Designing a Student-Centered Fine Arts Classroom

At Summit 19, you will explore how to create relevant, engaging instruction that motivates all students to grow in their mastery of the arts. Using concrete classroom examples and student work samples, you will create, analyze, and apply the elements of Differentiated Instruction (DI), an integrated framework that helps motivate and challenge students with diverse backgrounds and skill sets. You will weave together strategies for goal setting, planning, classroom management, instructional delivery, and assessment in response to learner abilities, interests, and needs. The goal is to move all students forward in their arts learning—helping students who struggle as well as challenging gifted/talented learners.

Session 1: Examining Evidence of Learning

Session 1 begins with an examination and analysis of student work as evidence of learning. Using two samples—one from a struggling student and another from a high-achiever—you will unpack how each work sample demonstrates knowledge and application of skills aligned with the Fine Arts TEKS. Presenters will highlight connections between data, standards, and instructional goals and will help clear up any “assessment fog” that skews your understanding of students’ current strengths and areas for growth. Once you’ve clearly identified the student’s needs or areas for growth, you will engage with your colleagues to identify as many different types of assessments as possible that can capture evidence of learning in the needed areas. In the DI framework, offering flexible products is a powerful means for differentiating instruction, but educators benefit by first thinking through how they might structure and assess each product option. Presenters will guide you to create anchors and rubrics as well as to consider how a variety of assessment strategies can keep your students’ learning on track.

Session 2: Setting SMART Goals

In Session 2, you’ll translate the areas for growth for your students into SMART goals. SMART goals are objectives that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. Goal statements that are SMART can provide clarity, focus, and motivation. In this session, you’ll learn how to implement SMART goals across the many areas of your professional practice—from personal goals, department goals, PLC goals, to campus and district goals. You’ll set SMART goals for each of the two students covered in Session 1. You will set SMART goals for differentiating instruction across content, process, and products and also consider goals for your learning environment. Additionally, SMART goals are critical tools to give to students. Presenters will provide short case studies illustrating how to teach SMART goals to students. Working with your colleagues, you’ll explore strategies for teaching students how to set and monitor progress on SMART goals. You will consider the challenges that present themselves when students begin writing and monitoring their own SMART goals and strategize ways to guide them to successfem outcomes.

Session 3: Fostering Student Ownership of Learning

When students set and monitor their own SMART learning goals related to their areas for growth, they begin to take ownership of their learning. Motivation for achieving success relies less on external rewards and instead springs forth from the student’s internal drive. Helping students develop their self-efficacy—their belief that they can achieve certain goals—is a key benefit of student-centered, differentiated instruction. Presenters will contrast student-centered instruction with teacher-centered models so that the differences become clear. You’ll have a chance to reflect on when you’ve used each approach and what changes you might make to existing lessons to provide students with more opportunities for involvement and choice without sacrificing academic rigor or product quality. Allowing the flexibility for student-led learning is another way to differentiate instruction along three domains pertinent to the student: levels of academic readiness, interests, and learning styles. You will explore what differentiating instruction in each of these areas might look like for each of the two sample students. Additionally, you’ll have a chance to review your SMART goals and assessments created so far to bring them into alignment with your student-centered designs.

Session 4: Integrating the Framework — Putting it All Together

By the time you enter Session 4, you will have used the work samples of two different students to identify flexible product options, planned various assessments, set SMART goals for yourself as well as your teams and your students, identified how to incorporate student-led instructional approaches, and designed strategies for differentiating along content, process, and product to meet each student’s needs. During Session 4, you will collaborate with your colleagues to apply these strategies from the DI framework to an entire classroom of students. You’ll have opportunities to share, question, and refine your work and to think about how you will approach the next school year with these new tools and strategies at your command.

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