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Authentic Cross-Curricular Projects: Art, ELA, and more!

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Authentic Cross-Curricular Projects: Art, ELA, and more!

This one is both fully awesome and totally simple. Check it out!

The Idea

Ultimately, students will create a kind of photo art narrative, the final result being a digital resource easily shared with any audience.

A note: everything I am sharing comes from or is inspired by a post on ditchthattextbook.com by guest blogger Claudio Zavala Jr.

Before you read on, take a look at this example (created by Cheryl Dawson) of a final product so that you get the idea more specifically.

The Setup

I want to explore two variations on how to most easily achieve this awesome result.

Option #1: Collaborate with Other Teachers

In an elementary setting, the primary classroom teacher and art teacher should collaborate to produce this project.

These are the steps that make the most sense to me. First, begin with the classroom teacher:

  1. Have students write a narrative (any grade level that does narrative writing of ANY kind will work – I would just as likely do this project with kindergarten as with 5th grade)
  2. In groups, have students share their narratives with each other (reader’s theater of some variation).
  3. Once each student has had a chance to share, the group should together select ONE story that will become their feature story.
  4. Once each group has a feature story, they are ready for the art teacher.

In art class, students will bring their feature story and collaborate in the same groups as before.

  1. Have students examine the story together to list the characters and scenes in the story then describe the visual details associated with each item on the list (is the dog blue? Shaggy hair? Short tail?).
  2. With that list, have students divide up the characters and scenes to draw/paint/sculpt (whatever the medium the art teacher is using at the time).
  3. Students will then begin creating individually those items they claimed from the list.
  4. Regularly stop students (as often as is appropriate) to have them share their progress with their group and give each other feedback. What are they looking for?
    1. Uniformity (to a degree) in the way they are creating their characters and scenes.
    2. Representation of whatever skills the art teacher has targeted for this project (shading? Color? Lines?)
    3. Consistency with the details of the original story.
  5. Once students in the group complete the characters and scenes, have students (or teacher do it for them) take photos (higher quality = better, so use ipads or phones with good cameras) and save them in a folder (like Gdrive or on your LMS) so they can access later.
  6. Now they are all set with the art teacher, and the project can return to their classroom.

Back in the general classroom,

  1. Have groups access the stored photos and storyboard their narrative (I suggest they do something simple like whiteboards or sticky notes).
  2. Once the narrative is planned with the visuals, begin the final product on Adobe Spark Page by uploading photos and copy/pasting narrative text in the desired sequence.

That’s it! The final product is a publicly shareable web page (definitely credit individual students with their work – both the artwork and the narrative). Would be cool to have students showcase these in some way, too.

Option #2: Solo Effort by the Art Teacher

This would be tough because every art teacher experiences the same terrible constraint: time. You have too little of it with your students as it is. Therefore, here’s how I might approach such a project: .

  1. Group students for the project.
  2. Have students decide together on a story they want to recreate (favorite Disney movie? Favorite class read-aloud?)
  3. Have students examine the story together to list the characters and scenes in the story then describe the visual details associated with each item on the list (is the dog blue? Shaggy hair? Short tail?).
  4. With that list, have students divide up the characters and scenes to draw/paint/sculpt (whatever the medium the art teacher is using at the time).
  5. Students will then begin creating individually those items they claimed from the list.
  6. Regularly stop students (as often as is appropriate) to have them share their progress with their group and give each other feedback. What are they looking for?
    1. Uniformity (to a degree) in the way they are creating their characters and scenes.
    2. Representation of skills the art teacher has targeted for this project (shading? Color? Lines?)
    3. Consistency with the details of the original story.
  7. Once students in the group complete the characters and scenes, have students (or teacher do it for them) take photos (higher quality = better, so use ipads or phones with good cameras) and save them in a folder (like Gdrive or on your LMS) so they can access later.
  8. Have groups access the stored photos and storyboard their narrative (I suggest they do something simple like whiteboards or sticky notes).
  9. Once the narrative is planned with the visuals, begin the final product on Adobe Spark Page by uploading photos and typing narrative text in the desired sequence.

Other Adaptations

  • Simplify by giving every group the same story or a few stories from which to choose.
  • Collaborate with another grade level by having older students decide on the story and divide up the characters/scenes with descriptions (then later create the actual digital component).
  • Skip the Adobe Spark Page thing and do traditional Google Slides (not as visually stimulating but probably more familiar to students).
  • Have younger students from other classes write the story and older students in art classes collaborate with them to create the photo art.
  • Connect with classes internationally and have students tell someone else’s life story in this manner.
  • Pair the photo art project with a biographical or informational writing project in reading/writing class.
  • Pair the photo art project with a science or social studies topic.
  • Pair the photo art project with music class (probably a bit more abstract…).

In my experience, this is the kind of project that is never done the same way twice depending on your clientele, contexts, resources, community, culture… So find a way that works for you and yours and don’t forget to tweet your thoughts and progress with #elevateEDU!

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Zach Ripley

Author Since: May 31, 2017

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