Breaking Out of My Curriculum Box

Breaking Out of the Box

Last summer I looked at all of my curriculum and created a new foundation for my instruction.  I am calling the components “cornerstones” because I want them to be solid building blocks for my students’ lessons.  This first week of school I introduced them to the Studio Thinking Habits of Mind: develop craft, engage & persist, envision, express, observe, reflect, stretch & explore, and understand the art world.  I want these habits of mind to be second nature to all of us.  I told my students today that I want them to think of themselves as artists coming into a shared art studio, not just going to “art class”.  Hopefully, by working on incorporating these habits of mind into their work all year, they will be more engaged and excited about their artwork by thinking and feeling like a real artist.

I am also introducing my lessons using Big Ideas and Artistic Problems.  These are enduring ideas that all people share all over the world, and I hope by giving them a springboard of enduring ideas, this will also lead them to making more meaningful art.  One of the books we used in a previous course, Teaching Meaning in Artmaking, gave a great foundation for building Big Ideas into the art lesson.  And finally, something I learned from a colleague in my graduate class last semester, the Question Formulation Technique, is the final cornerstone.  I want to teach my students to generate their own essential questions about their art making before they begin their project.  By giving them more independence in guiding their art making, I hope that the art they create really matters to them!


Hetland, L., Winner, E., Veenema, S., & Sheridan, K. (2013) Studio thinking: the real benefits of visual arts education, second edition.  New York, NY: Teachers College Press; Reston, VA: National Art Education Association.

The Right Question Institute.  Retrieved from:

Walker, S. (2001) Teaching Meaning in Artmaking. Worcester, MA: Davis Publications, Inc.

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