Teaching and learning at a Centre of Excellence Through the Arts
Our goal is to support students as they develop the flexible skill set needed to be active, engaged citizens in the future. Understanding and affirming creativity in its many forms was a cornerstone of our learning to teach and learn through the arts.
As a Centre of Excellence Through the Arts, we want to use the power of art to develop our students’ thinking dispositions. In order to turn our beliefs into actions the staff identified five key Artistic Habits of Mind that are developed within and through the arts and can be utilized across the curriculum to deepen thinking and learning:
- Risk Taking: Learning through the arts invites students to take risks, experiment with new techniques and new approaches as they learn to express their unique identities.
- Communication: Encoding and Decoding Information: Students learn to decode the artist’s meaning and how to encode original ideas in their own work.
- Embracing a Range of Perspectives: Our diversity is our strength.
- Building Creative and Collaborative Communities
- Critical Thinking and Deep Analysis
Learning Through the Arts
Teachers: Teachers work in relationship with their students. Instruction is a combination of explicit and inductive approaches. Inquiry oriented instruction with a focus on process not product often requires the teacher to work as a facilitator alongside students as they construct meaning from their experiences.
Explicit instruction of strategies and skills needed to explore topics and flexible scaffolding as students work towards clearly identified outcomes are keys to student success. Formative assessment, including clearly outlined criteria and specific feedback guide student learning. Using an Understanding by Design (UBD) format, teachers consciously plan cross curricular units that utilize artful learning processes and artful ways to represent understandings.
A collection of model UBD units has been started to ensure new staff are able to study exemplars of teaching and learning through the arts.
Leadership Through the Arts: The attributes of a successful leader can be identified, learned, and refined. This locally developed course was designed to give students the opportunity to explore ways in which they can become successful leaders in their school and community through a blend of classroom instruction, group discussion, activity-based learning, project work, and volunteerism. Our grades 5-8 students spend 100 minutes a week in Leadership Through the Arts.
Students: The student is at the heart of teaching and learning. Teachers work hard to engage their students and connect learning to students’ needs, interests and cultures. Student voice and choice is valued and encouraged. Students are supported as they develop confidence in their abilities to think and express themselves through the arts.
Artist in Residence: In 2016 North Park Wilson was granted its first Artist in Residence position through the Saskatchewan Arts Board. Working alongside of a professional artist, teachers develop and enact an Understanding by Design unit that intentionally integrates artful thinking and representations with other curricular areas.
Community: Working through our SCC and Parent Council, parents participate in the decisions that guide the direction of our work as a Centre of Excellence through the Arts.
Community members are part of the planning committees for major events. These events include curriculum evenings, our annual arts festival and the actualization of grants from the Saskatoon Public Schools Foundation and the Saskatchewan Arts Board. Partnerships with The Children’s Discovery Museum and SaskTel Pioneers are valuable connections to the wider community.