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High Impact Instructional Strategies: Visual Arts

District Samples Curriculum Project (DSCP): Phase IV High Impact Instructional Strategies

Colorado Academic Standards Visual Arts Graphic (small)


I am very proud to present standards-based instructional resources for Visual Arts. The model lesson is a set of full lesson materials developed to train content area teachers at the 2016 All Students, All Standards Instructional Strategies Summer Institute. The additional sample lesson resources represent the work of a team of Colorado educators to share how they develop their own unique standards based lessons that employ high impact instructional strategies. As examples, they are intended to provide support (or conversation/creation starting points) for teachers, schools, and districts as they make their own local decisions around the best instructional plans and practices for all students.

Phase IV of the District Sample Curriculum Project is intended to share just a sampling of lesson planning processes and ideas as a response to requests from local schools and districts asking for more explicit instructional sample ideas. Thank you to the educators that worked diligently to submit their work for  this purpose!

Donna Goodwin, Ph.D.
Visual Arts Content Specialist

Model Lesson

7th Grade Visual Arts: "Personal Geographies" District Sample Curriculum Project (Learning Experience #1).  (Donna Goodwin, Visual Art Content Specialist, CDE)

Lesson Description: Students are asked to consider the idea of a personal geography and what that might mean to them. Students are asked to analyze a variety of maps and utilize the lens of an artist, researcher, scientist, and explorer to gain a deeper understanding of the topic and then to plan how they may create an individual work of art based on the idea of a personal geography.

The following is the lesson that was modeled during the ASAS Institute by the Content Specialist.

Phase IV Lesson Submissions

Educators that attended the ASAS Institute submitted lesson plans including the following four essential elements:

  • Element 1 | Classroom Context
  • Element 2 | Lesson Planning with Rationales for Your
  • Element 3 | Description of the Lesson Implementation
  • Element 4 | Reflection

To learn more about the four essential elements, click here.

Sample lessons submitted by Colorado Visual Arts teachers

The lessons below represent some of the approaches teachers took in lesson design. One purpose of the lesson design project was to tap into the questioning and reflective practices that enable deliberate and intentional instructional decisions.  The goal was to uncover the metacognitive processes that underlie the decisions teachers make as they plan, deliver, and reflect on their instruction and make teacher planning, thinking, and decision making visible.

High School Visual Arts lesson by Kate Giese, Silver Creek High School, St. Vrain Valley School District

Lesson Description:  Artists Solve Complex Problems using Theme Exploration, Idea Generation, Solution Finding, Reflection and Self-Assessment using the theme of Dreams and Nightmares.  

High School Visual Arts lesson by Vanessa Hayes-Quintana, Juliet Learning Center, Cherry Creek School District

Lesson Description: The art projects in this unit are concept-based and allow students to learn the elements of art through the creation of meaning and context while exercising their individual sensibilities through created altered books.

Middle School Visual Arts standards-based curriculum development plan for a Teaching for Artistic Behavior (TAB) classroom by Kelly Beach, Bromley East Charter School, Brighton 27J School District

Lesson Description: The focus of this lesson centers around students in all drawing, sculpture, and studio classes and their ability to  demonstrate personal responsibility in the planning, implementation, and evaluation of works of art through the creation of a portfolio. This unit plan includes standards links, lesson plan outlines, evaluative rubric and student art examples.

Elementary Visual Arts unit with a focus primarily on 4th grade “Reflecting Identity Through Art- Personal Maps” District Sample Curriculum Teacher-Authored Instructional Unit (Learning Experiences #4 – 8). This unit plan is written by Elizabeth Buhr, Normandy Elementary School, Jefferson County School District

Lesson Description: This sample is written as a comprehensive guide for teachers written in a blog-like format with lesson descriptions, teacher notes, and images of art in process and in final form. The lessons began with looking at portraiture and portraits then moved to symbol and color, next to skill building with color the planning personal maps and now we are painting our maps.

*More Lesson Plans and Ideas from the ASAS Institute can be found at the Think 360 Arts for Learning Peer Exchange.