07 September 2019

TEACH-NOW . . . Module 5, Week 4, Activity 1: Pre-Assessment for Differentiation

Subject Area: ART

Grade Level: Bilingual Grade 5

Brief Context: Students will be looking at Joan Mir贸 paintings and sculptures and creating artwork in his style. Joan Mir贸 was a Spanish painter, sculptor, and ceramicist born in Barcelona. Earning international acclaim, his work has been interpreted as Surrealism, a sandbox for the subconscious mind, a re-creation of the childlike, and a manifestation of Catalan pride. 

My pre-assessments start with discussion. I share with the students a PowerPoint, video, or example of an artwork and start peppering them with questions. I like to use Visual Thinking Strategy questions like:
  • What’s going on in this picture?
  • What makes you say that?
  • What else can we find?

I have relatively small classes (between 5 and 15 students per grade), and I have a translator. So, with discussions, the students are sometimes popcorn-ing out various answers and lots of the time in Chinese. I don’t speak Chinese, so my translator tells me what the students are saying. Often times, new questions arise, so we take the conversation in that direction.

There is no right or wrong answer with art, and there is no need for the students to speak in English, so all of our discussions are equal opportunity investments and learning platforms. We all have opinions and different values, and the students bring all of that into our discussions. The differentiation comes in the form of allowing the students to speak their own language. I give a lot of freedom in my classroom for the students to feel comfortable saying or sharing whatever they want (in terms of our discussions around art and process).

My pre-assessment for our Joan Mir贸 project will be designed around surrealism. This will help me understand if my students have ever seen any surrealist artworks before (Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali, Frida Kahlo, etc.). I will have A4 size laminated prints made of various artworks and symbols. I will have the students spend time discussing the works and symbols with each other, placing stickers on which ones they’ve seen before (in books, online, on a shower curtain, etc.) and then vote on which ones they like the best.

Different colored dot stickers will be used for different categories, such as:
  • If you have seen one of the artworks before, place a yellow dot on it. 
  • If you have seen one of the symbols before, place a green dot on it.
  • If you have heard of Mir贸 or surrealism before, place a red dot on your shirt.

Once the students have placed their dots, we will divide the students into groups based on where their dots landed and have a brief discussion. This entire activity should take no more than 20 minutes to decipher. This pre-assessment will be left hanging up throughout our entire unit so the students can go back and refer to the new artists they have learned about and self-assess their knowledge of surrealism, comparing it to where they were when the unit began.

The breakdown of the students and how this activity is designed does not fit my pre-assessment or subject matter. There is very little -- if any -- differentiation  in the Teach-Now assignments during this module, as they are ALL focused on core subject teachers. There are 2 music teachers, 2 PE teachers, and 1 art teacher in my co-hort. So, I am shifting this assignment to fit the needs of my ART classroom and not the needs of a core subject teacher’s classroom.

After the pre-assessment, the students will begin working on their artwork. A lot of the learning about an artwork, a movement, or an artist comes from doing the work: making the art itself. That means drawing, painting, and sculpting. Artists learn through their hands. So, the students will work for two class periods on their project, and then we will break for discussion and review. 

To create their artwork, the students will watch two videos and emulate the various aspects from each video. 

1. In the first video, the students will create a colorful tissue paper bleed background (the fact that this video is labeled for kindergarten makes no difference, the process is what is important).

2. In the second video, the students will draw the featured figures and shapes on top of their tissue paper bleed background. Understanding the figures and shapes are the most important part of knowing how Mir贸 worked and how surrealism played a part in his art making.


3. After the students have created their figures and shapes on top of the tissue paper bleed background, they will begin to paint in their shapes with acrylic paint in colors that they associate with surrealism and, specifically, Mir贸's artwork.

We will use the following differentiated strategies to assess where the learning is in the mid-point of the process, after the projects have begun and the students have had a chance to sit with their thoughts for a while.

Innovative Differentiated Strategies for 
Understanding Surrealism

1. The students who could define surrealism in our first round of sticker placement and discussion will use the following assessment to discuss various visual aspects related to the surrealist movement.

Carousel Brainstorm: Chart papers containing statements or issues for student consideration are posted around the classroom. Groups of students will brainstorm at one station and then rotate to the next position where they will add additional comments. When the carousel “stops” the original team prepares a summary and then presents their ideas to the larger group. A Carousel Brainstorm is an active, student-centered method to generate data about a group’s collective prior knowledge of a variety of issues associated with a single topic.

2. The students who have some knowledge on surrealism, but need to develop higher order thinking skills, will use the following assessment to discuss various visual aspects related to the surrealist movement. They will share back with the group and demonstrate where their understanding is now that the artmaking has begun.

Think - Ink - Pair - Share: A way to get students to reveal what they know or believe about a topic is to begin by having them commit their thoughts to writing. To assess what the group knows, the students discuss their ideas in pairs, and then share them with the larger group.

3. The students who appear to have limited knowledge of surrealism (3 of these students are struggling with English language acquisition and 2 need to be tested for special needs) will use the following assessment to put into words or visuals their knowledge of various visual aspects related to the surrealist movement.

KWL Charts- what does the student know? - what does the student need and want to know? L - what did the students learn? This is an effective pre-assessment tool and summative evaluation tool. The "L" can also be used the as part of an open-ended question on a test allowing the students to share the depth of knowledge that was gained in the unit of study.

As the project continues, and the students are working on their artmaking, I will go around and speak to the students individually to see where they are and what they might need help on. At the end of each class, I will have the students reflect on their art making and how they are doing with their project.

Project ends after 5 weeks with a group critique showcasing each student's work. Administrators and homeroom teachers are invited in to see the accomplishments of the students.


Art Term: Surrealism. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.tate.org.uk/art/art-terms/s/surrealism

ASCD Learn. Teach. Lead. (December 2013). Differentiation: It Starts with Pre-Assessment. Retrieved from http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational_leadership/dec13/vol71/num04/Differentiation@_It_Starts_with_Pre-Assessment.aspx

Crockett, H. (2014). 8 Ways to Collect Data in The Art Room. Retrieved from https://theartofeducation.edu/2013/03/20/8-ways-to-collect-data-in-the-art-room/

Differentiation & LR Information for SAD Teachers. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://sites.google.com/site/lrtsas/differentiation/5-preassessment-ideas

Kindergarten Mir贸 Art. (April 17, 2018). Taylor Newman. [Video]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S6ZvKL8vApg&feature=youtu.be

Joan Mir贸. (August 4, 2011). TateShots. [Video]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kipHAbR0zXU&feature=youtu.be

Joan Mir贸 – Surrealism. (June 28, 2016). Ramon Carrasco’s Art Vlogs. [Video]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lp63llZer-w&feature=youtu.be