Recently, I was honored to be invited to visit an arts integration school here in New Hampshire.  The Seacoast Charter School in Kingston, NH is devoted to providing their students with both arts education and integration as a means to a well rounded education.

During my visit, I was welcomed into all classrooms to see the types of things teachers do on a daily basis.  I was pleased at the immediate sense of collegiality in the school.  It was a welcoming place.  Students addressed their teachers respectfully by first name and teachers were able to assist all their students grouped in multi-aged classrooms.  In every classroom I visited, students worked diligently on their tasks whether it was an Everyday Math lesson, vocabulary activity, or work with poetry and visualization and illustration.

The students’ education appeared to be very well rounded in the arts.  There was a focus in both arts education AND arts integration – very important and the topic of an upcoming post for sure!  The students have instruction two times a week for extended periods of time in music (strings and general music) and visual art.  There are also many opportunities in movement and dance, drama, set building and design.  These students are learning the skills and practices of the arts.  It’s awesome!  While I was there I witnessed 3rd and 4th graders planning out and sketching their designs for an amazing 3D hinged box book, as well as seventh and eighth graders working on collages with intensity and attention to detail.  Every student is also taught a stringed instrument and expected to perform with the schools orchestra.  Rows of cellos lined the back of one music room awaiting the students’ rehearsal time.

The idea of integration seems to drive the school, and this is true integration.  The integrity of the art form is held at a high regard.  While at the school, I was able to see 5th and 6th graders in music class researching the music of various countries in music class and then witness how students are using that information to create a collage representing their findings.  When

There is a great emphasis on the learning process at this school.  Students are not only given time to go through the process, but are encouraged, supported and in some regard expected to do so.  One project that I saw was one upper elementary students completed in “Roman tiles.”  The students were introduced to the project, and then expected to plan it out, try it out with paper first, commit to a design and then work with the true materials.

In another classroom, students created a replica of a Renaissance painting by each completing one square section of it and piecing it together.  They first mapped it out, drew a plan, tried it out and then worked with the material very carefully.

It was obvious that the arts teachers and classroom teachers work closely together on integrated projects that allow the students to work deeply with their curriculum.  I left with a sense of excitement and renewed energy to share these findings with my colleagues.  No matter the type of school, the curriculum taught or the students to teach, it is obvious to me how much good can come from an education steeped in the arts!

This week end the art teachers at the Seacoast Charter School, Judy and Andrea will be hosting a STUDENT ART SHOW.   The art show will be open on Saturday and Sunday, May 14th and 15th at the barn at Memories Ice Cream on Rt 111 in Kingston.  There will be a Grand Opening at 11 on Saturday and the show will be open both days from 11-9.  If you are in the area, I encourage you to stop by and see some of the amazing art work these students have completed and are working on this school year.

~EMP

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