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[teacherartexchange] changes - need insights please (long post sorry)


Date: Mon Aug 09 2010 - 17:11:07 PDT

After being gone only a few days, lots of e-mails to catch up on - but in the meantime I have a dilemma/opportunity to ask the group about.

My school is moving towards an Expeditionary Learning School model (without adopting it fully). This comes from their site "Unique to ELS, learning expeditions are long-term, 'real world' investigations, by teachers and students, of compelling subjects, which culminate in public presentations."

In this infused approach art is treated like design, and to help context understanding (ie: using Jacob Lawrence series on the Great Migration), art product in context (migration painting series that allows assessment of some skills as well as certain content) although some expeditions could be arts based (Ie: Arts During the Harlem Renaissance where all genres would be investigated), etc.

There are lots of scheduling issues for me, but mainly what this means that I will be part of a teaching team for 9 weeks. All students on that team (approx. 120) will have art as part of their day for one 9 week quarter. I will then be on 4 different teams this year (both the two 8th grade teams and both of the two 6th grade teams).

 At this point I am thinking of dividing the time between 3 investigations for the 8th grade:
1. artists working collectively as a community (students will investigate, choose and create a work for a local or global purpose (Ie: Houses for Haiti)
2. artists pursuing their personal big ideas (looking to contemporary artists and then developing a work based on something they feel is important to make work about)
3. artists working to communicate a message (printmaking, protest theme tied to social studies curriculum which the music teacher will follow from that perspective beginning the next 9 weeks with that team - kind of tag teaming!)

At this point we are not required to make full interdisciplinary expeditions for students. Although I know deep and rich learning can come from this expeditionary approach, philosophically I am struggling because of what I believe to be best for kids through visual art beyond that which won't be supported.

I am wondering if anyone is teaching (or has taught) and how you navigated it, made it work, ideas, suggestions, etc.I really want this to be an opportunity for all of these students, but grieving the loss of semester and yearlong opportunities for students to choose to take, etc. I'd love feedback on the above format and anything else!

with apologies for the length of this and
with thanks in advance for any insights~
(middle school in Oregon)

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