Arts integration is the use of arts in a manner that supports and enhances learning of subject matter in any given discipline. Arts integration takes on many forms at BCSIS. In Math, a third grade class might study the work of Kandinsky to illustrate multiplication. While in fourth grade, students might explore artistic multiple design patterns in order to learn about divisibility. In Literacy, students use Dramatic Interpretation to develop fluency in reading, explore a color study by Matisse to learn about inferring, or hold character interviews based on a book to deepen comprehension and understanding of character traits. Using the arts in this way allows more students to access the material successfully and creatively, increases their motivation, helps their memory, and exposes them to multiple sign systems.
The founder of Harvard University’s Project Zero, Howard Gardner, illuminates the belief that each child has his/her own individual intelligence map. This approach allows for knowledge acquisition through a variety of modalities including: verbal-linguistic, musical-rhythmic, logical-mathematical, visual-spatial, intrapersonal, interpersonal, kinesthetic, and finally, nature and the environment.
Translating into the classroom, this may look like a second grader interpreting a poem through dance before they are able to access it in words to put on paper, or a fourth grader creating a method for solving a complex math problem. We strive to acknowledge strengths in student learning as well as support children in developing areas of challenge.
We strive to teach to the whole child with reverence, thinking, feeling, and purpose. Examples of Waldorf-like practices in the classrooms include the use of main lesson books, knitting, recorder playing, daily verse, chalkboard drawings, nature walks, gardening, beeswax, and watercolor painting. The school attends to beauty and environment through the use of natural materials, wooden desks, and nature tables, as well as festivals that help to mark the transition of the seasons. We also have a play-based kindergarten.
Utilizing a variety of ways subjects can interlink and work together – a blending across the subject areas. Examples include a third grade study of ancient Incan culture where place value becomes a series of knots tied in a “Quipu”, each knot signifying a different number and used in the culture to transmit information across long distances. The children may weave Incan weavings to decorate the cover of a lesson book, while journal entries are written in response to a historical novel on ceremonial rites. In addition, teams of students work together in cooperation to build suspension bridges. Working with curriculum in this way creates a holistic experience for the child rather than learning skills in isolation.
Our grade level teachers review the BVSD Prioritized Standards while planning each unit of study at BCSIS. For example, the structure of a narrative fiction story is explored within the Medieval Studies unit of fourth grade while nonfiction essays are integrated into a study of renewable energy sources. All disciplines are reviewed in this manner. Our math curriculum centers on BVSD’s adopted program Math Expressions, as well as Bridges Math. We hold the district curriculum within our daily instruction and use Waldorf, arts integration, multiple intelligences, and integrated curriculum to deliver these standards thoroughly and effectively.