Thursday, February 13, 2014

Synergy between facts and concepts: Art & 1st Grade

First graders are learning the concept of purpose. In order for students to construct an understanding of this abstract concept, classroom teachers are working with the students on author’s purpose. During their Unit of Inquiry, How We Express Ourselves, students learn the different reasons that author’s tell stories (to teach a lesson, to explain why something happens, to entertain, to retell a real event). Through these concrete examples, students are able to develop an understanding of the concept purpose.

First graders are able to apply their understanding of purpose in art class when they read Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak. After reading the text, students create masks of the characters in the book. Most importantly, art teachers discuss with the students an artist’s purpose for creating art (to use, to learn, to show others). Specifically they discuss the reasons why they created the masks - to learn about texture, an element of art. Again, by learning concrete examples of artist’s purpose, students are able to further develop their understanding of the complex, abstract concept of purpose.

“To stimulate more sophisticated, complex thinking, we need to create a synergy between the simpler and more complex processing centers in the brain. This interactive synergy requires the mind to process information on two cognitive levels—the factual and the conceptual,” (H. Lynn Erickson, p. 10, Concept-Based Curriculum and Instruction for the Thinking Classroom2007, Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press).

Based on this story, ask:
  • How do you help your students connect specific, concrete facts to timeless, abstract, universal, and transferable concepts?
  • Do you find it is effective?
  • How could you reexamine your practice on creating synergy between facts and concepts to have a greater impact on their learning?
Share your thoughts and ideas by commenting on this post.

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