How do I integrate arts in my classroom? This is a question many of you might find asking yourselves as monies are shifted away from arts programs and towards common core subjects. This reduction and de-emphasis of the arts in our schools have left our students without a fundamental building block of child development. In Learners Edge online continuing education course, In the Face of Poverty, author Eric Jensen's book, "Teaching with Poverty in Mind," encourages schools in high poverty areas to implement a strong arts program to support student growth and success. He states, "this fact cannot be emphasized enough: arts build the student brain's academic operating systems. Arts can and should be integrated into all subject areas."
See how veteran vocational education teacher, Mark Leahy used this idea to infuse arts and service learning in the classroom with this unique and inspirational lesson. Check out this motivating video he put together which illustrates the whole project!Activity: Infusing the Arts
As an educational professional for over 16 years, I understand not only the importance of infusing the arts in teaching, but the motivational effects it has on learning.
Connecting with my students and engaging with them in and out of the classroom has had a similar theme in my years as a vocational instructor. I have taught Building Trades, Drafting and Computer Aided Design as well as Machine Shop. In all of these class settings my choice of inspiration and motivation has revolved around design, art, building and community service. I have always felt that if we can take the community that the students live in and apply some designs, art and their personal creativity or vested interest the results would be intrinsic! Any project based idea has always been developed and voted on by my students. This creates both personal pride and a team based goal for everybody’s success. These ideas also create an opportunity for individual goals as well.
One such project did just that for not just my students, but the students in an art class. I teamed up with an art teacher with the following idea. We would set out to design, build and paint playhouses for inner city kids that otherwise would probably never have a playhouse. I found an organization in Detroit that was trying to change education that otherwise was turning out generational poverty. The best part about this was some our current students were also trapped in this cycle, so as teachers, we could win on both fronts. Our students would do this amazing project and help change younger children. All of the students watched a video on the organization and then voted to take this on as part of their curriculum. It was unanimously voted to proceed with the project.
So, off we went. Our design students would focus on using our current software to create designs for our buildings. The building trade’s students would use the blue print to build the playhouses. And our art class would design themes and characters to paint on our playhouse to finish them. The best part came when our principal got wind of our multi-classroom community based project. The principal organized a school bus for the participating students and a truck to deliver these playhouses to the school and surrounding homes. I dressed up in my homemade Goofy costume from Walt Disney. I went into the school to greet the students and escorted them outside where our students were standing in front of the playhouses. The students stepped aside and the kids went running to play in their new playhouses. The tears of joy were on everybody’s faces and it is a day, I trust, is remembered by all involved.
Mark understands the value and the importance of the arts in the classroom and the role it plays in child development. His inspirational project shows ways that you can incorporate arts into your activities and lesson. This exciting project changed the lives of those inner city kids and is a true testament to the notion that implementing a strong arts program in high poverty areas can make a real difference.
Are you looking for new strategies and interventions to support students and families living in poverty? Check out Learners Edge online continuing education course, 966: In the Face of Poverty and explore practical yet compassionate strategies for addressing poverty and learn from leading thinkers in the field.