The Arts

Teaching of ‘The Arts’:

The arts-based are generally subjective in nature. They are expressive and creative subjects which allow the creator to represent the world around them based on their own understanding and interpretation. Therefore, exposing children to many different examples of artwork allows them to compare pieces with each other and make an informed decision about how to respond to it.

At Portfield, we implement this using a three-stage approach to teach the arts-based subjects:

Stage 1 - Imitation

Once the teacher has established a creative context, a typical unit of work begins with some engaging activities around the topic. The children will then focus in on a specific piece of art by a specific master craftsperson, delving into the patterns and nuances of the work. After a studying the intricacies of the piece of art, the class starts to co-construct a toolkit for this type of artwork so that they can talk about the ingredients themselves – a key stage in internalising the toolkit in their heads.

Stage 2 – Innovation:

Once the children have internalised the key features of the artwork, they are then ready to start innovating the work of the master. The teacher will change one or two elements of the work and then the children will follow, changing an element of their choice. E.g. the shapes and colour schemes within a piece of artwork. The key activity in this stage is shared modelling, helping the children to create their own by “doing one together” first. Throughout the shared modelling, the children should be strengthening the toolkit so they start to understand the type of ingredients that may help. Once they have finished their own piece of art, the children should be encouraged to swap their work with a response partner. Then, the whole class can also discuss some of the more successful work. Time now needs to be found to enable the children to give their own work a polish in the light of these discussions. 

Stage 3 – Invention:

The invention stage allows the children to ‘create their own’ based on the skills and knowledge they have acquired throughout the first two stages of the process. Now, the teacher will introduce a different context for the skills to be applied to or give the children a meaningful situation for which to produce the artwork. 

The teacher now has the opportunity to assess the children’s work and to adapt their planning in the light of what the children can actually do. This stage could begin with some activities focused on helping the children understand aspects that they were having difficulty with and should include time for the children to have a go at altering their work in the light of what they have just learnt so that they start to make progress. This stage will continue to focus on the next steps needed to support progress so the children can become more independent. 

At the end of the unit, the children’s work should be published or displayed. It is important to provide children with a purpose for their work so classroom display or presentation in a wider context is important. E.g. for an exhibition, a presentation event or a community outcome. The teacher will now have a good picture of what features to focus on in the next unit to move the children forward.

Some of the techniques used by teachers within the arts-based subjects are:

-       Model examples for the children to learn from

-       Shared modelling

-       Further models of excellence

-       Picking apart subject specific skills

-       Forming and justifying opinions using language frames and ‘Tell Me’ activities

-       Breaking the piece of art into small chunks to see how it is formed (boxing up)

-       Internalising patterns and nuances through repeated practise

-       Co-constructing toolkits with explanations of why the tools are useful