Improve students’ art vocabulary

Lots of my resources focus on getting students to be able to think about and discuss artworks in more depth. Rather than formulaic construction of slightly dry sounding sentences about the artists’ use of line, tone and colour, I’d like to see students provided with the language to speak meaningfully about their responses to images.

Easier said than done…

One way to boost both students’ confidence and their ability to write about art is to give them the vocabulary to do so. With this in mind I’ve produced a poster/handout with a range of words to spice up artist research or enable personal reflections which read in a more exciting way. The download is available here.

Of course the resource is by no means exhaustive, but I’ve tried to balance some useful and frequent words with a few more exotic examples which might have them reaching for their dictionaries. I hope it will start a conversation about the kinds of words we use to talk about visual art, and make a bridge with the literacy students might have experienced in English lessons in school.

Of course it’s also important to model the use of exciting and descriptive language, and to teach the terms specific to our subject. Some resources I’ve found which are good for this are:
* 99designs has a great post about design terminology split into categories such as colour and typology. The words are clearly explained and illustrated, though you may find some of them a tad technical for students. Click here to link to 99 descriptive design words you should know.
* BerryArt’s blog has an interesting post explaining how extending students’ vocabulary can also extend their ability in practical terms too. The article is referenced with sources and very accessible. Click here to link to Characteristics of a High Quality Classroom Environment Part II.
* Cassie Stephen’s blog post is a fun and interesting look at ways to embed vocabulary in the Art classroom for primary students (though some ideas are applicable for secondary too). She has a vibrant website with lots of ideas. Click here to link to In the Art Room: Teaching Vocabulary Part 2.

So with a smidgen of input now, I have my fingers crossed that I’ll be seeing more dazzling penmanship from my own students soon!

One thought on “Improve students’ art vocabulary

  1. Pingback: Art literacy map | felt-tip-pen

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