How to Build Academic Connections

Hillsborough County Arts in Education Program

Building Connections
By Patricia Linder

What are the Sunshine State Standards?

The Sunshine State Standards are at the center of reform efforts in Florida to align curriculum, instruction and assessment by identifying what Florida students should know and be able to do for the 21st century.

Approved by the State Board of Education, the Standards are divided into four separate grade clusters (PreK-2, 3-5, 6-8, 9-12) and written in seven subject areas (language arts, mathematics, science, social studies, the arts, health and physical education, and foreign languages).

The Sunshine State Standards are not lesson plans.

Instead, teachers use the Standards to guide instructional planning. While focusing on the essential knowledge and skills the Standards have identified, teachers are encouraged to use a variety of resources and instructional techniques to design and implement creative lessons that actively engage the learners.

The Standards are organized as follows:

LA.A.1.1.1

LA A 1 1 1
Subject Area Strand Standard # Level Benchmark #
LA: Language Arts
MA: Math
SC: Science
SS: Social Studies
PE: Physical Education
The Arts
MU: Music
DA: Dance
TH: Theatre
VA: Visual Arts
Categories of knowledge, such as:
Reading
Writing
Number Sense
Measurement
 : 1: PreK-2
2: 3-5
3: 6-8
4: 9-12

Click here for current Sunshine State Standards

Within each Subject Area, the Strands and Standards are the same across all grade levels. They organize the content knowledge and make general statements of expected learner achievement.

It is the Benchmarks that differ between grade level clusters, as they describe, in a more specific way, what a student should know and be able to do at the end of the developmental level.

How can artists build natural connections between
the Sunshine State Standards and the arts?

Think about the ways you work. How do you use reading, writing or mathematics as tools in your trade?

Reading

  • Are there age appropriate books or articles about the art form (genre) that you could share with your class? Look for fiction or non-fiction, fables, legends or folk-tales, and poetry.
  • Connect an artist or a single piece of work with historic events. How might the attitudes and values that exist in a specific period in history affect the artistic community of that day? Do you know how authors responded to the same attitudes and values?
  • Can you identify vocabulary for the genre?
  • Focus on the story of one piece of work. Does the genre allow for the involvement of reading processes such as:
    • predicting
    • identifying the setting (or characters or main idea)
    • sequencing of events
    • plot development
    • conflict resolution
    • retelling the story in your own words
    • summarizing
  • Does the ability to recognize the difference between fact and opinion play a role?
  • Can you identify examples to compare and contrast?
  • Help the students construct meaning from the use charts or graphs?
  • When might artists follow written directions?

Now transfer what you’ve discovered about the artistic genre into specific learning activities for students.

Refer to the Sunshine State Standards to build stronger, more appropriate connections by targeting specific Benchmarks and Grade Level Expectations.

Writing

  • How might an artist organize their thoughts before beginning to study or create a new piece? Could they look for a central idea for what they plan to accomplish? Are there related ideas? (This is similar to the way a writer might plan before beginning to write.)
  • Ask students if they believe a performers first attempt with a new piece is perfect or more like a first draft? Do performers evaluate and identify places that need more attention (revision)?
  • Consider the purpose of a single piece. Do you think the artist had a specific audience in mind? What do you think the artist was hoping to communicate?
  • How might artists use observation skills or their senses to gather information?
  • Select examples that tell a story. Can students identify:
    • The beginning
      • Setting
      • Characters
      • Story problem or conflict
    • The middle
      • Rising action
      • Sequence of events
    • The ending
      • Climax
      • Resolution or falling action
      • Conclusion or wrap up of loose ends
  • Use a single piece as a writing prompt. Ask students to create a narrative story inspired by the piece or ask them to explain how they feel about the piece.
  • Have the students write notes, comments, or observations that reflect comprehension of the content of a piece or a fine arts field trip experiences.

Now transfer what you’ve discovered about your work into specific learning activities for students.

Refer to the Sunshine State Standards to build stronger, more appropriate connections by targeting specific Benchmarks and Grade Level Expectations.

Mathematics

Strand A – Number Sense, Concepts, and Operations

  • How are numbers used as symbols in the genre? What do the numbers represent? Are there whole numbers, decimals, percents, and/or fractions?
  • What number operations (addition, subtraction, multiplication, division) might an artist have to use as part of their work?
  • Do artists ever have to estimate quantities or measurements in their work?

Strand B – Measurement

  • What role does measurement play? Do artists have to consider length, weight, time, perimeter, area, capacity, volume, time, temperature, or angles?
  • Do artists use customary (inches, feet, etc.) or metric (centimeters, meters, etc.) systems?

Strand C – Geometry and Spatial Sense

  • Can you identify any geometric shapes that play a role in artists’ work? How are the shapes combined, subdivided, or changed?
  • Have students use number lines or plot coordinates on a graph within an artistic context.

Strand D – Algebraic Thinking

  • What kinds of patterns exist in the genre? Are the patterns related to physical characteristics and/or sensory attributes, such as:
    rhythm, sound, shapes, colors, numbers, similar object, similar events  

Strand E – Data Analysis and Probability

  • Students can get involved with collecting data/information as it pertains to fine arts. Use graphs or charts to manage the information they’ve gathered? For example:
    bar graphs, circle graphs, line graphs, pictographs, charts

Now transfer what you’ve discovered about your work into specific learning activities for students.

Refer to the Sunshine State Standards to build stronger, more appropriate connections by targeting specific Benchmarks and Grade Level Expectations.