The implementation of any instructional theory has indelible benefits that directly correspond to many areas of study for students. Special area teachers, especially those in the visual arts have been employing reading and writing in their syllabus all along, but never really named its usage. We have used visual media as a springboard to creative writing assignments as well as warm up to individual illustrations. Art learners at the secondary level have read the words of critics and written artist statements to coincide with their work. In terms of CCLS, what better way to introduce a lesson in Navajo Basketry than to have art students read an age appropriate article regarding the Navajo traditions, crafters, description of materials, and reasons for creation? Rather than merely read; closely read. Have students outline text in their own words using a graphic organizer and summary by paragraph. They can pull from the literature second tier vocabulary for explanation, research, and further use across academic subjects. Art students are intuitively thoughtful. A question such as, “Are Appalachian Face jugs truly ugly?” can be discussed with depth and value.
Common Core and the six instructional shifts methodology does not silence the creative voice; it enhances the aesthetic process and engages the student in the development of ideas by providing enduring understanding and opportunity for higher level thinking skills, in turn elevating rigor and educational preparedness without sacrificing the intrinsic value of the arts program. CCLS and its in depth exploration of vocabulary within text in the arts classroom can act as a thread that helps knit together a well rounded learning experience for every student while supporting colleagues cross-curricula. Therefore, making students not only creators, but readers, writers, and thinkers. Isn’t that our goal as teachers? In an age of fiscal soul-searching and massive funding cuts to education, many districts across the state and nation have made tragic cuts to their arts programs without realizing the vitality and reinforcement they afford. CCLS have merit and may just act as a proponent to the importance of the arts and technical subjects in a quality student focused education.
Lisa M. Alessi Nicastro is a teacher and Art Department Chair at Eden Central School District where she also serves as Junior Class Adviser.