The Art of Interdisciplinary Learning

Art becomes the perfect channel for interdisciplinary learning as teachers collaborate and bring subject areas together.

Through interdisciplinary methods, Congressional teachers engage students in learning that combines content, skills, and thinking processes as students explore connections among the subject areas. Students demonstrate deeper understanding when integrating knowledge from more than one discipline, and this type of learning helps in the development of critical thinking skills. It also provides students with a more authentic experience in relation to the world around them, authentic in that the real world is multifaceted and not compartmentalized by subject area. Art lends itself well to interdisciplinary learning. Here are a few examples:

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Lighting the Sky in Preschool

In preschool science class, the students were learning all about night time and the Aurora Borealis. Primary and lower school art teacher, Sarah Philip, was inspired by this and came up with the perfect multidisciplinary project to celebrate. The students took a field trip to the art studio in the Big School and got to work painting northern light frescoes on the underside of the art room tables. They looked like Michelangelo in training!

Kindergarten Shadow Art

Teachers regularly get together to discuss curriculum and share what they are doing in the classrooms. When primary and lower school art teacher, Sarah Philip, found out that kindergarteners were learning all about shadows in science class, she jumped at the opportunity to build on their understanding even more. She set up project boards and gave the students flashlights to create their own individual shadows, and then she showed the students how to draw the shadows that they created.


"Congressional teachers engage students in learning that combines content, skills, and thinking processes as students explore connections among the subject areas."
 

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Japanese Multiplication and Piet Mondrian

After discovering how closely a Japanese multiplication technique resembles the geometric, minimalistic artwork by Piet Mondrian, fifth grade art and math joined forces to create works of art based on multiplication equations. In the Japanese visual representation of an equation, lines are drawn to represent a number by 1000’s, 100’s, 10’s and 1’s and the lines are intersected by the other number represented the same way. Through counting and viewing the intersections, the answer to the multiplication of those numbers can be found.

After seeing the intersecting lines of this math technique and its connection to Mondrian’s geometric, minimalistic artwork, the math and art teachers combined their classes, giving each student a canvas on which to create a Mondrian-inspired work of art using their chosen multiplication equations.

Mathematical Weaving

Ada Dietz, an American weaver known for her Algebraic Expressions of Handwoven Textiles, was the inspiration for a middle school math and art project. Students picked an algebraic equation and associated a value with each of the elements in their weaving project. Slowly, the students saw amazing patterns emerge representing their mathematical equation. It was a perfect project to help them see patterns in math, and the results were beautiful.

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