How can we use visual art(s) as a pedagogical approach to increase access and provide interdisciplinary thinking among discrete formal content areas to students with cognitive disabilities as a means of disrupting the hegemonic intellectual canon?

Our exhibit will be a space for us to simultaneously integrate our own curricula and utilize drawings/paintings to give access to critical thinking for our students who cannot engage with traditional texts. It will also provide multiple opportunities to ask “why” questions in order to create a culturally sensitive narrative that actively disrupts hegemonic images & aesthetics. Our exhibit mission is to create a dialogue about increasing accessibility to an expanded conception of academic “content” disciplines through the use of visual arts.

The following lesson plans, graphics, books and scholarly articles provide a pantheon of approaches, topics and strategies for teachers to build lessons that support our students with profound disabilities in critical thinking and abstract academic content.  It is this group’s belief that students with severe cognitive disability benefit from curriculum that sparks the imagination and gives exposure to creative strategies that make connections between disciplines. In our research and experience we have found that there is a lack of available resources that provide support for the fusion of art education, critical pedagogy and special education. We want viewers to walk away from the exhibit with a new creative approach and a faith that students with profound disabilities can engage with narratives beyond the hegemonic canon.

Collaboratively Curated by Ashley, Bridget & Carson

Ornate Divider

Understanding by Design

Grant Wiggins And Jay McTighe

This text is a foundational piece of curriculum design. It is a useful and practical guide for implementation of visual arts & interdisciplinary lesson plans that focus on understanding.


A History of Art Education: Intellectual and Social Currents in Teaching the Visual Arts

Arthur Efland, 1990

Recent debates on the place of the arts in American life has refocused attention on art education in schools. In this book the author puts current debate and concerns in a well researched historical perspective. He examines the institutional settings of art education throughout Western History, the social forces that have shaped it and the evolution and impact of alternate streams of influence on present practice. This book treats the visual arts in relation to developments in general education and particular emphasis is placed on the 19th and 20th centuries and on the social context that has affected our concept of what constitutes “art” in contemporary Western imaginations.


Creative and Mental Growth

Viktor Lowenfeld, W.Lambert Brittain; 1952

This text moves forward the belief that creative and intellectual growth should be the basis of any educational system, and this book explains to readers the importance of facilitating joyful and meaningful art expressions and sensory experiences for children of all ages.


The State-of-art in mathematical creativity

Erkki Pehkonen, 1997

Creativity is a topic which is often neglected within traditionalistic mathematics pedagogies. This texts polemically addresses those rote strategies and focuses on creative problem solving and artistic expression. The main questions in the text are: What methods could be used to foster mathematical creativity within school situations? What scientific knowledge, i.e. research results, do we have on the meaning of mathematical creativity?


Connections: The Geometric Bridge between Art and Science

Jay Kappraff, 2001

The first edition of Connections was chosen by the National Association of Publishers (USA) as the best book in “Mathematics, Chemistry, and Astronomy — Professional and Reference” in 1991. It has been a comprehensive reference in design science, bringing together in a single volume material from the areas of proportion in architecture and design, tilings and patterns, polyhedra, and symmetry. The book presents both theory and practice and has more than 750 illustrations. It is suitable for research in a variety of fields and as an aid to teaching a course in the mathematics of design. It has been influential in stimulating the burgeoning interest in the relationship between mathematics and design.


The Arrival

Shaun Tan, 2007

This is a powerful graphic novel about immigration into the United States with no words. It is done in a pencil and charcoal sketch style and opens up possibilities for conversations about technique, biography, portrait and narrative. Students can engage with multiple subjects including history, language arts and science as the book also touches on the industrial revolution, immigration and shows many machines in detail.


Graphic Novels as Multimodal and Multiliteracies

Katherine Rycroft, 2014

A theoretical article with citations and resources (and embedded comics!) advocating for the use of graphic novels as a pedagogical practice and reimagining of literacies. It is a useful rational for teachers aiming to advocate to administration about the ways in which graphic novels engage with the common core.


The Visionary Art Museum

AVM Baltimore, 2016

A brilliant and powerful museum that speaks to mental health and art work of our communities with different understandings of the world. A fantastic example of work outside the canon and a deep disruption of “what counts as art.” Allows for our students to see themselves and their work reflected in museums and thereby institutionally supported.


LGBT Rights & Art

Teaching Tolerance, 2016

This lesson plan uses visual arts and shapes to look at symbolism and symbols of movements, specifically the LGBTQ movement in America. The students are encouraged to analyze the shapes, colors and meaning inscribed upon the rainbow flag and pink triangle in the LGBT history in America.


Art Meets Fashion

Denise Bonaimo, 2014

This sample lesson plan is a great opportunity for students to engage with environmental science, geometry and art. Students will “upcycle” found materials to make a piece of high fashion clothing. Students can use a variety of sewing/stapling/threading techniques to make patterns create 3d nets and form a 3d garment from objects like food labels, wrappers and plastic bags. Great project for students with schematic rigidity and a hands on activity for students to practice their Occupational Therapy skills.


Bread and Puppet Theater

Bread and Puppet, 2016

Puppet making and oral storytelling has a long history of parody, critique and political engagement for populations who cannot access traditional literacies. Bread and Puppet theater is keeping the tradition alive with DIY crafts, stories and traveling performances. This would be a great model project for our students to engage with character identification and fiction. Our students can analyze parody & caricatures of politicians and famous Americans.