Welcome to the module that will introduce you to the newly adopted middle school art Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) for levels 1 through 3. 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 key.
"Creativity is putting your imagination to work, and it's produced the most extraordinary results in human culture."
"Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn't really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That's because they were able to connect experiences they've had and synthesize new things."
All of these quotes and the student art you see demonstrate the key to teaching the revised art TEKS in middle school—the courage to create.
1,500 leaders in 60 countries say . . .
"Creativity is the #1 leadership competency for the future."
IBM. (2010). Capitalizing on Complexity: Insights from the Global Chief Executive Officer Study. Retrieved May 7, 2015.
Creativity and Bloom's Taxonomy
Can creativity be best taught by...
- skill exercises?
- correcting wrong techniques?
- nurturing ideas?
- encouraging risk-taking?
- giving insight into the value of personal expression?
If you answered "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 for their artworks.
Think back to a time in your life as an artist when you felt the most creative. Try to describe the people, events, and environment that made that time so creative.
Download the interactive PDF to record your response.
- reflect on creativity in the TEKS introduction and strand titles,
- identify the differences between the original and revised middle school art TEKS strands,
- articulate the focus for the revised middle school art TEKS revisions, and
- realign current lesson designs in order to embrace the revised art TEKS.
Our focus in this module will be on the revised middle school art TEKS. Please take a moment to familiarize yourself with the revised middle school art TEKS, adopted 2013.
Additional resources to consider reviewing during this module include the middle school 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.
Overview of the Revised TEKS
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. This introduction was developed with the goal of expressing that all of the fine arts are powerful in nurturing the creative process in a child. It starts by saying that "the fine arts incorporate the study of dance, music, theatre, and the visual arts to offer unique experiences and empower students to explore realities, relationships, and ideas."
The introduction goes on to say, "These disciplines engage and motivate all students through active learning, critical thinking, and innovative problem‐solving."
Additionally, the overview states that "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."
The introduction also states that "students develop aesthetic and cultural awareness through exploration, leading to creative expression."
Introduction to the Strands
In addition, take a moment to review the middle school art TEKS alignment chart to see how skills are scaffolded from one grade level to another.
You will want to get familiar with the four strands of the revised TEKS.
Within each course level, these four strands function interdependently, and they are most effective when woven together in lessons. All strands should be addressed in each course, but not necessarily in parity. Some courses may focus in great depth on specific strands, while touching on others mainly to demonstrate relevance and relationships.
Knowledge and skills are articulated for each strand at each grade level in kindergarten through grade 5 and by proficiency level at middle school. At the high school level, courses are defined by course title, some with levels I-IV. At middle and high school, course levels represent expected levels of student experience and achievement in art, not grade-level classification.
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.
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.
Grade Level Differences (Middle School 3)
The TEA presentation of the revised middle school art TEKS includes a brief introduction that contains the overall goals of art, and then the knowledge and skills for each grade or course are divided into strands that also have a common description throughout all levels of the art TEKS. For each subsequent grade or course level and for each broad category of knowledge and skills, several student expectations are provided. Read this example from the middle school Critical evaluation and response strand.
Art, Middle School 3 (b)(4)
Critical evaluation and response. The student responds to and analyzes artworks of self and others, contributing to the development of the lifelong skills of making informed judgments and reasoned evaluations. The student is expected to:
(A) create written and oral responses about personal or collaborative artworks addressing purpose, technique, organization, judgment, and personal expression;
(B) analyze original artworks and portfolios using a method of critique such as describing the artwork, analyzing the way it is organized, interpreting the artist's intention, and evaluating the success of the artwork;
(C) investigate and explore original artworks in a variety of venues outside of the classroom such as museums, galleries, or community art; and
(D) understand and demonstrate proper exhibition etiquette.
- 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's 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 course, paralleling the scaffolded knowledge and skills of the TEKS.
The vertical and horizontal scaffolding of the art TEKS is consistent with the TEKS for the other fine arts disciplines—music, theatre, and dance. They are organized by the same four strands, providing a framework for meaningful, scaffolded learning.
Foundations: Observation and Perception
The first strand is now called 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 strand is the base for students' interpreting their worlds through art. This approach encourages students to observe the world by learning and applying the elements of art, the principles of design, as well as expressive qualities. Students will use what they have experienced as sources for creating original artwork. This initial student expectation shows the depth of what the student is expected not only to experience, but to synthesize into a visual expression. The original concept of Perception is kept but expanded to encourage each student to develop a unique creative voice.Foundations: Observation and Perception
|Original TEKS||Revised TEKS|
Art, Grade 6 (c)(1). Perception. The student develops and organizes ideas from the environment.
Art, Middle School 1 (c)(1). Foundations: observation and Pperception. 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 artwork.
The original second TEKS strand was Creative expression/performance in which the student was expected to express ideas through original artworks, using a variety of media with appropriate skill. The very explanation of the strand focuses on the process of art‐making while only hinting at creative expression.Creative Expression: Performance
|Original TEKS||Revised TEKS|
Art, Grade 6 (c)(2). Creative expression/performance. The student expresses ideas through original artworks, using a variety of media with appropriate skill.
Art, Middle School 1 (c)(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
The original third TEKS 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, Grade 6 (c)(3). Historical/cultural heritage. The student demonstrates an understanding of art history and culture as records of human achievement.
Art, Middle School 1 (c)(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 original fourth strand of the TEKS 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, Grade 6 (c)(4). Response/evaluation. The student makes informed judgments about personal artworks and the artworks of others.
Art, Middle School 1 (c)(3). 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.
These four strands provide broad, unifying structures for organizing the knowledge and skills students are expected to acquire in middle school 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 challenges their imaginations, fosters critical thinking, encourages collaboration with others, and builds reflective skills. By applying meaningful problem-solving skills, students will learn to develop the lifelong ability of making informed judgments.
Differences in the Original and Revised Art TEKS for Middle School Students
Take a moment to review the revised strands.
The focus changed from an emphasis on process to a stronger emphasis on concept. Review course discovery middle school art to view how the Creative expression strand is taught in Art, Middle School 1. You may also wish to view the examples provided to see what teaching with the revised middle school art TEKS looks like in an Art, Middle School 1 classroom.
Comparison of Student Expectations
|Original TEKS||Revised TEKS|
Art, Grade 6 (c)(2)(A) express a variety of ideas based on personal experience and direct observations.
Art, Middle School 1 (c)(2)(A) create original artworks based on direct observations, original sources, personal experiences, and the community.
Summary of the Differences in the Original and Revised Art TEKS for Middle School Students
For this part of the course, we want you to consider that the lens through which all the TEKS were revised was a focus on why children and adolescents make art rather than how they make art—on the concepts of art‐making rather than the processes of art‐making. Just because someone is making something does not necessarily mean they are being creative.
The reason the TEKS focused on creativity was the understanding that developing creativity through the fine arts is central to student achievement and sound child and adolescent development. In the revised TEKS, the important skills learned in art are essential for student learning across academic domains as well as for lifelong success. We will compare these differences in the original and revised TEKS while looking at the following lesson.
The focus is on why students make art rather than how they make art.
How Lessons Change with the Revised TEKS (Original Lesson)
Let's consider a successful grade 6 lesson design from the original TEKS in which students created a ceramic whistle called an ocarina. Please download and review the full lesson plan. Review the left hand column to see the lesson plan based on the original TEKS. Notice how the four strands are woven together.
Students will observe a sample ocarina, consider the elements of art and principles of design involved in its construction while learning the vocabulary associated with ceramics. This activity is from the Perception strand. Students will use the clay medium and follow instructions so that their whistle is an original piece of artwork and is formed correctly and functions, which relates to the Creative expression/performance strand. Students will also consider the historical Aztec origins of the ocarina as outlined in the Historical/cultural heritage strand. Finally, students will evaluate the success of its structure and function, a skill from the Response/evaluation strand. This is a very successful lesson and is fun for the students, but lacks just a little to help build creativity in students.
Grade 6 Lesson Design, Original TEKS
TITLE: Aztec Clay Ocarina
TEKS ADDRESSED: Art, Middle School 1 (1)(A)(B), (2)(A)(B)(C), (3)(A)(B), (4)(A)
CRITERIA: student expectations or objectives
ACTIVITIES: how to do the project, clean up, vocabulary
The example below shows what the original Aztec Clay Ocarina project looks like against the revised Bloom's Taxonomy. Remember that Bloom's Taxonomy doesn't measure art levels but levels of thinking. 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.
- Is the project successful?
- Does the whistle work?
- What materials did you use to make the ocarina?
- How did you use the samples of the whistles and the directions about how to make them?
- What basic clay vocabulary did you use?
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.
How Lessons Change with the Revised TEKS (Revised Lesson)
At this time, review the right hand column of the lesson plan to see how the lesson changed with the revised TEKS.
Let's consider that same successful Level 1 lesson design from the original TEKS but re‐designed using the revised TEKS. The students will still create an Aztec ceramic whistle using clay, and it will be an original work with both sound structure and function. However, the revised TEKS have added some expressive expectations.
From the Foundations: Observation and Perception strand, students observe from an original source or their imagination the elements of shape and texture along with the principles of proportion and balance. Students also consider the addition of personal significance to the work. The significance of this aspect of the project is that students will take the basic shape of the whistle and transform it into an animal that either represents something about themselves or says something about them.
From the Creative Expression strand, students use original sources or their imaginations to transform the basic shape of the ocarina without losing the integrity of the shape or the function. This involves problem solving throughout each aspect of the project. Students also will understand the importance of the original sources or their imagination to ensure the work is original.
From the Historical and Cultural Relevance strand, they view historical Aztec whistle shapes and designs and find how they fit into modern culture.
From the Critical Evaluation and Response strand, students evaluate their own work and justify their artistic decisions, critiquing their work, documenting it for their own portfolios, and placing their artwork in exhibitions.
TITLE: Aztec Clay Ocarina Comes Alive!
TEKS ADDRESSED: Art, Middle School 1 (1)(A)(B)(C)(D), (2)(A)(B)(C)(D)(E)(F), (3)(A)(B)(D), (4)(A)(B)(C)(D)
ESSENTIAL QUESTION(S): What animal best describes who you are? Could you use a sculpture of the animal to communicate who you are?
ACTIVITIES: how to do the project, clean up, vocabulary
How Lessons Change with the Revised TEKS (Bloom's Taxonomy)
Even with this high level of expressive expectations, the students could still stay at the "applying" level of Bloom's Taxonomy if one essential element is forgotten—the essential question. The essential question takes the student from simply the process of clay building to communicating something that is unique and representative of his or her personal identity. This encourages and enables the creative thinking process and makes the work relevant to the student. Notice the essential questions: "What animal best describes who you are? How could you use a sculpture of the animal to communicate who you are?"
What are the criteria for a successful Aztec clay ocarina?
- My animal design is indicative of me and of the traditional whistle.
- My animal design is effective as my animal.
- My whistle works.
- I used multiple sources of inspiration and instruction to make my ocarina.
- I can use basic clay vocabulary to describe the process of making my ocarina.
Summary of How Lessons Change with the Revised TEKS
Just like in the original lesson design we considered, the students were told to make an ocarina whistle out of clay that has the basic ocarina shape and makes the sound of a whistle. It should be constructed carefully using accurate clay‐building techniques, and it should survive the firing process. This produces nice whistles but fails to raise the level as we saw in the redesigned lesson. Using essential questions, you stimulate your students to focus on why they are making an ocarina rather than just how to do it. That is the essence of the revised art TEKS for middle school students.
The essential question:
- Transforms lesson designs into revised TEKS lessons
- Elevates learning into the higher "Creating" level of Bloom's Taxonomy
- Aligns with the creativity focus of the 21st century skills
Using either this sample lesson plan or one of your own, come up with your own essential question that will take the lesson and transform it into one that you could use with your students. It should guide your students into thinking conceptually about an ocarina or other project rather than just the technique of making a piece of art. Looking at Bloom's Taxonomy, consider if the lesson will guide your student into higher‐level learning.
The Revised TEKS with Special Education Considerations
Accommodations for Section 504 and students receiving special education services are made on a regular basis by art teachers, who ensure that all students take part in and benefit from art instruction. It is imperative that, along with all other teachers, art teachers are provided the needed professional development regarding required accommodations in order to make the connections of learning across all disciplines. Additionally, art teachers need to have easy access to their plans and resources needed to accommodate the student needs.
Art teachers can bring valuable perspectives to planning meetings for students who receive special education or Section 504 services.
Some examples of accommodations for the special needs student in the art classroom may include the following:
- Interpreters for students who are deaf
- Written instructions or diagrams for students who have difficulty retaining aural instructions
- One-on-one or small group instruction
- Collaborations with special education staff to provide opportunities for success
Students with disabilities can benefit in many ways from art classes. There are so many ways that the revised 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 for English Language Learners (ELLs)
- Speak using grade-level content area vocabulary in context to internalize new English words and build academic language proficiency
- Use visual, contextual, and linguistic support to enhance and confirm understanding of increasingly complex and elaborated spoken language
- Understand implicit ideas and information in increasingly complex spoken language commensurate with grade-level learning expectations
- Write using newly acquired basic vocabulary and content-based grade-level vocabulary
Additionally, to help students connect learning, teachers can incorporate the four language domains in art curriculum.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. Practice in these areas can help the ELL student grow without the feeling of being singled-out or embarrassed.
What do you need?
- Willingness to consider ideas beyond the art process—why we make art rather than just how
- An understanding that there are no mistakes when creating art—just forks in the road
- An appreciation for puzzles that need solving
- Courage to try the unknown
- Understanding of students at the middle school level who are discovering their own identity at the same time they are trying to fit in with their peers
- Courage to help students embrace their own voices without fear of rejection because their artwork does not look like everyone else's
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.
"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."Reflection Activity
Download the interactive PDF to record your response to the following question:
As you reach out past your comfort zones as an artist, what are some areas you feel you can stretch and push beyond when nurturing each student's artistic voice?
Extend Your Learning: Tools and Resources
Here are a few additional resources to support your ideas and lesson designs. At these links, you will find information related to the new standards, art tools for your professional tool box, and videos and webinars for seeing art education in action. Also, these sites serve as great sources for art advocacy and growing your program. 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 middle school art TEKS alignment chart, the middle school art TEKS comparison, or the course discovery middle school art.
Tools and Resources
- Middle School Fine Arts TEKS: http://ritter.tea.state.tx.us/rules/tac/chapter117/index.html
- CEDFA ("Growing Professionally," "New TEKS 2015," and more.)
Professional Development Opportunities for Art Teachers