If we look back to the results of our Tell Them From Me survey, we see that 92% of our students value school outcomes and believe that they will benefit from these outcomes in the future. This means that we need to provide a learning environment which prepares our students for a future that does not currently exist. Essentially, we need to bring relevance and authenticity to their learning.
In order for this to happen, we need to go go beyond the basics...beyond the bold text, which we often see in text books. With easy access to information and a vast array of ways for students demonstrate their learning, text book learning isn't so 'text book' anymore. Simple definitions and Googleable answers aren't enough to engage students or promote innovative and soft skills learning.
Students will greatly benefit when they are the crafters of their own learning... and Fine Arts integration is an environment which opens the doors to student exploration, through creativity and innovation.
How does this look at St. Dominic Fine Arts School then?
As a staff, we are delving deep into new ways of fostering an atmosphere of creativity and collaboration with PBL (Project Based Learning), inquiry and technology integration, through the lens of Fine Arts. We see students doing interviews, drama skits, movie making, art, design and green screening in such subject areas as science, social studies, math and religion. This will all be achieved through coaching, PD (Professional Development) and supporting each other by sharing our own skills.
We are fortunate to be able bring in representatives from an organization called Inspired Youth School Project (http://iysp.org/programs.html) to address the social-emotional, well-being and emotional intelligence needs of our students through mindfulness, yoga and self-inquiry. They will be spending a few weeks with our staff and students, beginning the second week of January, as a means to address resiliency and wellness for our students, which will foster confidence and promote new ways of learning and establishing relationships.
We will be adding Artist in Residencies for mind, body and Fine Arts connections, like Comic Book creation (January 25-29), Hip-Hop Dance (late April), Rugby and Roller Blading as a start. Our goal is to provide diverse, real life and engaging opportunities for our students to explore and expand their learning.
With all of these new beginnings on the rise, as well as keeping our minds open to other ones, the possibilities for addressing the diverse learning needs of our students can look less daunting. We have to stretch ourselves beyond the bold text, so that we can better engage our children. In providing these opportunities, our students can reach success in school academically, socially and emotionally.
Here's to a new year full of new possibilities!