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Re: [teacherartexchange] Creating Units

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From: Maggie White (mwhiteaz_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Mon Apr 10 2006 - 21:24:03 PDT


Kathryn,

Ann and Judy gave you lots of good advice. And, as Judy mentioned, IAD
has tons of lessons laid out in units. My definition of a unit--which
may differ from other people's--is that it's the total package of
several lesson plans that are unified by a theme or medium.

Start with a topic or medium you know about and feel comfortable
teaching, and expand it into a "unit." Think about your particular
interests: is it a particular artist, like Matisse, Picasso, Warhol? A
medium? A country or culture whose work you admire? A period in art
history? When I create a unit, I usually start with the final outcome
and work backwards. Say I want the students to make ceramic effigy
vessels (a recent topic here, and one that I especially enjoy). What
cultural exemplars will I show them? Will I show them at the beginning
or the end of the unit? Is there a relevant video I can show? What
vocabulary is most important? What particular skills will the students
need to learn first in order to handle the clay? Hey, do I HAVE enough
clay to do this? What other tools and materials do I need? What sorts
of symbols or motifs will I encourage the students to use? Should I
mandate a certain size for the finished piece? How are they going to
clean up? How does this lesson fit into my state standards? How will
I evaluate (grade) the finished piece? If the lesson is successful, how
can I extend it?

I generally wrote my units in outline form, starting with the basic
concepts, visual analysis I wanted to use, standards being addressed,
important vocab, materials needed, the prep work I needed to do
beforehand, how I'd intro it to the students, the sequence of
steps/individual lessons, an assortment of assignments and possible
extensions, and finally a basic rubric for grading. I also use to use a
matrix of say, different media along the sides, elements and principles
along the top, and what sorts of lessons I could devise at their
junctions (this is probably best left once you've got some experience).

The more you think through all the little details of a unit, the more
organized you'll feel. And, never throw out a unit plan, even if it
didn't seem successful. You can recycle some of the ideas or try again
under fresh circumstances.

Maggie

Kathryn Fish wrote:

>Where does one begin in creating "units"?!
>
>I'm close to completing grad school for a M.A.T in
>Art, however, no one has yet taught or explained how
>to construct lesson plans.
>
>All I hear about is to start with units. Where do you
>come up with units to build lessons around? (I'm
>Elementary/Middle level.) I'm LOST!
>
>

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