By Whitney Bates, Elementary School 1 Art Teacher

Scholars making homemade Playdoh.

Scholars making homemade Playdoh.

One week ago, Elementary School 1 (ES1) held its first Arts Integration Event. I was personally rejuvenated after witnessing the creativity and playfulness of teachers, scholars, and families as they took over the halls and classrooms of ES1. The event featured a scholar-hung gallery, a talent show, and art integrated activities. The Joy Factor was present in the applause following scholar performances, the giggles behind the masks at the photobooth, and the running (yes, running) through the halls to get to the next activity.

So what is Arts Integration and how can it be used to play a role in BVP’s work to promote Academic Excellence? I would define it as a method of teaching that allows scholars to demonstrate their understanding of academic concepts through authentic art making. They accomplish multiple arts and academics objectives at one time. In a nutshell: it’s Project-Based Learning.

Through Art Integration, scholars strengthen their knowledge of both academic and art concepts. All at once, they are engaged with two or more academic subjects. Here’s an example: Fourth grade scholars at ES1 are creating illuminated sculptures. They are wiring circuits (Science) to create free-standing sculptures (Art) that symbolize light (English Language Arts). When a scholar explained why he chose a certain wiring method he stated:

“It is better to use two circuits, one per light bulb, so that each light has the same amount of power to light up the same, so that its balanced.”

He is synthesizing information while creating something tangible. To a child that is powerful, memorable and fun. When learning is engaging, scholars want to do more of it, and as a result get better at it.

When I watched scholars prepare for this event, I noticed a strong sense of ownership as they hung their artwork themselves. At the event, I noticed pride as scholars explained the artistic processes and how it related to key concepts they have learned about in their classroom. Arts Integration and Project-Based Learning is a powerful tool that we can use to foster Academic Excellence while igniting pride and ownership in our scholars.