Introduction

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Welcome to The Value of Art Education: Applying the Revised TEKS. Comprehensive art programs based on the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) guide students in their personal discovery of the visual arts while at the same time preparing their minds to think conceptually. Art develops keen powers of observation and gives students opportunities to demonstrate creativity, innovation, problem-solving, and critical thinking. Students also explore the many ways art contributes to culture as they examine the power of art to raise social consciousness, engendering a true appreciation of the role of art in society.

Through the study of art and artists of different cultures and historical periods, students gain significant understanding of themselves and others. They learn to view art as a reflection of cultural ideas, beliefs, and social conditions and develop thinking and verbal skills through discussions in which life and art are compared and contrasted. Art educators help students learn to see, to synthesize all of the imagery surrounding them, and to draw upon the influences in their lives to communicate original thoughts and ideas. The focus of art TEKS is to enable students to communicate their own vision and concepts, not to simply engage in an art process.

"Art education is the only area in the school curriculum explicitly concerned with the visually expressive and the visually relational."
Elliot Eisner

Art enables students to communicate in highly effective, non‐verbal media. Art educator and scholar Elliot Eisner points out that art education is the only area in the curriculum explicitly concerned with the visually expressive and the visually relational. Art focuses on the primacy of the visual features of the environment, including works of art.

Eisner, Eilliot. Retrieved from Mendham Borough Public Schools

Objectives

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

  • identify how the arts can be used to help students learn 21st century skills,
  • identify the strands and have basic knowledge of the organization of revised TEKS, and
  • plan for implementation of the revised art TEKS.

Please take a moment to review the elementary art TEKS comparison that 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. The side‐by‐side chart shows the changes in the elementary art TEKS from the original TEKS to the corresponding revised TEKS. The link will take you to elementary art. After you observe some changes at the elementary level, click the tab at the top of the page to go to middle school, then high school art TEKS.

Please download and take a moment to review the art TEKS alignment chart for elementary, middle, and high school art. The document shows how skills are scaffolded from one grade level to another.

The Fine Arts and 21st Century Skills

The creativity nurtured and trained by the arts is one of the key skills identified by the Partnership for 21st Century Skills in its framework, describing what students need to be effective and successful in the modern workplace and world. The Partnership organizes the skills into three major categories: learning and innovation; information, media, and technology skills; and life and career skills. The revised TEKS are built on 21st century skills. Look for the skills as you become familiar with the revised TEKS.

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The Role of 21st Century Skills in the Revised Art TEKS

Learning and Innovation

  • Creativity and Innovation
  • Critical Thinking and Problem Solving
  • Communication and Collaboration

Information, Media, and Technology Skills

  • Information Literacy
  • Media Literacy
  • Information, Communication, and Technology Literacy

Life and Career Skills

  • Flexibility and Adaptability
  • Initiative and Self-Direction
  • School and Cross-Cultural Skills
  • Productivity and Accountability
  • Leadership and Responsibility

The skills and essential concepts of the first section of the 21st century skills are found throughout the revised TEKS: creativity, innovation, critical thinking, problem‐solving, communication, and collaboration.

Visual communication is one of the student expectations in the revised TEKS and aligns to the 21st century skills of communication and collaboration. This section outlines student goals which, when reached, prepare them for a successful future. This ability to draw from a wellspring of creative thinking is what will set art students apart and make them innovative and successful. The revised TEKS encourage the development of student voice.

"[C]reative art education, or better said, Education-Through-Art, may be especially important not so much for tuning out artists or art products, as for turning out better people."
Abraham Maslow

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Along with the student's visual voice, the demands of the 21st century require today's students to live and work in a rapidly changing technological society. Through art education, students develop visual literacy, learning to perceive and respond to the visual world with increased awareness and discriminating judgment. Comprehensive art curricula should be conceptually‐based, sequentially developed, and focused on both creative and critical thinking to enable students to become self‐confident, self‐governing, and contributing members of society.

For the visual arts, students rely on personal observations and perceptions, which are developed through increasing visual literacy and sensitivity to their surroundings, communities, memories, imaginings, and life experiences as sources for thinking about, planning, and creating original artworks. Students communicate their ideas with innovation and creativity. Through art, students challenge their imaginations, foster critical thinking, collaborate with others, and build reflective skills. While exercising meaningful problem-solving skills, students develop the lifelong ability to make informed judgments.

Maslow, Abraham. "The Creative Attitude." The Farther Reaches of Human Nature. New York: Penguin Books, 1971. 55-68.

Art Is for All Students

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Whether students are limited English proficiency or are receiving special education services—all benefit from art. Art develops coordination, self-expression or personal voice, many life skills, and verbal and visual literacy—often in a way that students don't realize they are learning. Art allows students to learn valuable skills while working in an individually expressive and hands-on way. They can succeed because when expressing oneself through art, there is really no wrong answer.

Art develops:

  • Coordination
  • Self-expression or Personal Voice
  • Life Skills
  • Verbal and Visual Literacy
  • Realization of Success

Overview of the Revised TEKS

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The revised fine arts TEKS adds an introduction that spans all fine arts disciplines. 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 four disciplines in mind with the goal to express that all of the fine arts are powerful in nurturing the creative process in a child.

These disciplines engage and motivate all students through active learning, critical thinking, and innovative problem‐solving.

"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."
TAC §117.102. Art, Kindergarten, Adopted 2013. (a)(1)

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.

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Students develop aesthetic and cultural awareness through exploration, leading to creative expression.

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 it is not just words. The language represents essential concepts for the development of a well‐rounded person who will have life skills necessary to succeed in other content areas as well as the challenges they face for their future.

 

TAC §117.102. Art, Kindergarten, Adopted 2013. (a)(1)

Foundations: Observation and Perception

There are four basic strands of the revised art TEKS. Foundations: observation and perception, creative expression, historical and cultural relevance, and critical evaluation and response.

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.

Image of student artwork
The first strand in the revised art TEKS is the base for interpreting the student’s world through art. It is called Foundations: observation and perception, which expects the student to develop and expand visual literacy skills using critical thinking, imagination, and the senses. This enables them to observe and explore the world by learning about, understanding, and applying the elements of art, principles of design, and expressive qualities. The student is expected to use what he or she sees, knows, and has experienced as sources for examining, understanding, and creating original artwork. This presentation of the initial expectation shows the depth of what the student is expected to not only experience but to shape into a synthesis of expression. The goal is for a unique student creative voice to be developed.

Creative Expression

Image of student artwork
The revised second strand is called Creative expression and expects the student to communicate ideas through original artwork using a variety of media with appropriate skills. The student is expected to express thoughts and ideas creatively while challenging the imagination, fostering reflective thinking, and developing disciplined effort and progressive problem-solving skills. The intention of the second strand is for students to go deeper than mere process and delve into the concepts of art-making. The word "challenge" is used effectively to push the student beyond just the technical use of media and into a place where they must solve a creative problem.

Historical and Cultural Relevance

Image of student artwork
The third strand of the revised TEKS—Historical and cultural relevance—expects students to demonstrate an understanding of art history and culture by analyzing artistic styles, historical periods, and a variety of cultures. The student is expected to develop global awareness and respect for the traditions and contributions of diverse cultures. The students are encouraged to view the history and cultures of peoples not to simply see them as records but to develop global respect for culture and its application to their lives. The expectation is for history and culture to become a living and vital part of students' artistic expression.

Critical Evaluation and Response

Image of student artwork
The fourth strand of the revised TEKS is called Critical evaluation and response. Students are expected to respond to and analyze the artworks of themselves and others, contributing to the development of the lifelong skills of making informed judgments and reasoned evaluations. This expectation encourages a living skill that could apply to all aspects of students' lives because the art is presented as a part of their lives rather than simply something they make once and then move on.

These four strands provide broad, unifying structures for organizing the knowledge and skills students are expected to acquire. 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. These serve as sources for thinking about, planning, and creating original artworks. Students will 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. Through meaningful problem-solving skills, students will develop the lifelong ability to make informed judgments.

Summary of the Revised TEKS

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As you have just seen, the lens through which all the TEKS were revised was a 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. Basically, just because a child is making something doesn't necessarily mean they are being creative. The reason for the focus was the understanding that developing creativity through the fine arts is central to student achievement and sound child-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.

Reflection Activity

Download the interactive PDF to record your responses to the following questions:

  • Emphasize WHY students make art rather than HOW students make art.
  • How will this new concept change the way you plan lessons?
  • How will this new concept change the way you organize and present the lesson?
  • How will this new concept change your classroom organization and procedures?

Implementation

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Implementing the revised art TEKS standards can be an impetus to rethink course offerings, instructional strategies, assessment, and professional development. Rethinking art instruction involves a shift from thinking of art strictly as a production oriented process for talented students to one that encourages the development of creative problem‐solving and critical thinking in all students.

Teachers should focus on art activities that promote students' critical and creative thinking skills. Activities should be designed to allow students to explore and express individual ideas, thoughts, and feelings. Art activities should also encourage students to solve problems and develop initiative, self‐confidence, imagination, and originality. The goal is not to simply reproduce something with the right technique and process, but to develop the concept behind why the student is creating an artwork. This encourages the development of the student's visual "voice" and nurtures critical and creative thinking.

A focus in the revised TEKS is on original artwork, which reaches the highest level of Bloom’s Taxonomy. Described as "the cognitive processes by which thinkers encounter and work with knowledge" and presented in the revised form as a progression from simple to complex, Bloom’s Taxonomy is sequenced as follows:

  • remember,
  • understand,
  • apply,
  • analyze,
  • evaluate, and
  • create.
"Learning that utilizes higher level thinking effortlessly goes into long‐term memory. Bloom’s Taxonomy can help a teacher transform a student from a memorizer into a thinker."
Bill Page

If art teachers assign students projects produced from published images, the students merely copied another's vision—another’s problem‐solving—thus never taking them out of the applying level of Bloom’s Taxonomy. The student learned the vocabulary and basic instructions for how to complete a project, they understood the process enough to find a suitable image to fulfill the criteria, and they applied what they learned to make the artwork. However, they have not had to think deeply about, or analyze, what they saw, knew, and have experienced. They also might not have had the opportunity to evaluate what in their world and their art met the criteria that culminated in the creation of an original and unique artwork.

Page, Bill. "12 Things Teachers Must Know about Learning." Education Digest, April 2010.

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

Implementation (continued)

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This essential formulation of concept through student experience is addressed in the Level I revised TEKS in the Foundations: observation and perception strand. Consider the conceptual focus of the revised TEKS: "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 revised TEKS expect students to synthesize their surroundings and harness it into their artworks for the artwork to be original. Copying is not creating.

"The truth is, there are more run‐of‐the‐mill actors and commonplace painters than innovative ones. . . there's nothing creative (other than the sense of 'making' something) about copying a drawing. . . Just making something doesn't teach creativity in the sense of finding and meeting new challenges with effective thinking. The fact is that ANY subject can be taught so as to emphasize its creative aspects and any subject, no matter how apparently 'creative', can be taught so as to eliminate all of its creative aspects. It's not the subject, but the approach to it, that teaches creativity."
Robert and Michele Root-Bernstein

Root-Bernstein, Robert and Michelle. 2011. "Do Arts Teach Creativity?" Retrieved from Psychology Today.

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The revised TEKS emphasize originality and creative expression. A higher-level lesson design emphasizes the higher level of "creating" while maintaining the understanding that all levels of Bloom's are a part of the process. The revised lessons will meet the highest level of Bloom's because the students have synthesized their own experiences and circumstances into an artwork that communicates something about themselves and their world. They have become creatively expressive. Each student's artwork within your class will be based on the foundations of solid technical art-making, but the artwork will be unique and original because each child is unique.

For implementation of the revised art TEKS, consideration must also be given to the art classroom itself. The quality art room has the necessary equipment, supplies, and materials to teach the TEKS. An effective art program has a designated art room for every 300 students on the campus. The room is flexible enough to be used for large group, small group, and individual activities. When an art specialist teaches at the school, the specialist has a well-stocked art room while another comparable room is available for other teachers to use when teaching art. Adequate storage space for supplies, materials, equipment, and works-in-progress is in or connected to the art room along with a specifically designated kiln room. Both open and closed storage is provided.

Conclusion

An in‐depth look at the scaffolding of art knowledge and skills will reveal the many benefits for students who participate in a strong art program.

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Creativity, self‐expression, collaboration, critical thinking, problem‐solving, cognitive skills and processes, content area skills and knowledge, and appreciation of art are just a few of the benefits for learners who participate in a strong instructional program based on the art TEKS. These prized attributes are crucial for success in other content areas and gives value to art as a truly interdisciplinary endeavor.

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 art TEKS alignment chart, the art TEKS comparison, or the course discovery art. Thank you very much for joining us on this journey.

Tools and Resources

Professional Development Opportunities for Art Teachers