I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving! As usual, the week flew by and although I didn't accomplish half the items on my to do list, I feel content and ready to tackle the weeks ahead. I hope that you took some time for yourself and feel ready too.
Last week we met with our buddies and they shared their native american Ohlone projects. All of our students were impressed with their work and were curious how they learned so much! While they were talking, quite a few of our students decided to pitch in and help our big buddies prepare their Community Soup. We chopped vegetables, stirred and watched their soup simmer. For many of them, it was a good opportunity to review knife skills...
In Room 6, we are moving into a new thematic unit on fish. Sally introduced some new vocabulary related to the study of Ichthyology, the study of fish. We learned about the food chain and that fish 1) have different types of fins 2) have scales on their body 3) use gills to breath with. We also spent some time observing our new friend, the betta fish, and did some observational drawing. There is much more to come but it is an exciting begining!
In literacy, we will be starting an author study of Jan Brett. If some of you are unfamiliar with her, Jan Brett is an author/illustrator who has written a number of books such as The Mitten, The Gingerbread Boy and The Hat, all beautiful books! As an extension of this study, we will be creating gingerbread houses (using graham crackers) with our big buddies. I am hoping that you might have some left-over Halloween candy or some holiday candy such as gumdrops, candy canes, red vines, M&M's etc. If you do, or are willing to pick up a little, just bring it in. We will be constructing the houses the last week before break so that all of you can take it home and enjoy it. For those of you wondering about the candy...we will not be eating it during school. We are using it strictly as a decorating element and you can decide how it will be used after it gets home! 😉
Food For Thought...
Creativity and Academics: The Power of an Arts Education
Posted on Edutopia, October 4 2016
The arts are as important as academics, and they should be treated that way in school curriculum. While the positive impact of the arts on academic achievement is worthwhile in itself, it's also the tip of the iceberg when looking at the whole child. Learning art goes beyond creating more successful students. We believe that it creates more successful human beings.
Here are five benefits of an arts education:
1. Growth Mindset
Through the arts, students develop skills like resilience, grit, and a growth mindset to help them master their craft, do well academically, and succeed in life after high school. Ideally, this progression will happen naturally, but often it can be aided by the teacher. By setting clear expectations and goals for students and then drawing the correlation between the work done and the results, students can begin to shift their motivation, resulting in a much healthier and more sustainable learning environment.
A number of years ago, I had a student enter my band program who would not speak. When asked a question, she would simply look at me. She loved being in band, but she would not play. I wondered why she would choose to join an activity while refusing to actually do the activity. Slowly, through encouragement from her peers and myself, a wonderful young person came out from under her insecurities and began to play. And as she learned her instrument, I watched her transform into not only a self-confident young lady and an accomplished musician, but also a student leader. Through the act of making music, she overcame her insecurities and found her voice and place in life.
3. Improved Cognition
Research connects learning music to improved "verbal memory, second language pronunciation accuracy, reading ability, and executive functions" in youth (Frontiers in Neuroscience). By immersing students in arts education, you draw them into an incredibly complex and multifaceted endeavor that combines many subject matters (like mathematics, history, language, and science) while being uniquely tied to culture.
For example, in order for a student to play in tune, he must have a scientific understanding of sound waves and other musical acoustics principles. Likewise, for a student to give an inspired performance of Shakespeare, she must understand social, cultural, and historical events of the time. The arts are valuable not only as stand-alone subject matter, but also as the perfect link between all subject matters -- and a great delivery system for these concepts, as well. You can see this in the correlation between drawing and geometry, or between meter and time signatures and math concepts such as fractions.
One can make an argument that communication may be the single most important aspect of existence. Our world is built through communication. Students learn a multitude of communication skills by studying the arts. Through the very process of being in a music ensemble, they must learn to verbally, physically, and emotionally communicate with their peers, conductor, and audience. Likewise, a cast member must not only communicate the spoken word to an audience, but also the more intangible underlying emotions of the script. The arts are a mode of expression that transforms thoughts and emotions into a unique form of communication -- art itself.
5. Deepening Cultural and Self-Understanding
While many find the value of arts education to be the ways in which it impacts student learning, I feel the learning of art is itself a worthwhile endeavor. A culture without art isn’t possible. Art is at the very core of our identity as humans. I feel that the greatest gift we can give students -- and humanity -- is an understanding, appreciation, and ability to create art.