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Art Literacy: How to Embed Art Literacy in Your Curriculum

By The Arty Teacher - June 10, 2018

I posed the question on social media “If a new art teacher said to you ‘How do you embed art literacy in your art curriculum?’ What would you answer?”

The replies came thick and fast with answers that were clearly working to fulfill different curriculums, but there are certainly ideas here worth sharing.  Art literacy is clearly a hot topic as I had too many replies to post!  Here are a few from around the globe:

“Through learning intentions, through analysis of artist and designers work and evaluations of their own and others work. Through marking and corrections.”

“Keywords, posters, analysis of artists and art, reflection are all great ways to embed Art Literacy…”

“I would answer that it’s very easy to include literacy. Place posters around the art room that include the elements of art and principles of design along with definitions. Write down criteria for assignments that include the language of art. Requiring all students to attend an art exhibit (alone or as a class) and write a review about a work of art, describing it with art terminology and then giving their reaction to it, is a very easy way to ensure that students know how to write and think about art.”

“We interpret posters, read articles and annotate them (when relatable to a topic), reflect and critique artwork.”

“Students write artist statements speak about art and read articles about artists. As well as complete rubrics that need to be read and written.”

“I use visual thinking strategies, in VTS students look for multiple meanings of the image based on the context clues. Additionally, it is a vocabulary scaffolding activity because the facilitator paraphrases what the students say about the work. That’s one way.”

“One of the first “literacy” workshops I attended clarified that anything that must be “interpreted” was defined as text, that includes artwork and art prints. So anytime you have your students “read” a work of art, you are embedding literacy!”

“Include 10 keywords per topic, to include in your teaching for that scheme of work. Share with the students, with visual explanations (literacy mats ) get the students to learn the meanings. Use quizzing as a starter/arrival activity.
Secondly get students to use nouns and adjectives to analyze artwork.
Thirdly include short pieces to read in lessons about different artists that relate to your scheme. All could be done as starter/arrival activities, whilst you distribute equipment or take the register.”

“Quick starter tasks such as match artwork to descriptions with key vocabulary but then each match has a challenge question to discuss to encourage verbal literacy too, annotation competition in pairs and keyword Jenga w Y9-11, taboo, hangman, artist research pages, peer mark mystery student there’s loads you can do”

“Formative and summative written assessments. Peer to peer dialogue, give one get ones, artist statements”

“Critiques require students to assess, evaluate, interpret visual images and correlate it to the culture, symbolism, intention, and bring in their point of view based on their findings. We are looking at synthesis and assimilation using critical literacy.”

“I do an Artist of the Week activity that begins one of my intro classes daily. There’s a piece of artwork displayed each week, every day the class reads the artwork through the art criticism process. It’s been a cool way to introduce a tidbit of art history – past and present – and builds the students’ critical thinking skills as they respond to the questions or task of the day. I have also begun assessing the artmaking process with artist statements & reflective critiques (both verbal and written).”

The set of art keywords in the video below are a great way to evidence art literacy in your art department.  You can find them here.

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The Arty Teacher

Sarah Crowther is The Arty Teacher. She is a high school art teacher in the North West of England. She strives to share her enthusiasm for art by providing art teachers around the globe with high-quality resources and by sharing her expertise through this blog.

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