Over and over again, I have been asked, “how do you choose the right lesson for the grade level?” This can be one of the hardest things about lesson planning. I know it was for me. You have the lesson, you’ve fine tuned the process and now you just need to figure out which age group it’s best suited for. It can be challenging to find the right balance between high success and enough rigor to grow and nurture those budding skills. That’s why I felt it has been important to share the three-part Student Milestones in Art series with you.
In Part I and Part II of the Student Milestones in Art series, we covered developmental stages and expectations for kindergarten through fifth-grade students. This third and final installment outlines some general expectations geared toward middle school students, which are in sixth, seventh and eighth grades.
SIXTH GRADE (Ages 11-12)
By sixth grade, students might know you well enough to push your limits. On the other hand, they can be the most engaged group if you speak to them as young adults. I really enjoy working with this group and watching them build on prior knowledge as they create more detailed work.
- Enjoys doing more advanced, detailed work
- Can successfully combine multiple techniques and materials in one project
- Identifies the elements of art and uses them to create artwork
SEVENTH GRADE (Ages 12-13)
By the seventh grade, your students are becoming more socially aware and place greater importance on peer relationships. Not only understanding, but being sensitive to this developmental time can come in handy as you approach them with art projects. This age group is actually much more amazing than they usually get credit for.
- Independently explores personal identity and interests through art
- Is able to incorporate imagination, the elements of art and the principles of design in their artwork
- Capable of explaining ideas and participating in group discussions about art and more in-depth critiques
EIGHTH GRADE (Ages 13-14)
One key to having a successful year with this age group is taking the time to get to know them. In doing so, you’ll find ways to motivate them and build relevance. Eighth graders are capable of exploring ideas and using art as a mode of self-expression. It’s so neat to see how all of their elementary and middle school years come together with advanced craftsmanship and a deeper understanding of art history and appreciation.
- Not only technically more proficient, but also have an improved ability to listen and build on suggestions
- Can identify and use more advanced elements and principles such as rhythm and balance in their artwork
- Enjoys making art with room for personal expression
Having a clear understanding of the basic milestones in art makes planning easier AND helps you best meet the needs of your students. If you haven’t already, read the first and second posts in the series: Student Milestones in Art | Kindergarten, First and Second Grade. and Student Milestones in Art | Third, Fourth and Fifth Grade to learn about the milestones for the grade levels prior.
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