Enjoy this great reflection about arts integration from Repeater Retreater Eileen Peyton.  ~EMP

Opening up my email, I’m hoping there is NOT a notice of yet another meeting when I see the announcement for the summer art retreat.  Great, I am only 17 credits from hitting the top of the earning scale with  90 credits.  Here’s 3 easy ones, where I can hand in the equivalent of something a real artist made in 2nd grade and get graduate credits!!  Booya!!  At 62 years of age I am still not at 90 because I always took classes I was interested in and never paid one bit of attention to the associated workload.  That attitude did not allow me to move up quickly.  I have to hit that 90 credits if I ever have any hopes of retiring.

Later that Summer – At the Retreat

As the teacher’s voice echoes around my mind, “Art is naturally differentiated.”  Really? Hmm, I guess we are all working on the same project, we are all engaged,  and we have access to the same materials.  As I mold my pinch pot monster, I am so proud that I am able to shape a reasonably consistent 1/4-inch pot.  At this point it looks like everyone else’s, I proudly think.  I pinch mine exactly as the teacher does.  When I get up to get some water, I notice those real artists have made all sorts of interesting shapes out of their pots.  I don’t care, I still like mine and somehow, my mind frees up a little and I get several ideas for appendages. I try out several ideas with varied success. Those that work, stay on my monster and those that fail morph into new ideas.   I love that I can create whatever I want!

Hmm, “Art allows for critical thinking and problem solving.”

UGH my paint is hideous and I’m just pushing it around into globs.  It isn’t covering anything.  Some peers help me with painting technique, some comfort and share the parts of their monsters that didn’t get covered well either, others recommend using different paints.  I was hungry for their advice and I felt welcomed in their community.

Hmm, “Art allows for collaboration and SEL.”

After that first day, I scoured the class  website and read everything I could about art integration and even went on the internet to look a little further into it before returning to day 2.

Back to My School in September

We all shuffle into the first staff meeting and our principal asks if anyone would like to share the PD we attended this summer. I enthusiastically raise my hand and say with confidence,

“Art integration is one of the simplest yet most profound ways to differentiate content and teach children critical thinking skills.  When children are given the time to express the content they have learned using the arts,  e.g. dance, theatre, music, visual and graphic arts, they are given the opportunity to cognitively assimilate and develop a myriad of memory associations with the content.  They are also given numerous opportunities to collaborate and think critically about how they are expressing the content and make changes as the project takes shape and comes to fruition. When you compare this to traditional assessments with static questions, it is clear that integrating the arts is a win win for all involved.”

So much for an easy 3 credits.  Now I am committed to find ways to meaningfully include art in my lessons as often as possible.  Next stop, my special education co-teacher and art teacher. AHHH so much to do!!!!