The May Center for Learning

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Arts Integration

Last April, Stephanie Binkley and Amy Miller had the opportunity to attend the Power of Art Conference at Lab School of Washington through a grant from the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation. At this conference, Stephanie and I had the opportunity to see first had how Lab uses arts integration to teach students with learning differences, and to learn from educators from across the country about how they are using the arts to teach content across the curriculum. As a result of this experience, May School launched an arts integration program this school year.

On both campuses, students now have the opportunity to belong to a Society (inspired by Lab’s concept of “Clubs”). The Societies for this school year are themed around the Middle Ages in coordination with our social studies curriculum. Some of our societies include the Explorers, the Rulers, and the Scientists. The first step for each class in developing the Society was for the students to learn about their particular category, exploring questions like: “What does it mean to be a Scientist?” “What is the role of Artists in a culture?” They researched these questions and each class created a door decoration that presented their answers to the rest of the school.

Next, the students are embarking on researching a particular member of that category from the Middle Ages. In the Society of Authors, for example, students are researching particular writers of the time including Geoffrey Chaucer. Students will write a biography of their particular person, which will be published in a school-wide anthology, and each student will also write a monologue in the voice of this person. The students will assume the persona of the person that they’ve researched for their Society meetings.

In addition to this arts integration opportunity, the students on both campuses have weekly visual arts classes with our art teacher, Lorraine Edge Castillo. Lorraine has designed a vertical arts curriculum that exposes students to foundational concepts of art and design. On the Galisteo Intermediate Campus, we have designed two new art spaces to accommodate this more fully developed arts curriculum. Studio One, our old art room, has been transformed into a workshop, outfitted with tools, professional quality work benches, and many other high quality art implements. Over the course of the school year, students will have the opportunity to work with a wide variety of materials including charcoal, different paints, ink, plaster, wood, clay, encaustic and more. Studio Two is a new Design Lab Maker’s Space devoted to project-based learning. If you haven’t yet seen these new spaces, we look forward to showing them off to you.

We are excited to share some of what we’ve been working on in Societies and in our Arts classes during our annual Poetry and Pie event, Wednesday, November 21 at 1 pm on the Galisteo campus.

Rebecca Anderson