Nick Moses
Module 6.4.3
February 28, 2018

Teacher evaluations can be an effective measure of how well a teacher is engaging her/his students, and how well they are learning. In the past, these evaluations did not make student learning the most important factor; they focused instead on the teachers’ methods and styles. Many of these evaluations only gave the teacher a score of satisfactory or unsatisfactory, which one could translate to mean that the teacher received a grade of C or D. These scores do not tell anyone if the teacher was great, good, so-so, or plain awful. In addition, many school districts do not yearly evaluate teachers who have many years of experience. These teachers, as a result, do not receive annual feedback on how they are doing their jobs. Presently, many states, along with The New Teacher Project, are adapting new ways of measuring teacher performance.

In Ohio, for example, changes to the teacher evaluation system were put into place in 2015. Before the changes, teachers were evaluated on student academic growth and teacher performance, with each accounting for 50 percent of the evaluation score. This is known as the 50/50 teacher evaluation framework. For the 2013-2014 school year, over 90% of teachers were rated in the top two categories, accomplished or skilled, and only 1% were deemed ineffective. The changes enacted in 2015 do not effect this system, though. What it did was change the alternative method of evaluation. In the previous alternative framework, teachers were evaluated on the following:

42.5% Teacher performance
42.5% Student academic growth
15% of one of the following: Peer review, teacher self-evaluations, student surveys, or student portfolios.

The new alternative framework still uses the 15% category, but it changed the other two. Now, 50% of the evaluation is based on teacher performance and 35% on student academic growth. School districts in Ohio have the option of using the original framework or the new alternative.

In Washington, DC, where I live, school reform began in 2009. A new system of evaluation, called IMPACT, was put in place. IMPACT was intended to clarify performance expectations, provide feedback and support, and retain the most effective teachers. Teachers who received a high score were eligible for a pay increase, and those who scored poorly could have had their salary frozen, or been dismissed altogether. Recently, though, changes were made to this system. Now, the evaluation is the responsibility of the principals, a method that has been criticized by teachers in the past. Also, a value-added component was brought back. This uses standardized test scores to evaluate a teacher’s effectiveness. Student surveys are also now a part of the new evaluation system.

As I am about to begin my new career as an art teacher in DC, I am wondering how exactly I will be evaluated. In Ohio, I would be assessed by what they call local measures. These measures are reserved for teachers who teach subjects that are not measured by standardized tests, such as art and music. Included in this rating, though, would be what is called shared attribution. This means that test scores from the students’ reading and math standardized tests would have an impact on my evaluation, even though I do not teach reading or math. In DC, I will be evaluated, it seems, by the school’s principal. (DC had used test scores in the past to evaluate ALL school employees, but it has since stopped this practice). The addition of student surveys is something that I consider to be positive.

Giving the students a survey on how well I did my job would be feedback that I could instantly use to improve my methods. If I am boring the students, or not explaining the content properly, the students are the best people to tell me this. Along with their feedback, I would really appreciate constructive criticism from my peers. As an artist, I have dealt with criticism both constructive and destructive, and even though I may complain about it privately, I know how to handle it, and I know that it is necessary. Experienced teachers providing me with feedback will help me grow and improve the job I do from year to year. I have neither ever been afraid to admit that I need help, nor to ask for it.

What I will not tolerate is becoming an ineffective teacher, someone who just goes through the motions and expects the students to just learn the material. Having an ineffective teacher will lead to students not understanding the subject matter, or even the entire subject. When I was a student, from 6th grade through my junior year of high school, I did not have effective math teachers. For example, my freshman year algebra teacher was never in a good mood. He would go through examples and then ask us to figure out the next problem. When no one was able to do it, or someone made a lot of mistakes, he did not reexplain, rather, he would angrily solve the problem and then throw his piece of chalk at the board. A few times, he wiped everything off of his desk as he was yelling at us. This made asking questions, well, out of the question. Who would bother if it was only going to increase his rage? Thinking back on this now, I know that if he would have been even remotely interested in getting the class to understand what he was teaching, he would not have been angry at us for not understanding; he would have tried new ways of getting us to the point of understanding. It is not reasonable to expect students to understand what you are teaching them if you are not willing to adjust lesson plans to best suite them.

Alternative Teacher Evaluation Framework (Ohio). (2014). Retrieved from
Neason, A. (2016, February 17). Why Do Schools Keep Changing the Way They Grade Teachers? Retrieved from
New Teacher Survival Guide: The Formal Assessment. (n. d.). Retrieved from
Poiner, J. (2017, March 23). Ohio: Give up on Teacher Evaluations and Focus on Teacher Feedback Instead. Retrieved from“evaluations”-and-focus-on-teacher-feedback-instead
Strauss, V. (2015, March 25). How is this fair? Art teacher is evaluated by students’ math standardized test scores. Retrieved from
Teacher Evaluations. (2017, August 23). Retrieved from
Teacher Evaluations 2.0. (2010, October 5). Retrieved from

Nick Moses
Module 6.2.3
February 16, 2018

Before beginning a new unit of study, a pre-assessment will give the teacher valuable information about the readiness of the students. There may be several students in the class who already have a foundation for this lesson, and there may be several who do not have any knowledge of the subject that is about to be taught. By using a pre-assessment, teachers are able to differentiate their lesson plans to accommodate all students in the class.

As I begin my unit on color and color mixing, it will be beneficial to see who in the class already understands the concepts involved. I will do this by giving the students a brief, 10 question quiz on vocabulary terms commonly used in art, such as ‘value,’ ‘contrast’, and different types of color (primary, secondary, tertiary). I will not expect students to know the difference at first between the everyday use of the term ‘value’ as opposed to how the term is used in art, but some of them, maybe even all of them, might know. The vocabulary list will contain key terminology that they students will have learn, understand, and apply during this unit, so it is important that I know immediately who knows them all, or most, or some, or none. The pre-assessment quiz can be found here:

Once the quiz has been scored, the students will be separated into groups based on how well or not they did on the quiz. If students were very successful, they will begin to experiment with the concepts using paint and exploring the different ways to achieve the desired results. Each student will be given one term, and they will apply it. They will then discuss as a group how well the term was applied, and if there are other ways in which to do it. Once this has been finished, the group will begin working on a small still life set-up in order for me to pre-assess their artistic application skills.

The group of students who missed more than a few of the questions on the quiz will be divided into small groups based on which questions they missed. The students will then review each term until all of them are understood, and until each student can define the term in their own words. Art terminology is usually worded in a complicated way, and it is important for the students to be able to describe in their own words what the term means, rather than reciting the definition from memory. If some students still are not grasping this, they will continue to review the terms until they feel that they understand them all, at which point they will retake the quiz. The other students will begin experimenting with art materials in order to better understand the terms.

The students who did not do well on the test will be placed in another group. I will join this group and we will begin to review each term orally. After this, the students will continue to review orally for a bit longer, after which they will create flashcards of each term and study them, then they will quiz each other. The next step will be for them to retake the quiz. If all goes well, these students may begin to experiment with paint. With my assistance, the students will try to convey, in paint, how the term is applied artistically. During this time, I will introduce these students to the terms that will be used in the next lesson, and then they will help me lead the discussion with the rest of the class when I introduce that lesson. I have a created a mind map to diagram this process, which can be found here: https:
This pre-assessment is just one of the pre-assessments that I will do. After this one, I will need to know how prepared the students are to use the art materials that we will be using during this unit of study. As I mentioned above, that assessment will take place in the form of a small still life set up. This assessment will allow me to understand which students know how to or do not know how to use and correctly hold the tools (brushes, palette knife). The results of this assessment will let me know what types of demonstrations are necessary for the next lesson, and if these demonstrations will be benefit the entire class. It may be necessary to divide the class into groups again based on their level of understanding, or it might not be necessary at all. Only the pre-assessment will be able to tell me.

Pendergrass, E. (2013, December). Differentiation: It Starts with Pre-assessment. Retrieved from

Nick Moses
Module 5 Unit 5
January 31, 2018

Cross cultural communication is an imperative for teachers in this day and age. Since I will be teaching in an urban environment, it can only be assumed that my students will come from diverse backgrounds and cultures. If I am to be successful, I will need to be capable of communicating with each and every student, regardless of their backgrounds. In order to do this, patience and understanding, and much more, will be required of me.

As a teacher of the visual arts, it will not be too difficult to incorporate culturally relevant samples into daily lessons. Students of art and art history typically study Western art, starting with cave drawings, moving through the cathedrals of Europe, the Renaissance, impressionism, Picasso, and finally abstraction and twentieth century art. The artists and places discussed are European, with only a few exceptions. Aside from the occasional mention of a woman artist, the study of Western art is largely male and European.

Teaching art history in this way omits parts of the whole story. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, for example, artists used African sculptures and masks as a source of inspiration. The artists did not understand the cultural relevance of these items, but they appreciated them for their aesthetic value. Artists such as Picasso, Matisse, Modigliani and others drew their inspiration from African masks and sculptures. Picasso’s landmark painting Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, which is considered to be the first cubist painting and the painting that marks the birth of modern art, clearly and openly uses African aesthetics.

When I have the opportunity to give a lesson on these artists, I will not simply mention that these works were influenced by African art, but rather, I will use that opportunity to discuss actual African art and everything that it has influenced, and treat it as I would any art history lesson. In a similar scenario, when discussing Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo, I will relate it to the political situation that was happening in the world at that time (communism, rise of unions, Kahlo’s friendship with Trotsky, the Red Scare). By connecting the art and artists to the world at large, students will be able to see that their cultures have and always have had a place in this world.

This would not only benefit the students who come from these particular cultures, but it will teach the other students about other cultures present in the room. By connecting it to history and the world, students will begin to understand how everything is and has been interconnected. Giving students one perspective makes no sense, especially in an art class that teaches students to draw with multiple perspectives (bad pun). They will begin to understand the importance of one another’s culture and hopefully respect the fact that we are all different, and it should be celebrated, not repressed.

Being in Washington, DC offers us the opportunity to visit a number of world class museums, many of which are free to the public. The museums in the Smithsonian include the Museum of African Art, The Sackler Gallery (Asian art and artifacts), the African American Museum, and the Museum of the American Indian. The Hirschhorn Museum, a modern art museum, has a very diverse collection and showcases work by many contemporary artists who come from many different backgrounds and work in different media. Lessons that I give can be supplemented by these museums, either by a field trip or asking the students to visit them in their free time, or browsing their collections on the museum website or by using

Speaking of the Hirschhorn Museum, yesterday, I attended an event at my sons’ school. It was a celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr. Each student chose an activist who made an impact on history. The students wrote a brief description of their chosen activist, and delivered a memorized short speech to the audience. This was a part of their humanities class assignment, but it was connected to their art class. The class had taken a field trip to the Hirschhorn Museum to see the special exhibit by Chinese artist Ai Weiwei. The artist had constructed portraits in Legos of activists and advocated of free speech. My sons’ class used this idea. They put photos of their chosen activists into a program that pixelated the photos, in black and white, and then they created giant mosaics from those photos. I was blown away by the intricacy of this project and how it not only crossed curriculum, but how it introduced the students to many different voices from different cultures throughout modern history.

Having students learn about their own cultural contributions to the art world will give them a sense of identity, and learning about the cultures of others in the class will help everyone understand each other better; the world is interconnected through history and culture. There will be more challenges involved in teaching a diverse classroom. English language learners will present a hurdle for me, but not one that I am unwilling to jump. I spent three years living in a country whose language I did not know at first, and I went through a lot of stressful and even embarrassing situations. Learning enough of the language was a help, but my accent was not good enough for most people to tolerate. Having experienced this, I am familiar with how it feels to not understand what is being spoken to or yelled at me. There are web tools that can help. Google translate is one, but it fails to see the nuance in language. If a word has multiple meanings, when used in a phrase, for example, Google translate does not know the difference. It works well for simple phrases, though. A better multi-language online dictionary is It defines each word giving multiple uses and definitions, and even gives a list of all of the phrases of which that particular word is a part. I will have the opportunity to continue using this website to help the English language learners in my class, and I will also be using it when I begin studying the Spanish language soon. Knowing at least a few phrases in the student’s native language will help that student feel welcomed, and not isolated from the rest of the class.

Ai Weiwei: Trace. (2017). Retrieved from
Davis, M. (2013, August 29). Preparing for Cultural Diversity: Resources for Teachers. Retrieved from
Murrell. D. (2008). African Influences in Modern Art. Retrieved from
Pratt-Johnson, Y. (2006, February). Communicating Cross-Culturally: What Teachers Should Know. Retrieved from

Nick Moses
Module 5.3.2
January 19, 2018

I have formative assessment strategies that I will employ to make certain that the students are grasping the ideas that I am teaching to them. When I discover through these assessments that students with learning disabilities are not understanding, then there will be adjustments made in order to accommodate those students. Not every student will learn the exact same way, and developing strategies to assist LD students is imperative. These strategies are outlined in a flowchart, which can be found here:

For LD students, instructions for assignments will be repeated to them once the class has begun working. I will break the instructions down into small steps, and give the students two steps at a time, and allow them to work. If two steps is too easy, then more will be given at one time, and vice versa. Each step will be given in order, and once the steps have been completed, I will ask the students if they remember the steps or not, and then ask them to repeat those steps back to me. After this, more steps will be given, and the process will repeat itself until the assignment has been completed. Instructions will also be written on the board in class and given to the students as a handout.

During this instructional phase, I will also show students examples of completed work that relate to the assignment. I will also repeat my class demonstration, breaking it down into smaller steps. It will be better to demonstrate one step at a time, and then allow the student time to apply it.

Class time will be used to practice the new techniques that I introduce, work on current assignments and continue long term projects. It will also be necessary for me to allow students extra time to finish longer projects should they need it. For this, in my classroom, there will be a work station that will be used for students to have a ‘cooling off’ session if they exhibit certain behaviors, make up work if they were absent or have fallen behind, and it will also be used for students who need to continue working on the previous project. Having this station be used for multiple purposes will take the stigma away from it being a place where students are sent for misbehaving.

Assignments and projects may have to be altered to meet student needs. If a lesson plan is incapable of working for certain students, then alternatives will need to be developed. One of my lesson plans involves mixing paints in varying degrees to find out how many different shades of color can be created with just two colors. The next step would be to use those colors to create an original artwork. If I discover that there is an LD student in my class who really responds to mixing the paint, but is not engaging in the next step, I will give that student two different colors and have her/him repeat the process. This way, the student is still keeping up with the class because the main point of the lesson was to see how many colors could be created, and that was accomplished.

If an assignment is not going to work at all for certain students, alternatives may be done in its place. For example, I plan to teach a unit on color interactions that involve abstraction. This idea is quite complex, and LD students may not understand all of the ideas that are involved. In this case, instead of forcing them to complete the class assignment, I will give them something else to do that will help them understand. One idea would be to give the students tempura paint, and have them pour small amounts of different colors on a surface. The next step would be to use gravity. They will pick up the surface and tilt it back and forth and sideways until all of the colors run to cover the entire surface. This activity will be stimulating, fun, not complicated, and will achieve the lessons’ goals.

Planning the necessary steps in order to make certain that all students are learning will make the classroom environment more pleasant, and make all of the students know that I am concerned about each one’s individual learning.

Cox, J. (n. d.) Classroom Management: Creating Differentiated Instruction. Retrieved from
Plans for Special Education Students. (n. d.). Retrieved from
Wistrom, E. (2012, January 4). Student Lesson Plans for Various Disabilities. Retrieved from

Nick Moses
Module 5.2.2
January 11, 20018

When I was a graduate student in art school, we had group critiques every Monday morning. All art students from each discipline were involved (painting, sculpture, ceramics, and undergraduate art majors). No one ever knew if it would be their turn or not, and those who were chosen were chosen seemingly at random. These group critiques went on for three hours, so many of us had the opportunity to show our work each week, and the critiques could be informative, useless, demeaning, or all of the above. One needs to develop thick skin in order to survive a severe critique and continue working.

As a beginner art student, though, the critiques were simply informative. They would tell me exactly what I needed to improve, and I never felt awful afterwards. In these cases, my fellow students tended not to be cruel, but rather, they looked for things that I was doing that directly corresponded to areas where they felt that they needed improvement. Each professor that I had told us that students at this level, during critiques, tend to do that. In this way, the critiques were an excellent formative assessment, not just for the student being critiqued, but for the ones critiquing as well.

Throughout the duration of my art education, in addition to the two types of group critiques that I had, I met with each professor once a week for a one-on-one critique. These were the most informative of all of the critiques. It was more of a conversation than anything else. The feedback which I received was excellent, whether it was positive or negative. I was shown examples that were helpful, recommended artists to view, and given suggestions of material to read. This is the type of formative assessment that I want to give to my students.

Showing your work in front of the entire class can be daunting, especially for young people, so I propose, for formative assessments, to speak with each student individually, and give them feedback on their completed work. A one-on-one critique will allow me to explain to each student what they are doing right, where they need to improve, and what they can do to improve. This will also give me the opportunity to reexplain information to them that they did not understand or have not yet incorporated in their work, and it will also give them new information that they can use to revise their work. This formative assessment will take place several times throughout the term so that I can periodically check in with each student and understand where they are in the learning process.

In addition to periodic individual critiques, students will be required to have a sketchbook that they will turn in to me each Friday. They will be required to have at least five new sketches or drawings per week. If they have less than five, they will have to make it up the following week. If they have more than five, they will receive extra credit. This will give me another opportunity to check in with the students and understand who is working and who is not, and also see how they are advancing with the subject matter that I am teaching to them.

Group critiques are also a good assessment tool that I would like to incorporate, but not as a formative assessment. At first, I will do it in smaller groups, so that the students have the opportunity to adjust, learn how to discuss someone else’s work, and feel comfortable enough to be honest and give proper feedback. The one-on-one critiques will continue on a weekly basis, so that the feedback that I give to the students will be an example of how they should give feedback to their peers.

Feedback will lead to revisions. The student will be able to take the feedback that they were given and use it to improve their future work, and revise the work that they have already done. In addition to hearing from other students and the teacher about their work, students will need to develop the ability to discuss their own work and understand what they are doing correctly and what they are missing. This will be used as a summative assessment. Toward the end of the term, students will chose two or three of their completed assignments and present them to the class. The presentation will be short, five to ten minutes in length, and students will be given a checklist in advance so that they know what they will need to address. The checklist will be as follows:

A. Where the work comes from (in-class assignment or independent work)
B. Assignment objective (which unit or lesson)
C. Tools and material used (oil, canvas, paper, brushes)
D. Use of art vocabulary
E. Strengths (what the student believes they accomplished well)
F. Weaknesses (what they feel that they need to improve)
G. Problems & concerns (what they feel they cannot do)
H. Artists that they are looking at (if applicable to the presentation)

The rest of the class will be required to give feedback to at least two of their peers. This feedback could come as a comment after a presentation, or during the subsequent class discussion.

This summative assessment will allow me to see if the students have learned what I intended for them to learn, and will serve as their final for the term. I am certain that there will be more than one student in the class who is unwilling to stand up and present their work to their peers. In this case, I will have a plan B. Students who are absolutely petrified to present will be asked to write a paper, using the same checklist above, to discuss their work. If all of the students in the class feel this way, then plan B becomes plan A, and a class critique will have to take place in order for the students to be able to give each other feedback. Giving feedback to their peers will be an important component of the summative assessment because it will show me that they understood the objective of the assignment and are able to use the art specific vocabulary that they have learned throughout the term.

Art is an academic field, but I do not want my young students to feel that it is only academic, and that there is no fun involved at all. Some students approach art as an escape from the rigors of academia, others want to learn how to do it, and some will just take it as an elective or requirement with no intention of ever doing it again. Whatever the reason is for them being in the class, it is my intention to teach them, and to make sure that they understand what it is that I am teaching.

Andrade, H. (2016). About Formative Assessment. Retrieved from

Hilliard, P. (2015, December 7). Performance-Based Assessment: Reviewing the Basics. Retrieved from

What is the Difference Between a Formative and Summative Assessment. (2016). Retrieved from

What is Performance Based Assessment? (2008). Retrieved from

Nick Moses
Module 5.1 Reflection

These assignments, based on unpacking standards and backwards mapping, have taught me so much. After having read through the visual arts standards from the Office of the State Superintendent of Education for the District of Columbia, I was able to create a unit plan based on one of the strands in the standard that I had chosen.

Each standard that I read through involved many subtopics, called strands. The strands are the units of study involved with each standard. I found the academic criteria for each standard to be quite high, and I wondered exactly how it would be possible to achieve all of these goals. This is where backwards mapping is most valuable. Knowing what the outcome should be enables teachers to intricately plan lessons so that the learning goals in the standards can be achieved.

Backwards mapping also helps to identify exactly what proficiencies the students should be able to achieve during a unit of study. For example, in my lesson plan developed for assignment two, one of the goals was to have students be able to mix colors and understand the difference in hues between two or more types of the same color family. If they mix one type of red with one type of yellow, and then repeat this process several times with different reds and yellows, they will begin to understand what those colors will do when mixed with another color. They will be able to identify the red and the yellow that will make the color orange of an orange (fruit). They will also know that that same orange will not work for the orange of a pumpkin.

Living in Washington, DC, where I plan to teach, offers me a plethora of learning experiences to give my students to assist them in developing the knowledge and skills that they need to succeed. We have many world-class museums that are free to the public. Basing lesson plans around what is currently exhibited, or what is in the permanent collection, will help make those lesson plans more relevant to the students. The content of the museums is not relegated to typical European and American artists, but rather, there is a museum dedicated to women in the arts, African art, Asian art, contemporary, ancient, etc. With so much diversity, students will be able to learn that art has always been around, and done by almost every culture that has existed. This will enable to me to provide specific learning experiences for the students in order for them to better understand the subject matter that I am teaching at the moment.

The unit plan that I developed based on the DC standards was something that I had tried before, albeit unsuccessfully. When I was an art instructor at George Washington University, I attempted the same lesson plan with a painting class. Compared to what I developed for my Teach-Now course, my original plan was awful. There was no backwards mapping, and I do not believe that I had an end goal in sight. I had no standard with which to work. It was more of me thinking that I had a great idea for a lesson, and I desperately wanted to try it. So I did. The result was a classroom full off bored faces. My lecture was not interesting to the students, and the application of what I tried to teach them was uninspired. I did not continue with that lesson, and went on to another topic.

That was not the only time that that happened. Looking back now, I realize that I had zero ability to keep all of my students interested. Knowing what I know now, I can see the errors that I made. What is interesting about this is that at that time, I did not know that I was doing it all wrong; I simply thought that I was not very good at teaching. In fact, I was boring myself, along with the students. It was as if my philosophy toward teaching was something like: “I know how to do something, so now I will show you how to do it, and then you will do it.” That seemed logical to me, because I was unaware that there was so much more involved in developing lesson plans, and keeping students engaged and interested.

Now that I know how to unpack a standard, and map backwards, coming up with unit plans will not be as difficult as I once thought it to be. I do not believe that it will be easy now, just easier. Providing proper assessments in order to identify student proficiencies will be a challenge, since I have not done this previously. One thing that I need to come to terms with is that I will make lots of mistakes during my first year, or years, of teaching. My hope is that these mistakes are ones that I am capable of learning from, and not errors that I will continue to repeat.

Art: Dance, Drama, Music and Visual Arts. (n. d.) Retrieved from on January 2, 2018.
Backward Design. (2013, December 13). Retrieved from on January 5, 2018.
Bobb, R. C. (n. d.) Arts Education Standards. Retrieved from on January 2, 2018.
McTighe, J. (2012, December 6). Common Core Big Idea 4: Map Backward From Intended Results. Retrieved from on January 5, 2018.

Blog Post
Module 5.1.2
Nick Moses

Since I will be teaching visual arts at the middle school or high school level in Washington, DC, I have used the visual art standards from the Office of the State Superintendent of Education for the District of Columbia. The standard I have chosen to base a unit on is Strand 2: Production and Creative Expression. This strand asks students to use the application of artistic processes and methods in multiple media in order to express their intentions in original artworks. I have chosen this because one of the subcategories in this strand is dedicated to mixing paints in order to show color relationships. This is one of my strong areas. I have studied color theory, both the incredibly boring kind and the more interesting one, and I have notebooks filled with color mixing recipes. It is possible for me to create any color by mixing paint except for the primaries (red, yellow, blue) and white, and I am eager to share that skill. At the end of this unit, my students will be able to mix a variety of colors that they can use in their original artworks. The following is the beginning of the color mixing unit. The idea is that students will understand how to mix colors, what their compliments are, and to understand how colors change when placed next to each other. This unit will be based on the art and theories of Josef Albers (1888 - 1976), a German-born American artist and Yale University art professor.

Proficiencies that students will need to achieve:

1. Understanding color interactions: All students will experiment with different color combinations and learn how different colors react to each other.
2. Complimentary Colors: Students will learn how to create their own complimentary colors (violet, orange, green), and not rely on colors straight from the tube of paint.
3. Mixing Colors and Compliments: Students will learn how to mix a color with its compliment in order to create the illusion of shadow.


1. Color Interactions: Students will be asked to experiment at home. They will take two buckets of water, one hot, one cold (only as hot as they would use to wash hands). They will put one hand in each bucket for ten seconds, and then switch for another ten seconds. They will find that the cold does not feel cold anymore, and the hot does not feel hot, even though it is. Afterwards, they will be asked to write down their findings. This assessment will show them that even though a color is bright, it may appear dull when influenced by another color. This will also show them that color can be deceiving.

2. Complimentary Colors: Like primary colors, color compliments have a variety of hues. Students will be asked to mix each complimentary color in order to come up with ten different hues. For example, for making orange, students will chose from a variety of reds and yellows. They will mix each red with each yellow, in different amounts (more red, less yellow, etc.) until they are able to understand the differences between the different hues.

3. Mixing Colors and Compliments: Every beginning art student has the notion that in order to create a shadow, black is to be used, and in order to create light, white is the answer. This is nowhere near correct. White turns colors into pastels, and black does not create the illusion of a shadow, but rather, a hole. Students will learn to mix a primary color with its compliment. As in assessment 2, students will be asked to mix several different hues of the color (red mixed with differing amounts of green) in order to understand how to create shadows that are light, all the way to the darkest.

Learning Experiences and Activities to Help the Students Develop These Skills

1. Colored Paper: In his book, The Interaction of Color, artist Josef Albers suggests having students use colored paper instead of paint in order to understand how colors interact. Students will be given the opportunity to mix and match different squares of color in order to create their own Albers work.

2. Museum Visit: Washington, DC is a great museum city. There are several to choose from, and if it is the National Gallery of Art, or any of the Smithsonian Museums, the admission is free, and they are open 363 days a year. To assist students understanding, I will ask them to visit the Smithsonian’s Hirschhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. The Hirschhorn has a large collection of Josef Albers works, and since this unit plan is based on his work and theories, they will need to see his work in person. If possible, this will be a class field trip. If not, students will need to find time to go to the museum outside of school time. After viewing the works, students will be asked to write a short essay describing the work and relating it to another work that they also viewed that day.

3. Color quiz!: As the unit advances, students may find it difficult to remember all of the color combinations that they have created, or how they created them. In order to reinforce this, at the beginning of class, once the students have their paints set up, they will be given a color by name and asked to mix it. We will do this for about 3 colors, so not to take up too much class time.

4. Name That Color!: The class will develop names for colors that we will have to mix often so that they will have an easier time remembering what color matches what name. The names could be serious or fun, that will be up to the students. In the classroom, as a group, we will construct a giant poster for the wall that will list all of the color names that the class has come up with, along with the proper recipes to create the color. For example, if the students named a color “Sidewalk Gray,” next to its name on the poster will be the colors used to create it, and the amounts needed (i.e. 30% blue, 20% white, 20% red, 10% yellow).

Albers, J. (1971). The Interaction of Color (Revised). New Haven, Connecticut. Yale University Press.
Art: Dance, Drama, Music and Visual Arts. (n. d.) Retrieved from on January 2, 2018.
Bobb, R. C. (n. d.) Arts Education Standards. Retrieved from on January 2, 2018.