Thursday, August 25, 2011

Backwards Design

Using the backwards design model for designing curriculum allows me to start with the question; What do I want my students to learn from their experiences in my class? Well, what do I want them to learn? I want them to learn that their art is an expression of who they are. It's an expression of where they come from, their culture, their thoughts and beliefs. The process of creating art work is a way to voice their point of view and claim their own identity. I want them to understand that artists throughout history and cultures have used their art for self expression and as a tool for better understanding the world in which they live.

So how will I do this? Well I'm starting with an enduring idea. It's the idea that individual identity is an essential part of every artist's creations. The "Big Idea" is to develop a year long curriculum for a high school 3D Design Art Class that is held together by the underling theme of identity. By using a thematic approach to curriculum design I am guided to develop units of study that have a common theme. This ties all the units together as they build on each other. This also allows students to emerge at the end of the year with newly constructed knowledge about who they are, what's important to them, how artists have used their art to express their identity and the students will have had a personal stake in the art they create. The processes they learn become new means for creating art that they are engaged in.

It helps that I have great models in curriculum design that will aide me in creating units of study that will engage my students and guide them to construct their own knowledge. Rethinking Curriculum in Art, by Marilyn Stewart and Sydney Walker is a guiding text for anyone wanting to develop a balanced, student centered, curriculum.

I will have to admit, that like many of my art educator colleagues, I like figuring out what kind of cool art my students could create before I finish designing the path to get there. As I create models to use as examples my brain turns on and floods of ideas and design structure for how I could guide my students come to life. What type of processes would best allow my students to create art based on the enduring idea of identity? I have to keep in mind that the class the curriculum is being designed for is a 3D art class. So the majority of the art created will be three dimensional. But that doesn't mean there will be no drawing, painting or collage going on as well. Drawing is an essential part of any art creation. It serves as a guide, a tool for working out ideas, and a possibility of mixing media to create a more powerful artwork. There will also be exploration of how artists have used their art in the past, and present, to express their own identity. My students will construct their own knowledge. My job is to provide them with the tools and guidance to do that. So lets get on with it!

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