Lesson Plan


Concentration: Writing a Statement


AP Studio Art


Grade 12 and first year college


This lesson is designed to assist students in identifying a concentration topic and writing a draft statement for their portfolio submission. Students will collaborate asynchronously and synchronously with peers in pairs and as a whole class to identify a topic or theme for their concentration portfolios.  Once they have received peer and instructor feedback on their ideas they will write a draft statement, in 100 words or less, to clearly describe what their selected topic is and why they chose this topic. Writing will be critiqued by peers and self-evaluated.


The lesson meets AP curricular requirements as follows:

  • Requirement #2 – The course enables students to develop mastery in concept, composition, and execution of drawing, 2-D design, or 3-D design,
  • Requirement #3 – The course enables students to develop a cohesive body of work investigating a strong underlying visual idea in drawing that grows out of a coherent plan of action or investigation (i.e. a “concentration”).
  • Requirement #5 – The course emphasizes making art as an ongoing process that involves the student in informed and critical decision making.
  • Requirement #6 – The course includes group and individual student critiques and instructional conversations with the teacher, enabling students to learn to analyze and discuss their own artworks and those of their peers.



Sample Portfolios

AP Poster

Teacher created lists

  • Concentration Ideas
  • Best Practices
  • Problematic Starts


Each student will spend considerable time creating a body of work consisting of twelve pieces all unified by a central theme or idea, therefore it is crucial that the topic chosen is one that captures the student’s imagination, sparks curiousity, or stirs the student emotionally. Provide students with questions to consider to assist them with selecting a concentration topic (e.g., What am I passionate about? Which topics are stimulating to me? Where are my artistic strengths?)

Define what a concentration is by having students refer to the list of the requirements for each portfolio.

  • A concentration is a body of related works that: grow out of a coherent plan of action or investigation; are unified by an underlying idea that has visual and/or conceptual coherence; are based on individual interest in a particular visual idea; are focused on a process of investigation, growth and discovery; and show the development of a visual language appropriate for the subject.
  • A concentration is NOT: a variety of works produced as solutions to class projects; a collection of works with differing intents; a group project or collaboration; a collection of works derived solely from other people’s published photographs; a body of work that simply investigates a medium, without a strong underlying visual idea; or a project that merely takes a long time to complete.

Ask students to review a list of points to consider including:

  • A strong concentration is one with a clear focus on an idea or theme.
  • The focus remains central throughout the portfolio and the progression or transformation of the idea or theme is evident.
  • The work invokes a response in the viewer as it is engaging in form and in content (Sunday, 2011).

Help students recognize that the concentration portfolio provides them with an opportunity to experience the creation of visual arts pieces as a professional artist does.

Work with a Partner

Students begin topic selection by working with a partner to brainstorm ideas for a concentration (each person will choose his/her own topic or theme). Students may find ideas for their concentrations by viewing pieces from their breadth portfolios. They should also consider ideas included in a teacher created list of concentration ideas and best practices. Provide a list of problematic starts and instruct students to assist their partners by comparing the lists with the ideas they are considering. Encourage students to make suggestions and ask questions. They may use Skype, Google docs. or other technology for synchronous or asynchronous communication.


In a single paragraph students answer; What is my theme and how can I demonstrate an exploration of this theme? In the same paragraph they also explain how they intend to explore the theme, which media they will use, and any other pertinent information. Students post their paragraphs in a discussion forum and ask questions about their choices and classmates’ choices. They are asked to compare classmates ideas to the lists of best practices and problematic starts noting strengths and/or problems.

Writing and Reflection

Students are required to include a written commentary with their concentration portfolios. The commentary is not scored but it is the only opportunity to ‘speak’ with the evaluators. The commentary consists of two parts; a statement and an elaboration.

The concentration statement is a way that students can assist faculty consultants as they view the work. The statement supports each portfolio by informing the work and conveying a sense of the direction of the investigation and the learning that occurred during the process of creating the concentration portfolio.

Prior to beginning work on the first concentration piece students reflect and respond to the two following items:

  • Clearly and simply state the central idea of your concentration.
  • Explain how the work in your concentration demonstrates your intent and the exploration of your idea.

Remind student that this is a first draft of their statements and to limit statements to 100 words making certain that they contain no information other than responses to the two items included above. Ask students to share their statements with classmates by posting them to a discussion forum. Each student should review at least two classmates’ statements and provide suggestions, comments, and/or questions. They should also include questions and comments about their own writing.

Assessment and Evaluation

Students participate in partner and class critiques of work and ideas and self-evaluate ideas and writing. Teacher assessment is formative and ongoing.

Next Steps

As students add pieces to their portfolios ask them to reflect on achievements, challenges, and progress to gain insight on the process of their work. This will aid students in completing a clear and concise written commentary. In a future lesson provide students with instruction for writing an elaboration which is the second section of the written commentary. The elaboration allows students to include additional information and reference specific pieces. When all 12 concentration pieces are complete students’ commentary will also be complete.