When school resumes in August, I’ll be teaching a “new to me” subject, AP Art History. I was pretty much guilted (or suckered) into teaching this course for a few reasons: a) I’ve been teaching World History for 12 years so I have a pretty good handle on the international timeline, b) art is something I enjoy, (though I have never been formally trained in the arts ), and c) I can’t say no to my Department Chair as she has done me numerous favors.

For a couple of months, I held out hope that the powers that be would change their minds about offering the course (and find another way to fulfill the humanities requirement of IB), but alas the schedule for next year still has AP Art History next to my name. This would be all well and fine if I felt remotely qualified to teach the course and if I had the right resources.

One of the books they gave me is best suited for the desk of an art history professor as it is massively huge, has no bolded vocabulary, and is unbelievably boring. The other is a skinny paperback that is meant for people who have a passing interest in the subject and possess some background knowledge. Neither text was appropriate for high school freshman or a nervous teacher.

Thus, began my search for reference materials that would help me organize the curriculum and help my future students grasp a complicated subject matter. Oh, and every resource had to be incredibly cheap. No easy feat to say the least.

After months of hunting, I’m relieved to have three solid resources:

History of Art: Architecture, Painting, Sculpture, Graphics, Technics by Parragon Books

Contains historical timelines for each era, key artistic terms, and colorful visuals. It’s more of a picture book than anything else and I plan on using it as such. However, the art terminology at the beginning of each chapter is invaluable!

Found it on the bargain shelf at Barnes & Noble: $10

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A Basic History of Western Art (7th Edition) by Anthony F Janson

A fantastic textbook geared for undergraduates, but simplified enough for advanced high school students. Filled with visuals and bolded vocabulary, this ties art and history together in an easy-to-understand format. A great resource for the analytical elements of art history, while also providing inspiration for critical thinking activities.

Found it at Half-Price Books: $8

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Art History For Dummies by Jesse Bryant Wilder

The old standby for many teachers, the Dummies series does a great job of breaking down detailed subjects into  smaller pieces. Casual language, humor, and simplified outlines makes this an ideal resource for curriculum mapping and creating presentations my students can easily understand.

Found it through the amazon marketplace: $17

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With these reference materials I feel like I can finally start the planning process! This is a huge relief and I’m actually excited to dig in and create lesson plans. It’s amazing how feeling prepared can lead to a surge in confidence.

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What is your favorite thing this week?

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c.b.w. 2013

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