I am busy preparing this week for an upcoming professional development session called, Connections to the Common Core and More: Poetry and The Arts. A couple of thoughts have especially dominated my thinking during this process.
The common core standards are here – at least for the foreseeable future – and this needn't be thought of as a bad thing; we can address them while pursuing understanding of a variety of interesting topics and types of literature.
The problem isn't the standards themselves (or even the fact that some people are really working hard to politicize them). The problem is that we begin to feel trapped by step-by-step curriculum materials – sometimes even to the point of marching in unison according to a set of dates on the calendar, regardless of students' readiness to proceed.
Sometimes, in the interest of being good team players, we do adhere closely to the directions associated with adopted curriculum materials, especially initially – until we see how it goes and how students do. Let's not forget, though, that we can still create opportunities to invent some of our own materials – according to our students' particular interests. School really can be a place where we do more than prepare young people to take tests. I know that many of you are working hard at this very thing, and I want you to know that those efforts are truly, truly important. I so appreciate your dedication and hard work!
Emphasis Art: A Qualitative Art Program for Elementary and Middle Schools (ninth ed.) by Robert D. Clements and Frank Wachowiak has art standards printed right on the endpapers. There are chapters to help you understand students' art development at various ages, chapters about combining art with all of the other content areas, and even chapters about students who have particular needs. Beginning teachers will probably especially appreciate the information on managing students successfully during art lessons. The project ideas and photos of student work really help to make all of the information clear. It is definitely a resource that I consult on a regular basis!