Two curriculums at once?

Tuesday 26 August 2014

Balancing two courses

Alexander Calder-vertical constellation with bomb-nga

This year is an especially challenging one for IB Art teachers with year 2 students still following the old curriculum guide and year 1 students starting with the new guide. Does this mean we have to juggle two assessment models and two sets of required content? And what about combined classes of both years? That sounds like a teacher's nightmare, and besides, who has time to teach two different curriculums simultaneously? Fortunately, the two curriculum guides are not completely different and it should be possible to teach to both specifications without too much confusion. There are ways we can make this easier on ourselves as teachers, making use of overlap whenever possible...

Keep it streamlined and integrated


Start calling the IWB the Journal just so you don’t go insane. (Year 2 won’t mind.) Give regular assignments to both years in the journal as you would and collect as always for feedback. The main difference between the Visual Journal and the old IWB is the way they are used for assessment. The IWB pages are selected, scanned and uploaded as they are. The Journal will be used to extract material from as well as other sources and be reformatted into the Process Portfolio. Basically you can continue to use the Journal just as you would the IWB, there will be time to fine tune the PP next year.

Comparative Study

As you have heard, the new guide calls for a Comparative Study and you will need to introduce year 1 students to this component. I have developed some exercises for building the skills required to write a good CS over the course of the first year. It wouldn’t hurt the year 2 students to do some of these exercises either, and it makes good IWB/Journal material. HL Year 2 students could also relate their own work to artists they have investigated in the IWB ( like the HL aspect of the CS). This will help them to meet some assessment requirements at the same time (making connections).


The new guide places considerable emphasis on curatorship and presentation of student work. This is very relevant to year 2 students too, although they are not required to write a Curatorial Rationale as such, they will be presenting their work in the form of a final exhibition. Any exposure to curating, such as visiting shows, writing exhibition texts, setting up exhibitions, will be helpful to them too. The candidate statement is really a form of curatorial rationale anyway, so why not do a practice run this year? Use the Year 2 final exhibition as a chance for year 1 students to think about use of space, hanging work, display solutions, audience response etc.

Digital portfolio

All students should keep a digital portfolio of their studio work and label each image with name, date, medium and dimensions. You could set a template for this for all students, keep files on a school computer, backed up on file server or cloud and require regular updates.This will make the uploading process much simpler regardless of which guide.

The good news is you will only have to teach from one curriculum guide,, next year.


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