This year our school is piloting the new National Core Arts Standards in all Fine and Performing Arts classes K – 12. It is an ambitious step in a direction that will support standards based grading finding its way into next year’s assessments and ultimately reporting. As the year has progressed I have been mapping units in Atlas Rubicon with the new standards as my guide for teaching and learning in my Art classroom. As I explored the Model Cornerstone Assessment units for Middle School published online on the National Core Arts site. I realized the scoring devices used in Standards Based grading are not only evidence based but also decidedly process oriented.
Anchor Standard #1. Generate and conceptualize artistic ideas and work.
Anchor Standard #2. Organize and develop artistic ideas and work.
Anchor Standard #3. Refine and complete artistic work.
This notion of process oriented and evidence based are both things that I find incredibly liberating as an Art teacher. These are also two major elements that will require a shift in how stakeholders look at Art classes, and Art assessment.
What this year of piloting has showcased to me is how Standards Based assessment using the new Core Arts Standards democratizes the playing field for students who previously struggled because they thought they had no talent. This notion of “I am not a good artist because I can’t paint, or draw, or sculpt” is completely defunct as using process as the guide, and evidence as the means, grading against standards which are liberating and open ended allow for the self proclaimed non-artist to still excel. What is truly exciting is that this form of process based art making and assessment is also indicative of the forms and types of artistic expression present in a postmodern society. Artists today often work collaboratively, are process oriented and expressions of their ideas don’t always take on aesthetically beautiful end products.
So where does this get me? Evidence: Evidence is a word that crops up in many of the scoring devices from the National Core Arts Standards Model Cornerstone Assessment units. In fact, it often sounds that a student is more of a lawyer engaging in a discussion with a client (the teacher).
So this got me thinking what type of skills should we be teaching students to deal with this transition. How will we enable them to showcase their best efforts at success? I believe it is our duty to help students bridge the gaps in these areas:
- We need to teach students to document their work in effective ways. A blurry photo of an incredible project, or working through a math problem shows the viewer nothing and is difficult to see learning.
- We to help students find venues in which they can showcase and organize data about themselves and their learning process. I have found for me Google Sites is the best venue. Making those sites be the best presentation of student work is the next step in my classroom.
- It crops up so often -we don’t give students enough time, and or thoughtful enough ways to reflect on the process not only the product of their learning.
- Perhaps a summation of all of these points but I think at the heart of the matter allowing students to showcase their thinking and learning and showcasing this in a way that has a purpose for the student is really really important.
My goal for a follow up post will be to outline how and why I am using Google Apps for Education as a platform to showcase student’s learning through process portfolios and supplementary Google docs.