Special Education in the Art Classroom

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Students in the Art Education MAT program at Columbia College Chicago are required to take one class in the field of Special Education called Education of Exceptional Children, which is taught by Professor Marianne Stallworth (pictured below). From my personal experience from observing students in various classrooms in the suburbs and city of Chicago, as a teacher you will inevitably encounter special needs students in the art classroom.  The required Special Education class helps you identify the students in your classroom that may need more assistance and adjust your curriculum to meet the students’ needs.

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In addition, I was informed in this Special Education class that Columbia College Chicago’s Education Department offers graduate students the opportunity to receive a Special Education Endorsement.  I know what you’re thinking. More time you have to be in class and more work. But you only need to take three additional classes to be “specialized” in Special Education.  And if you want to be endorsed you can take those three classes and a special education content test.  Then, you have a great achievement to put on that infamous resume.

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At the IAEA 2011 Conference in Bloomington, Illinois, two of Columbia College Chicago’s faculty members teamed together for a presentation on Special Education in the Art Classroom. Professor Marianne Stallworth and Professor Anne Becker gave an interesting presentation, to a full crowd of art educators, on how to identify students with disabilities and how to adapt lessons and methods of creating art to assist the students’ individual needs. In one example (shown below), a shoe box and plexiglass are used to help a student trace a three-dimensional shape. Therefore, this adaptation allows a student to create a two-dimensional drawing of a three-dimensional object.

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I discovered another great tool for special education students in the art classroom while in my Secondary Methods class, which is taught by Anne Becker.  We were looking at iPad technology and how it can benefit the art teacher.  There is a lot of research on how iPad technology is beneficial to special needs students because it is light weight, portable, and most importantly, it has an instant response that doesn’t allow the student to become distracted by outside factors.

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One particular app for the iPad that can be used in the Art classroom is ArtRage.  Students that have a problem with technique and methods of certain materials can use an iPad and stylus pen to create artworks in various mediums with multiple layers similar to Photoshop. In this particular app, students can create images, similar to the one pictured above, very easily by tracing over images or by creating something from scratch.  As a result, the iPad allows for the same amount of exploration in materials.

For more information on Special Education in the Art Classroom or getting an endorsement in Special Ed at Columbia College Chicago, feel free to leave a comment with your questions!