I signed up for the SMART Arts professional development in our district this summer and have been going to these classes all week. I am very excited because after you complete this week long program, you get to have an actual teaching artist come to your classroom to team teach an 8 session unit!

There are five disciplines of art, which are listed below. We will be immersed in each of these five disciplines throughout the week and then will be paired with our teaching artist on the last day to begin developing our units.  

1) Visual Arts
2) Music
3) Dance
4) Creative Writing
5) Theater/Drama

The teaching artist they have paired me with is proficient in Theater and Drama. At first, I have to admit I was a little disappointed. I am very much a visual arts and music person, but I am sure whatever unit we plan will be fabulous and fun. I do a lot of Reader's Theaters in my classroom and my kids LOVED it so I know it will be great.

Throughout the week so far, we have learned a few activities that you can do in your classroom to incorporate the arts. Here is one fun creative writing/visual arts activity. I will share more later.

Reading a Photo

We looked at a picture of a family native to our area and were asked to list just observations of the photo, not inferences. Then, we were asked to discuss what might be happening in this family's household at 7 am on a weekday keeping in mind what smells, sights, and sounds we might experience there. After we did the discussions with our groups, we did a writing activity where we chose a person in the photo (or would be person in the photo) and pretended we were them. Our instructions were to use a color and a sound, to begin with "What I need is...," and to keep writing until we were told to stop. We were asked to write for 7 minutes.

Just so you can get an idea, the photo was a picture of what "seemed" to be a family. I use that term loosely because when you don't actually know the story/history of a picture, you can only make assumptions and inferences about who the people are, what they are doing, and how they are connected.

There was a woman poking her head out of the door and an older man holding a baby while sitting on the front porch. It was an African American family and judging from the appearance of the home and the setting, we judged them to be low income.

So, when we were asked to discuss what we thought was going on in the photo at 7 am on a typical day, we figured that there were probably other school aged children living in the residence. When it came time to write, I chose to be a school aged child living there and my story went something like this -- (Note of caution: I hope this doesn't offend anyone, but I have taught in a predominantly African American school and this is how many of my children would speak to or treat me and each other.)

What I need is to be with my friends more after school. Mama is always yellin' and screamin' at me to do something around the house and get my homework done and then I don't have no time to go outside before she makes me wash up and go to bed. She's always wearin' that gray jersey. She wears is every day and I think maybe she should buy a new shirt. I don't tell her this though because she might turn right around and smack me right upside my head. I just want to go outside and play to get away from her just for a while so my mind doesn't have to always think about how much I want to be out there! There's too many people livin' up in here. That baby's always cryin' and needin' something and my other brothers and sisters just plain get on my nerves. Always arguin' with each other and touchin' my stuff.

I think this is a good activity to get students to think outside of themselves. You can do this with paintings or sculptures of art as well. When it comes to abstract art, which is my forte, people interpret things differently so I think it would be interesting to have your students look at something and BE that thing. Write about BEING that thing. What is IT thinking? Doing? Saying? I say "IT," but I mean it to represent whatever character or thing you make it.

Last year, I attending a story telling class that integrated visual art and we have to look at a gallery of one artists work and choose one that we really liked. We were asked to imagine ourselves in that work of art and JUST write without stopping.

Activities like these are such great tools to just get your students thinking and being creative. What kinds of art integration activities have you been successful with in your classroom?

Online schools has classes to increase your knowledge in the arts.

1 comment:

  1. This sounds like a really cool program you are attending! I love using picture writing. Great tips :)


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