Common Core Approach to Art Classes

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Learning to think deeply and more critically is one skill that students are bringing with a Common Core approach to art classes.  At Plant City High School, the students in Nicole Carpenter’s Photography 1 class at Plant City High School have nott heard much about the Common Core State Standards but they are putting the approach into practice.

The Common Core lays out goals for students in language arts and math, but Hillsborough County school district teachers of non-core subjects – like Carpenter – are using the standards in their classes, too.

The state adopted the educational goals for students in 2010 and renamed them the Florida Standards last month. And over the summer, district art teachers – as well as teachers of other electives such as music, physical education and drama – received Common Core training.

Carpenter is embracing the standards, which supporters say are more rigorous and will better help students prepare for college and careers. In fact, she said they reaffirm some of the methods she was already using, such as teaching students to find a deeper meaning when observing others’ artwork.

“I think people get the idea that because it has the word ‘core’ in it, that it’s not stuff that we do,” said Carpenter, who has taught for 16 years. “It’s the opposite. So many of the expectations in Common Core are deeply rooted in our arts curriculum. We look at a piece of art and say, ‘What was going on financially and politically?’ We make those cross-curricular connections all the time.”

Carpenter works the standards into her photography classes, as well as her drawing, painting and studio classes. She uses more words with her students that Common Core emphasizes, such as “evidence.” She also is adjusting to carving out time for more class discussion.

Common Core Approach to Art Classes

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“Close reading” exercises – or reading something multiple times – are frequently done in language arts classes.

In her second-period photography class on Friday, Carpenter split the students into groups of three and four to analyze a photograph called “House of Hysteria,” taken in 1941 by Clarence John Laughlin and depicting a decrepit building in Louisiana with no roof, a girl and a hand reaching in from the corner.

The class is studying shadows, which are prominent in the photograph.

“Write any word that comes to mind when you’re looking at that image,” Carpenter said. “Second, look at the image and tell me what mood or feeling you get when you look at it.”

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Common Core Approach to Art Classes

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