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1 Course Standards

Course Standards

Visual Arts and Common Core Standards

by Keith Wills

Educators across the nation are wanting to focus more attention on the core understanding and abilities students have when they complete their education. These standards mostly deal with English and Math, the traditional academics. At the foundation of these standards is the development of problem solving skills within students. In our modern technology world anyone can quickly find out facts from history or just about anything you want to know within seconds so education based on testing for knowledge of these facts has become less important than knowing how to apply those facts to a challenge. ACTION now becomes more important than pure knowledge. WISDOM is now what we want to develop in our students. 

The SCPHOTO curriculum has been a hands-on or project driven curriculum since I began teaching in 1970. As a graduate of Cal Poly SLO I had this real world approach to teaching while at Santa Cruz High School. It has always been my teaching style to present students with the basics of the technology they have available to them and then challenge them to find new ways to apply that technology to a real world problem. Problem solving is the foundation of this curriculum. 

Creating / Sharing / Responding

Students in SCPHOTO create many of their images given in assignments in a FORUM or online discussion group within their class or with all students enrolled in our program. In 1995 when I first put my curriculum online I discovered that sharing student art on the web and  receiving critical reviews from people all over the world was more motivational and down right exciting for kids than anything I did in the classroom. Students then began to develop philosophical foundations within the medium of photography that went beyond . Work turned in today in SCPHOTO courses requires students to comment on their image giving reasons they feel it meets the assignment standard as well as how they went about solving the problem given them. Students are given projects at the end of each section of study that test their understanding. They share that with other students and thus can see how others have solved the same problem. Discussions ask students to comment on their own work as well as that of those in their group. 

Almost everyone is a photographer today because we all have a camera in our pocket in the form of a smartphone. The SCPHOTO programs hopes to mold use of that tool into something valuable by giving students guidelines and understanding of how this powerful tool can be used to improve communication. 

ChartFoundational Elements

Every photo has two key elements: Subject and Treatment. The subject is the reason or purpose for a photo that has been made the dominant object or space within the confines of the frame. Once the subject is selected treatment kicks in providing guidelines on composition, exposure, lighting, equipment and digital processing. Our hope is to help students take something in their mind and turn it into an image that displays that image to others so that they can respond to it in a way we anticipated before the image was created. 

This little chart is a MAP of how the curriculum works within the medium of photography. The process is one of VISUAL ARTS going from concept to Image and presentation of that image to others for review. Thought is put into how a print is shared as well as how it is created. 

Right click on the chart to view it full size. 

The Basic Photography curriculum focuses on the key elements of this process including composition and subject selection. Students review the history of photography to learn how this medium has grown in a very short time period. 

What are the Standards focused on in SCPHOTO?

1. Understanding and applying media, techniques, and processes

  • Students apply media, techniques, and processes with sufficient skill, confidence, and sensitivity that their intentions are carried out in their artworks
  • Students conceive and create works of visual art that demonstrate an understanding of how the communication of their ideas relates to the media, techniques, and processes they use
  • Students initiate, define, and solve challenging visual arts problems independently using intellectual skills such as analysis, synthesis, and evaluation

2. Using knowledge of structures and functions

  • Students demonstrate the ability to form and defend judgments about the characteristics and structures to accomplish commercial, personal, communal, or other purposes of art
  • Students evaluate the effectiveness of artworks in terms of organizational structures and functions
  • Students create artworks that use organizational principles and functions to solve specific visual arts problems

3. Reflecting upon and assessing the characteristics and merits of their work and the work of others

  • Students identify intentions of those creating artworks, explore the implications of various purposes, and justify their analyses of purposes in particular works
  • Students describe meanings of artworks by analyzing how specific works are created and how they relate to historical and cultural contexts
  • Students reflect analytically on various interpretations as a means for understanding and evaluating works of visual art