Thursday, September 07, 2017

introduction to woodshop.

Yesterday was our first day of wood shop for my first, second and third grade students. In the meantime, I have a thick notebook to review for the Arkansas Arts Council as I was selected to review nominations for this year's Governor's Awards in the Arts. There are about 62 different applications. Some are very well documented and some are not.

Some of the categories are more difficult for nominators and perhaps reviewers to understand. For instance, the Arts in Education Award calls for "An individual or organization that has made an outstanding contribution to integrating the arts into the educational curriculum." The challenging word in that is "integrating." Does integrating mean that you have the arts as part of your curriculum but where you do the arts in an unconnected manner? Or does integrating mean purposeful arts integration. Tomorrow when I meet with the other reviewers in a conference call, I will ask what the Arts Council means by "integrating the arts into the educational curriculum," just to make sure we all are on the same page.

My first day of school could serve as an example of what I have in mind. We have recognized the necessity of teaching children to read and write cursive. So lesson one was to make a desk set for hand made fountain pens. Each involved sawing. Each involved drilling holes where the pen would rest and another where an inkwell could be placed. Each involved the use of steel letter stamps to put the child's name in place. Next week the desk sets will be further sanded, decorated with markers (if the children want) and we will begin carving real ink pens. When the projects are complete, they will be taken to their classroom and used in learning to write.

Integrating in my mind is not to have art as a separate activity, but to have the arts infused throughout the learning process. Is history brought to life through art? Is literature? Is math? And if you answer yes, then you know what I have in mind.

The thing that makes arts integration possible is collaboration between members of staff, and the recognition that there are truly no walls between the arts and the rest of the curriculum but those established and fiercely defended by narrow minds. At the Clear Spring School and in those schools that have been fully trained in A+ all make a commitment to infuse learning in all subject areas with the arts.

With 10 tiny students in the wood shop yesterday, I had no time to take photos until the students were gone and the mess we had made had been cleaned up. The photo shows their labors.

Make, fix, create, and assist others in learning likewise.

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