Building Common Core critical thinking skills through the arts
By Tyler on September 5th, 2012
This is one in a series of posts examining the Common Core State Standards and the conversation surrounding their impact on teaching and learning.
Clearly, I think a LOT about what’s in the Common Core State Standards — the shifts they’re bringing to English language arts instruction, the differences between “conceptual” and “procedural” mathematics, balancing the use of fiction and nonfiction text.
When we think about the organization (and focus) of the standards, we usually think in terms of “math” and “reading.” Yes, the standards lay out what kids are expected to learn in school in those two subject areas. Critics of the standards often worry about how this might narrow the curriculum and further squeeze out funding for other subject areas and for the arts.
But a story from KPBS has me thinking a little bit differently. It’s about an organization helping teachers infuse MORE arts in to the classroom as a way of helping students built important critical thinking and problem solving skills — key things the standards emphasize throughout.
Here’s one example of a role playing activity the teachers learned about:
In another workshop later that day, the teachers are role playing while they describe different artifacts from the Mingei.
Rhonda Sloan and Katherine Mickelson pretend to be best friends, one of whom found an unfamiliar object on the beach.
“You touched it?” Mickelson asks Sloan.
“Yeah, I touched it,” she says. “At first I thought it was metal, but I think it’s maybe something like wood.”
A facilitator from the Mingei explains an exercise like this can be used to get students to think about the different ways we use language depending on who we’re talking to. Sloan and Mickelson speak much more informally than the women role playing a principal and a student. The exercise can also get students experimenting with descriptive language and making educated guesses.
Perhaps there are ways not just to keep arts alive in schools, but to use them to help foster the skills that makes us great readers, writers, mathematicians and scientists.
Looking to add art history into your language arts curriculum? Scholastic Art magazine brings the arts alive and is aligned to Common Core standards for informational text and domain-specific vocabulary. Check out the magazine’s complete digital resources at www.scholastic.com/art
Teachers: do you often infuse arts and drama into language arts or math lessons?
Quick tip: If you’re looking for ways to add some art history to your language arts classroom, Scholastic Art magazine has Common Core-aligned informational text and vocabulary specific to the art domain. Worth checking out!
(Flickr photo by aidanmorgan)
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