Discipline Based Art Education (DBAE)
I design many of my own lessons and unit plans for use in the art room. I try to research topics which are interesting to me and I think my enthusiasm about the project helps the students become excited as well. I would never make my students do a project which I find boring. I also draw a lot of my inspiration from my own experiences and travels around the world.
My art lessons are planned around the Discipline Based Art Education (DBAE) philosophy which was developed by the J. Paul Getty Trust. This philosophy requires that all art lessons include objectives in the following four areas:
1. Art History (this can be art history, culture, time periods, biographical etc.)
2. Art Production (each lesson should lead to the student creating some form of artwork).
3. Art Criticism (students should be able to describe art works in their own words and think about their own work critically and make improvements when possible/necessary).
4. Art Aesthetics (students should be able to describe art in their own words and express what they like or dislike about it).
The DBAE method fits in with all DoDEA art standards and the units we do in class often cover many of the required standards at once. I usually do these “formal” lessons with Grades 1-5 (Kindergarten has a slightly different approach where I work on motor skills and build up a foundation).
When planning a lesson for Grades 1-5, I start with a history lesson of some kind where I present information and the students view art or cultural artifacts and discuss it. This also gives us an opportunity to do some art criticism and art aesthetics as we talk about other people’s art.
Then I show them a completed example of the project we are going to make. The next class is usually about the technical process for creating the piece. I do a lot of demonstrations and if the project is difficult or lengthy, I break up the steps into manageable bits and let the students begin the first few steps before moving on. (For example, when making papier-mâché masks, we first work on building up the basic shape and layers for the first couple of classes before moving on to how to make the parts of the face, and we make the parts of the face before talking about decoration, etc.)
My primary job during the production portion of the project is to act as a facilitator. I go around the room and help students who are struggling, or review procedures when too many students are making similar mistakes.
At the end of the project older students are asked to write about their art project on a self-evaluation sheet. Younger students are not asked to write about it, but I occasionally allow them to self-evaluate using a rubric. Rubrics for each project are posted in the classroom and available to the students at the start of every new project.
Lessons can also be planned around a particular topic to facilitate cross-curricular alignment. I am always happy to help a teacher reinforce classroom learning by covering a specific culture, region or time period. For example, while students in 3rd Grade were studying Japan and reading the story “Suki’s Kimono” they were also working on Japanese Noh theater masks in art.