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Classroom Enrichment

Sun Valley Museum of Art

SVMOA’s museum professionals worked with 7 Blaine County middle and high school non-arts classroom teachers to customize hands-on art projects that supported and enhanced their learning objectives. Projects included 9th graders etching glass with symbolic representations of main themes explored in The Odyssey, 6th graders exploring the relationship between the sun and our place on earth through shadow drawings and creating designs for an analemmetic sundial, 8th graders reflecting on the environmental impact of mining through watercolor and weaving techniques, and 8th graders exploring layers of freedom in American society through collage. The lessons were documented and will be added to an online teacher resource and made available to teachers throughout Idaho. The program goal was to increase student engagement, deepen understanding and encourage self-expression. The hands-on projects align with core curriculum and incorporated art skill-based objectives. We selected this project because SVMOA aims to support student learning in core subject areas and teachers in the execution of curriculum delivery through arts integration throughout rural Idaho.

The Essential Question that guided our projects’ focus was:

What conditions, attitudes, and behaviors support creativity and innovative thinking?

Engaging in an Enrichment project allowed students to explore their individual creative process. Students were given specific guidance to help them be successful using the materials, but also allowed freedom to explore and express themselves individually. Working alongside their peers, students were inspired and surprised by each other’s creativity. Building trust among the students allowed them to create freely and share their art and their learning with their class, teacher and school community.

At the conclusion of the project, students responded to questions related to the identified Standards:

Museum staff worked to make the connections between art and core subject as clear and relevant as possible, while giving students space to think creatively. It was wonderful to watch students spark, explore and express their creativity in a classroom that doesn’t typically engage in this type of activity. Watching students artwork develop from idea to final product, with all the challenges and successes that they must experience as they explore the creative process is a great joy. On the final day the students shared their artwork with their peers, we listened to how they created their work and explained the learning process that they went through. The 8th graders who made collages on freedom in American society that wrapped up the project with a conversation about personal freedom in a country built on freedom. The students were open and honest when sharing their artwork about their opinion on what freedoms they have or don’t have and their hopes for what freedom will mean in the future.

Impact

One of my favorite moments was when a student who had been excited about the opportunity to create art in history class was particularly challenged by her creative process. Generating what she had envisioned and wanted to communicate was more difficult than she anticipated. Watching her work through trial and error and using her unintended outcomes to her advantage to link her visual art expression to her expression of what freedom means to her was powerful. The arts gave this student a voice which she otherwise would not have used. Through art-making the students were connecting themes addressed in the core curriculum and developing an awareness of perceptions and experiences of others.

Reflection

The Enrichment Program has been highly successful and has grown over the years to accommodate more classroom teachers and students in Blaine County. It has been our goal to expand on this program and share the impact beyond our community. This winter we were able to launch our initial series of lesson plans developed for classroom teachers out of this program on our website. The posted content includes a detailed lesson plan complete with links to core curriculum, detailed step-by-step instructions and a short how-to video to accompany the steps in creating the visual art outcome. Our next challenge is to understand the effectiveness of these resources and if it aids teachers in accomplishing the desired impacts. To learn more from teachers using these resources outside our district, we have engaged a committee of secondary classroom teachers in Fairfield and Twin Falls to use our resources in their classroom and provide us with feedback to assess the impact these resources have on teachers and students.

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