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Arts Education Webinar Notes

Implementation of the 2019 California Arts Standards and Distance Learning.

Date: 7/2/2020

Facilitators: Rachael Maves and Shanine Coats


The California Arts Project (TCAP External link opens in new window or tab.)
California County Superintendents Educational Services Association Statewide Arts Initiative External link opens in new window or tab.

  • Courtney Sawada, Director or the Southern Counties California Arts Project
  • Armalyn De La O, Region 10 Lead (San Bernardino County Office of Education)
  • Nicole Robinson, Fontana Unified School District
  • Zachary Pitt-Smith, Oakland Unified School District
  • Kimberly Ramos, Rialto Unified School District

Key Takeaways
  • The arts are part of the adopted course of study for grades one through six and are required course offerings for grades seven through twelve.

  • There are multiple contexts for arts education in school that students now may encounter through distance learning.

    • Sequential standards-based arts education in transitional kindergarten through grade twelve develops “aesthetic appreciation and the skills of creative expression” in dance, media arts, music, theatre, and visual arts. The 2019 Arts Standards and soon-to-be-adopted Arts Framework provides guidance for this.

    • Career technical education for arts, media, and entertainment integrates career, technical, and arts learning and readies students for career and college. The Career Technical Education Standards for California Public Schools provide guidance for this.

    • Preschool students can access arts instruction that focuses on artistic play, process, and arts learning in the context of child development. The California Preschool Learning Foundations documents provide guidance for this.

    • Integrated arts instruction can further one’s understanding of the arts and in one or more additional content areas.

  • Arts education plays a vital role in students’ mental health and well-being. Through the artistic processes, creative practices, and social interactions inherent in arts learning experiences, students acquire and apply the knowledge and skills necessary to establish and maintain positive relationships with others, set and achieve goals, practice empathy for others, recognize and effectively express emotions, and make responsible decisions (all of which are tenets of social and emotional learning).

  • When learning from a distance, the arts provide multiple ways for students to communicate ideas, experiences, and feelings that may be challenging or impossible to express linguistically.

  • The 2019 Arts Standards embrace discovery and experimentation and process-focused arts learning experiences.
Overview of the 2019 Arts Standards
  • The goal of the PK–12 California Arts Standards is to develop artistic literacy. Artistic literacy involves recognizing and utilizing arts as communication; creative personal realization; culture, history, and connectors; a means to well-being; community engagement, and profession.

  • The California Arts Standards are written for the five arts disciplines of dance, media arts (new in the 2019 standards), music, theatre, and visual arts. They are student centered and inquiry based and emphasize process as well as product.

  • Organization

    • The standards are organized by four artistic processes: creating, responding, connecting, and performing (for dance, music, and theatre); presenting (for visual arts); producing (for media arts). The artistic processes intersect, often occur simultaneously, and are broken down into process components that provide many entry points for learning.

    • Anchor standards articulate generalized outcomes of learning and are the same for all disciplines and all grade levels.

    • Discipline-specific student performance standards articulate what students are able to do or demonstrate by the end of the grade, course, or proficiency level.

    • Enduring understandings (EUs) and essential questions (EQs) work together to support an inquiry-based approach to arts education. The EUs and EQs state big ideas or important understandings and guide inquiry for arts learning.

  • The new arts standards follow a paradigm shift from content-based to performance-based, which is like that of other content areas with standards updated in the last decade (English language arts, mathematics, science, etc.). They are student centered and focus on what students will be able to do rather than identifying the specific content and skills that teachers will teach.

  • The teacher’s role is to use their discipline expertise to determine the most appropriate content to teach with the goal of preparing students to demonstrate proficiency in the standards and ensuring that students have sufficient and substantial opportunities to practice throughout the year to move toward mastery.
Examples of Distance Learning for Arts Education

Presenter: Nicole Robinson, dance educator, Fontana Unified School District.
Ms. Robinson shared five areas in which students grew as learners and emerging artists, which translate into the inquiry questions below. She provided a video of students from her Career Technical Education Arts Media and Entertainment (CTE AME) extended day program with examples of how they approached these questions.

  • Given new locations and environments for dancing, how can we reinvent choreographic ideas and uses of space? Does this alter the artistic intention of the work?

  • What does dancing together look like in a virtual world? How can we use technology to create togetherness?

  • How can we redefine collaboration on dances and movement ideas when we are so far apart?

  • What is the impact on creating and performing processes when creating works for recording? What do we need to consider in terms of camera angles, lighting, editing, and what are the impact of those elements on the artistic design of the work?

  • What does working in “revised spaces” mean for the choreographic process, revision, and performance for the camera?

Other Key Points

  • Student circumstances may not match with teacher circumstances. Essential to be aware of and sensitive to the possible differences in student home responsibilities and what they have access to in terms of space, time, and technology in their homes. To inform instructional choices, teachers could students survey asking questions such as: Do you have reliable internet? Do you have a space to move? Are you caring for siblings during the day?

  • There may be privacy issues when using cameras to see students for synchronous instruction. It can be helpful to have students participate in movement classes asynchronously and possibly share recordings of their work.

  • Virtual instruction can be an opportunity for students who typically choose to be in the background in the physical classroom to shine.

  • The extended day CTE AME program had 100% participation. We attribute this to the authentic nature of the program, which was audition and application based.

  • There is no perfect remedy for delays and stalling of technology during live studio classes other than to be flexible and stay calm because it always comes back online.

Presenter: Zach Pitt-Smith, middle school music teacher, Oakland Unified School District, and urban representative for the California Music Educators Association

Reflections on his online teaching experience

  • The benefits of music education in our current context—many students have expressed that they wake up and go to school because of their music classes. It may be the only thing that gets them through the day. This is no different now that they're at home.

  • Some students are suffering financially and emotionally, and technology problems can become a barrier. To counterbalance these negatives, it can be empowering to have students engage in some self-directed work to find topics that are meaningful and personally relevant that they are excited about.

  • Some students are uncomfortable with seeing themselves on the computer screen during synchronous learning. It can be helpful to have them dim the lighting.

  • Some video conference platforms allow the teacher to change their background to a photo of a familiar place such as the music classroom or an aspirational place such as Carnegie Hall.

  • A reminder about virtual ensemble projects—they are not a simple outcome of teaching ensembles; they also are a technical product that requires production skills that a music teacher may not have. Teachers may need to help administrators understand this distinction if asked to produce polished performance recordings, such as Pomp and Circumstance to be used for a graduation ceremony.

Sample video conference approaches (video of students is included in the presentation)

  • Have everyone muted except for the teacher so that the teacher can demonstrate.

  • The teacher can mute and unmute a student to “call” on the student to come up and play in front of the class. Some students who wouldn't normally do that in the classroom, feel more comfortable doing that virtually.

  • “Follow the Leader” with the prompt of the B flat major pentatonic scale and an improvisation that is passed along from student to student. The sample includes several common challenges, including a student without an instrument and a student without their video streaming. Follow the leader also provides the teacher with formative feedback.

Presenter: Kimberly Ramos, high school visual arts educator, Rialto Unified School District.

Online structure and approach

  • Weekly calendars for each class with suggested amounts of time for each lesson, due dates, and project titles that were coming soon to create interest.

  • Scheduled office hours

  • Starting with a review to get a sense of participation and limitations, similar to a practice round

  • Student surveys to understand the availability of supplies, technology access and for Advanced Placement classes, the days and times students would be able to meet online

  • Consistent formats and structures for each week which included

    • Weekly assignment directions including directions, links, and examples provided in a slide deck format

    • Student work for one week including research, planning, student artwork images, and reflections to be submitted in a single document

    • Format for presentations remained the same every time

Framing lessons through the four artistic processes and process components. For example,

  • CONNECT through research (such as through video links of artists talking about their work or inspiration, or a specific skill being taught, such as creating homemade camera filters for a cell phone);

  • IMAGINE and PLAN their artwork and CREATE using materials that they chose;

  • RESPOND to question prompts that were reflective about their process; and

  • PRESENT their work to the whole class using an online presentation where each student added a slide an image of the work they created along with their response to a prompt.


  • Colleagues in her weekly Visual Arts Professional Learning Community meetings
  • Social Media to network with educators from across the nation and utilize other resources such as The Getty Challenge on Twitter
  • Websites such as The Art Assignment External link opens in new window or tab.

Please send any questions to

Questions:   Curriculum Frameworks and Instructional Resources Division | | 916-319-0881
Last Reviewed: Monday, October 2, 2023