Saturday, January 26, 2013

A Little Bit of NYS Common Core...TEXT HEAVY POST!

Friday was the last day of the 2nd quarter.  Usually we have a half day with students and a half day of time for grading and submitting report card grades, however yesterday, they cancelled school with the students and gave us a full day of staff development regarding the Common Core.  I'll have to admit, at first I was a little annoyed and not really sure how this was going to connect to my subject area, but alas, I was pleasantly surprised!

I didn't have to attend any of the common core meetings about math, but I was asked to attend the 1st-2nd grade ELA Common Core meeting.  Here's what I learned there:

NYS contracted out to a company called Core Knowledge to create  K-2 curriculum for the listening and learning strand of the Common Core.  Since the younger students, especially Kinders and 1st graders, aren't at a high enough reading level yet to start reading in-depth texts, the Common Core focuses more on listening to text for comprehension and decoding.  In other words, teachers at these younger levels are asked to do more read-a-loud activities with students for "Listening to Learn."  This right there took a little bit of weight off my shoulders...all along I've thought, how am I supposed to incorporate reading with my kinders?  Well, I don't necessarily have to have the Kinders read on their own (aside from my art sight words...shape words, color words, etc.) but it's OK to do read-a-louds with them!

The idea behind doing more read-a-louds at this younger age is that students will begin to have a larger vocabulary for when they do start reading.  There were some great statistics that I can't remember from the presentation...about students from fluent families (families who read to their kids at home) versus students from poverty (who don't get reading at home) and their drop out rates from school...and they obviously showed that students who are read to at home at a younger age, have a higher chance of graduating school.

Another thing is that these grade levels should be reading 50% fiction and 50% non-fiction works throughout the year.

Anyways, back to the exciting part.  Our school district is adopting the curriculum map created by Core Knowledge for K-2, and I rather like it!  Each year builds upon the other year and incorporates science and history in the younger grades.  The curriculum currently has 9 strands, or units, for the school year (before next year, three more NYS specific strands will be added).  Again, these units are just for the listening and learning strand of common core...not writing, reading, math, etc.

Here are what the current strands are and my brainstorming for extension activities in art class:

Nursery Rhymes and Fables (3 weeks)
The Human Body: Five Senses (3 weeks): self-portraits, artwork with texture
Stories (3 weeks): Elmer, listen to a story and draw a picture from listening to the details
Plants (3 weeks)
Farms (3 weeks): drawing shape barns and animals, incorporating a background
Kings and Queens (3 weeks): design a crown
Seasons and Weather (3 weeks): trees in the different seasons, background details
Colonial Towns and Townspeople (3 weeks)
Taking Care of Earth (3 weeks): recyclable art

Now, some of these might not fall where I'd like them to, but it's okay for me to do a fall season tree drawing in the fall, even though the seasons unit won't happen until probably spring time...this will help the students have background knowledge in the unit when it happens in class.

1st Grade
Different Lands Similar Stories (2 weeks): Compare artwork from different cultures/styles that are of the same subject/story...i.e. compare Van Gogh's Bedroom at Arles with Lichtenstein's Bedroom at Mona Lisa with modern parodies of Mona Lisa and then draw your own modern Mona Lisa!
Fables and Stories (3 weeks)
The Human Body: Body Systems, Germs, Diseases and Preventing Illness (3 weeks): color mixing by squirting paint on hands and shaking hands...connect the spread of colds with the mixing of the paint all while reviewing primary and secondary colors....draw germs using organic shapes
Early World Civilizations (4 weeks): Cave art
Early American Civilizations (4 weeks): Native Americans, Colonial Quilts
Astronomy (2 weeks)
Animals and Habitats (3 weeks): shape animals with depth and appropriate background (fits right in with my shape animal unit I already did!)
Fairy Tales (2 weeks)
History of Earth (3 weeks) My dinosaur unit will fit great here! Plus, it will get both 1st grade teachers on the same page with what they teach...they'll both be doing the dinosaur unit before they go on their field trip to Dinosaur World!

2nd Grade
Fighting for a Cause (4 weeks) This unit is about people like Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, etc.
Fair Tales and Tall Tales (2 weeks)
Cycles in Nature (3 weeks): Eric Carle, catterpillar to butterfly
Insects (3 weeks): viewpoint drawings...view from a bug...
Ancient Greek Civilizations (3 weeks): pottery with patterns
Greek Myths (3 weeks)
Early Asian Civilizations (3 weeks): Chinese New Year
Charlotte's Web I & II (two 3 week units): This unit is one the 2nd grade teacher is going to try out this year and suggested a large paper-mache type sculpture of Charlotte herself!
Immigration (3 weeks): Statue of Liberty, Keith Haring


  1. This is such a fantastic post. I love how you listed the common core and then brainstormed art lessons. This is so valuable. I'm linking this to my DSS facebook page. I LOVE this!!!!

  2. I've got to admit, the title of your post didn't exactly make me excited about opening it up to see what was inside! But as Patty says above, it is an excellent post and you've obviously got a lot accomplished with your linked up lessons. I'm very impressed.

    It's interesting how we all approach things differently - I think the first topics I was drawn to are the ones you haven't approached yet: nursery rhymes, fairy tales, fables, tall tales, etc. Oh - and plants!! I guess that's what makes us each unique and interesting!

    1. Thanks! Writing catchy titles isn't one of my strong suits yet! ;-)

      I'm not really sure why I'm not drawn to the fairy tales, nursery rhymes, etc., though I can think of things to do with plants real easy...texture rubbings from leaves, nature paper, leaf collages, drawing leaves and plants, clay leaf bowls...

      I can say I'm most excited about the ancient civilization topics! There's the art history buff in me coming out!

    2. Wow! I teach Art/Science and it is so helpful to see posts that where art shares a connection to other subjects.

    3. Using a Greek/Roman Unit is an easy way to incorporate fables even philosophy (i.e. Aeosop's Fables). In the later grades you can introduce them to Plato's Allegory of the Cave during a cave lesson, and Socrates for upper grades, and even Descartes with a lesson on Van Gogh's chair (2D vs. 3D: What chair?). Maybe the Odessy with an Atlantis scene. I've just been getting these ideas lately and am getting excited about introducing public schooled children to classic thought through art historical units.