On Saturday, December 5, 16 elementary school teachers and administrators participated in an Arts Integration Workshop held at the North Carolina Museum of Art.
The workshop, sponsored by the United Arts Council and led by Kristin Smith of the museum's Big Picture Educator Enrichment Program, provided strategies to help educators make connections between art and classroom concepts.
According to Ragen Carlile of United Arts, “The workshop provided teachers with innovative, thoughtful approaches to art. Participants had the time and space to consider the relationship between art, science and literacy.”
Time and space were emphasized throughout the workshop, which began with a guided gallery experience focusing on three works with environmental themes and associated strategies. Then, back in the classroom, participants completed a word association exercise around “force” and some collage work focusing on a specific “force of nature” (waterfall, thunder snow, tornado, etc.).
During the gallery experience, participants had the opportunity to sit and reflect on a work of art, considering the questions presented to them by Smith.
“What do you see; what do you wonder?”
“What is going on here; what do you see that makes you say that?”
“Make a list of nouns that are apparent; make a list of the adjectives that are apparent.”
The lines of questioning, emphasis on critical and creative thinking, and style of instruction that Smith used could all be mirrored by teachers in their own classrooms.
The teachers’ experience was valuable in its own right, but the real aim (and reason to get up early on a Saturday morning) is to see the arts integration transform the classrooms. Teachers were given poster packs with the works of art to take back to their classrooms. They came away with exciting lesson plans that could be applied right away and integrated with literacy and science.
In addition to practical considerations and enthusiasm, support and collaboration are key to successful arts integration.
According to one teacher, “I told everyone Monday morning what a wonderful learning experience it was for me. I plan to share the information with my teammates and school curriculum coordinator. I know I will use the lesson plans and other materials in my class.”
The workshop series will continue in the spring (date will be forthcoming and new and returning participants are welcome). And the full, week-long Arts Integration Institute will be held June 20-24 at the Cary Arts Center. The Institute will provide the opportunity for teams of four from up to 20 schools to participate—allowing even more energy to be given to and drawn from arts integration.