What Are Students Like at This Learning Level?

In these “middle years,” students go through tremendous changes, both physically and emotionally. As they reach puberty and inch their way toward adulthood, they may begin to act self-conscious. Their eventual adult personalities are beginning to emerge, along with a desire for more independence. The following is a quick look at some of the behaviors you are likely to encounter at this learning level.

Sixth graders

In art class at this grade level, students often express a strong desire to be shown various art techniques that will assist them in achieving the best results in their finished pieces. An increased ability to think abstractly may show up in the subjects they portray in their artwork. Eleven- and twelve-year-olds at this grade may sometimes have trouble with tasks that require decision-making. Make sure to provide clear, focused instruction that helps them succeed. Though they sometimes like to challenge the rules, at the same time they need adults in their lives who empathize and offer support. Sixth-graders’ natural interest in current events and social justice can present interesting opportunities for discussion and theme-based art projects.

Seventh graders

In grade seven art classes, twelve- and thirteen-year-olds begin to fall into two groups: those whose artwork is inspired by visual stimuli and those whose artwork is less visual and instead derives from subjective experience. The visual student, for example, starts to understand how color changes depending on external conditions. The nonvisually-minded student sees color as a way to portray personal reactions to the subject being depicted. Socially, seventh graders have a strong desire to be accepted by their peers. At times, they may act rebellious; other times, they may seem withdrawn. Though they often want to share their feelings, they aren’t always sure how. Art projects that combine art and writing can provide opportunities for students to express themselves in meaningful ways.

Eighth graders

Art students at this grade should be encouraged to develop observational skills rather than relying on the artwork of others, such as that found in comic books or how-to drawing books. When existing models are simply copied, students’ ability to improve is limited. Direct observation helps develop skills needed to perceive and depict the formal elements key to successful art-making. Eighth graders are typically more introspective than seventh graders. Though they enjoy the company of peers, they often have difficulty working in cooperative groups. As they grapple with the question “Who am I?” they can benefit from art projects that help them explore their identities. Such projects help prepare students for the independence and time management skills necessary in high school.

What Students Can Do at This Level

The learning outcomes below are based on the Scope and Sequence, which builds instruction sequentially across these levels. Keep in mind that students of different ages may be at the same level.
Grade 6 Students Can… Grade 8 Students Can…

apply digital design techniques

market ideas using graphic design techniques

classify opaque and transparent colors

analyze the emotional qualities of color

analyze use of humor in works
of art

interpret meaning of artwork based on cultural/historical context

develop arguments when viewing artwork from an instrumentalist perspective (Is this art useful? Does that make the art “good”?, etc.)

analyze artwork from a symbolist perspective (Does the artwork convey a message clearly? Does that make it “good”?, etc.)

analyze personal experiences with and interest in multiple art forms

explore and develop personal style