Unit 2: The Current State and National Standards




Return to: Project Based Learning in the General Music Classroom

Learning Objectives

After completing this unit students will be able to:

  1. Students will identify online resources that will provide them with the framework for the National Core Art Standards
  2. Students will examine the various examples provided by the online resources of how to implement the NCAS in the general music classroom

What are the National Core Arts Standards?

In the simplest terms, the National Core Arts Standards (NCAS) are the guidelines for educators to provide a unified arts education to students. The standards are broken down into four large categories: Creating, Performing/Presenting/Producing, Responding, and Connecting. There are standards for music, media arts, visual arts, dance, and theatre.

Here is a link to an article explaining the NCAS: http://www.nationalartsstandards.org/content/conceptual-framework

The National Core Art Standards Website is a great resource for arts educators. They provide an entire handbook on their website and teachers can customize the handbook to meet their needs. For example, a K-5 General Music teacher can limit the search results to parts of the handbook that would only pertain to them. Here is the link: http://www.nationalartsstandards.org/

Since this course is focusing on music education we can also use the standards outlined by the National Association for Music Education (NAfME). NAfME has aligned their updated standards with the NCAS, so you will see a lot of the same terminology. A link to the NAfME standards can be found at: http://www.nafme.org/my-classroom/standards/

You must also remember to include your state and school standards when planning instruction. Each state is different and quick search on an online search engine will most likely lead you to your state's standards. Aligning your instruction with standards is an important aspect of planning and teaching.

Examples of National Core Art Standards in the Classroom

The NCAS website also provides examples of how to implement the arts standards in the general music classroom. Keep in mind that these are only examples and can be modified to meet your specific situation and needs. Browse through the various links on this page to see the learning objectives and how they are tied into the NCAS. The NCAS introduce an idea of a "cornerstone assessment." These are ways to show what students have learned and are a great tie into project based learning. Your cornerstone assessment is, in essence, your final artifact from your students' PBL experience.


The website also provides arts educators will real-world models of student examples. Use this link to hear how music educators are assessing their students and incorporating the NCAS.


How to Construct a Standard for a Lesson Plan

Step 1: Choose an artistic process. This comes from one of the four categories of Creating, Performing/Presenting/Producing, Responding, and Connecting.

Step 2: Choose an anchor standard. Each artistic process category comes with a set of anchor standards. These standards can be found on the NCAS website.

Step 3: Provide a discipline specific performance standard that you will be able to observe when you assess your students.

Standard Example: Creating. Anchor Standard 2 - Organize and develop artistic ideas and work. Students in 6th grade General Music will analyze a famous painting and create musical ideas that can express what is in the painting.


Using a current lesson plan that you use at school, incorporate the National Core Arts Standards to see which requirements are being met. Say which resources you used to find which standards you incorporated. If you used any of the examples as a base line let us know which ideas you liked and why.

Post your lesson plan in the Discussion tab.

References & Resources



Go To: Unit 3: Projects in Action