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Volume 3 Number 11

A new museum dedicated to exploring the role of visual art in children's literature from around the world will open in Amherst, Massachusetts in November 2002...
Apple Seeds: Inspirational quotes by Barb Erickson
Special Days This Month by Ron Victoria
Featured Schools
Classroom Photos by Members of the Teachers.Net Community
November Poem
The Inward Morning
The Lighter Side of Teaching
Handy Teacher Recipes
Classroom Crafts
Help Wanted - Teaching Jobs
Doggy, Doggy, Who Has Your Bone? and themed variations from the Lesson Bank
Turkey Glyph
Alphabet Book
Alphabet Chart
Upcoming Ed Conferences
Letters to the Editor
Art Projects as Learning Activities? &
What is running wonderful classroom teachers out the school doors so early?
November Columns
November Articles
November Informational Items
Gazette Home Delivery:

On-Site Insights...

Art Projects as Learning Activities?

from a Teachers.Net mailring

I have my children express what they learned through art. The last two weeks we worked on a unit on spiders, lead by the selections in the MacMillan/McGraw-Hill basal -"Spiders at Work" and TFK "Web Wonders." I offered trade books from the library on spiders, marked the classroom encyclopedia and dictionary entries with sticky tabs, had web sites loaded on my classroom computers, and allowed time for the students to explore these resources.

At the end of this week I had them write about the most interesting thing they learned about one spider, then had them construct a large example of their spider from construction paper. I gave them a rubric that included accuracy in spider anatomy, correct sentence capitalization and punctuation (our writing focus this week), and accurate facts about their spider species.

We created a 6 foot web on the wall outside my class, leaving room for the spiders that do not construct webs. The completed projects are now displayed on or near the web. The time to do this was during our regular science instruction.

I feel that my students learned more through this project than they would have if I had given them a paper and pencil test. Besides, how would I grade such a test? They each studied several species before deciding on what they believed is the most interesting. They had to use many more skills, making judgments, comparing and contrasting, using gross and fine motor skills, to name a few. Students who didn't like spiders gained an appreciation and respect for them as creatures in nature.

It really burns me up when people don't have time to teach anything but academics. I feel they are robbing their students of the most important learning experiences. Are we teaching robots, or are we teaching human beings? Our students need to learn to think. They need to learn to use knowledge flexibly. Art and music help develop the risk-taking skills that help people adapt knowledge when their first attempts do not work. It helps them try different approaches and persevere when facing an obstacle.

Art also helps keep some children in school. I know when I was in high school, art class was the only reason I didn't drop out. I was an A student. I graduated summa cum laude for my first degree, and magna cum Laude for my secondmusic in education. The day they tell me I cannot have art or music in school is the day I quit public education and start my own school. [Posted by Joy]

[I am] a teacher who utilizes art. Art IS an EXPRESSION of LEARNING. It is no different than having children make, complete, produce a book extension project. In fact, many extensions are art related. Many children need the concrete, hands-on, tactile experiences in order to assimilate the learning that is taking place. The key is to make it a creative expression, not just "everyone do the same." In my understanding, balanced literacy encompasses all the learning modalities. Just another opinion. [Posted by Sarah/2]

What is running wonderful classroom teachers out the school doors so early?

Candi observed:

I recently read a history book about several retired teachers. I believed these teachers when they were quoted as saying how much they loved teaching. They taught in the classroom for 45-49 years! They stuck around long enough to have buildings named after themselves! No one would teach for 49 years if they didn't like it. Of course those teachers retired in the 1950's and 1960's!

Do you think today's teachers lack stamina or was it just plain easier to be a regular classroom teacher 40 years ago? In what ways was it different and what made the profession more enjoyable 40 years ago?

What is running wonderful classroom teachers out the school doors so early?

Today it is rare to find a classroom teacher who can make it to the 28th year! Why?

Diane responded:

I think part of the burnout comes when as a veteran teacher, you get the bulk of the discipline problems and the low kids because "you can handle it." Meanwhile down the hall are the g/t kids and the rest of the kids who can operate at grade level. I'm sitting there with Resource students that make up almost half my class. The others, except for two, are severely below grade level but either don't qualify for Resource or have moved so many times there are severe gaps in their learning. I get moved from grade level to grade level as the need arises for rebuilding a team. Every time I move I have to give up furniture it took me years to collect. PLUS this year, we couldn't get in the building due to construction. Then, I found out I was moving down the hall the first day teachers came time to do bulletin boards, set up the room, etc. Everything I had done to organize the room before school was out was just for nothing.

We are having to do more and more paperwork. The kids don't show respect...I could go on and on.

Through it all, I really do enjoy teaching...but I get to do so little of it.

"I DO hate my job!!!" responded:

Teaching is no longer an enjoyable job!! We are bombarded by "Get those test scores up!" and trying to teach children that are not ready and come from homes where school is not all that important. I have been a teacher for 30 years and I can honestly say that I now hate what I do. Is it time to get out? You bet--but I will not cut my own throat and leave early. After all the years I have put in, I will get the retirement that I have earned.

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