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The Art Educators of Iowa’s Visual Arts Writing Team for the Iowa Core Curriculum consists of Shanise Brockshus, Cappie Dobyns, Andrew McCormick,
Chris Noel, Ronda Sternhagen, and myself,
Maggie Parks. The team has been working since its inception over 2-1/2 years ago to create a useful guide for art teachers to implement the Iowa Core Curriculum, to give the Visual Arts a presence in the Iowa Core, and to demonstrate to teachers, administrators, parents, politicians, and all stake holders that the Visual Arts are a natural venue for doing so.
Early this summer the team put the finishing touches on their work, and presented it for the first time at the Iowa Department of Education’s Conference for the Fine Arts in the Iowa Core on June 25, 2012. The work has not been officially approved by the Department of Education, and has not yet been placed on their website. Yet we believe it to be a helpful guide for teachers, and would like to give our membership full access to these resources.
The team has created a website http://visualartsiowacore.weebly.com
which houses all of the documents we created and a few we used to guide our work.
To understand the resources we have gathered and created, one must understand that our direction from the Department of Education was to show how the Universal Constructs fit with the Visual Arts. The Universal Constructs are a part of the Iowa Core that all teachers should be implementing in all subjects.
On the home page of the website listed above there are some menu items. If you click on STANDARDS & BENCHMARKS, you will see the Visual Arts Standards and Benchmarks divided by levels: K-5, 6-8, and 9-12.
These three documents all begin with the big picture: Artistic Literacy and the Visual Arts in education. Next they focus on two Essential skills and/or concepts, “create” and “respond.” All the valuable components of an art education can be placed under these two overarching skills.
The final section in these documents lists the National Content Standards with underlying benchmarks that support the Universal Constructs.
The Universal Constructs are essentially the 21st Century Skills defined as student outcomes. There are two documents that will assist in becoming familiar with them. Rather than utilizing the pull down menu on the above mentioned website, simply click on the UNIVERSAL CONSTRUCTS menu item. There you will find the “Universal Constructs Introduction” and the “Universal Constructs Defined.” Another document housed here is the “21 Century Skills Map for the Arts,” which the team found to be very helpful in the writing process.
Either using the links to the right on the Universal Constructs page, or using the pull down menu found when lingering over the Universal Constructs menu item, click on one of the constructs for more information on how to implement it. For each of the constructs there is an exemplar, a lesson plan, and an assessment.
For example, when clicking on the Critical Thinking menu option, you will find the Critical Thinking Exemplar, the Critical Thinking Lesson Plan, and the Critical Thinking Assessment. The exemplar is a chart of lesson plan descriptions for each of the grade level groupings that purposefully implements the identified Universal Constructs, in this case, Critical Thinking. The next document is one of these lesson plan descriptions written up formally into a lesson plan. The third document is an assessment tool for that lesson plan. Some of the lesson plans, as is the case with Critical Thinking, have additional resources found at the bottom of the page.
These exemplars, lesson plans, and assessments are intended to be used as guides and examples to help when writing lesson plans, and to assist in identifying the Universal Constructs already in place in your lessons.
If you would like to learn more about the Universal Constructs into your Visual Arts Program, members of our team can travel to your school district for a presentation. Contact us on the Writing Team link. Also, be sure to catch our super-session at the Fall Conference in Council Bluffs.