Incorporating Art Throughout the Day

At Detroit Prep we work with kids to set goals all year long. As teachers, we set personal goals to push our practice and help our students. One thing I have been working on this year is incorporating art into my daily instruction. It has been really powerful to watch my young students express themselves and their ideas through art. The focus in primary education tends to be on literacy and speaking skills; providing another mode of expression has allowed all my students to access higher order thinking in multiple ways. Here are a couple examples of ways we’ve used art throughout the day:

Close Read Aloud

With every expedition, we guide students through a few close reading cycles. We teach a text that is a few grade levels above their comprehension level and guide students through the text. This structure allows them to learn content, access complex texts, and build literacy skills they can transfer to other books. At the end of the cycle they produce a culminating task where they answer a focusing question and show what they learned. For this task, after reading A Seed is Sleepy, their job was to use figurative language and watercolor painting to describe something a seed does during its life cycle.

Expedition Products

For our soil case study students made soil layer diagrams to teach about soil. We made mixed media collages for each soil layer and then put them together (with writing on the back) to show what it looks like when you dig down into the earth.

Painted Reflections

At the end of a case study we guide students through some sort of reflective process so they can articulate what they learned and experienced. Typically this is done through writing. I pushed my students to think about reflection in a different way at the end of our soil case study. They did a silent painted reflection to think about all the things we did to learn about soil and how they felt during and after each experience.