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The Arts Make A Difference In Our Schools

Everyday Education

 

Last updated 2/17/2020 at 2:52pm

First graders create castles using geometric shapes as inspired by the Paul Klee painting, "Castle and Sun," which is projected on the board.

At Brevard Elementary School, the arts make all the difference! This school is in its third year as an A+ arts-based school, which makes the arts the vehicle for teaching standard subjects. The hands-on experiential learning that art creates gives the student an actual physical application for the understanding of math, history, science, geography, reading or any subject that is taught. Art, music, library and physical education are now called "Connect classes." They are the subjects fundamental to teaching and learning at BES.

As the art teacher, Nancy Frady, puts it, "The key to making an A+ school work is strong communication and collaboration between teachers."

One of her favorite examples of how this works is the teaching of the digestive system for the fifth grade. In art, the students made a physical model of the digestive system, using many different media. In music, they composed a song about digestion and finally they presented a program to the school, explaining how the system works, using their model and the song. They truly experienced the subject and will probably never forget it.

Another creative example is the making of a kazoo to experience the vibrations sound waves create. A large sign on the wall of Ms. Frady's art class room states, "Without ART the eARTh would be 'eh.'" How appropriate!

Outside of Sarah Moser's music room a sign reads:

M (We connect music and math when we read and write rhythms.)

Lang Uage

(We connect music and language when we read and analyze song lyrics.)

Hi Story

Read Ing

Scien Ce

(We connect music and science when we study sound.)

Laura Hendrix, a first grade teacher, finds teaching in the A+ environment highly invigorating for both the teacher and the student. Sharing her latest experience with the study of "Arctic Animals," she talks about the book with great pictures on polar bears and penguins her pupils have read. In music class they have memorized the song printed in the book called "Over in the Arctic," which they loved. In art class, they created a collage picture demonstrating the layering of the ice in the arctic and made arctic animals to place on top. These pictures are hanging on the wall in the main hall of BES.

Hendrix emphasized the collaborative use of vocabulary words such as composition, color, line and texture between the "Connect classes" and standard subjects. When students are saturated in the experiential learning of a subject, they can finally understand how the parts work together to create a whole object or idea. This teaches creative and objective thinking. The "aha" moments are wonderful to observe, Hendrix said.

The latest exciting production at BES will be a "Science Fair Spectacular," an art, music and dramatic performance, a musical, that teaches how the periodic table of elements such as protons and atomic numbers and basic chemistry work in our universe.

Moser said, "The musical integrates music and third grade science and social studies curricula. Science standards are addressed through dialogue and song lyrics. Students will understand forces of motion in the song 'Three Laws of Motion.' They will understand the properties of matter through the song 'Solid, Liquid, Gas.' Social studies standards are met through dialogue, characters and song lyrics. Students will identify important historical figures and their impact on history, i.e. Albert Einstein, Marie Curie, Sir Isaac Newton, Rachel Carson and Galileo."

This performance is scheduled for Feb. 28. It is a spectacular version of how the A+ concept works.

When asked how working in an A+ School has affected their work experience, teachers responded thusly:

"It allows me the creative freedom to integrate the arts into my instruction of the curriculum."

Third graders study geometric shapes through creative movement. (Courtesy photos)

"It is a huge advantage, truly allowing teachers to reach every kind of student. It creates a learning en-vironment where the whole student is engaged and working in the learning process."

"It makes it more memorable for the students to have a personal experience."

"It has been an adventure. I enjoy having the freedom to find activities that interest and engage my students more than your average textbook."

Kim Garrett, who works at Brevard Elementary's front desk, joined the staff this past August and brought her fifth grade son with her. She says that he has had "a fantastic experience!"

"Experience is the best teacher" is a famous axiom in our culture. Brevard Elementary A+ school is certainly proving it. The arts do make a difference!

 
 

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