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Red Hook Central School District K-12 Core Curriculum: Visual Arts

Curriculum rationale: an approach to teaching Visual Arts

The Red Hook Central School District’s K-12 art program integrates discipline-specific content with a wide range of art making opportunities designed to stimulate the development of visual, conceptual and practical problem solving skills. Addressing art educators at the 2005 NYSATA conference, painter April Gornik lamented that many Americans are no longer able to distinguish between the many types of imagery to which they are exposed daily. Knowing the difference between a physical, “handmade” art object and a reproduction is critical to children’s “understanding of their own physicality, and their own poetic, perceptual potential,” argued Gornik. Our program aims to teach students how to discern visual information, thereby enabling them to make intelligent and informed aesthetic judgments.

We offer a full and varied art curriculum that builds upon the New York State Learning Standards and draws from the four branches of art discipline: art production, art criticism, art history and aesthetics. Our K-12 art curriculum motivates students to actively take part in a range of art making experiences that allows them to express their ideas and feelings; enables them to master techniques and materials; increases their awareness of how they are affected by the artworks of others; helps develop critical thinking and language related to art; and fosters an understanding of the important function of art in the history of human culture. Our teachers collaborate to reinforce and build upon students’ previous experiences in the art classroom so that their understanding may develop breadth and depth through the years.

Thoughtfully conceived, sequential lessons are the foundation of our art education program. Our NYS certified art teachers design and teach tiered lessons that serve the developmental needs and learning styles of individual students within class groups. All children benefit from art instruction that utilizes different modes of content communication and sensory involvement. We also strive to foster creative independence by employing authentic assessments (such as portfolio reviews and critiques) that are managed by student artists more and more as they mature. Increasingly, we employ electronic media in our teaching to stay current with contemporary art trends and prepare students for possible future employment in the digital arts.

Red Hook Central School District’s art educators employ the VTS (Visual Thinking Strategy) method of “reading” artworks that promotes visual literacy and entitlement in our students. Our students are asked to view works of art silently before responding to simple questions that encourage them to look deeply and reflect upon what they see: What do you think is going on in this picture? What do you see that makes you say that? The objective of VTS is to have students ground their interpretations of artworks in evidence they can point to and communicate to others. Over time, this approach helps students to organically employ art critical thinking skills and become receptive to different values and interpretations.

The Red Hook Central School District proudly provides art education to students of every grade level through the ninth grade Studio in Art course (which fulfills the one credit art requirement for a NYS Regents diploma). Students wishing to continue their art studies beyond the requirement for graduation may take a full sequence of classes including Studio Two, Ceramics Studio, Advanced Ceramics and International Baccalaureate (IB) Art. The latter is a rigorous, two-year, pre college course of study beginning in the junior year. During the senior year, each IB Art student mounts an exhibit of work that is assessed by the art teacher, as well as by an external IB examiner (an outside art professional). The IB Art program is distinctive in its emphasis on the development of an independent body of work based on each student’s interests. Students must also maintain Investigation Workbooks that document their creative processes, influences, research and critical reflections over the two-year period. Students interested in applying to art colleges benefit from the IB Art course as the high quality of work produced demonstrates the creative and critical thinking skills and mastery of media and methods valued in admissions portfolios. Successful completion of the IB Art course may result in the awarding of college credit (this is at the discretion of the college applied to). Red Hook High School offers IB Art as part of its IB Diploma program. 

Links to K-12 Art Curriculum Diagrams  

K-8 Art Overview  

9-12 Art Overview  

IB Art Year 1 Overview  

IB Art Year 2 Overview