The struggle of being an art teacher includes a unique blend of external doubt and internal friction. Art teachers share the same classroom and behavioral challenges that other elementary and secondary educators face while combating a similar stigma that troubles humanities departments across higher education–a skepticism about its value or worse, a presumption that its relative worth is low. Beliefs about art education’s value have lead to defunded programs, larger class sizes, and scheduling constraints. Free lesson-planning resources are particularly valuable to teachers with small budgets, tight time constraints, and little community support.
But beyond this more obvious list of challenges hides an unfortunate familiarity with psychological and ideological anguish.
Instructors teaching math, science, and computer classes are exempt from the pressures that come with the unending task of proving arts’ impact to administrators and parents. Even disciplines in the humanities like English and social studies carry this privilege at the secondary and lower levels of education, as teaching reading, writing, and America’s founding narrative seem to hold unquestioned importance. For this reason, the art teacher often is isolated, especially when acting as the sole art educator at a school– a Remy in a rat school of scavenger instruction.
Feelings of aloneness are exacerbated by the ideological differences that inform the sides of the value debate. Often, art teachers feel that educators diminishing the status of art are participating in the same apparatus that is regulating society’s opposition toward values associated with art. Art teachers’ instincts are to interfere with such a discourse. Therefore, navigating the gap between personal beliefs and the school’s expectations is complicated by feelings of guilt and duty.
With all of these daily strifes, easy and reliable help is particularly valuable. Spending less time on planning lessons frees up time and energy for mental wellness and extracurricular problem-solving. Art teachers, enjoy these 16 free lesson-planning resources. They are process-oriented, image-driven, and totally free.
The National Gallery of Art devotes a myriad of resources to art teachers and their students. The teacher page on NGA’s website provides free lesson plans that are organized by grade level. It also offers hi-res downloadable images of everything from portraits to classical paintings. With minimal funding, finding images and supplies to accompany lesson plans can be as difficult as the plans themselves. The NGA has you covered. Additional resources include links to borrow print and media as well as the NGAKids Art Zone.
This marketplace is meant to be a space where educators can share resources, lessons, and expertise. While lessons are for sale from instructors, there are free lessons like this art history Van Gogh plan for kindergarten through third grade. You can search by subject and grade level to find what you need for your classroom. Its one of the best free lesson-planning resources.
Mrs. Hahn’s blog contains lessons for elementary and jr. high classrooms. It is a great site for those who are looking for more how and less what. Nearly all of the lessons contain videos that provide insight into her teaching process.
Art Bar wants to raise creative thinkers. It’s a seemingly endless supply of printmaking, sculpting, painting, and other projects that use a diverse amount of mediums and materials. Their lessons range from mixed-media structures and flower portraits to artist studies of Georgia O’Keeffe and Paul Klee. You also can subscribe to their weekly newsletter featuring new lessons.
The creator of this blog, Marcia, teaches elementary art and provides lessons for kindergarten through sixth grade. Her site is simple to navigate, allowing users to search by grade level or medium. The plans she provides are informational and thoughtful as she incorporates culture and contemporary art into her lessons. Her hybrid machine-animal drawings lesson is rad one for any sixth-grader.
This is a podcast created by Patty Palmer that is dedicated to being a comprehensive resource for art educators. Her show ranges from episodes on guided drawings to engaging students with limited English to classroom cleanup strategies. While many of the episodes do focus on planning, the show is an all-around pedagogical force. Unfortunately, what isn’t in Patty’s podcast is limited to Deep Space Sparkle members.
What’s helpful about the art lesson plans at teacher.org–besides being free– is that they offer objectives and procedures that compare well with standards. Teachers will find lessons up through grade twelve, all high quality free lesson-planning resources.
The lessons on this site provide handy instruction for teaching drawing and painting techniques. The images and videos presented are fantastic tools, but finding lessons that aren’t behind the pay-wall can be a challenge.
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