SchoolArts Magazine

MAY-JUN 2013

SchoolArts is a national art education magazine committed to promoting excellence, advocacy, and professional support for educators in the visual arts since 1901.

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Editor's Letter "Integration uses the resources of two or more disciplines in ways that are mutually reinforcing, often demonstrating an underlying unity…Because forging these kinds of connections is one of the things the arts do best, they can and should be taught in ways that connect them both to each other and to other subjects." —The National Visual Arts Standards, 1994 M y colleague Rebecca Martin and I recently presented, "Learning through Art: Making Connections between Art and Social Studies" at a regional service center in Texas. This was a workshop specifically designed for both elementary and middle school art and social studies teachers. My co-presenter, also an art educator, shares my commitment to presenting meaningful, engaging connections between the disciplines. How did we plan the agenda for this professional development workshop? We started by looking at state-determined educational objectives for both subject areas to find concepts that presented natural and logical connections. Then, we decided which social studies concepts we would address, such as heritage (a mandated variety of celebrations and observances), culture (understanding how significant individuals, events, and issues shaped our state), and the land (understanding the location and characteristics of places and regions in our state), and what artworks we would use. These social studies objectives connected well with art objectives (demonstrating an understanding of art history and culture; developing respect for the traditions and contributions of diverse cultures; comparing and contrasting relationships that exist between a society's art and its music, literature, and architecture). Though these are specific to Texas, every state has the same kind of objectives that are required and available, so it is easy to check your own. Some art teachers may not always realize that they are already making natural connections between subjects, and they may not understand the value of capitalizing on that with both students and classroom teachers. Classroom teachers may not realize these strong connections exist and that the use of artworks with their classes can promote engagement and discovery, especially for students who are visual learners. Follow me on Nancy at Roxanne Swentzell's Tower Art Gallery in New Mexico. In Native American culture, all concepts are connected; art is not separate. If art and classroom teachers work together, it will be beneficial for all of their students. Interdisciplinary connections make sense. Content standard six in the current national visual arts standards is "Making connections between visual arts and other disciplines." The new national arts standards, in development by the National Coalition for Core Arts Standards (NCCAS), have not been completed, but I am eager to see and use them. You can check on their progress at nccas.wikispaces.com. Check out my blog at SchoolArtsRoom.com

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