Visually Scaffold Your Curriculum With Ease

If your undergrad studio courses were anything like mine, you finished the classes with a deep understanding of the medium and a complete portfolio of your own artwork. However, there was one important aspect missing from my coursework that was essential to my future career—how to actually teach the medium to students.

This was especially true in my ceramics course. I was the only art ed major, as most of my other classmates were pursuing non-teaching fine arts degrees. Everyone was there to better their craft and build their portfolios, but I was there to learn how to develop instructional strategies for ceramic skills. Needless to say, it was a bust. I left knowing how to formulate and mix complex glaze recipes, but I had no clue how that would ever transform into a middle school clay lesson.

middle school ceramics

Just like any new teacher, I worked to develop my curriculum over my first few years. I figured out how I would introduce concepts and techniques while building off of my students’ prior knowledge. Scaffolding curriculum took trial and error, but eventually, it fell into place.

One thing that helped me scaffold my curriculum was to develop a chart of processes and techniques that matched my students’ developmental abilities and needs.

Pinpointing how to scope and sequence my lessons in a visual format was key to keeping my curriculum in line.

If you find yourself questioning how to scaffold lessons from one grade level to another (or even from one medium to another) consider creating a scaffolding curriculum chart like these ceramics and printmaking examples from our Studio Courses.

Free Printmaking Scaffolding Download!

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Free Ceramics Scaffolding Download!

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Starting with the foundational skills, document which processes and techniques students will need before moving to more advanced concepts. Try to refrain from listing specific lessons or projects. These charts should act as the groundwork that your lessons will be derived from. If your art room is choice-based, consider using charts like these to help plan how centers are opened or how you might advise students to advance their skill development.

Want to explore more ways to encompass studio techniques and processes into your curriculum? Take a peek at our Studio Courses and the Media/Techniques category in PRO Learning!

How do you ensure your curriculum is organized to build on students’ prior knowledge?

Do you use similar planning sheets or do something different?

Magazine articles and podcasts are opinions of professional education contributors and do not necessarily represent the position of the Art of Education University (AOEU) or its academic offerings. Contributors use terms in the way they are most often talked about in the scope of their educational experiences.


Tracy Hare

Tracy Hare, a middle school art educator, is a former AOEU Writer. She strives to deepen students’ 21st-century skills by encouraging them to practice critical thinking and creative problem-solving skills.

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