Middle School Visual Arts classes encourage exploration, discovery, and self-expression in a discipline-based approach. Art classes are integrated with grade curriculum courses. Students focus on subject, composition, and content with the use of tools and foundation skills to be developed and explored as they grow.
Utilizing current trends in brain research, theory and visual literacy as presented by Daniel Pink and other cutting edge authors, a typical class could focus on small motor skills and visual perception exercises, including quick sketch techniques, before engaging in individual art expressions and assignments.
Middle School art classes attend museum exhibits and special presentations with museum educational staff, including hands-on field trips and extended research opportunities. Additionally, students frequently engage with professional artists and art career personnel. Individual and group work is on display through the offices of both campuses, and periodically, student artwork is presented in professional settings, such as Phoenix Art Museum Student Gallery and Paradise Valley Community College.
Grade 5 – Art class, like many subjects, is integrated into the curriculum courses. There is a major focus on social study components, especially China and Egypt. A further development of the Aesthetic Views is the foundation of the art curriculum component. Students focus on the three views: Subject, Composition, and Content. Specialized focus units are added that support school activities, community outreach and opportunities to work with museums and artists when possible. iPads are used frequently, and students also begin technical drawing in Grade 5 demonstrating the close relationships between art and math.
Grade 6 – Similar to the year before, Art Class for Grade 6 is integrated with the curriculum and continues the focus on social study components, specifically Middle Ages and Heraldry. A further development of the Aesthetic Views is the foundation of the art curriculum component. Students focus on the three views: Subject, Composition, and Content. Students build on the use of tools and foundational skills studied and developed in Grade 5. Various media are explored and there is a specialized focus on activities that support school functions, community outreach, and opportunities to work with museums and artists when possible. Grade 6 students experience close connections with Language Arts studies through their work with the use of imagery words through their study of short stories. The spoken work of several authors is supported by the student’s illustrations from being read to and reading short stories.
Grade 7 – This class is the equivalent of a college Level One Design Class. Design class is the focus of Grade 7 Visual Arts. Design builds on the Aesthetic with eight additional elements: Overlapping, transparency, vertical axis, one- and two-point perspective, size variation, diagonal axis and light modulation. These eight design elements extend the visual artist’s tools and are components of all great works of art. Students learn the elements individually, in a unified project, use them in a reality-based work and apply them to all visual creative expression. Initial work is in abstract, black and white, and culminates in applications of design in color, graphic arts, advertising and in applied design for functional components. Students complete work at a professional level and have the opportunity to utilize their design skills in the creation of the spring musical logo and posters. The third quarter focus is the MIM (Musical Instrument Museum) project based learning experience taught collaboratively with Music. Students tour the MIM, work in collaborative groups to accomplish a complete business cycle: initial assignments, timeline expectations, task delegation, research, creative writing, copyediting, graphic design and text production, speech preparation, marketing and advertising infomercials, oral presentation, audience interaction; all while presenting themselves in business attire and manner.
Grade 8 – Eighth Grade Visual Arts focuses on the third Aesthetic View, which is content. Students are challenged with the intra-student expression, “What is my message?” Having mastered the Aesthetics Views and becoming more familiar with design elements, students utilize their current studies as a subject matter to create and influence the viewer through the development of composition and content. Various media and technology expressions are used. 3D is explored as well. A research paper is written based on one event in history and viewed from the angles of Math, Science, cultural and social history, literary aspects and the impact of the above on the world of art. A portfolio presentation is held at the end of the second semester.
Tesseract middle school students have the option to take either General Music or Instrumental Ensemble. Both classes culminate in multiple performances throughout the year and teach music theory as well as performance skills.
General Music classes have a vocal emphasis and cover a wide variety of musical styles and genres. Students learn about jazz, musical theater, music from other countries, classical and modern day composers, sea shanties, spirituals and modern day pop music (among other styles). They have numerous performance opportunities throughout the year, including the 5/6 and 7/8 Concerts, Special Persons Day, Medieval Night, and Music-in-our Schools month performances in March. Middle school students also take part in many unique classroom projects, such as the 7th grade Tesseract MIM (Musical Instrument Museum) and the 8th-grade Create-A-Musical project. Additionally, students learn music theory concepts throughout the year that reinforce and enhance their performance skills.
In Middle School Instrumental Ensemble, students develop through progressive studies – some studying their instrument at a beginners level while other students take their skills to intermediate skills and beyond, reading sophisticated music and growing to levels where they consider additional studies at a conservatory. At the end of Eighth Grade, students perform an eclectic repertoire incorporating an elaborate array of genres.
Middle School Musicals
For the past 12 years, the Tesseract Middle School has put on a large scale spring musical production under the direction of Terri Scullin. All Middle School students are given an opportunity to participate in the Middle School musical, offering an opportunity for students to build upon their performance skills in acting, singing, and dance.
Chronology of Middle School Musicals