Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Connecting Classrooms

The most powerful lessons are often the ones that include students making connections among what they are learning in one class with their other classes and outside interests. Some of my favorite lessons are the ones that allow students to learn a topic they are discussing in Math, Social Studies, English or Science with an Art twist. It gives students the opportunity to use prior knowledge and scaffold their learning in various classroom settings. 

One resource that is helpful for finding these connections without having to pour over hundreds of pages of content standards for every subject area is the Michigan Education Library. In their M.O.R.E. (More Online Resources for Education) section, they allow you to search for lessons by content area, standard, resource type, and audience. They also allow you to quickly look through content standards in order to link them up with others for the most impact. They have lesson plan ideas and samples, too, which are helpful when deciding what types of lessons you want to connect with other subject areas.

Turning to the other teachers in your building is also a helpful resource when deciding how you want to integrate your curriculum to cover what is being taught in other classes. For example, I know that in 8th grade History they discuss the Civil War and Slavery. I use this as an opportunity to have students in my 8th grade Art classes create Anthropomorphic Jars based on the Southern Slave tradition from that time period. We also look at how cultures from around the world and in different time periods have used Anthropomorphic Pottery as a way to express their culture before students create their Jars to reflect something about their personalities. By tapping into prior knowledge, students are able to add various view points and context to the discussions had in class as well as the overall effect of the work created. Here is a video of the project from start to finish:

There is often the push for other teachers to integrate Art into their curriculum, but I really find a lot of success when I integrate other curriculum into Art. It allows me to connect with other teachers, giving students a different perspective on a topic that may have struggled with in the other subject. It also allows them the opportunity to learn more information from varying viewpoints.

What is a lesson you have used that coordinates with what is being learned in other classes at your school?