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Visual Arts State Standards

District 118 Art Philosophy:
The arts are the first means of communication, linking image to thought.  Whether it be music, visual art, or movement they provide an effective universal means of communicating ideas, concepts, and meaning through the process of problem solving.  District 118 believes in the importance of the Arts Education as fundamental to the total development of the child.  Through the Arts a student develops sensitivity, creativity, expression of emotion, discipline, and a greater self esteem by participating in processes requiring not only an active mind and body but also a trained one. Our curriculum aligns with the Illinois State Learning Standards.

Illinois Learning Standards

Fine Arts

The Illinois Learning Standards for Fine Arts were developed using the National Standards for Arts Education, 1985 State Goals for Fine Arts, various other national and state resources, and local standards contributed by team members.

Throughout time, the arts have been essential to human existence. When people create in sounds, images, gestures and words, they discover ways to shape and share their thoughts and feelings with others. The arts enrich the quality of life. All students deserve access to the arts through creation, performance and study.

Young children "respond to gestures and movement before they react to the spoken word. They understand and explore sound before they learn to speak. They draw pictures before they form letters. They dance and act out stories before they learn to read" (Fowler, 1984). The fine arts—dance, drama, music, and visual arts—are fundamental ways of knowing and thinking. In addition to their intrinsic value, the arts contribute to children's development. Recent research shows that study in music improves test scores in spatial temporal reasoning in young children (Rauscher, 1997).

Works of art are some of the highest achievements of civilization. In school, students learn the language of the arts and how to interpret visual images, sounds, movement and story. Because the arts are both universal and culturally specific, they are a powerful means of increasing international and intercultural awareness. Through the arts, students gain a greater understanding of their own cultural heritage, as well as a sense of the larger world community.

The Illinois Learning Standards in the Fine Arts address the language of the fine arts, sensory elements, organizational principles and expressive qualities and how the arts are similar, different or related to each other. Students also learn about production and performance in the arts and the role of the arts in civilization. When students study the arts they become informed audience members and informed consumers of the popular culture including electronic media. The standards in fine arts define a comprehensive arts education and reflect a commitment to a quality education for every Illinois school child.

Applications of Learning

Through Applications of Learning, students demonstrate and deepen their understanding of basic knowledge and skills. These applied learning skills cross academic disciplines and reinforce the important learning of the disciplines. The ability to use these skills will greatly influence students' success in school, in the workplace and in the community.

Solving Problems

Recognize and investigate problems; formulate and propose solutions supported by reason and evidence.

Problem solving is integral to the arts—providing students the opportunity to innovate and seek original solutions to open-ended problems. Multiple solutions are constructed using various sensory modes, traditional and electronic media and tools, and individual and group experiences. Students learn the relationships between processes and end products; they learn to communicate ideas, themes and meaning through solving problems in their art work.


Express and interpret information and ideas.

The arts are forms of communication extending beyond reading, writing, listening and speaking. Communicating in the fine arts means learning to translate ideas through dance, drama, music and visual arts. Students also participate in the communication process as receivers– observing, analyzing, evaluating, critiquing and interacting.

Using Technology

Use appropriate instruments, electronic equipment, computers and networks to access information, process ideas and communicate results.

Computers, synthesizers, film and video provide opportunities to create and record sound composition, animated images, montages and other works. These experiences can lead to careers in areas such as music, graphic arts, video and film production, scene design and choreography. Technology (CD-ROM, slides, film, video, laserdisk, on-line services) also can link the classroom with the work of renowned artists and performers.

Working on Teams

Learn and contribute productively as individuals and as members of groups.

Individual creativity and inspiration are at the heart of the arts, but so are collaboration and group dynamics. Teamwork activities include planning dramatic scenes, developing choreography, creating group murals and performing music in ensembles. These activities give students experience in communicating ideas, considering the ideas of others and reaching consensus.

Making Connections

Recognize and apply connections of important information and ideas within and among learning areas.

Through the arts, students observe how dance, drama, music and visual art reflect history, society and everyday life. They see links between the individual and society in the creation and understanding of works of art. The arts relate to and reinforce other learning areas—for example, dance and the language arts (action relating to words and poetry), drama and social science (theatre conveying history and culture), music and mathematics (note duration expressed in fractions),


Goal 25 - Language of the Arts     

Goal 26 - Creating and Performing     

Goal 27 - Arts and Civilization