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Art Integrated Learning

Arts and disadvantaged groups : In an Elementary School catering to mixed social groups in Washington, employing the arts in academic classrooms was associated with improvement in test scores in Mathematics and English (Donna St. George, 2015). In particular, students living in poverty benefitted from the integrated approach. The researcher further emphasized that interest in the integration of arts is growing globally, driven by increasing research that points to the academic, social and personal benefits to students.

Arts create innovative processes : Nobori (2012) was amazed at how the arts unlock pathways to learning. The process of integrating arts may seem like conducting art projects in classroom settings, but becomes a teaching strategy that seamlessly merges art experiences with core curricula to build connections in engaging learning contexts. For instance students choreographed a dance using locomotor and non- Art Integrated Learning — Guidelines 5 locomotor movements to demonstrate their understanding of the solar system.

Arts and Socio-emotional development : Based on his research, Harvey (1989) found out that art process relates to cognition, achievement, motivation, and self-concept in elementary school students. In essence, arts when integrated with learning process work splendidly as affective education. “The use of art, movement, and music can result in metaphormaking and problem- solving of social/emotional conflicts. In this way the creative arts practices unite the cognitive aspect of creativity and the therapeutic aspect of behavioural and personality change. Because of this integration of thinking and feeling, the creative arts therapies offer an opportunity to positively affect social/emotional and academic behaviour”.

Arts as Pedagogy : Puri and Arora, (2013) reviewed the use of Art Integrated Learning in 107 classrooms of 17 Municipal Corporation in New Delhi and found

  1. Remarkable difference in school environment,
  2. Increased level of student involvement in the learning process,
  3. Significant improvement in students’ attendance,
  4. Improved academic achievements and
  5. More confidence and openness to handle new situations than their peers in the non-AIL classrooms.

Stage Wise Learning Objectives

Learning through the arts can take place at all levels of schooling. Art integrated learning is experiential in nature and makes all children respond with their imagination and emotional strengths. The needs of children will vary with age, social contexts and ability. Stage-wise objectives for engaging children in art integrated learning are as follows:

Pre - Primary

At this stage children are both highly inquisitive and energetic. Creative activities such as drawing, painting, clay work, music are both appealing and engaging for young children. At this stage ‘all education should be through the arts’. The objective of children’s participation in visual and performing arts is to:

  • Make learning joyful and engaging
  • Encourage children to be aware of their environment through keen observation and unhindered exploration
  • Promote sensitivity towards their environment
  • Allow free emotional expression, communication and creative involvement
  • Facilitate children to express freely and spontaneously

Primary

Art education at this stage needs to link with all subjects such that it becomes a tool of teaching-learning concepts. Art can play an effective role in strengthening the child’s curiosity, imagination, and sense of wonder. They should have a positive impact on the skills related to intellectual, socio-emotional, motor, language and overall literacy. The objectives of AIL at primary level are to help children:

  • Experience joy and eagerness to learn
  • Learn to live in an inclusive environment
  • Discover concepts of Mathematics and Science in the world around them
  • Be aware of interdisciplinary connections
  • Enhance observation, curiosity, exploration and creative and free expression
  • Explore and understand body movement and coordination
  • Develop expressive communication and critical thinking skills
  • Foster an inquisitive attitude towards learning and knowledge
  • Understand and regulate their emotions
  • Create awareness of rich heritage and cultural diversity

Upper Primary

During this stage children are ready to comprehend more complex interconnections between concepts and the environment. AIL can allow children build on simple concepts as well as relate them with academic content meaningfully. Children also enhance the skill to work in groups and explore ideas together. The objectives of AIL at the upper primary level are to help children:

  • Explore multiple perspectives of concepts
  • Construct knowledge of themes, subjects and concepts and be aware of the inter-disciplinary connections
  • Develop a pluralistic approach and appreciate different possibilities
  • Promote teamwork and mutual appreciation
  • Enhance communication skills, language skills and problem solving skills
  • Build sensitivity towards environmental and societal concerns
  • Create art and apply their artistic skills in day-to-day activites
  • Learn inclusive practices of respect, care, empathy and compassion
  • Foster socio-emotional competencies and cognitive competence
  • Understand and regulate their emotions
  • Create awareness of rich heritage and cultural diversity

Strategies for Implementation

Art Integrated Learning provides a unique opportunity to the children to explore various themes and concepts through visual and performing arts. It means art becomes an integral part of the classroom teaching-learning process. For example, on the theme of Water we have the question: ‘Where does water come from?’ The children may use ‘black colour’ for dirty/sewage water and ‘blue’ to say it’s a river. At this point, the teacher needs to have the skill to understand and comprehend children’s art experience and lead the process to connect it to the subject learning. The teacher may intervene and say “let’s follow the river to find its source!” and suggest movements, music and colour to locate the source of the river, unfolding the constructivist teaching learning approach. Though the art experience is flexible, and children do learn in the process of experimentation and exploration, a broad frame of teacher preparation will be crucial for the effective implementation of AIL. The potential of AIL is best realized by capacity building and readiness of all stakeholders. Hence, the following steps are recommended for effective implementation of AIL:

  • Capacity Building
  • Planning of Activities
  • Planning Time
  • Planning Resources
  • Classroom Management
  • Community Involvement

Capacity Building : Introducing art as a resource will require re-orienting the school system in the use of it as pedagogical tool. All stakeholders of school education, including the school management need to be oriented to understand the importance and the relevance of this pedagogy. Capacity building here refers to any effort being made to improve the understanding, skills of educators and others to implement AIL in their school. It reduces a school’s reliance on outside support or services, by building their internal capacity. Teacher-training workshops and teacher observation programmes should be undertaken to bring about a paradigm shift in the ways students learn and the ways teachers approach teaching and learning. This means that teachers will themselves have a deeper conceptual understanding of the content they are expected to teach and the pedagogical know how with suitable skills to create appropriate learning environment.

Planning of Activities : Once the teacher begins to utilise AIL methodology, she would need to work on the dynamics of planning. AIL would require linking art experience to the subject matter seamlessly and to identify methods and techniques to engage children in group activities. Teacher’s preplanning; familiarity with the subject combined with attention to guiding and reviewing children’s responses will keep the journey on track.

Stage Wise Planning of Ail Activities

Pre-Primary

As recommended by NCF 2005, all the education at this stage should be through arts: drawing, painting, clay modelling, singing, actions or movements. It further emphasizes that 90% of the curriculum must be art oriented. Therefore, while planning activities for this stage, the teacher must keep the above criteria in mind. Another important point for this stage is to focus on the process and not on the product. Suggested activities are :

  • Poems/rhymes in rhythm and melody which children enjoy while learning through movement and songs. Poems on themes from their immediate environment which will help in developing a sense of auditory and visual imagery
  • Exploration of different sounds through commonly found objects which can help them differentiate between noise and music

While planning activities for this stage, focus should be on using locally available, age appropriate materials such as pebbles, seeds and beads, leaves, flowers, sand, clay, sea shells, feathers, wood sticks, tree barks, natural colours, etc.

Primary

At the primary stage, arts should be integrated with all subjects and used as an approach for teaching and learning of different concepts. This will help children freely express their ideas and emotions. They will also develop all the senses through keen observation, curious exploration and spontaneous expression. As is the system in most of our primary schools, one teacher teaches all subjects to her class which gives her the freedom and scope to plan art experiences in a way that cater to learning of multiple disciplines. While planning activities for this stage, the teacher should keep in mind that:

  • The process and not the product should be focused upon
  • The art experience should be planned such that it serves an interdisciplinary purpose catering to multilevel needs of the classroom
  • In case of multi-grade classrooms (classrooms where there are students from different standards), the teacher should pay attention to the composition of the groups as age group becomes a fundamental point while designing activities. The need of inclusive classrooms should be focused upon
  • The art integration in classes 1-3 and 4-5 should be 80 and 70 percent respectively. (NCF 2005)
  • The children of classes I and II should be left with the material to experiment and express on subjects and situations they observe around them
  • Class III onwards they can be given simple topics related to their day to day life and immediate environment which also covers their curriculum

Upper Primary

At the upper primary stage, emphasis should be laid on the use of learner’s own imagination and development of their creative expressions. It is suggested that children of this stage work together in teams for their socio-emotional development and enhancement of life skills (inter-personal communication, collaboration and cooperation, respect for diversity and appreciation for each other’s perspective, developing leadership skills, problem solving abilities etc.). As this age group is the beginning of adolescence, their growing up concerns are also addressed naturally and effectively through integration of arts.

The existence of a strong collaboration between teachers of different subjects, including those of art education is important while planning Art Integrated Learning activities. This will help teachers to manage teaching-learning time efficiently and promote interdisciplinary approach which leads to holistic learning.

While planning activities for this stage, the teacher needs to see that:

  • The focus is on the process and not on the product
  • Needs of inclusive classrooms are taken care
  • While making the groups they should follow a heterogeneous approach to ensure no discrimination on the lines of social prejudice and gender stereotypes
  • Periodic re-grouping of children is done for better exchange of ideas and accommodating different learning levels
  • Children are allowed to use diverse art forms and material to avoid monotony
  • ICT as an exploratory tool is encouraged
  • Children are provided with opportunities to interact with local/ regional artisans to enhance their sensitivity and awareness towards indigenous cultural heritage
  • Field visits to places like museums, galleries, historical monuments, melas, bazaars, haat etc. are incorporated
  • The extent to which the art experience can be taken to connect it with the concept/subject content
  • Art expereince is utilised as an assessment tool also

Art education with its inherent quality of involving the learner has possibilities for being a satisfying medium of creative expression. The learner is both the performer and the observer of the performance where the process stimulates his/her mind.

Suggested Format for Writing AIL Activity

AIl activity plan is a suggestive format, which is flexible in nature. Teachers may think and prepare their own plans while keeping in mind the need of the learning situation. The suggested format is based on the commonly used format for AIL activities in the field:

  • Class : The class for which the lesson plan has been prepared should be mentioned.
  • Subjects : Specific subjects for which the activity is being planned should be mentioned.
  • Theme /Chapter : These can be developed in any subject around the themes (NCF 2005), as this helps in permeating subject boundaries and accessing knowledge holistically. It also helps in covering a wide range of concepts, issues and skills.
  • Art form/s being Used : The teacher may specify whether the art form being used is visual, performing arts or both.
  • Time Required : It is essential that the teacher works on a timebound plan to ensure effectiveness of the teaching-learning process. However, if any child or a group requires more time, it should be allowed respecting the individual pace of children.
  • Planning of Art Experiences/Activities Step Wise : Teacher can design AIL activity plan for facilitating children through well designed art experiences. Some art experiences can be in the shape of ice-breakers which can be conducted and completed in 10 to 15 minutes and others can be longer to suit the need of Learning Objectives and Learning Outcomes of the plan.
  • Follow-up Exercise/s : Every art experience should have follow up exercise/s which can be in the shape of question answers, brainstorming activities, presentation/ performance etc. For more details teacher can refer to the exemplars given in this document starting at page number 45.
  • Assessment : AIL as pedagogy provides opportunity and spaces for ‘assessment as learning’, assessment for learning’ and ‘assessment of learning’. Therefore while preparing AIL Plan teacher can think of creating easy to follow and seamless spaces for assessment and maintain records. For more details please refer to the AIL as assessment at page number 36.
  • Linking of Art Experience/s with the Concept/s or Theme/s : While preparing the AIL plan teacher can think of the suitable points where the targeted theme or concept can be seamlessly linked to the art experience of children.

Resource Planning

Proper planning of resources adds a novelty to the art integrated experience. Regular research and extensive groundwork by the teacher helps them to create a rich repository of resources which include regional/local resources. The resources should be easy to use and convenient to procure as their easy availability will ensure increased frequency of usage. The teachers should be aware of the content available online and its appropriate application. While selecting the resources, especially the physical ones, one should be confident of the fact that there is flexibility in the choice of resources.

Types of Resources

Material Resources : While planning and selecting material and equipment for AIL activities one can practice thumb rule of following five points – resources should be

  • Economical,
  • Environment friendly,
  • Reusable,
  • Innovative and
  • Locally available.

Few examples of material as resource are:

  • Old magazines and newspapers
  • Old and new notebooks and used packaging materials
  • Old cloths, socks, dupattas/Saris etc.
  • Clay strings, threads, beads, ribbons (golden and other colours) sutli etc. f Bangles, bindi etc.
  • Fish clips, buttons
  • Coconut shells, pistachio shells, walnut/ almond shells etc.
  • Pebbles, bark, feathers, sand, bamboos and broom sticks etc.
  • Lids, bottle caps and old carton boxes
  • Invitation cards, balloons, balls, sponges etc.

Community Resources : Ways and forums to involve the local community meaningfully must be devised to develop a healthy and proactive community-school partnership. When provided with opportunities to interact with local/regional artisans, students enhance their sensitivity and awareness towards the indigenous cultural heritage. For example, school authorities may invite local weavers, potters and different service providers so that students may have an intimate engagement with them. Families of the children may also be involved in a positive manner with the school to support learning of children. For effective and meaningful community participation it is recommended that periodic field trips/excursions are included to visit places like hospitals, post office, bus depots, railway stations, etc.

Space : It has been seen that in the traditional set up learning is very often confined to specific areas: whereas in AIL, it is recommended that the teacher needs to become more flexible while selecting and using learning spaces. Spaces/places should be such which provide children with an opportunity to explore, experiment, create and express themselves freely. For example, walls of buildings, staircases, school stage, school rooftops, field and garden areas etc. can be utilized for the same.

Class Room Management

Class room is the space that becomes a fertile ground for learning if utilized and managed appropriately. Given below are some suggestions for effective classroom management:

  • Flexible seating arrangement which provides space for activities with free movement of children and teachers. For better efficacy of AIL, it is recommended that the traditional seating arrangement (rows and columns) should be discouraged and arrangements such as sitting in U-shape, semi-circle, etc. should be encouraged to create space for activities and presentations.
  • Teachers/facilitators should move across the classroom space while interacting with the children. This will help teacher reach and facilitate every child in the classroom.
  • AIL approach recommends children working in groups for active engagement and collective learning. At pre-primary stage group sizes should be of 2, in standards 1 and 2 groups can be of 2-3 children at a time and in standards 3 to 5 groups can be of 4-5 children. By the upper-primary stage, children develop better group dynamics: therefore teachers can plan the grouping of children keeping in mind the need of the activity and not the number.
  • For better results, keep changing the configuration of groups which will aid students in getting to know each other better, appreciate each other’s strengths and abilities and learn collaboratively for better comprehension of the subject, leading to enhanced socio-emotional skills.
  • Encourage the process of inclusion while respecting all kinds of diversity. While forming groups, the multi-level and multigrade nature of the classroom should also be kept in mind.
  • Presentations by children should be encouraged to create an interactive learning environment.
  • Every classroom should have display areas where children’s work can be displayed.
  • A reading corner may be created where children have easy access to story books, comics, folklores, fables etc.
  • The classroom can also have an innovative performing space/area which can be used for regular presentations and performances

If practiced in true spirit, the above will not only help children to develop a sense of ownership of their classroom and school but can also transform them into learners for life.

Dispaly of Art Works

Every classroom should have a dedicated space for display of the children’s art works as it plays an important role in igniting the interest and eagerness to learn more. It also helps children to analyse and appreciate their own works and also of others. Some suggestions for a meaningful display are as follows:

  • The original unedited art work of all children should be displayed. Classroom walls, corridors etc. can be used as display areas.
  • Every child should be appreciated for the process of creation and not for the product.
  • The display should be periodic in nature i.e. displays should be updated on a weekly /monthly basis.
  • Apart from the work of children, display area can also have the work of great artists which can help children understand the nuances of a particular art form and refine their own aesthetic sensibilities.

Source : National Council of Educational Research and Training



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