are some simple things that have worked for me:
Post-it notes: After a lesson on sketchbooks, where I presented images from the sketchbooks of Renaissance Artist Da Vinci and film maker Guillermo Del Toro, I asked sixth-grade students to write 2 facts and 1 opinion about sketchbooks on the Post-it before beginning a drawing assignment. Students stuck these Post-its on a storage cabinet. After making sure that all students had begun the drawing assignment, I read the Post-it responses.
Self-Assessment of Knowledge: After I presented a lesson on the elements of art and fourth-grade students completed a companion worksheet, I had them assess their understanding of the information.
Applying vocabulary and concepts: Third-Grade learned about the concepts of Foreground, Middle ground, and Background. We studied the painting “Breakfast of the Birds” by Gabrielle Munter. Afterward, students completed a guided drawing of the painting and labeled each area on their own.
Links on Art Assessment: