Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

Teacher professional development and classroom resources across the curriculum

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The Art of  
A Workshop for High School Teachers
the Arts

In This Program


Vocal music students singing into tape recorders


A dance student performs for her class


Theatre department faculty meet with a student

Visual Art

Visual art teacher makes a point about a student's painting

Workshop 8 Nurturing Independent Thinkers

Watching the Program Additional Resources Support Materials
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Activities and Discussion
(45 minutes)   |  Homework

For this last session, choose which of the following two activity options you think would be most effective as a conclusion. Be sure to leave time for the wrap-up discussion that follows.

Activity Option A. Qualities of Effective Assessment (30 minutes)

Effective assessments provide experiences that help students move toward independent thinking. The chart below shows four approaches to assessment that were seen in this program. Choose one of the approaches and decide which criteria of effective assessment–shown in the left column–it meets. At the bottom, add any other criteria you think are important for assessments.



Vocal music assessments


Solo dance critique


Individual student evaluation

Visual Art

Peer critiques and self-assessment

Does the assessment

Provide multiple sources of information for a detailed view of students' progress?


Occur on an ongoing basis for an accurate picture of student achievement?


Focus attention on what is important?


Deal with processes as much as final products?


Reveal what students can do and what they're trying to do?


Compare students' current work with their past performance?


Promote self-evaluation and self-monitoring?


Provide evidence of competence that can be used to get jobs, scholarships, and admission to college?


Enable teachers to reflect on and improve their practice?


Other important criteria:


Think about an assessment approach using this blank worksheet. Which criteria does your assessment approach meet? How might you improve your assessment so that it better nurtures students' independent thinking?

Activity Option B. Assessing Students throughout the Artistic Process (30 minutes)

The National Association of Educational Progress Arts Education Assessment Framework specifies that meaningful arts assessments should be built around three arts processes: creating, performing, and responding.

  • Creating refers to expressing ideas and feelings in the form of an original work of art, for example, a dance, a piece of music, a dramatic improvisation, or a sculpture.
  • Performing refers to performing an existing work, a process that calls upon the interpretive or re-creative skills of the student.
  • Responding refers to observing, describing, analyzing, and evaluating works of art.

Assessment priorities often differ among the arts. In this activity, you will be asked to draw on the expertise of your colleagues from other arts disciplines to gain new perspective on assessing your students.

Draw the grid below on a whiteboard or chart paper. Chart the assessment practices you typically use in your discipline during each stage of the artistic process.

As a group, discuss the similarities and differences among the four art forms in assessing student progress at each stage.



Typical assessment techniques used


Typical assessment techniques used


Typical assessment techniques used

Visual Art

Typical assessment techniques used







See how your group's notes compare to these general statements:

  • Visual art places a high value on first-hand, creative expression and response to visual media, but often gives lower priority to the replication of existing art.
  • Music education, on the other hand, places great emphasis on the performance of existing music and on students' responses to performance, with less emphasis on the original musical compositions of students.
  • Theatre and dance see creating and performing as a combined act, and the response of the director, choreographer, actors, dancers, designers, and audience as integral to the development of a piece.

Looking at the chart, identify an area of assessment you would like to improve. Discuss with your colleagues how techniques from their practice might transfer to your arts discipline.

Wrap-up Discussion (15 minutes)

At the beginning of this workshop, you talked with your colleagues and wrote in your journal about how teaching is an art. Think about those ideas as you discuss these questions:

Homework opens in a new window.

NEXT: Additional Resources



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