Common Core in Action: How One Art Teacher is Implementing Common Core


This post originally appeared on Edutopia, a site created by the George Lucas Educational Foundation, dedicated to improving the K-12 learning process by using digital media to document, disseminate, and advocate for innovative, replicable strategies that prepare students. View Original >


Last month, I wrote about two science teachers who are implementing the Common Core Standards to teach their course content in conjunction with the literacy skills called for in the Common Core. These teachers gave a great context for the implementation, plus some great tips for those of us who are just getting started on that journey. We know that the literacy standards are content neutral. In fact, the content can be vehicle for learning critical reading, writing, listening and speaking skills. What if that content was art?

Art and Literacy
Cheri Jorgensen is an art teacher who is part of the Battelle STEM Innovation Network, and who also learned how to use the Literacy Design Collaborative (LDC) approach to implement literacy in her art instruction. She decided to refine a lesson she had done in the past when she wrote the module for content in her Visual Art 1 and Advanced Art courses. The writing task she created for students was:

After researching the Analysis stage of Feldman’s Steps of Art Criticism on the Elements of Art and the Principles of Design, write a 14-point bulleted list that analyzes how each of the Elements and Principles are used in an artwork from your Keynote presentation, providing evidence to clarify your analysis. What conclusion or implications can you draw? A bibliography is not required. In your discussion, address the credibility and origin of sources in view of your research topic. Identify any gaps or unanswered questions.

In addition to addressing the Visual Arts standard for elements of art and principles of design, she developed an art criticism module to work on these specific Common Core standards:

Common Core Anchor Standards: Reading
R.CCR.1: Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.

R.CCR.2: Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting details and ideas.

R.CCR.4: Interpret words and phrases as they are used in a text, including determining technical, connotative, and figurative meanings, and analyze how specific word choices shape meaning or tone.

R.CCR.6: Assess how point of view or purpose shapes the content and style of a text.

R.CCR.10: Read and comprehend complex literary and informational texts independently and proficiently.

Common Core Anchor Standards: Writing
W.CCR.2: Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.

W.CCR.4: Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.

W.CCR.5: Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach.

W.CCR.9: Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.

W.CCR.10: Write routinely over extended time frames (time for research, reflection, and revision) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of tasks, purposes, and audiences.

Finding the Right Fit
Cheri reflected that building this intentional literacy module into her instruction was not a huge stretch:

“I think art teachers by nature include literacy as well as other academic subjects into their lessons because they are a natural fit . . . Reading and writing within your own subject area is the easiest way to incorporate literacy.”

Here Cheri was very intentional with her choices of literacy standards and scaffolding, and she found the right fit.

“I have always included both reading and writing in my art class. Students write artist’s statements with each major assignment and research and study art history and art criticism. The difference in using LDC is that there is a more specific focus on literacy already built in to the lesson.”

Cheri implemented this art criticism unit near the end of the school year after students had learned the elements of art and principles design, including color, color harmonies and balance. However, she built in specific scaffolding activities that helped revisit the art content and build the specific reading and writing skills. She had students journal on the seven elements of art and seven principles of design, analyze Vincent van Gogh’s “Starry Night,” and participate in presentations and discussions on the content. She also scaffolded the writing process for students, recognizing the reality of implementing literacy standards in the content area — it needs to fit and be purposeful.

Although literacy is important to every subject, teachers are still responsible for covering their own subject matter, and that has to remain the focus of the lessons.”

Do you or your colleagues incorporate ELA into art curriculum? Which Common Core standards do you bring to the process?

Authenticity to Support Common Core Instruction and Assessment


This post originally appeared on The Whole Child blog, an ASCD initiative to call on educators, policymakers, business leaders, families, and community members to work together on a whole child approach to education. View Original >


How do we support our students in being career and college ready? This is not a new question, and educators continually struggle with what that even means. We leverage rigor and relevance as keys to prepare students for the postK–12 world, but what does that look like? What are some practical ways to promote rigor and relevance and target specific Common Core State Standards? One key method, which is not new, is authenticity. Teachers can support students in meeting the Common Core by creating more authentic reading and writing tasks. Here are some ideas to consider as you target specific Common Core standards in instruction and assessment.

Authentic Written Products
The Common Core does not dictate the vehicle with which students can show their writing skills. No matter what specific writing strand of the Common Core you are targeting (argumentative, narrative, or informative), consider having students create assessments and products that mirror work from the real world. Letters, blogs, podcast scripts, infographics, press releases, guides, and the like can provide not only voice and choice to students, but create engagement to do relevant and meaningful work. Pick appropriate authentic products that can align to specific standards so that students can write authentically.

Authentic Reading of Primary Sources
Create contexts for students to read primary and not secondary sources. Not only does the Common Core call for the ability to cite a variety of sources and read a variety of texts, but primary sources can help provide relevance in the classroom, as they are more authentic. Reading and scaffolding authentic texts can help create reading engagement in the classroom.

Authentic Roles
Students of all ages like to take on roles that real people do in real life. Now, I am not saying they are actually performing these roles (pretend can be good, too), but sometimes you can create a space to practice. Students can be architects and use math skills to create effective bridges, and they can be poets to tell the stories of homeless youth in the community.

Authentic Collaboration
The Common Core has a speaking and listening standard at every grade level that calls for “collaborative discussions.” This is a great opportunity to have students tackle real-world challenges and problems in teams and build collaborative skills. We know collaboration is a valuable skill, and we can make this collaboration more authentic through real-world scenarios, challenges, and problems.

As you continue to support students in meeting the Common Core standards, consider authenticity as a model to create a space where relevance and rigor are at the forefront of your instruction and assessment. The Common Core is only the “what,” and we educators must use our methods of “how” to support all students. Authenticity can be one of these “hows.”

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