Introduction

Image of student artwork
Welcome to the module that will introduce you to the newly adopted Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) for elementary school art.

Take a moment to pause and reflect. Just what exactly is creativity? Creativity is defined as the ability to make new things or think of new ideas. We will look closer at creativity as we begin to look at the revised TEKS and their focus on concept in addition to process. Creativity is the key.

"You see a child play, and it is so close to seeing an artist paint, for in play a child says things without uttering a word. You can see how he solves problems. You can also see what’s wrong. Young children, especially, have enormous creativity and whatever’s in them rises to the surface in free play."
Erik Erikson

This quote by Erik Erikson, a developmental psychologist known for his theory on psychosocial development of human beings, reminds us of the necessity for courage when accessing creative abilities. Creativity is not for the faint at heart or the timid.

The student art you see in this module demonstrates the key to teaching the revised art TEKS in elementary school. It takes courage to create and courage to cultivate an environment that nurtures creativity in others.

Creativity

Creativity is a highly valued skill. In the 2010 IBM Global CEO Study, business leaders reported that creativity is the most important skill for young leaders to possess as they enter the workforce. Creativity allows them to be productive by cutting through the growing complexities of working in a globally‐connected, multi‐cultural, networked world.

art_elem_01

Can creativity be best taught by . . .

  • skill exercises?
  • correcting wrong techniques?
  • nurturing ideas?
  • encouraging risk-taking?
  • giving insight into the value of personal expression?



Consider creativity itself as the focal learning objective in the revised Bloom's Taxonomy. Can creativity be taught? Read the questions above and decide if you agree. If you answer "yes" to the first two questions, your focus may be on the process of making art. This builds skillful technique but does not necessarily guide students into practicing creative idea-building as the foundation of their artworks. If you answered "yes" to the last three questions, then you likely understand the environment a student must have to develop their inherent creativity. Creativity as an attribute must be identified, unharnessed, and nurtured.

1,500 leaders in 60 countries say . . .
"Creativity is the #1 leadership competency for the future."
IBM 2010 Global CEO Study

IBM. (2010). Retrieved May 7, 2015 from Capitalizing on Complexity: Insights from the Global Chief Executive Officer Study.

Objectives

art_elem_02
By the end of this module, you will be able to:

  • Identify the differences between the original and revised art TEKS strands.
  • Articulate the underlying focal points of the revised TEKS.
  • Revise current lesson designs in order to realign them to the revised TEKS.

Our focus in this module will be on the revised elementary art TEKS. Please take a moment to familiarize yourself with the revised elementary art TEKS, adopted 2013.

Additional resources to consider reviewing during this module include the elementary art TEKS comparison which shows the original and revised TEKS side-by-side. You may wish to refer to this chart as we look at some of the changes in each strand.

Please take a moment to review the elementary art TEKS alignment chart to see how skills are scaffolded from one grade level to another.

Visit the course discovery elementary art to get an overview of how each strand is taught at each grade level and examples of what the course looks like in the classroom. Take a moment to review the chart and keep it handy as you may want to refer back to it as we review each strand.

The Introduction of the TEKS

The TEKS were revised to focus on why children make art rather than how they make art—on the concepts of art‐making rather than the processes of art‐making. Developing creativity through the fine arts is central to student achievement and sound child‐development.

Previously, the introductory language to the standards began with the description of the four strands. In the revised TEKS, the opening language describes many of the 21st century skills that we know the fine arts teach, positioning the arts as an important factor for student learning across academic domains as well as for lifelong success.

art_elem_03

"The fine arts develop cognitive functioning and increase student academic achievement, higher-order thinking, communication, and collaboration skills, making the fine arts applicable to college readiness, career opportunities, workplace environments, social skills, and everyday life."

Art, (b) Introduction

The introduction also states that "students develop aesthetic and cultural awareness through exploration, leading to creative expression."

And finally, the introduction emphasizes that "creativity, encouraged through the study of the fine arts, is essential to nurture and develop the whole child." This introduction is rich in the language of the 21st century skills, but these are not just words. The language represents the concepts essential to the development of a well‐rounded person who will have the skills necessary to succeed in other content areas as well as the challenges they face in their futures.

At this time, compare the Framework for 21st Century Learning and the revised fine arts TEKS. Then underline all the 21st century skills words you find in the revised fine arts TEKS introduction.

Differences in the Original and Revised Art TEKS for Elementary School Students

This module will focus on the elementary art TEKS. Review the various grade levels on the course discovery elementary art page to get an overview of how each strand is taught at that grade level and examples of what the content looks like in the classroom. Take a moment to review the chart before we discuss each strand. Keep this resource handy as you may want to refer back to it as we review each strand.

Within each grade level, the four strands function interdependently, and they are most effective when woven together in lessons. All student expectations must be addressed in each grade level, but not necessarily in parity.

Art Strands

Foundations: observation and perception
The student develops and expands visual literacy skills using critical thinking, imagination, and the senses to observe and explore the world by learning about, understanding, and applying the elements of art, principles of design, and expressive qualities. The student uses what the student sees, knows, and has experienced as sources for examining, understanding, and creating original artwork.

Creative expression
The student communicates ideas through original artwork using a variety of media with appropriate skills. The student expresses thoughts and ideas creatively while challenging the imagination, fostering reflective thinking, and developing disciplined effort and progressive problem-solving skills.

Historical and cultural relevance
The student demonstrates an understanding of art history and culture by analyzing artistic styles, historical periods, and a variety of cultures. The student develops global awareness and respect for the traditions and contributions of diverse cultures.

Critical evaluation and response
The student responds to and analyzes the artworks of self and others, contributing to the development of the lifelong skills of making informed judgments and reasoned evaluations.

The knowledge and skills are listed divided by strand with a common description that is consistent through all levels of the art TEKS. Then for each subsequent grade level and for each broad category of knowledge and skills, several student expectations are provided. These scaffolded knowledge and skills are the basis of quality art programs for all Texas students. The design of the art TEKS provides both horizontal and vertical alignment of learning. Increased expectations at each grade level are communicated in a variety of ways:

art_elem_04

  • Degree of sophistication of knowledge and skills
  • Scope of skills and knowledge
  • Development of concept
  • Refining of communication and collaboration
  • Focus on originality
  • Depth of understanding

Expectations for students at each grade level take into consideration children and adolescents' cognitive, social/emotional, and physical development. The standards focus on learners, their present capabilities, and ways to help them progress to higher levels. When art instruction is aligned with the art TEKS, students grow in each grade.

These four strands provide broad, unifying structures for organizing the knowledge and skills students are expected to acquire in elementary art. Students are expected to rely on personal observations and perceptions, which are developed through increased visual literacy and sensitivity to surroundings, communities, memories, imaginings, and life experiences and which serve as sources for thinking about, planning, and creating original artworks. Students communicate their thoughts and ideas with innovation and creativity, which in turn challenge their imaginations, foster critical thinking, encourage collaboration with others, and build reflective skills. By applying meaningful problem-solving skills, students learn to develop the lifelong ability of making informed judgments.

Foundations: Observation and Perception

In the revised TEKS, the first strand serves as the base for students’ interpretations of their worlds through art. The first strand is Foundations: observation and perception, which describes student expectations that involve developing and expanding visual literacy skills by using critical thinking, imagination, and the senses. This initial knowledge statement shows the depth of what the student is expected to experience and synthesize into a visual expression. The writers retained the original concept and expanded it to encourage each student to develop a unique creative voice. In the original TEKS, the first strand encouraged students to have only cursory experiences with their surroundings.

Foundations: Observation and Perception

Original TEKS Revised TEKS

Art, Kindergarten (b)(1) Perception. The student develops and organizes ideas from the environment.

Art, Kindergarten (b)(1) Foundations: observation and perception. The student develops and organizes ideas from the environment expands visual literacy skills using critical thinking, imagination, and the senses to observe and explore the world by learning about, understanding, and applying the elements of art, principles of design, and expressive qualities. The student uses what the student sees, knows, and has experienced as sources for examining, understanding, and creating original artworks.

Image of student artwork

Creative Expression

The revised second strand is simply called Creative expression and states the expectation that students will communicate ideas through original artworks, using a variety of media with appropriate skills. Students are expected to express thoughts and ideas creatively while challenging their imaginations, fostering reflective thinking, and developing disciplined effort and progressive problem‐solving skills. Just as in the first strand, the basic premise of the original strand is kept but is greatly expanded upon to ensure that the students go deeper than mere process and delve into the concepts of art‐making. The word “challenging” is used intentionally to push students beyond just the technical use of media and into a place where they must routinely solve creative problems.

Image of student artwork

Creative Expression
Original TEKS Revised TEKS

Art, Kindergarten (b)(2) Creative expression/performance. The student expresses ideas through original artworks, using a variety of media with appropriate skill.

Art, Kindergarten (b)(2) Creative expression/performance. The student expresses communicates ideas through original artworks using a variety of media with appropriate skills. The student expresses thoughts and ideas creatively while challenging the imagination, fostering reflective thinking, and developing disciplined effort and progressive problem-solving skills.

 

Historical and Cultural Relevance

art_elem_06
The revised third strand of the TEKS, now called Historical and cultural relevance, describes student expectations of demonstrating an understanding of art history and culture by analyzing artistic styles, historical periods, and a variety of cultures. Students are expected to develop global awareness and respect for the traditions and contributions of diverse cultures. Students are encouraged to view the history and cultures of other peoples, not to simply see them as records, but to develop respect for global cultures and their relevance to students’ lives. The goal is for this global cultural awareness and respect to inform students’ artistic expressions in living and vital ways. The third original strand was Historical/cultural heritage which stated student expectations for demonstrating an understanding of art history and culture as records of human achievement.

Historical and Cultural Relevance
Original TEKS Revised TEKS

Art, Kindergarten (b)(3) Historical/cultural heritage. The student demonstrates an understanding of art history and culture as records of human achievement.

Art, Kindergarten (b)(3) Historical/ and cultural heritage relevance. The student demonstrates an understanding of art history and culture as records of human achievement by analyzing artistic styles, historical periods, and a variety of cultures. The student develops global awareness and respect for the traditions and contributions of diverse cultures.

Critical Evaluation and Response

The fourth strand is Critical evaluation and response. Students respond to and analyze their own artworks and the artworks of others, contributing to the development of the lifelong skills of making informed judgments and reasoned evaluations. The revised fourth strand takes what was a purely analytical evaluation of art and makes it a living skill that students can apply to all aspects of their lives. Art is presented as a part of that life rather than a compartmentalized academic discipline. The fourth original strand was called Response/evaluation, and it conveyed the expectation that students make informed judgments about personal artworks and the artworks of others.

Critical Evaluation and Response
Original TEKS Revised TEKS

Art, Kindergarten (b)(4) Response/evaluation. The student makes informed judgments about personal artworks and the artworks of others.

Art, Kindergarten (b)(4) Critical Response/evaluation and response. The student makes informed judgments about personal artworks and the artworks of others responds to and analyzes the artworks of self and others, contributing to the development of lifelong skills of making informed judgments and reasoned evaluations.

Image of student artwork

Applying Revised Student Expectations

Image of student artwork
One of the primary differences in the original and revised TEKS can be seen in the Creative expression strand in Art, Grade 5 b(2)(A). The revised TEKS keep the sources for the art as "experiences" or "life experiences" but treat the expression of ideas minimally and actually have the students "create original works of art." The TEKS also include integrating ideas drawn from life experiences rather than just expressing the ideas. The expectation is that students will go deeper and use problem‐solving to go beyond a replication into creative synthesis, resulting in individual, unique artworks.

The focus changed from process to concept. We will compare these specific expectations while looking at the following lesson. Review the course discovery grade 5 art and view the examples provided to see what teaching with the revised elementary art TEKS looks like in a grade 5 art classroom.

Comparison of Student Expectations

Original TEKS Revised TEKS

Art, Grade 5 b(2)(A) combine information from direct observation, experience, and imagination to express ideas about self, family, and community.

Art, Grade 5 (b)(2)(A) integrate ideas drawn from life experiences to create original works of art. Combine information from direct observation, experience, and imagination to express ideas about self, family, and community.

How Lessons Change with the Revised TEKS (Original Lesson)

Let's consider a successful grade 5 lesson based on the original TEKS in which students were asked to create a self‐portrait using pencil and markers on paper. They used either a mirror or a photograph of themselves to create an original artwork. Please download and review the full lesson plan now. Review the left hand column to see the lesson plan based on the original TEKS. Notice how the four strands are woven together. Students observed a photograph and used the elements of line and value from the Perception strand. They then created their own original artworks and demonstrated effective use of drawing techniques from the Creative Expression/performance strand. They also looked at other self‐portraits and referenced historical and cultural self-portraits as described in the Historical/cultural heritage strand, and finally, they evaluated the success of the drawings based on the criteria in the Response/evaluation strand.

Image of student self-portrait

A Basic 5th Grade Portrait Unit, Original TEKS
TITLE: Self Portrait
TEKS ADDRESSED: Art, Grade 5 (1)(A)(B), (2)(A)(B)(C), (3)(A)(B), (4)(A)
CRITERIA: examine other self-portraits and how they were made; use a photo or mirror to draw a portrait; use basic drawing vocabulary; make it look like you;
ACTIVITIES: how to do the project, clean up, vocabulary

Here is what the basic Self‐Portrait in Pencil project looked like. These directions produced nice self‐portraits that might look like the students themselves, but fail to raise the levels of creativity and thinking. Remember that Bloom's Taxonomy does not measure artistic‐skill levels but thinking levels. The expectation in art classrooms is that our students work at the highest level at all times, which is the reason for the changes in the revised TEKS.

How Lessons Change with the Revised TEKS (Revised Lesson)

At this time, review the right hand column of the full lesson plan that you previously downloaded to see how the lesson changed with the revised TEKS.

Now let’s consider that same successful grade 5 lesson based on the original TEKS but redesigned using the revised TEKS. The students are still creating a self‐portrait. They are still using a mirror or photograph of themselves, and they are still creating an original artwork. However, employing the revised TEKS adds some expressive expectations. The teacher can take the student from the mere process of drawing and make them use it to communicate a personal thought or message by asking students to incorporate reflective questions into the creative process.

"Essential questions" can be a pivot point that transforms lessons into opportunities for unique creative expression for each student. Using such questions, students to focus on why they are making a self‐portrait drawing rather than just how to do it.

art_elem_09

 

5th Grade Identity Unit, Revised TEKS
TITLE: My Contemporary Self
TEKS ADDRESSED: Art, Grade 5 (1)(A)(B)(C)(D), (2)(A)(B)(C)(D)(E)(F), (3)(A)(B)(D), (4)(A)(B)(C)(D)
KEY QUESTION(S):

  • How am I influenced by the events and people around me?
  • What are the relationships that make me "me?"
  • What are the layers in me (my interests, hobbies, what I like/dislike)?

ACTIVITIES: how to do the project, clean up, vocabulary

From the Foundations: observation and perception strand: students are observing from an original source; using the elements of line and value; using the principles of proportion, contrast and balance; and adding meaning to the work.

From the Creative expression strand, students are using original sources with a variety of applications, understanding the rationale behind using original sources, demonstrating technical expertise in drawing, all while communicating something about themselves.

From the Historical and cultural relevance strand, students are looking at historical self‐portraits through the lens of their own cultures and perspectives.

From the Critical evaluation and response strand, students are evaluating their own work and justifying their artistic decisions, critiquing their work, placing it in their own portfolio, and placing their artwork in exhibitions.

Reflect on the changes in the lesson plan here.

How Lessons Change with the Revised TEKS (Bloom's Taxonomy)

blooms
Notice that in the revised lesson plan the important artistic development parts are still there, but now the learning experiences meet the highest level of Bloom's Taxonomy because the students take bits of their own worlds and synthesize them into artworks that communicate something about themselves and their worlds. Students become creatively expressive. Using the revised art TEKS, each student artwork produced in your class will be based on the foundations of solid technical art‐making and will use the same medium, but they will be unique and original because each student is unique.

What were the criteria for a successful self-portrait?

Reflect self and the time in which you live.
Express who you are.
Show your many "layers."
Use an image to draw a portrait.
View samples of other self-portraits.
Use basic drawing vocabulary.

Using the lesson design provided, create your own questions and revisions that will take this simple lesson and transform it into one that you could use with your students. The lesson should guide your students into thinking conceptually about a pencil self‐portrait rather than just developing their skill in drawing and shading. Looking at Bloom's Taxonomy, consider the extent to which your essential question will guide your student to higher level learning. Refer back to the full lesson plan you previously downloaded.

Bloom's Taxonomy Activity

Now that you have reviewed the revised Bloom's Taxonomy, check your learning by matching the skills to the correct position in the hierarchy.

Colorful Bloom's Taxonomy graphic without text labels

The Revised TEKS with Special Education Considerations

Art teachers regularly make accommodations for Section 504 and special education students, allowing all students to benefit from art instruction. In addition to being aware of all required accommodations for their students, art teachers must have easy access to students' plans, resources needed to provide required accommodations in their classroom, and professional learning necessary to provide them well.

The revised TEKS with special education accommodations

  • helps with participation in other classes and school activities;
  • provides equal access; and
  • develops skills through kinesthetic, aural/oral, and visual techniques.

The art teacher's participation in planning sessions for individualized education programs (IEP) or Section 504 offers a different and valuable viewpoint regarding the students learning and participation in school. Art teachers are often called to participate in the admission, review, and dismissal (ARD) process for special education and can give valuable input to how the art TEKS might assist in the student's overall achievement.

Some examples of accommodations for students in the art classroom might include the following:

  • Special work spaces or tables for students who have mobility limitations
  • A more three-dimensional and tactile alternate assignment for students having difficulty with fine motor skills on a two-dimensional project
  • Pre-cut items
  • Extended time on assignments
  • Preferential seating for students needing extra help or monitoring
  • Performance assessment options instead of paper/pencil assessments
Image of students working together with instructor around a tableand an image of a student pottery

Art can also help students who struggle emotionally to find their creative outlets in art and help the student who is identified as emotionally disturbed become a part of a team. These and so many more examples are ways that the new art TEKS guide teachers to develop student skills by using kinesthetic, aural/oral and visual techniques to address all learning styles and reach all learners.

The Revised TEKS with Considerations for English Language Learners (ELLs)

Image of student artwork
English language learners (ELLs) also benefit a great deal from art class. Elementary teachers, through the use of the English Language Proficiency Standards alongside the TEKS, can provide substantial support for ELLs even as they grow proficient in the skills of art and creativity.

Art develops English language skills through the following:

  • Participating in virtual or gallery tours and expressing opinions, ideas, and feelings concerning artworks
  • Exploring historical and cultural artworks while developing contextual vocabulary
  • Developing written artists' statements, describing personal artworks with increasing specificity

The Four Language Domains

Listening is the ability to understand spoken language, comprehend and extract information, and follow social and instructional discourse through which information is provided.

Speaking is the ability to use spoken language appropriately and effectively in learning activities and social interactions.

Reading is the ability to comprehend and interpret written text at the grade-appropriate level.

Writing is the ability to produce written text with content and format to fulfill grade-appropriate classroom assignments.

The art TEKS directly call for skills in all of these areas, extending learning and helping ELLs to achieve their language acquisition goals. Because of the personal expression allowed for in the art classroom, students are free to take risks and construct meanings that might not take place in a regular classroom.

art_elem_13b

Make the Revised TEKS a Pathway to Success

What do you need to energize creativity in your classroom and make the revised TEKS a pathway to success? First, you need to be willing to elevate your teaching beyond just teaching an artistic process. Your students will remain on the level of application if they are taught nothing but how to perfect a technical skill. You elevate your teaching and students’ learning by applauding expression and asking hard, conceptual questions. You need to allow, and even encourage, your students to take chances and possibly make mistakes—and then teach them that there are truly no mistakes in art.

Students push us to find new solutions and take us into a higher plain of learning and success. You demonstrate to your students that their greatest triumphs usually come from their hardest struggles. You will need to embrace and become comfortable with the constant puzzles and problems that are involved in art‐making. You must have the courage to try something new and to revise something comfortable. Finally, you need to have the courage to let students develop their own artistic voice. Your room might look manic and chaotic—a bit scary when your administrator walks in—but it is a sign of life and growth.

Image of a group of students having a discussion in an art gallery

 

What do you need?

  • Willingness to consider ideas beyond just the art processes—“why” we make art rather than just “how.”
  • An understanding that there are no mistakes when creating art—just forks in the road. In other words, there is no “bad” art at the elementary level–just creative expression.
  • An appreciation for puzzles that need solving
  • Courage to try the unknown
  • Abandonment of cookie cutter patterns and templates and instead allowing students to draw their own designs—no matter what the end result looks like. With this the artwork belongs to the student instead of the teacher.
  • Critique of our adult ideas of what art should look like and allowing young students to take a prescribed lesson and morph it with their own ideas. It doesn’t all have to look the same. Have the courage to let students develop their own voices

Conclusion

Image of Pablo Picasso
“Our goals can only be reached through a vehicle of a plan, in which we must fervently believe, and upon which we must vigorously act. There is no other route to success.”
Pablo Picasso (Cubist Artist)

 

With the revised TEKS, you have the opportunity to renew your own inspiration and enable students to become confident and creative risk‐takers. You can be a teacher who transcends just art and makes a real difference for students’ future success. As Confucius said, “When it is obvious that the goals cannot be reached, don’t adjust the goals, adjust the action steps.” This is the purpose of the TEKS revisions—to adjust our actions to reach our goals.

Image of student artwork

 

Image source: Anonymous via wikimedia

Quiz

Extend Your Learning: Tools and Resources

Here are a few additional resources for you to find ideas, lesson designs, art tools for your professional tool box, and videos and webinars for seeing art education in action. They also are great sources for art advocacy as well. Take a moment to review each one. You may wish to bookmark these resources or some of the others used in this module, such as the elementary art TEKS alignment chart, the elementary art TEKS comparison, or the course discovery elementary art. Thank you very much for joining us on this journey.

Tools and Resources

Professional Development Opportunities for Art Teachers