Magazine article School Arts

Community Art Projects

Magazine article School Arts

Community Art Projects

Article excerpt

I'm a great believer in the value of collaborative art activities. I like providing meaningful opportunities for students to work together on common goals while simultaneously developing a sense of belonging in their families, school, and community.

To that end, when I taught middle school in Louisiana, my students designed and painted murals based on Louisiana subjects and symbols, floor to ceiling, on all the major walls of the cafeteria. Though the project took three years to finish--much longer than I had anticipated--we managed to finish with few spills and no accidents involving ladders. The students, who volunteered to paint the mural outside of class time, all signed their names to the walls.

In my current school in Texas, my fourth graders just completed a clay tile mural, based on our state's subjects and symbols, which hangs at the entrance to the fourth grade hall. The tiles were glazed in a color to match the hallway walls and students recorded their names on their tiles with rubber alphabet stamps when the clay was still moist (alphabet macaroni also works). Last year, all my students contributed to nature-themed tiles for stepping stones that now circle the small pond in our outdoor classroom.

Even though such group projects definitely require extra time and effort on the part of the art teacher, I think all of our authors this month would agree that the results are absolutely worth it--for your students, for your school, and for the larger community. …

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