Some of my fondest memories of elementary and middle school include the art projects that went along with the most interesting units that my favorite teachers thought up – the same teachers that inspired me to go into education myself. As a first year educator, I was daunted with the task of creating not only engaging standards-based lessons, but also incorporating art into what my students were doing in the classroom.
Participating in the ABC (Art and the Basic Curriculum) Program through The Memphis Brooks Museum of Art exposed both my students and me to excellent lessons that highlighted how to successfully use art integration in the classroom. We were also privileged to take part in guided museum visits and activities that showcased the wonderful educational resource that is the Brooks.
Most of my students have lived in Memphis all of their lives but had not been to the Brooks before participating in this program. I have a combined fifth and sixth grade classroom of mostly boys who are between the ages of 10 to 12 – not a group that most would say would be interested in fine art. When, during our first museum visit, I saw my entire class sitting at attention (a difficult task for many a middle school student) and intelligently discussing the symbolism in a particular painting with our fabulous museum educator Ms. Brown, I knew we were taking part in something special.
Ms. Brown’s three visits to our classroom at Our Lady of Sorrows School in Frayser were equally rewarding for my students. They learned how to create a Sioux Winter Count – an activity that brought an ancient Native American tradition to life for them within the four walls of our classroom. Their study of plant and animal cells in science was reinforced by our final ABC lesson for the year, which consisted of creating a scientific illustration of a cell.
From having the opportunity to join in on an ABC teacher watercolor painting workshop earlier this year to seeing the growth in my students because of their participation in this program, I look forward to the interesting lessons and activities my students and I can expect for next school year!
This blog is written by Elizabeth Black, educator at Our Lady of Sorrows School.