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Friday, March 23, 2012

Our blog archive has moved!

To all of our awesome followers: Sorry for the recent silence on our blog. We have been working on some BIG things on the Gateway, and we are excited for you all to see the changes! Our weekly columns will now be archived directly on the site (http://TheGateway.org). You can subscribe to the RSS feeds from the site so you can continue to read the posts weekly. We can't wait to see you there!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Out of your Core Subject Comfort Zone


In order for students to excel on standardized tests, most of their learning must focus on core subjects.  Teachers are often most comfortable teaching in these areas, anyway, since they are the focus of most teachers’ formal training.  Success in core subjects ultimately brings funding to schools.  The amount of time and money allocated to subjects like art, music, and P.E. demonstrates the attitude that these subjects are “extracurricular,” and less important than the core subjects.   With decreased funding, the regular classroom teachers who value these extracurricular subjects find themselves scrambling to teach them as best as they can.  As a science teacher by trade, the thought of trying to teach my students about art (especially modern art) puts me way out of my comfort zone. 

In situations like this, I am very grateful for the Internet and for the opportunity to borrow ideas and plans created by teachers who are specialists.  I don’t need to become a modern art buff to come up with a great plan.  I only need to know how to find a great one online.  I have always supplemented my lesson planning with ideas I find online, but sometimes finding successful ideas can be hard.  It also can be hard to judge the quality of a plan I find online and to figure out where it will fit in my curriculum.

Luckily, Joann does the hard work of discovering good plans each week that relate to our chosen weekly topic.  These lessons have been cataloged on the Gateway, making them easier to find in the future when you might want to teach about that particular topic in your classroom.  They have also been mapped to standards.  After you select a plan you like, you can use the standards selection tool at the bottom of the record to determine which standards the plan fulfills in your state.  Easy, right?

Now, back to modern art and my foray out of my core subject comfort zone.  There are ideas on the Gateway to help your students use their creativity to create their own modern art.  This can be as simple as letting them create marble action paintings, a fun activity for kids from kindergarten up.   Depending on the age of your students, you can decide on how much art history and terminology you want to cover.  It’s fun to witness the movement and physics of the marbles as they roll around creating art.  With a little creativity of your own, you could find some good connections to different core subjects like physics, math, and language arts.

If you are ready to include even more art in your classroom, check out this plan for teaching middle and high school students to create modern figure sculptures with sculpture wire and aluminum foil.  You’ll be amazed by how they turn out!  I have never made a sculpture like this before, but now it’s on my list to try.  I think it would be a really neat follow up to a literature unit, with students creating models of their favorite character in a story. 

These are just two examples of modern art activities featured this week on the Gateway.  Whether you want to teach about art history, art terminology, or just get your students’ creative juices flowing, you should be able to find something to fit your needs. 

We have heard from a few of you about certain topics you want to know more about.  Please continue to share your ideas and questions on our Facebook and Twitter pages.  Thanks for being part of the conversation and learning about new and useful tools and resources!

~ Peggy's Corner - November 11, 2011 ~