Category Archives: Visual Art

Cross-Curricular Connections

Whenever I’m asked to share about our redesigned BC curriculum with other teachers, the first question I’m often asked is: “Can you show us examples of planning?” I struggle to answer this question for a few different reasons. First of all, planning is personal. I don’t think there is a one size fits all approach to planning, regardless of what your curriculum looks like. Secondly, if I truly shared my mind’s journey as I plan, I think I would frighten people. Finally, finding cross-curricular connections is something that I feel is crucial to planning with this redesigned curriculum. This takes some effort and thoughtfulness on the part of the teacher who will, in fact, be teaching whatever is being planned.

I’m lucky to have the opportunity this year to be working with teacher candidates one day per week at UBC. This means I get to play with different ways to think about this redesigned curriculum in addition to what I am trying in my own Grade 6/7 classroom. Last week, we explored how mind maps might help us visualize connections between Core French and other disciplines. Through facilitating this exercise, I realized that this simple method of brainstorming could be a powerful tool for helping all teachers beginning to think about cross-curricular connections that could eventually lead to large scale inquiry.

Learning Intention:

I can create a mind map that highlights opportunities for cross-curricular connections between Core French and other content areas.

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By simply identifying curricular competencies and content that work together from a couple of different disciplines, we can begin to understand how this way of approaching teaching and learning is more efficient and more effective for our learners. For example, teacher candidates quickly realized that francophone culture – a big idea in most Core French curriculum – is a great entry point for inquiry. This can be combined easily with competencies in Social Studies or Language Arts to create a deeper, more meaningful understanding of cultural stereotypes, traditions, or historical events. Cross-curricular connections are also what free up time to allow for other creative experiments such as Maker Spaces and Genius Hour, so it’s a win/win situation.

The key to finding solid cross-curricular connections is being intentional. How can we scaffold student learning to ensure we’re targeting all disciplines involved? How can competencies be combined to allow for a single learning intention? With Core French, it’s about connecting communication with context. For example, using language structures such as les verbes à l’impératif with directional vocabulary in French can help us teach communication through P.E. skills. Students practice giving and responding to instructions while focusing on movement. Other disciplines and other classes may look different and that’s ok. Ultimately, it’s about exploring these connections so we can create the most powerful learning experiences for our students. So pull out some art supplies and start envisioning the possibilities! Exploration leads to innovation.

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Photo Credit: Questions to consider when planning @beverleybunker

For the Love of Art

My students this year are very talented artists. They have consistently demonstrated creativity and a sense of artistic expression. They have used art to deepen their understanding and appreciation of particular artists, genres, and principles. I thought I would share some of the art projects we have completed this year as a tribute to my fantastic students! I’ll miss them!

Colour: Tints and Shades in Tempera Paint
In this introductory project, students practiced paint mixing techniques and experimented with the possibilities of tints and shades all stemming from an original colour. They also developed creative patterns in which to display their tints and shades. They were given freedom in the design.

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Line: Exploring Patterns in Black Felt
This project was intended to allow students creative expression within the constraints of a line study. They were instructed to explore line in all its forms (e.g. curvy, straight, zigzag) as well as in a variety of widths. They used line to create pattern and the illusion of no beginning or end.

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Georgia O’Keeffe: Giant Flowers in Chalk Pastel
This was one of my favourite visual art projects this year. We spent some time studying Georgia O’Keeffe’s flower paintings and describing their characteristics. For instance, students noticed they often depicted a bird’s eye view and that only a portion of the flower was shown. Using chalk pastel, students chose a flower and experimented with blending techniques and perspective. The results were beautiful!

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Andy Warhol: Pop Art in Oil Pastel
One of our more recent projects involved Andy Warhol’s pop art. Again, we made observations as a class about repetition, colour schemes, and social implications of this style of art. We chose a coffee cup as our object of choice, but there was some liberty taken with style and size. Again, great results!

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Although there are many things I would go back and change about our art program this year, all students were successful in exploring new techniques and principles. They were creative and engaged. They all tried something new or took a risk.

I don’t think there is enough emphasis currently placed on the arts in our schools. Fine arts give kids the opportunity to explore, take risks, practice creativity and personal expression. They can also act as a means of managing emotions. If creativity, innovation, and critical thinking are important skills to give our students, art should be a part of every single day we spend with our students, not an activity relegated to Friday afternoons.

I love teaching art and am always looking for new ideas… Please feel free to share what has worked well for you!