Arts Curriculum Framework


Republished in this protected area for the purpose of curriculum development.
Author: Massachusetts Department of Education, HTML Template for Documents
Date: October 17, 1995


Appendix A: Getting Started
Appendix B: Organizing Materials, Time, and Space
Appendix C: Improving Arts Education: What Partners Can Do

Appendix A: Getting Started

Implementation of the Massachusetts Arts Curriculum Framework requires that each school or district go through a process of making key curricular decisions. While the Framework provides a structure, important decisions about arts instruction and assessment still must be made by teachers and administrators at the local level. Each district or school should initiate a self-study process similar to that outlined in Common Chapter Four, comparing current practice with the Guiding Principles and Learning Standards of the Framework. Among the questions teachers, administrators, and family members might ask are:

One Step at a Time: A Multi-Year Professional Development Plan for Using the Arts Framework

Just as there is no "one right answer" to an artistic problem, so there is no "one right way" to develop or revise a district PreK-12 arts curriculum. The Arts Framework is a complex document: it unites dance, music, theatre, and visual arts and is organized around concepts, rather than disciplines. By design, it is meant to stretch the boundaries of arts programs as they currently exist in most schools and districts, and challenge creative teachers to redefine what arts education can be. The suggestions below are but one way to go about reexamining "the practice of creating" through the perspective of the Framework. They are based on the philosophy that district curriculum and assessment is strongest when it evolves from continuing discourse and the contributions of teachers at all levels.

The First Step: Finding Connections Between What You Already Do and Arts Framework

For example, a middle school general music teacher focuses on the Creating and Performing Strand and assembles a portfolio of lessons and recordings of student rehearsals and performances to share with other middle school music teachers.

The Second Step: Looking for the Challenges in the Framework

For example, an elementary school visual art teacher concentrates on Learning Standard 7, "Lifelong learners use technology in order to create, perform, and conduct research in the arts" and collaborates with classroom and educational technology teachers to incorporate the use of graphics software into his fourth grade curriculum.

The Third Step: Building a District Curriculum Based on the Framework

For example, dance, music, theatre, and visual arts teachers from elementary and secondary schools in a district meet regularly to write a curriculum guide to inform families about arts education, and share their work at a professional conference.

Appendix B: Organizing Materials, Time, and Space

Strong arts programs develop when educators define what they need to teach the arts comprehensively and safely. To meet the standards in this Framework, schools must provide students with adequate materials, equipment, facilities, and time. Programs grounded in creating and performing require consumable art materials, musical instruments, scripts, and scores. These programs also require generic equipment such as projectors, tape recorders, televisions, and VCRs, computers and CD-ROM players, and, depending on the program and level, specialized equipment such as synthesizers, scanners, lighting equipment, printing presses, darkroom equipment, potter's wheels, and kilns.

Responsible educators pay attention to the issue of safety in the arts. In visual arts studios, as well as in set design and construction, this means choosing non-toxic art materials, and supervising students when they use tools. Visual arts rooms need adequate wiring, ventilation, and plumbing, and dance studios and theatres need flooring that will support dancers' and actors' movements without causing injury. Theatres need adequate wiring and supports for lighting, and music rooms need acoustical treatment to absorb sound and prevent hearing loss.

All arts educators need a resource library in order to introduce students to works of art from the past and other cultures. While some arts educators use textbooks, many teachers find that it is more useful to build an individualized collection of audio and video recordings, software, artifacts, books, prints, or slides that can be used flexibly. Software companies offer many compilations of visual and performing arts, and the number of available collections can only be expected to grow in the future. Public broadcasting and the Massachusetts Center for Educational Telecommunications (MCET) provide excellent arts programming, and the Internet offers the opportunity to connect with artist bulletin boards and international sources for the arts. For locating both traditional and electronic sources of information, the arts teachers' most valuable allies are school library/media specialists, technology specialists, and children's, young adult, and reference librarians in public libraries.

Among the most precious and elusive resources for the arts educator are sufficient time for teaching and planning, and sufficient space for student activities and storage of student work. Administrators and arts educators should work together to define space and time needs. They will find it useful to consult the guidelines of the Music Educators National Conference and the National Art Education Association regarding class and room size, and scheduling recommendations at each grade span.

Appendix C: Improving Arts Education: What Partners Can Do?

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