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Lesson Plans

Re: Question

[ Thread ][ Subject ][ Author ][ Date ]
Kathrine L Walker (klwalk)
Wed, 28 Feb 1996 15:07:38 -0600 (CST)

Alberta -
I'm not sure that we are really doing art a service by making art
teachers teach other subjects, yet I have a story that certainly proves
that art can be used to help students with academic problems.

Two years ago, I was hired by the reading specialist at a blue
collar/navy base middle school in Connecticut to design a flex period
class to help students that migh have learning disabilities. The program
was funded through a Carnegie Grant, and met for 50 minutes on a daily
basis as an elective. We called our offerings TLC (The Learning
Center). Using the resources of the Art Museum I worked for we designed
five interdisciplinary units based on art. The units were 1.Masks
Around the World 2. The American Room (both tied to social studies) 3. Mythology
4. Around the world in 30 Days (Folktales) (both tied to language arts)
and 5. Drawing from the World Around Us (loosely tied to science e.g.
botany, marine biology, weather)

We competed with classes like ping pong, sports videos, making hair
scrungies, etc. And very sucessfully, I might add - there was usually a
waiting list to get in to our classes.

One story, and I'll stop taking up band space. In the folktale unit, we
talked about what made a folk/faery tale, aspects of writing a short
story, watched Rabbit Ear videos of folktales from around the world, and
as a project, each student wroted and illustrated their own book,
complete with marbelized endpapers. We learned that many of the students
could not really write their own stories, especially three Asian ESL
students, so we also let them adapt already "written" stories.

I co-taught the course, and sort of missed out on the writing process of
one student, Nick. He was Afro-American, L.D., from a single-parent home
(Father only), and had had some behavior problems. He had decided to
write his own story. I didn't encounter it until I was putting it on the
computer. While it was almost written in a foreign language (phonetic
spelling and some dyslexia) it was the most beautiful story I had ever
Falcor, the Falcon boy was an outcast in his town because he had falcon
wings attached to his body (although the beautiful princess was attracted
to him). After years of teasing he left, and found a beautiful desert.
Little did he know that under the sands, a horrible monster was waking.
Falcor pursues the monster, who tries to trick him by becoming a
beautiful woman, but is too late to save the village which the monster
burns with its breath. Falcor battles the monster and wins, and sits to
cry over the loss of his village. Where his tears fall, the village
springs back. The king is mean to Falcor until others explain that he
saved the village. He offers to reward Falcor, and Falcor, of course,
chooses to marry the princess. The King refuses, and Falcor cuts off his
wings. The king gives in, the princess admits she likes Falcor the way
he was, the wings grow back, and they fly off to live in a kingdom in the

I might add that the line drawing accompanying the story were astounding.

Well, I was blown away, and came back to class full of praise. Nick
couldn't believe I really like the story and cried when I asked if I
could take it with me for a presentation at the American Association of
Museums meeting in Seattle. And I know it sounds trite, but behavior
problems stopped, he did better in classes and his father came to the
school for the first time when he won a prize in the art fair.

The whole TLC program was full of stories like this and teachers began
letting students use art projects for extra credit and as parts of
presentations. Funding was increased for the next year, so more students
could participate.
We know that not everyone learns the same way, and I truly believe that
art is an avenue for aiding academic teaching.

Kathrine Walker, Beach Museum of Art/Kansas State

On Wed, 28 Feb 1996, ALBERTA TOLBERT SEC.5

> Hi, This is Alberta one of the students at Southwest Texas. I would like to
> thank everyone that gave a responses to my first two questions. The responses
> that I recieved were very helpful. Now, I just have one more question that I
> would like everyone's opinion on. Here it is: Should art be used to teach
> the basic skills, like reading? The reason I am asking this is, lately I've been
> hearing about art teacher that art being hired as resouces teacher, they are
> asked to use art to teacher basic skills, like reading, to students that
> have been labeled has slow learner.
> Thanks for all your help.
> Alberta Lewis