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Strategies & Resources

The community of Art21 Educators is always creating and experimenting with new lesson plan ideas in their classrooms. For each quarterly issue of the Art21 Magazine, we invite a new educator to share what they’ve been working on as an Educator-in-Residence.

Here, you can find their creativity exercises and reports from the classroom:

Jocelyn Salaz

Visual art teacher
Puesta del Sol Elementary School, Rio Rancho, New Mexico

Who Am I, in Color?
Jocelyn Salaz lays out the elements of her unit on color, in which students make their own paints, study color theory, and investigate the implications of skin tone.

Rooted in the Home: Thoughts on Building Connections Between Students & Artists
Jocelyn Salaz offers insight into how incorporating familiar aesthetics can help students identify with artists.

Nick Kozak

Artist educator
Manhattan Hunter Science High School, New York City

Seeing These Streets: Analyzing the Visual Landscapes of Urban Spaces
Nick Kozak details his unit on street art, in which students critically examine the anonymous artists creating work in their neighborhoods.

Communicating en Masse: The Art of Activism
Nick Kozak offers politically neutral ways of teaching on protest art and activism in the classroom.

Joseph Iacona

Teaching artist, Philadelphia Museum of Art

Keep it Real, Keep it Relevant
Joseph Iacona shares the impact socially engaged artists have in classrooms with trauma-impacted students.

Below the Surface: Creating Hope through Portraiture
Joseph Iacona’s students embark on a project of self-discovery, inspiring them to feel hopeful about themselves and their future while protecting their identities.

Todd Elkin

High school art teacher
Washington High School, Fremont, California

Assessment as Dialogue: Shifting Power Dynamics in the Classroom
Todd Elkin’s experimental curriculum, “Assessment as Dialogue,” upends the traditional power dynamics in a classroom and asks students and teachers to collaborate on the most effective methods of learning.

Scenius, Inspiration, and Invention
Todd Elkin reflects on the ways in which his classroom embodies the concept of “scenius,” in which creative inventions emerge from social contexts, as the students working near each other riff off one another’s strategies and ideas.

Stacey Abramson

High school art teacher
Maples Collegiate, Winnipeg, Canada

Inside, Outside, Online: Dissecting social media, escape and identity
Stacey Abramson relates the experience of art-making to that of constructing an identity online—both are a means of self-presentation and escape.

Tricia Fitzpatrick

High school science teacher
Cawthra Park Secondary School, Mississauga, Ontario

Investigation: Where Art Meets Science
In an investigation with her 9th grade applied science class, Tricia Fitzpatrick’s students learn what makes Mars red, and create rust artworks through experimentation.

Decay: Ecology of a Nurse Log
Tricia uses the curiosity of a student to prompt a lesson on sustainable ecosystems.

Jack Watson

Art history and visual arts teacher
Durham School of the Arts, Durham, North Carolina

Art + Action: Creating a Platform for Social Justice
Jack shares his recent experience with launching a social justice collective at his high school in Durham, North Carolina.

Unit Plan: Layering Experience
This unit plan encourages students to find their own methods of exploring shared experiences and spaces.

Bad Art
This creativity exercise asks students to make “bad art,” as a way to allow for experimentation and playful collaboration.


Shannah Burton

K-6 art teacher
New City School, Saint Louis, Missouri

Mind Maps
This creativity exercise asks students to create artworks that build mental links between ideas.

Museums: A Critical Exploration
This lesson plan engages students in institutional critique on a trip to the Saint Louis Art Museum.

This creativity exercise teaches students that an #artselfie is worth more than its number of likes.


Don Ball

High school art teacher
Cawthra Park Secondary School, Mississauga, Ontario

Visualizing Verbs
This creativity exercise engages students in creating their own connections between actions and visuals.

Systems & Instructions
This lesson plan asks students to create their own connections between following instructions and the instructions themselves.

Writing Poems About Art: A Looking Activity
This creativity exercise encourages students to create their own connections between words and images.

Dictation Drawings
This creativity exercise asks students to connect with individual artworks on a fundamental, descriptive level.