Friday, November 4, 2011

Enduring Ideas from Fairfax, VA

I just returned from our VAEA conference.  I learned today about one Fairfax County, Va. district curriculum.  The workshop was titled "Re-visioning: Integrating One Big Idea for a Course or Grade level, and presented by Carol Trost, Art Resource Teacher, Marshall l High School.  In that county they are taking 1 Enduring Idea and making it "The Idea" for the entire county. (Trost, 2011)  Fairfax County Public Schools, in Fairfax Va. Has 194 schools (138 Elementary (preschool - 6) 22 Middle, 4 Secondary (7 - 12), 21 High (9 - 12), 2 Alternative High Schools, and 7 Special Education Centers.  They have articulated three overarching student achievement goals.  They are Academics, Essential Life Skills, and Responsibility to the Community.  Part of the county's philosophy is "Art education in Fairfax County Public Schools is a core discipline, essential to the growth and development of all students."  It's interesting that the theme for this year's VAEA conference was that of Art Grows Potential.


Sample of FCPS Curriculum at a glance. Presented by Carol Trost from Fairfax, VA at the VAEA Annual Conference, November 3-5, 2011

In this workshop we worked in groups of 4-5 to create a single unit of instruction.  We were given a sheet of paper with one big idea on it.  (My group's idea was community)  Then, in 7 minutes, we recorded anything that came to mind that could be related somehow.  We filled the page.  From these words the key concepts are discovered.  We followed that with finding artists that would also relate.  The presenter had small 4x6 cards of contemporary and known historical artworks that she uses with her students in the classroom.  It was easy to recognize the "masters" from art history, but there were some art works I had never seen, and artists I had not heard of before. Some of the artists image examples from Carol's classroom collection were works from Tim Hawkins, Leornaora Carrington, Cindy Sherman, Barbara Kruger, Heidy Cody, Ken Chu, Volanda Lopez, Trenton Doyle, Bruce Newman, John Baldessari, Pepon Osorio, Layla Ali, J. Andtoni, Bansky, Varo, Moralso, A. Cutler, L. Lukova, Varo, A. McCollum, and K Marshall.  Now I have new artists to go research!
We didn't get to the production piece of the plan but it was a good start for all of us who participated.  Not only did the presentation/workshop show us "how" and "why" to utilize this type of plan, but it showed how they are doing it.  What I would now also like to know is what all their teachers thought of this plan at the end of 1, 3, and 4 years.  How will it have been received, implemented or changed?  Now there's an idea for a long term investigation.
Student Achievement Goals - The Fairfax County School Board has created three overarching Student Achievement Goals that provide a framework for the school system in its work of educating students. The goals involve:
The direction I want to go with my thesis project is to write curriculum.  The hard part about writing curriculum is doing it all by yourself.  The document, the guide, is better designed by more than one mind.  Collaboration with peers who are all working to make a map for their art educational community is what produces a quality curriculum guide.  We all just need to remember that it is just a guide.  It is not the specific map every teacher must follow.  There has to be some freedom of choice within any curriculum.  This allows for each community to decide for themselves what approach will work best for their students.
I was fortunate enough to participate in many incredible sessions over the last 2 days.  I'll write more about those later.  For now, I need to get some sleep.

Trost, C. (2011, November). Re-visioning: Integrating one big idea for a course or grade level. Paper presented at Virginia art educators association 49th professional development conference, Roanoke, VA.

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