Ohhhhh, writing curriculum! This is one of my favorite parts of the job….do you like it too? Writing curriculum is an ever-changing, thoughtful, and evolving process that I revel in. But where to begin? Sometimes many teachers struggle to find a connection vertically or even within the grade level of teaching. Often we as teachers can also be stuck in a rut where we stay in our comfort zone with materials. Or, we are so excited to try new things that we forget to build a sense of tradition where students look forward to the next grade level to try a special project. Then there is the spectrum of choice- how much skill based learning will you create, and how much choice will create within that project?
Here are some of the things I think about when I write my curriculum. I think about books, artists, experiences and places as inspiration for starters. Then I use this structured plan when planning each year.
Each grade level will experience:
- a drawing project
- a printing project
- a collage project
- a painting project
- a clay project
- This year I added photography too!
I also want to be sure to focus on these areas:
- landscape art
- abstract art
- self portraits
- animal portraits, family portraits, portraiture in general
- still life/observational drawings
- color studies, line studies, etc
I work hard to make sure each is age appropriate and engaging, while also thinking about both the process and product. This is always a tough one for me, of course. After years of belaboring of which mattered more….I have a sense of balance on the subject. The process needs to provide a sense of both rigor and stretching a student to explore and engage through challenge and joy. The product (the work of art!) needs to act as a result of this hard work. Sometimes one or the other will not reflect solely positive emotions….and this is okay!
It reminds me of that poster that says “sorry for the mess, we are learning here.” The mess might be visible, but it also could be in the mind, or the process. Artwork is often emotional, so I try to remember this when planning curriculum so that each year has a balance of challenge and ease. This intention is made so that ultimately I know that students walk out of my class knowing that they have had fun, have been stretched and are beaming with pride. That cultivation of pride is why I show up everyday.
Each year I change my curriculum, while holding onto some traditions that are important to my program. Here is a sample curriculum map for you in my TpT store– check it out!
How do you write curriculum and what influences your class’ projects?