Arts and Innovation

The Art Department’s primary focus is to enable each middle school student the opportunity to experience the artistic process: design, produce, evaluate. This process will expand according to the student, the class, the medium and the teacher. A guiding consideration is that students in the Visual Arts classes may have as little as one semester of exposure to a particular offering. Within this limitation we intend each student to experience the following components of an Arts Education (distilled from the National Standards for Arts Education and the California Visual and Performing Arts Framework.) In light of the enrolment limitation, these are content-based components of Essential Understandings and not standards of ability/proficiency.

Along with Artistic Process as the primary Essential Understanding, Art as Communication is the second EU articulated by the department with the use of class critique, public space exhibits and gallery installations promoting student achievement and supporting authentic assessment of both the work and the student. That art is an integral part of human endeavor and essential for the growth of civilization requires that the work be seen, perceived and experienced: just as the definition of a sound requires an ear, art requires an audience. This fulfillment of the artistic process makes the cycle complete.

Innovation classes, as well as fine arts classes, focus on the Parker design thinking curriculum - Notice, Brainstorm, Design, Create and Test. 

List of 1 items.

  • What a Grade 8 student will know and be able to do in visual arts:

    • Artistic Perception – Students will be able to recognize structures and their functions, vocabulary and grammar, elements and principles (Language Skills)
    • Creative Expression – Students will be able to create, produce, make-work by applying tools, techniques, and processes with an emphasis on technical proficiency, craftsmanship and literacy (Communication)
    • Historical and Cultural Context – Students will be able to understand and appreciate art from other times and places around the world and make connections between art and other disciplines (Breadth of Artistic Experience)
    • Aesthetic Valuing – Students will be able to analyze and evaluate, theorize and interpret, their own work and that of others with an emphasis on a range of subject matter, symbols and ideas (Critique)

Arts and Innovation Curriculum

List of 2 items.

  • Innovation and Technology

    Digital Foundations (all sixth grade and new 7th graders only)
    This is a required course for all sixth graders and students will automatically be assigned to this course for one trimester. The class will include multiple mini-courses covering the following topics: Digital Citizenship, Library & Research Skills, Study Skills, Robotics, and Digital Apps Bootcamp.

    The Digital Citizenship portion of the course will empower students to take responsibility for their online presence, as well as introduce practical tools, skills, and concepts to help them create and manage a positive digital footprint. Students will build and curate their own digital artifacts using Francis Parker’s core app suite and research tools. The goal will be to gain experience with a variety of digital media, including text, audio, images, video, and presentations. This includes both learning how to create relevant/applicable content as well as appropriately incorporating content created by others into their own work.  The skills presented will range from practical (keyboarding and presentation skills) to analytical (researching online databases and using proper citations). Students will also have an opportunity to learn the basic concepts of programming using the LEGO Robotics EV3 system to perform a deliberate task.

    Digital  Animation (7th grade only)
    Go behinds the scenes at Pixar and Dreamworks in this 3D animation course!  We will explore history of animation including silent films, traditional hand-drawn cartoons, stop motion photography, and the advent of computer generated animation. Students will create 3D models, design surface textures, apply lighting, and program automated camera movements to produce their own original short video by the end of the term.  

    Think, Tinker, Make (7th grade only)
    If you have ever wished for a class that was designed by you, this is your class! Created to provide a space for broad exploration and guidance to imagine a project of your choosing “Think, Tinker, Make!” is a place to build a computer, learn to use a 3D printer, research a topic of interest, compose music, create your own science experiment, or even consider launching your own company. Through the course, students will learn that scientific, writing, performance, and design processes are not mutually exclusive, but, rather, share common types of thinking and doing. Students will gain a habit of mind useful in all course work: design with the end in mind, then iterate. What will your project be?

    Think, Tinker, Make Noise (8th grade only)
    What’s the secret to sound? Students will experiment with acoustics, electronics, and sound synthesis to design artifacts that make noise in this class. Meeting in Parker’s Design Lab, students will work with different materials and software to create instruments, electronic synthesizers, and software sound effects. Students will also be introduced to concepts of recording and mixing, as well as sound design for video. A final student project will be required, including documentation and reflection of work through the trimester.

    Programming Animation and Video Games (8th Grade only)
    Students will learn to create computer animations and games as they learn programming. We will use the Processing language, which is based on Java, the programming language taught in the Upper School AP Computer Science course. This is a beginning course, so no previous programming knowledge is required. The Processing language works on both PCs and Macs. This is a fun way to learn programming! Students will create things they can see and interact with from the very first day!  Learn more about the Processing language from the website.

    Robotics (7th and 8th grade only)
    Seventh Grade - In this course students will learn about the engineering design process and apply it to solve a selected problem. Students will be expected to design, construct, program, and test an EV3 LEGO robot. The selected problem will engage students in inquiry, reasoning and critical thinking. Furthermore, students will learn technical skills and processes associated with the production of their robot, including fundamental build and programming strategies. Students will collaborate in small groups while maintaining an individual engineering notebook. This trimester long course will culminate in robot productions, a set of notes pertaining to their productions, a complete presentation, and collaborative creation of a novel robot game.

    Eighth Grade - Students will engage in the production of quality robots, produced from the VEX system, while developing important team-related skills. Students will be expected to give careful consideration to design choices and the overall execution of their robotics product. Connections will be made throughout the course to key scientific principles that are demonstrated by robot production. Robot production will be inspired by actual practical robotic systems. Students will be expected to keep an individual engineering notebook, and communicate their understanding and the progress of their project frequently.
  • Visual Arts

    2D Art 
    In 2D Visual Art students develop two-dimensional visual and conceptual skills through the exploration of various art media and techniques including drawing, painting, printmaking and mixed media applications. Creative and artistic skills are built through the creation of observational and interpretive artworks with reference to the elements of art and principles of design. Students will be introduced to the work of relevant historical and contemporary artists and art movements. They will be encouraged to investigate art from various cultural, social and historical backgrounds, and gain an interdisciplinary understanding of the arts around the world.

    3D Art
    This course emphasizes hands on construction using the creative process. We will focus on a balance between the exploration of materials, development of technical skills, and content building. Students will be exposed to past and contemporary sculptors, and will develop new avenues of idea generation and visual problem solving.  Students will work with an array of materials such as wire, wax, plaster, recyclables, photographs, fabric and fibers, paper mache, small metals and more.  Projects may include jewelry making, sewing, fabric design, assemblage, carving, modeling, and other types of sculpture practices.  We will aim to use everyday materials to create purposeful and non-disposable sculptures. Students will work both independently and collaboratively on projects, and strive to create a productive and creative studio environment.

    Woodworking offers students an interesting and challenging opportunity to design and construct projects of their own choosing that are appropriate to their skill level and the length of the course. Although skill building and learning the safe use of hand and power tools are at the very heart of the course, students are also challenged to commit themselves to a high standard of craftsmanship. Throughout the process of construction, students are faced with decisions that force them to exercise their critical thinking, problem solving, and math skills as they design, lay-out, measure, and cut to exact size, the materials needed for their projects. In addition to gaining useful knowledge and skills required in the realm of woodworking, students learn to appreciate the beauty and utility of wood and wooden projects.

    Students design and create ceramic art: sculpture and pottery. They explore hand-building techniques and are introduced to throwing-wheel skills. Students create projects that are both challenging and reflect personal interests while developing an understanding of the artistic process. A variety of kiln and glaze options allow projects to be fully functional tableware or evocative sculpture: an unlimited expression of each student’s discovery of what is special. The elements of art and principles of design, project management, critical thinking, problem solving and studio etiquette are emphasized.
    Because teenagers live in a world of images: from social media, television and the internet, to magazines and billboards, students are surrounded by photos. In this class, eighth grade students learn first to take excellent photos by using the rules and and techniques of composition. They are challenged each assignment to engage the rules and techniques and then discuss this use and its success. Students will learn Photoshop and apply it to their own personal photos, again making justifications for the use of the program. Students will master techniques and rules of photography and the use of photoshop, develop a personal aesthetic for artistic photography, and continue to increase their interpersonal communication skills via presentation of their work and final portfolio.  

    Intro to Digital Photography and Digital Publications (Yearbook) 
    In this course the worlds of photography and yearbook collide! Learn the basics of digital photography while at the same time be a part of producing the school yearbook. This course introduces students to the fundamentals of photography, journalistic writing, graphic design, and production. In each trimester, students will learn the basics of photographic composition and yearbook production and design, and then contribute to putting the Middle School Yearbook together. Production of the Yearbook is an ongoing process that takes most of the school year, so first trimester students begin the process and students who take the course during the second and third trimester put the finishing touches on the yearbook and complete a yearbook supplement. Each yearbook is a time capsule of the school year from September to June, which highlights school events, sports teams, and class information. Students will gain valuable skills such as graphic design, photography, collaboration, and working to meet deadlines.
Francis Parker School is a private, independent, coeducational, college preparatory day school for students in Junior Kindergarten through Grade 12 from across San Diego County. Founded in 1912, the Lower School is located on the Mission Hills Campus with the Upper and Middle Schools on the Linda Vista Campus. Parker's mission is to inspire a diverse community of independent thinkers whose academic excellence, global perspective and strength of character prepare them to make a meaningful difference in the world.

Mission Hills Campus Lower School

4201 Randolph Street
San Diego, CA 92103

Linda Vista Campus Middle/Upper School

6501 Linda Vista Road
San Diego, CA 92111
858 / 569-7900