• Arts-Integration

    Trimester 2 (November 13, 2023 - March 1, 2024)

    As an arts-integrated school, our academic curricula are infused with arts content and practices promoting complex, multifaceted understanding. Arts-integrated lessons encourage students to play with content to create new worlds and ideas. In creating, students are also building stronger, personal connections to the curriculum. 

    The science of learning supports arts-integration. We know students learn best when they can apply new concepts and skills, and creation also sits as the highest level of processes that promote thinking and learning. When students are learning through art, they are simply learning better!

    There are many ways to integrate arts into a teacher’s curriculum. At AACA we identify three levels of arts integration that exist in a continuum: arts-enhanced lessons, theme-based units, and creative inquiry-driven lessons. One level of learning is not better than another, and the degree of integration depends on learning objectives. 

    In the classroom, arts-integration can take on different forms.  Preschool students explore the world through our Reggio Emila-informed, play-based curriculum. In second grade students learn about slow and fast land changes through music.  In third grade, students write and perform an original play about the causes and effects of the Great Chicago Fire. Eighth grade students make stained glass windows in preparation for Confirmation. All of these lessons are intentionally designed so that students creatively engage with their curriculum, and allow them to showcase their learning by creating something new. 

    Read on to learn more about how arts-integration took place in Trimester 2 and reach out to Becky Manuel, Director of Arts-Integration, for more information and ways to support the arts at Alphonsus. 



    This year our preschool teachers have been experimenting with Reggio Emilia-focused explorations of materials and art-making. Research shows that engaging with materials in an open-ended way develops students' senses of belonging, connections with each other, and their creativity. Recently, this included explorations of light, collaboratively constructed habitats built as part of their animals in winter unit, and collage artworks representing real and imaginary ideas that were part of their fairy tale unit. 



    In Trimester two, Kindergarten students learned about word problems in math class, as well as storytelling as part of their reading curriculum. Ms. Welser then tied these ideas together using drama, having students write short stories that represented arithmetic word problems, and then had students act them out!


    Grade 1

    First grade students have been studying place value as part of their trimester two math curriculum. As part of their “100 Days of School” activities,  students in Mrs. Freller and Ms. O’Gorman’s classes learned about the artist Vassily Kandinsky, and created cut paper place value artwork, where different sizes represented ones, tens, and hundreds. Can you read the numbers these students might be representing?


    Grade 2

    Ms. Joseph and Ms. Buhl’s second grade students have been learning about changing states of matter as part of their science curriculum. To make a deeper connection, the classes then studied the blown glass work of artist Dale Chihuly and created an artwork in his style (which also undergoes a change in shape)!


    Grade 3

    In third grade students learned all about the Great Chicago Fire in Ms. Haughey’s English and Social Studies’ classes. Alongside Ms. Welser in drama class, students created an original first-person monologue about surviving the Great Chicago Fire. Read more about this project on the third grade’s arts portfolio including monologues and original scripts.


    Grade 4

    Fourth grade students learned about Illinois history in social studies. To better understand how timelines are really made up of individual people and events, students chose one significant event or person to research. They created a newspaper article to summarize their learning and also cut paper artwork for use in a collaborative timeline. 

    Grades 5-6, Lower Middle School

    Ms. Brooks’ fifth and sixth grade classes have been learning about ancient civilizations. In trimester two, this included a deep dive into the Indus Valley civilization, a Bronze Age civilization in southeast Asia. For this arts-integrated unit, students explored the themes of trade and community by first learning about Indus Valley seals. These small clay tokens have been found throughout the archeological record of these peoples and are believed to represent different trade guilds and rulers. With this understanding, students chose a class guild animal and added details to make it their own. Students then learned about printmaking to transfer their design onto a foam sheet, which they used to make multiple prints of their personal seal.


    Ms. Sikorski’s English and Language Arts class worked with Ms. Manuel to visually represent themes from the book Out of My Mind. Students learned about the process of creating blackout poetry, where artists isolate meaningful words from pages from existing texts, and create images of significance around them. Students had a choice of several pages, and then used this process to create short poems with illustrations that represent big ideas from the book they had just finished reading.

    Ms. Tith’s 5th grade math students worked with Ms. Ryan to use digital art to learn about  multiplication, division, addition, and subtraction of decimals.  First, students completed a series of math problems and input their answers into a spreadsheet. Each correct answer displayed a portion of a pixel art image! Students then used their digital artwork as a preparatory cartoon for making artwork out of color pencil, oil pastels, and other drawing media.

    Sixth Graders in Mr. Piermattei’s science class worked with Ms. Kuzma to use dance as a way to understand energy and demonstrate what it looks like in a state of equilibrium. Structured as a partner challenge, they were asked to explore a variety of movements while balancing two straws between their fingers - without bending or dropping the straws!


    Grades 7-8, Upper Middle School

    Throughout Trimester 2, Upper Middle School students complete a number of arts-integrated projects across their academic disciplines including: 

    -seventh grades’ reenactment of the Stations of the Cross for their religion curriculum


    -Eighth grade students also explored and created stained glass windows as part of  confirmation  

    A new project was added this trimester to Ms. Demavivas’ 8th grade English/Language Arts curriculum. Students researched and wrote a paper about a youth activist who is working to make the world a better place. Students then learned about color symbolism and gelli printing with Ms. Manuel, and applied that to create a printed image transfer of that activist using gelli plates and symbolic colors.