SchoolArts Magazine

March 2017

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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M E D I A @ R + S David Gran creating an interface between our arts and science curriculums. Critical Tools As the institute art teachers, my wife Kim Sajan and I have been able to develop a curriculum that sup - ports this interdisciplinary approach through creating lessons around the significance of art as a critical tool for understanding and responding to real- world issues. Because these courses deal with contemporary issues and ways of thinking, it was important for us to make sure that students were also exposed to contemporary means of expression for art-making. Therefore, in addition to both traditional and digi - tal media, students are able to realize their ideas in new materials and forms. For example, students learn how they can turn their drawings into vector files using Adobe Illustrator. Those files can then be laser-cut into materi - als such as acrylic, wood, and various kinds of paper. They can use the vinyl T he Innovation Institute is a new two-year interdisciplinary cur - riculum created by the Shanghai American School that embeds twenty-first century skills into a proj - ect-based learning (PBL) framework. Although this is not the only program of its kind, it's unique because art is one of its core components. Transferable Processes In addition to art, the Institute includes social studies, English, and science. Teachers in these disciplines plan projects for students that will deepen their knowledge and under- standing of the content and skills from each curriculum—and also help them see how these skills are transferable. They will realize, for example, that when we analyze a work of art, we use some of the same processes of analyzing a written text of literature, or even scientific data. Innovation and Design One of the ways that this approach to both PBL and interdisciplinary learn - ing was made possible was through the school's creation of our Center for Innovation and Design (CID). The CID includes classrooms with mobile walls and seating for differen - tiated instruction, as well as a Mak- erspace and FabLab. These spaces have been especially meaningful in The Innovation Institute cutter to turn these same designs into stickers or the plasma cutter to cut them out of sheet metal. Students also learn about coding, circuitry, and robotics, which gives them the oppor - tunity to think about creating projects that can move, light up, and even respond or react to an audience. Creative Responses As mentioned earlier, the interdis- ciplinary nature of the Institute is guided by a focus on the four key twenty-first century skills: collabo- ration, communication, creativity, and critical thinking. To this end, we've created projects that challenge students to work together towards a creative response to a real-world issue. Their collective artistic responses give students the opportunity to com- municate their thoughts to authentic audiences as we bring in members of the community and professional art- ists and designers to respond to both resolved artworks and works in prog- ress. Watch this space—over the next few months, we'll take a look at some of the ways that art has been central to our interdisciplinary work at the Innovation Institute. David Gran teaches high-school art and film classes at the Shanghai American School in China and is the author of The Carrot Revolution, a blog about 21st cen- tury art education. The interdisciplinar nature of the Institute is guided b focus on the four ke went - first centur skills: collaboration, communication, creativit , and critical thinking. 28 MARCH 2017 SchoolArts

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