Tag: AP Art

Teachers Pay Teachers: Semester Long Painting Curriculum and Yearlong Advanced Art Curriculum

I have been posting a lot about Teachers Pay Teachers lately, but lately TPT has been my life. For another summer in a row, I have spent all summer planning, typing, and compiling lesson plans, PowerPoints, worksheets, and resources into new TPT products. Last year, my August and September earnings funded a ten day trip that took my hubs and I to Munich, Berlin, and Amsterdam. This year, my August earnings have more than doubled, and my hard earned money is being put into our front yard landscaping, replacing molding around windows, and repairing our roof. Although these are less fun items than a European vacation, they are all in preparation for our next bundle of joy, baby girl Panetta, due November 27th. These things have all been possible because I decided to start putting a few of my lesson plans on a teaching website.

One major goal I have for myself is to create an entire high school art (adaptable to middle school art) curriculum. This would include yearlong and semester long curriculums for Introduction to Art, Painting, Drawing, Advanced 2D Design, Introduction to Sculpture and Ceramics, Sculpture and Ceramics II, Advanced 3D Design, and Advanced Placement Art. Last summer, I compiled my yearlong and semester long lessons for Introduction to Art. It has been my biggest seller the last year. This summer I was able to compile my semester long painting curriculum and my advanced 2D art (which is also adaptable for AP Art breadth) curriculums. They are both doing well, and I am getting a lot of great feedback. I am halfway through my Introduction to Sculpture and Ceramics curriculum, and can’t wait to tie everything up in a nice bow and get it posted to my Teachers Pay Teachers store. I hope by this time next year my high school art curriculum will be complete, and I will be onto my next TPT task.

My painting curriculum includes:

-Semester long timeline
-Supply list
-Get to Know you handout
-10 student handouts
-1 teacher aid handouts
-2 technology tie activities
-9 lesson plans
-12 PowerPoints
-6 rubrics
-5 grading checklists
-5 critique sheets

The lessons cover the three main types of paint: watercolor, acrylic, and oil (oil can be substituted for art teachers on a budget), as well as mixed media with the visual journal project I incorporate in every class.

With this curriculum students create a sketchbook, full of painting techniques, testers, and reference material, as well as 5 take home level paintings, and a visual journal book. With every curriculum bundle I include a timeline, so you know what to teach when and how long it will take, as well as a supply list.

My Advanced 2D Design art curriculum includes:

In all this art unit includes:
-Course Syllabus
-Tell Me About You worksheet
-Yearlong timeline
-Supply list for all 14 projects
-2017 August-December calendar for AP breadth adaption
-14 completed projects
-10 Lesson plans
-9 PowerPoints
-4 handouts
-2 printable posters
-9 sketchbook handouts
-8 critique sheets
-10 project rubrics

This class is a full year course and is the last art class before students take Advanced Placement (AP) Art. It helps prepare them for the rigor of AP and they create work that is AP quality they can use in their portfolio. They create artwork using a range of materials: pencil, charcoal, watercolor, acrylic paint, oil paint, and mixed media, and participate in many group discussion and critiques. This curriculum also includes a timeline to adapt this to a semester long course, to fulfill the AP Art breadth section of the portfolio. I also have a printable 2017-2018 calendar as a resources for AP Art students.

I am really proud of all the work I have put into my TPT store, and even more proud when my work literally pays off. I you haven’t yet, check out all the amazing things TPT sellers have to offer! Support a fellow educator and get so many great resources for your classroom.

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Visual Journal Page 69: I Wish They Knew

Visual-Journal-Page-69-I-Wish-They-Knew Teaching AP Art was both the most difficult and rewarding class I ever taught.

After attending the week long AP certification seminar at Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD), I felt like I pro. I went into the year with a solid list of assignments and battle plan to encourage my students to produce amazing, college worthy artwork. I felt confident, I knew every one of my students would submit and receive high scores on their portfolios. I knew all of this before day one even began.

What I didn’t know going into the year was how difficult motivating my students would be. 24 complete works of art in a 9 month period is a lot to ask. After doing my own calculations I realized my students had to create a new work of art every week and a half in order to meet the 24 piece requirement in May. Their acceleration began to slow as we moved into Christmas break. By the time we hit the middle of second semester the majority of them were burnt out, feeling a sense of defeat, and were beginning to enter the dangerous zone of “I just don’t care anymore”.

What I didn’t realize going into the year was the cost each of my students had to face. The $80.00 portfolio fee was a deterrent and excuse for many of my AP students to not even submit at the end of the year. Of the 16 students in the class, only 10 submitted that first year.

What I didn’t realize going into the year was the incredible amount of stress I was going to put on myself. Every day when a project remained incomplete, pushed to the side, or even trashed due to frustration, I took it on myself. Slowly each unfinished work of art piled on my shoulders, and began weighing me down. My weighted shoulders followed me home at night, to bed as I tried to sleep, and back to school the next day, resulting in a short temper and an obvious show of frustration with my students.

Before I knew it the submission deadline was a week away and my solid plan at the beginning of the year had long been abandoned. The close relationships I had with me Ap babies suddenly felt strained, as I hounded them day in and day out to bring in finished artwork. I questioned whether or not any of my 10 would have a complete portfolio at the end of the week.

As the big day approached my students kicked it into high gear. Out of nowhere beautiful drawings, paintings, and photographs began appearing. Slowly, but surely, spaces began to fill up on the submission website. I continuously checked their portfolios, to make sure I wasn’t dreaming, 10 complete portfolios were about to be sent off.

I was beat down and exhausted by the end of the year. I nervously hit the submit button for each portfolio, and wondered their fate. I thought back to the beginning of the year, when we were all full of excitement and motivation. I couldn’t believe how difficult it was, but I was incredibly proud of my the few that followed their commitment to the end.

2 months I waited to hear news of their portfolio fate. I already place my own numbers on each one, and assumed I would be in the ballpark. When the big day came, I could barely contain myself, I geared up to pat myself on the back when the high scores came in. I opened the website, logged in, and there they were. Stacked in a nice column, name on the left, score on the right.

I was shocked. Everyone scored at least a full point lower than I anticipated, with two of my students receiving scores of 2s. I felt like a failure. I felt I didn’t work hard enough to help them get the scores they deserved. At the pit of my stomach I felt a little sick, knowing each one of them would be visiting the site soon, to discover what their work meant to the AP board.

Although the year was difficult, although I had my ups and downs with each student, they had all come a long way. The AP board can judge the artwork as subjectively as possible, however they can’t judge each submitters journey. So many of my kiddos came leaps and bounds from where they were in the beginning.

Moments of slacking off and not meeting deadlines occurred, but in the end they all pulled through. In the end they all put in the time needed to complete their portfolios. My students didn’t come from a magnet art school with an endless budget, they came from a school with few art supplies and where an $80.oo submission fee was enough to cut out almost half of my class. I felt my students came a lot further in the course of the year than any AP reader could grade on. If only they knew how hard they worked and how far they came.


  • Visual journal
  • Rubber cement
  • scissors
  • Magazine page
  • Sharpie
  • Book pages


Going into this visual journal page I knew I wanted it to be clean, yet bold. I had recently discovered a magazine spread in a SCAD catalogue, which had numerous pictures of young looking students. I was able to find 10 which reminded me of my own students, and cut them out to represent our AP submission group.

After cutting out the images I glued them down along the bottom edge of the page. After stepping away and taking a look at the in progress page, I decided it didn’t look right. I didn’t like seeing their faces, after all they are anonymous as the portfolios are graded. I took a sharpie and crossed a bold line across their eyes. It seemed to fit.

Next I glued down book pages along the top of the page, to create a space to write words. I used a sharpie to add the words, and my visual journal page was complete.


Create a page about a time when you felt you fell short or failed. Relive the moment as you create the page, then let it go.

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Visual Journal Page 51: AP Due Dates


I think it’s hilarious when I hear students say they are taking AP Art because they think it will be an easy AP. As I smile and nod I think to myself, “Soon enough you will realize this is going to be one of the hardest classes you will ever take”…

The thing about AP Art is there is no such thing as cramming for your exam. You could potentially not keep up with your work, not study as much as necessary, and pull an all night study session the night before an AP history, science, or math exam. However, I do not believe it is physically possible to churn out 24 works of art, photograph them, upload them, label them, quickly write up your two artist statements, and submit without a great deal of planning. What students don’t realize is 24 works of art in a single year is more art than these kids will create in any college level art class.

Despite this every year I have students who attempt the cram. One year I had a student complete 6 paintings in one day… on the day it was due… completed an hour before the submission deadline. The level of stress I felt for me and for her as we rushed to tape up wet watercolors to quickly snap a photo, down, to the next one, and on to photo editing, uploading, and labeling was beyond me.

Problem number one with completing this huge task is the number 24 somehow doesn’t seem daunting to students in August when school starts up, after all they have all the way until May to get it done. Piece of cake… I try to explain, I encourage, threaten, hand out zeros, have one on one talks, and still it doesn’t seem to sink in until the week before due-date-day. At the beginning of the year I stand in front of the class and map out our year together, “You must turn in a finished project every week in a half starting now and continuing until May in order to meet the 24 piece requirement”. As the weeks come and go artwork is submitted, half finished pieces here, almost completed there, and the stress builds as I count down to the final day.

I stress for my kids all year long. All year I wait for them to process the amount of work ahead of them, and all year I feel the pressure for them. By the time the deadline rolled around my first year teaching AP, I thought I was going to have an anxiety attack in the middle of class. Too much artwork still needed to be photographed, too much still needed to be completed, Miss 6-paintings-in-one-day was still sitting in the corner frantically churning out piece after piece…

Perhaps I can only blame myself for the level of stress AP Art put on me. After all it is my responsibility to hold my students to deadlines, push them to do their best, ensure they are producing AP quality work, and help them maintain their drive to create art from day one to due-date-day. Two years I taught AP, and while the second year was infinitely better than the first, I still felt helpless as my students became burnt out, lost their inspiration, and their desire to even turn in a portfolio.

Their loss of faith was contagious and spread quickly in the class, my amazing artists were dropping of like flies and eventually I felt it creep into me too. I felt like giving up, letting them give up, but I pushed it aside and continued forward. By the time I hit the submit button on each of my students’ portfolios I felt a wave of relief wash over me, it was all over, we are finally finished. But in this process I always have to wonder how many of them hit the quitting point and didn’t turn back. I have a few students I wonder about, will they ever find their passion for it again? Did AP Art ruin their drive for art?

I continued on to teach AP Art one more year, but when I began my new job I dropped it all together and began teaching sculpture courses instead. I have to admit I am relieved I don’t have that additional stress in the spring and seeing them go through the wave of emotions and doubt in their ability that comes with an outsider evaluating your creation.

After my first year teaching AP I did feel a little cynical as I collected my AP Art memorabilia to create a visual page dedication. As I was shuffling through I discovered a six word memoir from one of my AP babies, it simply said “best class you will ever take”… Perhaps it was all worth it after all.


  • Visual Journal
  • Scissors
  • Rubber cement
  • AP submission forms
  • Collected items (post its, writing prompts)
  • Brown paper
  • Colored pencils
  • India ink


To create this page I opted to make a visual journal collage to represent my year of AP. I had a small pile of scrap paper, notes, and signs from the class I could incorporate. I decided as a base the actual AP submission forms would work well since they were large, didn’t have a lot of detail, and represented one of the most stressful days of the year.

After using rubber cement to glue my submission forms down I began placing and gluing down my AP scraps to the top. After gluing these items down I decided I needed a focal point. I immediately thought of the brown AP portfolios used to submit the 5 physical works of art for the quality section. Since I felt like my life was being consumed by this class I decided to make mini portfolio to represent each of my 9 students and have them piled on top of poor, stressed me.

To create the portfolios I cut out brown rectangles from construction paper. To make some of them look like they were in perspective I opted to cut the top and bottom of the portfolio at an angle. I then glued a small white rectangle on top and added details with colored pencil. I glued them down in a pile on my page, colored in the space in the middle, and added eyes using colored pencil.

To create a sense of ground I used a paint brush, India ink, and loosely painted a scribble pattern along the bottom third of the page. To finish off the page I glued down the six word memoir in the bottom right corner of the page.


Create a visual journal page to represent a stressful time in your life.

Visual Journal Page 4: A Week at SCAD

It was summer. I was supposed to be enjoying my vacation, relaxing, and mentally preparing myself for my second year teaching… but instead I decided to sign up for a week long class at the Savannah College of Art and Design, at the Atlanta campus, in order to get certified to teach Advanced Placement (AP) Art.

Dread is not a negative enough word to describe how I felt about this course. I wanted to teach AP Art, I wanted to work with the advanced students, but going to a class from 8 AM to 5 PM everyday for a week was not part of my summer vacation plan. However, if I wanted to teach the advanced students, this was a step I had to take. The thought of sitting through 40 hours of classes focused on someone droning on about teaching made my skin crawl.

My alarm went off way too early on Monday the first day of class. I opened my eyes, and slowly adjusted to the 6:30 dim, morning light. I hit snooze more times than was necessary until I finally checked the clock, bolted out of bed, and hurried to my car. On the first day of anything the mad dash to the car doesn’t describe me. I am the type to wake up before my alarm, lay in bed until it goes off, and get ready earlier than necessary, a result of first day angst. Not this summer morning, I dragged myself from bed, all the way to the north side of Atlanta, with a fog of dread clouding my view.

However, as soon as I walked into the SCAD Atlanta building the fog cleared. Student artwork covered every classroom and amazing, inspiring works of art covered every hall. I began to feel better. I was suddenly in my element, and as I walked into class I was shaking off a few crumbs of my dread.

I found a seat, opened my “welcome to SCAD” notebook, pretended to read, as focused on willing my coffee to wake me up. Our instructor, Kevin Cole, made his way to the front of class and began his first day spiel. As soon as he began talking the remainder of my dread was gone.

Kevin Cole is everything I want to be.  He is everything I can’t understand how someone can be in a lifetime. He is a very successful high school art teacher, part of the AP grading process, trainer of future AP teachers, husband, parent, and a famous artist. That is the big one, he is one of the most commissioned artists in the state of Georgia. I can barely make a painting during the school year, and I’m lucky to get even a quarter of what I want to get done over summers.

By the time I left Monday afternoon I was looking forward to the rest of the week. I was learning a lot about the AP process, making connections to other teachers, getting a head start on planning my school year, and I was getting inspired about my work. By the end of the week I was excited about AP Art and I had more than a little motivation to work on my own projects. I couldn’t have asked for a better way to spend a week of my summer.


  • Visual journal
  • Scissors
  • Rubber cement
  • Documents from my SCAD course


This page didn’t require a lot of supplies, all it needed was creativity in laying it out. After the class I went through the stack of materials I got over the course of the week and pulled out a few that I didn’t need anymore. I decided to start with a base of overlapped documents about the course, and move forward. I ended up stumbling on an interesting geometric pattern on one of the folders, and thought it was a great way to make the page more interesting. I cut out the pattern and made a new one using the shapes and placing them on the page. To contrast with the round shapes I cut out strips of paper from another section of the folder and glued them down. To finish off the page I added the floor plan from the floor our classroom was on.

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