This past week, a group of teachers that work in my district got together for our monthly (3 months strong!) PLaiC meeting. This is a PLC (Professional Learning Community) session that centers around Arts Integration. The format for this session was different than that in the past and I believe it was very effective. We did some creative things together (EXPERIENCE), talked about them (REFLECT) and then discussed ways we could use these ideas in our teaching (APPLY).
This new format is an important change to the group. When attending my last course in the Arts, Leadership and Learning CAGS program at Plymouth State University, I rediscovered the importance of doing something to understand it. By living the creative process, I realized that this is what needs to be emphasized and shared with my colleagues.
Our session began with one of our members, a PreK teacher sharing a movement activity with us which she calls “Rockin’ Roll Yoga”. We got up to move and dance to some rockin’ music she brought by Spearhead. When the music was paused, she held up a large yoga card (Body Poetry Yoga Cards by Roylco) and we all got into that pose.
After doing a few yoga moves we stopped and took three “balloon breaths”. To do one, you take three continuous breaths as you stretch your arms out and above your head and then you let it out slowly. It was a great way to focus us into our meeting time. In fact one of our members, an PT teacher mentioned that this type of breathing changes your physiology, making you more focused and relaxed.
Our next activity was to create a piece of community art around the table at which we sat. We started by passing a black marker around and drawing a boarder on the paper in front of us. Then we claimed our section of the paper and started to fill in the space with our own creations. As time went on, we found ourselves connecting our sections, making one fabulous piece of art!
We followed up with reflections and a discussion of how to use these activities and modify them for our teaching. The reflection time was nice. The teachers had a very positive experience both with the movement and the visual activties. One commented that she liked the freedom of the activity. Another enjoyed how she was able to just be in the moment. One teacher appreciated the framework of the visual activity and the ability to “do anything”. The ELL teacher present noted that kids without profiecient oral language would feel like an important part of the activity.
The brainstorm was great. Here are some of the ideas we came up with
- Use this to illustrate the practice and understanding of community.
- Use this as a team building activity.
- Tear it up to represent the importance of the process, not the product.
- Have students make their own section separately and then put it together to make one piece of artwork, maybe have them work to connect the sections with some more coloring.
- Have students make their own section with specified colored markers. Put the sections together and then brush over the whole piece with a wet paintbrush to illustrate how all the individual pieces connect to make one.
For additional information about this visual activity and its applications, see this post: Community Built Through the Arts.
I have truly enjoyed meeting and discussing the integration of art in educating students. The meetings with colleagues from elementary to high school were inspiring, and helped me to not only refresh my immediate lesson plans, but to feel the joy of teaching that I initially felt when I decided to be a French/Spanish teacher. Similar to the way people find inspiration, intellectual growth, support and comfort from book groups, the Inspired Classroom – Professional Learning Community offered very productive, creative and joyful sessions filled with collegiality, ideas to help us continue to grow as people, and many applicable methods to bring directly to our classrooms. I hope that the group will continue to meet next year!
It has been wonderful to have time to talk philosophy, share ideas, and feel the excitement that colleagues have for ideas that are working well with their students. We have had fun and I have enjoyed each meeting. Thanks.
I have truly enjoyed our times working together! I’m so glad to have this group and we’ve only been doing this for three times! One more in June and we will definitely continue next year. It has be so beneficial for me!
I am so happy that I was able to participate in your class. I especially enjoyed the class last week. WE seemed to all connect and everyone shared. We all saw something special on that art work. At first we did not know how to begin with the border and then it seemed like we all started talking and we just began to share and pieces of us were revealed. Someone loved the ocean someone felt strength in the trees some were happy in their gardens it was special being together. thank you