Salvador Elementary commits to the artistic process, creativity, communication, collaboration and critical thinking as the model for learning across disciplines while inspiring our diverse community with a passion for curiosity.
What do we really want our kids to learn at school? Reading? Math? Science? Yes, of course, but more important is to teach our kids to be critical thinkers and problem solvers. At Salvador Elementary School, we value inquiry, creativity, and the 21st century skills of communication and collaboration. To meet these goals we are delivering academics through a unique framework called Artful Learning. As one of four magnet schools in the Napa Valley Unified School District, Salvador is redesigning the school program by integrating the arts and the artistic process into the daily classroom experience. This unique methodology employs an interdisciplinary approach that is anchored by a central Concept while posing a Significant Question that allow educators to teach a broad spectrum of rigorous academic content. Studying through the arts generates deeper comprehension for students and high levels of student engagement.
Artful Learning, supported by the Leonard Bernstein Center, http://www.leonardbernstein.com/artful_learning.htm, is working with Salvador staff to implement this school reform model based on Bernstein’s belief that that the process of experiencing the arts, provides a fundamental way to instill a lifelong love of learning in children. The model; experience, inquire, create, reflect, starts with a Masterwork experience. Students learn about a painting, photograph, song, or other art piece. This immediate engagement leaves students curious to learn more. The Significant Question guides the inquiry and students use a variety of research techniques to delve into the content. As students inquire, new understandings develop and connections are made. After the learning, students design and complete an Original Creation – a tangible, artistic manifestation that demonstrates their understanding of the new knowledge. This final product is then ready for presentation. Finally, students reflect on their learning. This process is documented through narratives, maps and metaphors that enable students to make connections to their lives and the world around them.
Salvador teachers just completed the first of three phases of training. Teachers mapped their standards in order to develop interdisciplinary units and create inquiry centers for learning. Teachers were introduced to more than a dozen arts-based strategies that will be infused across the curriculum for increased student understanding and cognitive development. Although the training was intense and took the teachers out of the classroom, every teacher left feeling renewed as teachers and anxious to employ this new model of instruction.
The success of this program will hinge on the development of artist partnerships to support students in their original creations. Working with the teachers and offering master classes for students to perfect their artistic skills will be a crucial role that artists will play in this model of implementation. Music, metal, watercolor, clay, etc. are all mediums that can be used to reflect student learning and expand their artistic repertoire. Developing these partnerships within our community will help us sustain a program designed to develop students into creative, innovative, solution-driven individuals that we need for the future success of our economy. If you’re interested in getting involved in this exciting project, please contact Pam Perkins, Principal of Salvador at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our website: http://salvadorschool.com/