“The techniques of Monet or Degas can be copied; their principles of design are not obscure, they can be learned. If you want them for yourself you can have them—for a price. And the price is dearer than you may think. Not only will you have to put in at least as much time as they did in developing the same skills, all your living days, but the real price you will have paid is that you will have succeeded in becoming them, and will have missed becoming you.”
– Peter London
Choice-based art education stems from the idea that all children have the ability to create authentic artwork in a student-centered setting. A choice-based art room is set up in studio centers (drawing, painting, etc.) and students individually choose the medium and subject matter for their work. Students learn about materials and processes specific to each center, helping them gain skills at expressing themselves visually. Students develop their skills at each studio center through teacher-led lessons and their own self-directed work. Students also deepen their understanding of the visual arts by studying art history, contemporary art, and reflecting on their own artwork.
The pedagogy of choice-based art education aligns well with the IB philosophy. Students are encouraged to carry the IB-based “action cycle” into the art room, where they make artwork that reflects what they are learning in the classroom. IB and choice-based art education both rely on student-centered, constructivist models of learning. Inquiry in the art room involves experimentation, play, spontaneous collaboration and creation. Reflection, an important component of IB, is also an important component of choice-based art education. Students regularly share their artwork with peers and reflect on their own artwork as part of the art-making process.
Curriculum is aligned with the Illinois State Fine Arts Standards and Chicago Public Schools’ own scope and sequence. More information about choice-based art education, a nationally recognized teaching philosophy, can be found at:
Kindergarten is a time for students to become familiar with the routines of school, and the art room is no exception. Students work at centers, which change to reflect what’s happening in their classroom. Building blocks, drawing and paint are always available each class. Students also have the opportunity to create with collage, sculpture, clay and other materials in the art room through play and exploration.
Students become familiar with materials and techniques by working within the class centers. Students have time to share and reflect on their artwork and learn how their art relates to art made throughout history. Centers and units include: Drawing, painting, collage, sculpture, weaving, sewing, printmaking, puppet- and book-making.
The Arts is a focus of IB’s Middle Years Programme. Saber Studio turns into a modified choice classroom in 6th grade. Students refine processes and techniques in their artwork, and strive to make reflective, personal artwork based on unit themes and are required to have a dedicated sketchbook for art class. Studio centers include: Drawing, painting, collage, sculpture, printmaking and fiber. Units this year include: Who I Am; The Human Figure; Graffiti and Street Art.
During the 3rd and 4th quarters, students are also in a combined Art-Technology class. Art Tech Quarter 3 is about reflecting on in-progress and completed work via blogging, and Quarter 4 is focused on the various types of digital art-making.
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