Wednesday, December 6, 2017

What Art has to teach Elementary students

I have been working as a Teaching Artist in different situations for about five years now. It started small, with an invitation to present at a high school tech theater conference that my sister in law was organizing, then some classes working with special needs and at risk kids at Paradise Ranch, my local equine assisted therapy facility. During this time I was also offering art and equestrian classes at my horse farm and working with our local foster program to reach out to kids in need.

When I moved to Rapid City three years ago I had the extraordinary opportunity to get involved with the Teaching Artist Program created as part of the Sculpture Project in Downtown Rapid City.  This program pairs Teaching Artists like me with Public Elementary School teachers to develop 6 week art programs that align art lessons with classroom learning.  As a Teaching Artist I have had the chance to work with classrooms from kindergarten to 3rd grade and to learn from my students and their teachers.

I have designed each lesson plan to have a theme and a sort of story arc, ending in a final project that will be available for the classroom to use through the rest of the year. Someday I hope to have the chance to work with other teaching artists and see what they are doing and why.  The classroom teachers are amazing and supportive, but someone more critical could certainly help me develop my teaching.

research for a presentation on how foster parents can use art to smooth the way for foster kids led me to the research showing that participation in art programs is consistently shown to increase resilience combined with the discovery that there is a creative transition that happens somewhere around third grade as the brain matures
Art can help kids whose learning styles dont conform to standard classroom lessons to stay involved in learning at the same time as integrating art in classroom learning promotes deeper understanding and retention