Q and A With Teachers
Theresa Wuebbels, Visual Art and Science
Why has your community fought to keep the arts a central part of the school's mission?
People know it works; the arts help us to have a high quality of education. Our teachers and parents recognize that the arts help students to make connections in learning. Not all students understand concepts being taught simply through lecture and reading. When these same students dance, dramatize, draw, or add music to a concept it becomes easier to grasp and a whole lot more enjoyable. Ninety-one percent of our students are at grade level (we have been named a North Carolina School of Excellence), and students do enjoy coming to our school (we are at capacity).
How has your art background affected the way you teach science?
Because my teaching of art is based on multiple disciplines (art studio, art history, critiquing of art, and aesthetics), it was easy to apply a similar approach to science. In science my students experiment, study history, learn to use process skills, and question what science is and the ethics involved.
In general, I like to integrate subject areas and make connections in my teaching, and I find myself doing this in both science and art. For example, in art we study the science of color and in science we dance the process of mitosis. The web developed by integrating subject matter will help our students solve problems in their future careers.
Science and art both involve the creative process. It is not enough to just know facts or to develop a skill – you need reflection and critical thinking. WHY is so important to both areas, and that requires non-linear thinking.
What suggestions would you make to classroom teachers who might want to adapt "My Life, My Roots, My Dreams" for their students?
If you like to make connections in teaching, this is a great course. I approached this course primarily through visual art and photography, and included components of science, language arts, social studies, and character development. You could come at it with a prime interest in any of these areas. What is important is to make the connections.
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Rebecca Hennis, Dance and Language Arts
How do you think your dance background has affected your teaching of language arts?
Everything involves sequences in this world, especially dance. I have been able to transfer my sequencing in dance to language arts by knowing that there is a process to everything we learn. Students must have the basics and the foundation before they can build anything else. Also, I have found that there is so much literature waiting to be danced; so many movement possibilities are available in language arts.
What, if anything, might you do differently next time for the Dance-A-Story project?
Next time I will spend much more time on character development. I will have students write more about their character and analyze their character more in depth. Also, I will have students focus on creating many more movement solutions for one situation. This way, they will have several movements from which to pick the very best, thus enabling the audience to visualize and understand the language the students will be dancing.
What makes a book or story a good candidate for Dance-A-Story?
A story must have many characters or elements of nature so that everyone will have a role. Also, the story must be filled with an enormous amount of action and movement possibilities.
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