Art teachers in Ashe County Schools are incorporating a new method of instruction into their curriculum, and it’s connecting well with their students.
At the April 7 meeting of the Ashe County Board of Education, held at the Ashe Arts Council, in West Jefferson, several art teachers addressed the board about some of the exciting things happening in their classrooms.
Each year, the board holds one regular meeting at the Arts Council as a means of expressing their appreciation for and learning more about art programs in the schools.
Rebecca Williams, program director for the Ashe County Arts Council, introduced Ashe County Middle School art teacher Jill Gambill, who gave the board a brief introduction to the concept of Universal Designs for Learning (UDL).
“At the beginning of the year, Dr. Holden charged us to come up with a lesson that incorporates UDL,” Gambill said. “UDL is a way of saying, ‘How do you reach all of the students in your classroom?’”
According to the National Center on Design for Learning, UDL is a “set of principles for curriculum development that give all individuals equal opportunities to learn.” It “provides a blueprint for creating instructional goals, methods, materials and assessments that work for everyone - not a single, one-size-fits-all solution but rather flexible approaches that can be customized and adjusted for individual needs.”
Gambill introduced three art teachers who explained the ways in which they were incorporating UDL into their lesson plans.
Lindsey Postlethwait (Blue Ridge Elementary) talked about her “Kindergarten Color Unit.”
Postlethwait’s kindergarteners are learning about primary, secondary and mixed colors by creating color wheels and singing songs about colors.
“These are things kids are interested in, and it engages them,” Postlethwait said. “I can hear them and I know they’ve learned to color that way.”
Jill Stepp (Westwood Elementary) explained her third grade lesson based upon the book “The Spider Weaver: A Legend of Kente Cloth.”
Stepp’s lesson crosses a range of curriculum.
“It involves painting, drawing, geography, math and literature,” Stepp said.
Jorena Sparks (Mountain View Elementary) spoke about her “Face Jug Unit” for her fourth grade students.
“You have to have multiple means for participation,” Sparks said. “I use an interactive website from the Mint Museum, Dave the Potter’s storybook and visual examples I’ve shown them.”
“This (UDL) isn’t something we had to think too hard about,” Postlethwait said. “We just had to put it down to paper and let everybody see it for what it is.”
At the end of the presentations, two students addressed the board and expressed satisfaction with the instructional methodology and the classes, in general.
“I hope that anytime the budget crunch comes into play, you’ll remember the things that were said today,” Gambill said, in closing.
Alan Bulluck can be reached at (336) 846-7164 or on Twitter @albulluck.