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All Art Tells A Story

Big Idea: All Art Tells a Story 

With the continued quarantine of Covid-19 into the Fall 2020 school year, the whole eight weeks of placement was taught online. My desire was for the students to learn how they could reflect their circumstances through their art and be creative with the materials they had on hand. 

Rational/Description of Learning

Students are living in the midst of a world-wide pandemic, something that has affected every aspect of life for every individual, no matter age, race, gender, financial standing or education. Because of the fact students and families have been quarantining for an extended period of time, the realization of the loss of freedoms is evident. I chose this opportunity to prompt students to think about their own space, surroundings, losses, freedoms and hopes, and how they can incorporate their own story into personal artwork. Without the ability to give students materials, I challenged them to think about creative use of found materials, the power of an image, and the benefit of failures to produce problem solving, new ideas and solutions. The drawing activities focused on story, observation and communicating ideas to the viewer. The three-dimensional class included story from more than one angle, blending materials with basic engineering principles, like balance, movement and simple machinery.

Enduring Understandings 

  • Art is integrated in every aspect of life. 

  • An image is powerful and can reflect circumstances. 

  • Creativity with material usage fosters ingenuity in design. 

  • Cross-disciplinary connections builds greater curiosity. 

Essential Questions​

  • Why do artists make art about controversial subjects? 

  • Why is art that causes people to have more questions than answers important? 

  • How does our past, present and future history affect art and thinking? 

  • Can art reflect culture and traditions? How? 

Unit Goals and Lesson Objectives (Colorado Standards) 

As I reflected on how each of us as individuals, and collectively, had to make sacrifices in everyday freedoms during the pandemic, I chose to redirect my lessons with the goal of process for the students: process of their own story (during something their generation had not experienced before) to be incorporated into personal meaning through their artwork. (Colorado Academic Standards 2020- Visual Arts: Eighth Grade, Standard 4. Relate and Connect to Transfer. Grade Level Expectation: 1. Interpret the ways individual makers become agents that express the interdependent relationship between art, culture and social contexts.) We were not able to distribute materials, so many students had to use what was available in their homes. 

Content and Instructional Strategies

Because students were home for extended periods of time, I wanted to empower them by giving open-ended assignments without step-by-step instructions. I gave them images and videos to inspire, but left the process up to the student. I explained how failure and changing outcomes build creative problem-solving and confidence in tackling new projects and new materials.  In the 3D assignment of an Alexander Calder inspired mobile, I instructed how to balance and build from the bottom up, but left materials and weights up to the preference of students. I wanted students to see the incorporation of engineering and art in architecture, infrastructure, transportation, energy and exploration.

Accommodations and Modifications 

With Covid and online learning, we had to look at modifications for materials, observing, recording, and grading of student work. Students uploaded images of finished pieces onto the Schoology platform. In order to assess comprehension and learning without students in person, I created a self-reflection for students to evaluate their own process. Questions pertained to concepts, formal principles, techniques, following directions, and self-grading. We also did not penalize for late work. 


Internet and emotional and mental safety were our first priorities, since students were checking into the virtual classroom from home. We recorded each lesson for any student that missed instructions and art history warm-ups. Because of this, we had all students keep their cameras off for privacy security. To keep students accountable since we could not see faces, we asked questions randomly and counted them absent if there was no answer. No student within the district would receive a failing grade, but a Pass for the semester. Contacting parents of those students who showed signs of concern was imperative.


Supporting Materials

With the unique nature of online learning, and the limited time in which we could have students on screens, I created folders within the Schoology platform for inspiration images of other artists’ work and short demo videos for every lesson. I also created a list of supplies and alternatives since they were working from home. The host teacher shared his screen in Webex and reviewed PowerPoint presentations of each day’s artist. 

Pre and Post Summative Assessments 

As I shared in accommodations and modifications, the way in which we assessed students was altered by online learning. As a rubric. we made a weekly checklist, building principles and techniques each week. In this way, if students were having any difficulty in understanding concepts or techniques, they would be reviewed and added to each consecutive lesson. Along with uploading work onto the Schoology platform, students filled out a five question self-evaluation of their own work, reflecting on concepts, technique, formal principles, following instructions, and self-grading.


Bang, M. (2016). Picture This: How Pictures Work. (Second edition). Chronicle Books, LLC, San Francisco, California.

Tobon, F. (n.d.). One Month of Small Machines. Retrieved from


Assessment was a joint effort between teacher and student. They would assess their online work with a self-evaluated grade based on five questions pertaining to concepts, formal principles, new techniques, following directions; culminating in what grade they would give themselves. We would discuss changes needed if I felt more work should happen for the grade or if they graded themselves too low.

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