Toronto District School Board
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Visual Arts

Visual Arts

Providing students with access to effective visual arts programming is a priority at the Toronto District School Board. Visual Arts education is an important part of a student’s school experience and we are proud of the strong visual arts programs offered across our schools. 

Visual Arts is a strand in both the Elementary (Grades 1-8) and Secondary (Grades 9-12) provincially mandated Ontario Arts Curriculum. Expectations within all of the arts disciplines (Dance, Drama, Music, Media Arts, Visual Arts) are framed by the creative and critical thinking processes.

Visual Arts in Elementary Schools
The visual arts curriculum is intended to help students develop their creativity, as well as the ability to communicate their understanding of the world around them through visual arts. In learning to express themselves in visual ways, students will sharpen their powers of observation, imagination, and invention. The visual arts curriculum is rooted in the experience of art making.  It is essential for students to be engaged in meaningful, open-ended art-making activities that enable them to express personal feelings, experiences, and ideas and develop the skills to use art tools, materials, and techniques that are appropriate for the grade. (adapted from the Ontario Curriculum, Grades 1-8, The Arts)

Visual Arts in Secondary Schools
Visual arts at the Grade 9 and 10 level includes studio work and art appreciation. Within the visual arts courses, visual literacy expands into a broader perception – turning seeing into vision, translating reality into symbols and connections, and enhancing all other learning experiences. Students explore the expressive character of art, their personal perceptions of art works, and the elements and principles of design. They investigate and produce a variety of art works using various media, processes, and traditional and emerging technologies. Visual arts courses at the Grade 11 and 12 level continue to focus on studio work and critical analysis of a wide range of art works. Students develop their understanding of how art works reflect and affect the history, values, and beliefs of various societies and cultures. By experiencing a wide range of art works, including the rich heritage of Canadian art, students enhance their understanding and appreciation of the range and significance of artistic expression.  (adapted from the Ontario Curriculum, Grades 9/10 and 11/12, The Arts).

Visual Arts in TDSB schools takes many forms and can be unique to each school and broader community. In order to graduate, students are required to take an arts credit and students can enroll in multiple credits in visual arts from Grade 9-12. Visual arts courses in TDSB Secondary schools includes multiple forms and media,with a strong emphasis on creativity and student voice. In addition to comprehensive courses, TDSB offers many specialized focus courses including: Drawing, Painting, Printmaking, Ceramics, Sculpture, Photography, and more.

Exhibition Opportunities
TDSB educators value the benefits that sharing artistic work can offer to both students and the broader school community.  They are also very committed to process based learning in the classroom including the facilitation and inclusion of student creativity and critical thinking, student voice, mental health and well-being,as well as practices that explore social justice in the classroom.  TDSB educators are committed to exploring ways to use visual arts education as an anti-colonial practice, in classrooms, exhibitions, resources, and partnerships with the broader community.

In addition to offerings for students in their school programs, TDSB offers a variety of enhancements to the dance curriculum such as system wide exhibitions, artist residencies and artist in the classroom projects. Please see the events page for details.

Professional Learning for Teachers
All TDSB Teachers can access professional learning opportunities in visual arts such as exploration classrooms and learning modules throughout the year. All TDSB board wide projects and exhibitions are embedded with professional learning, and are rich growth opportunities for teachers as well as students.

Schools are welcome to invite Artists from the TDSB Educational Partnership directory to their schools to enrich their visual arts programs.