As a fine-arts magnet cluster school, we offer integrate art into our core curriculums, like math and literacy, as well as offering arts oriented classes. This integration may include learning about bone structure through artwork, holding an in-class poetry slam to share our own poems and writings, or attending a student-led play in the gym.
We believe this integrated arts approach provides students with opportunities to interact with standard educational materials in new ways. We’ve found, through extensive testing, that this integrated arts approach helps our students achieve higher test scores, creates a better understanding of classroom material, builds creativity, supports critical and analytical thinking and strengthens students’ interest in and connection to learning.
For example, our dance teacher Ms. Reed and the first grade team recently created a unit integrating studies of space, the planets and patterns within our solar system with explorations of shape, energy, size, level, speed and patterns in movement. Students investigated topics of orbit, rotation, pattern and more through both movement and traditional research. Ms. Reed also created a unit with the middle school science department integrating dance and movement concepts with studies of force and motion. Students investigated Newton’s Laws through movement explorations and connected their dance learning with their science learning.
Mr. Guidry, our drama teacher, has developed a number of integrated drama units with classroom teachers. One such example involved creating masks with sixth grade students in support of a literacy unit on Greek theater, mythology and the book, The Giver. He also developed a unit with a third grade teacher in which the class performed part of Another Butterfly, a book about the Holocaust, for other classrooms. With fifth grade students, he taught a unit in which the students took poetry they had written and learned to perform it in a dynamic way.
Our visual arts teacher, Ms. Kitty, also works closely with classroom teachers to develop arts integration units. For example, third grade teachers needed to boost student comprehension of geometry concepts. Ms. Kitty instructed students to build three-dimensional objects that could be used to construct Chicago landmark buildings. The teachers and Ms. Kitty used common math terminology to build the objects, and students were able to connect and interact with the material in a new, tactile way. Test scores increased in student assessments taken after the unit.