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Content Areas: Visual Arts

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Visual Arts

California Arts Standards

The visual arts standards describe expectations for learning in the visual arts regardless of style or genre. The standards impart the breadth and depth of the visual art experience through the art-making process. The standards serve as an impetus for arts educators and administrators to inspire, support, and develop their students in the many facets of visual arts so they are prepared for a lifelong appreciation, understanding, engagement and, if pursued, additional study towards a career in visual arts.

Like the other disciplines, the four artistic processes of visual arts (creating, presenting, responding, and connecting) are addressed linearly in written standards, but are envisioned to occur simultaneously for students in the actual practice of visual art. The concepts embedded in the standards reflect the scope of learning—the knowledge, skills, and understandings—taught through study of the visual arts. An artist imagines, executes, reflects, and refines work before finally completing a piece of work (creating), shares or displays the work (presenting), reflects on the completed work (responding), and connects the experience to other contexts of meaning or knowledge (connecting). Students engaging in the artistic process learn by solving problems, exhibiting their work, and thinking critically about it; then, they continue the process by relating other ideas, contexts, and meanings to their own as they refine their future work to a more sophisticated level.

The visual arts standards are designed to enable students to achieve visual arts literacy and develop technical artistic skills. Visual arts include the traditional fine arts such as drawing, painting, ceramics, metals, printmaking, fiber arts, photography, sculpture, works in wood, and mixed media; architectural, environmental, and industrial arts, such as urban interior, product, and landscape design; and folk art, which was historically defined by “originating from, or traditional to the common people of a country” (Collins English Dictionary 2019). 

What Is Literacy in Visual Arts?

In the visual arts, developing literacy occurs as a result of engaging in an authentic creative process through the use of traditional and nontraditional materials and applying the formal elements of art and principles of design; knowing an arts language to describe art; and discovering the expressive qualities of art to be able to reflect, critique, and connect personal experience to art.

Visual and Performing Arts Framework: for California public schools: Kindergarten through grade twelve. Sacramento: California Dept. of Education.

Inclusive Practices in Visual Arts

UDL Guidelines – Educator Worksheet – for Visual Art Lesson

UDL Guidelines – Educator Worksheet – for Visual Art Lesson
I. Provide Multiple Means of Representation: Your notes
1.0  Provide options for perception
1.1 Offer ways of customizing the display of information Kinesthetic activities, as well as visual activities allowing students to move freely throughout the classroom to create artworks
1.2 Offer alternatives for auditory information Information being presented also written in large font on the power point presentation
1.3 Offer alternatives for visual information Computer and tablet station available to all students
2.0 Provide options for language, mathematical expressions, and symbols
2.1 Clarify vocabulary and symbols Review of the elements of design both verbally and visually
2.2 Clarify syntax and structure
2.3 Support decoding of text, mathematical notation, and symbols
2.4 Promote understanding across language Use of visuals to promote understanding
2.5 Illustrate through multiple media Technology, exemplars
3.0 Provide options for comprehension
3.1 Activate or supply background knowledge Review of elements of design and introduction to Artist Trading Cards (ATCs are miniature pieces of art reproduced on trading cards 2 ½ x 3 ½”)
3.2 Highlight patterns, critical features, big ideas, and relationships Brainstorming ideas relating to ATCs and how the elements of design fit in
3.3 Guide information processing, visualization, and manipulation
3.4 Maximize transfer and generalization
II. Provide Multiple Means for Action and Expression:
4.0 Provide options for physical action
4.1 Vary the methods for response and navigation Choice of materials
4.2 Optimize access to tools and assistive technologies Use of technology and lager cardstock 
5.0 Provide options for expression and communication
5.1 Use multiple media for communication Power point presentation, computer and tablet station, student reflection and teacher conferences
5.2 Use multiple tools for construction and composition Choices of materials
5.3 Build fluencies with graduated levels of support for practice and performance Building on prior knowledge of the elements of design
6.0 Provide options for executive functions
6.1 Guide appropriate goal setting Goal set at the beginning of class
6.2 Support planning and strategy development Informally as moving from group to group
6.3 Facilitate managing information and resources
6.4 Enhance capacity for monitoring progress Self-Assessment (reflection)/Teacher-Student Conference
III. Provide Multiple Means for Engagement:
7.0 Provide options for recruiting interest
7.1 Optimize individual choice and autonomy Choice of materials as well as desired elements of design and artwork outcome
7.2 Optimize relevance, value, and authenticity Students may incorporate interests and preferences when creating their artworks
7.3 Minimize threats and distractions Informal monitoring of students during the activity, keeping students focus on the assessment goal- working towards an exhibition
8.0 Provide options for sustaining effort and persistence
8.1 Heighten salience of goals and objectives Goals written on Chalkboard – for reference during the activity
8.2 Vary demands and resources to optimize challenge Multiple stations allow for choice in materials, outcome, and elements of design
8.3 Foster collaboration and community Collaborative work environment, gallery walk after activity, positive post-it notes following gallery walk
8.4 Increase mastery-oriented feedback
9.0 Provide options for self-regulation
9.1 Promote expectations and beliefs that optimize motivation Activity reflection
9.2 Facilitate personal coping skills and strategies
9.3 Develop self-assessment and reflection Reflection, Peer-assessment through gallery walk, and teacher-student conferences

Strategies/Accommodations in the Art Classroom or Lesson to consider:

  • Lighting, color differences, and allowing tactile representation for students.
  • painting or drawing strategies such as use of dominant hand, painting with the brush in their mouth, use of computer painting apps, use of grips,
  • Precut items, provide special/adaptive scissors, partner students to cut items,
  • Slant boards, non-slip surfaces for materials
  • Magnifiers, Light Boxes, computerized magnification,
  • Allow choice in artistic representation

From Cal State LA Education Class: Visual and Performing Arts in the Inclusive Elementary Classroom

Week 2:

Introduction of a various grade level art education curriculum-delivery formats and art in diverse settings.

Curriculum Development and Supplemental Materials Commission (2004). Visual and performing arts framework: for California public schools: Kindergarten through grade twelve. Sacramento: California Dept. of Education.

Students will read: Chappell, S.V., & Cahnmann-Taylor, M. (2013). No child left with crayons. Review of Research in Education, 37(1), 243-268. doi: 10.3102/0091732X12461615

Eça, T. T., Milbrandt, M. K., Shin, R., & Hsieh, K. (2017). Visual Arts Education and the Challenges of the Millennium Goals. The Palgrave Handbook of Global

Activity: Students will identify a grade level and subject area that they would like to focus on throughout the semester.

Week 3:

Arts in Education Part 1

Introduce the concept of pacing for primary and intermediate students Self Discovery, cooperative group learning, problem solving techniques.

Students will review sample art, music, dance and theatre lessons.

Activity: Students will be grouped to work cooperatively to discuss how the sample lessons could be applied to their assigned grade level.

Assignment: Students will individually complete a TEAL module
Arts Education, 91-105. doi:10.1057/978-1-137-55585-4_6

Week 4:

Arts in Education Part 2 Universal Design for Learning (UDL)

Students will read: Rao, K., & Meo, G. (2016). Using universal design for learning to design standards-based lessons. SAGE Open, 6 (4), 1-12. doi: 10.1177/2158244016690688

Hashey, A.I., & Stahl, S. (2014). Making online learning accessible for students with disabilities. Teaching Exceptional Children, 46 (5), 70-78. DOI: 10.1177/0040059914528329

Activity: Students will work cooperatively to identify key elements in a UDL lesson and discuss how the sample lessons (from part 1) could be incorporated into a UDL lesson.

Making Art Accessible for Students with Physical, Visual, and Speech Disabilities Through Assistive Technology

Example of a Picture Exchange for an Art Class

twenty squares with to do items in each

Additional Resources

Articles & Books

Chappell, S.V., & Cahnmann-Taylor, M. (2013). No child left with crayons. Review of Research in Education, 37(1), 243-268. doi: 10.3102/0091732X12461615

Eça, T. T., Milbrandt, M. K., Shin, R., & Hsieh, K. (2017). Visual Arts Education and the Challenges of the Millennium Goals. The Palgrave Handbook of Global Arts Education, 91-105. doi:10.1057/978-1-137-55585-4_6

Kennedy Center (2012). The intersection of arts education and special education: Exemplary programs and approaches.

Wexler, A., & Luethi-Garrecht, A. (2015). Beyond accommodations: Designing for nonverbal/nonauditory learners in the inclusive art room. Art Education, __, 15-21.

Wexler, A., & Luethi-Garrecht, A. (2015). Beyond accommodations: Designing for nonverbal/nonauditory learners in the inclusive art room. Art Education, __, 15-21.


Elementary Art teacher:

High School Art teacher:

Visual Arts videos (these are not teaching videos) but can be used as analysis of