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[teacherartexchange] What are the Big Ideas? The Essential Understandings?


From: Judy Decker (judy.decker_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Tue Jul 05 2005 - 09:32:27 PDT

Greetings Art Educators,

I got a request for help with writing curriculum around the Big Ideas
- Essential Understanding. I have never been to one of the Grant
Wiggens' workshops... and only put a couple lesson plans online
written this way (I wrote them back in 1998 before I ever heard of
Wiggens). All I did was pick out some objectives of my curriculum and
tweaked them. Our curriculum guide had way more than I could cover in
12 weeks... so I went for Big Ideas I wanted my kids to take away with

Sample Lesson

Could we come up with a list of BIG IDEAS? (for each main medium)
Then could we come up with some ESSENTIAL UNDERSTANDINGS? for our
Guiding Questions?

Does anyone have some sample lessons they could share with us? I know
some of your schools are big on Grant Wiggens' Authentic Education -
Understanding by Design:

Here is the request from Robert Teslow:

Any resources for "enduring understandings" in art education? Can you
give me an example of "Big ideas" that represent both knowledge and

Example: Printmaking

Big idea>Social justice -prints are democratic-available to many
Big idea>Stencils enabled multiple originals
Big idea>Registration is an essential skill to master in order to produce
edition prints
Big Idea> Process/media guides product/performance

Can you give me an example of enduring understandings that go beyond the
studio experience?
Post to the list - OR send to me off list and I will forward to Robert.

Here are some Big Ideas I found on a site (they called them Essentail

The arts help students develop attitudes, characteristics, and
intellectual skills necessary to work in a changing society;

In works of art there are many problems that have various solutions,
each different from the other but equally credible;

Art conveys knowledge and meaning not learned through the study of
other subjects. Art education represents a form of thinking and a way of
knowing based on human judgment;

Art is the common thread that ties together all other disciplines;

I did not save the link.... What are your BIG IDEAS?

I am confused as I don't know the difference anymore between Big Ideas
and Essential Understanding. Maybe some of you out there can help


Judy Decker

Incredible Art Department
Incredible Art Resources
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