Michelle Saeger’s second grade class at Belmar Elementary School is learning about the science of how organisms survive in different habitats — through art. Students were required to create a …
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Michelle Saeger’s second grade class at Belmar Elementary School is learning about the science of how organisms survive in different habitats — through art.
Students were required to create a diorama of their assigned animal’s habitat for the imaginary “Belmar Zoo.” The second graders created detailed, colorful dioramas, and they gained public speaking skills too by explaining to their classmates the details of their creations. The hands-on project proved to be a big hit for Saeger’s class.
The school still had the students learn in more traditional ways — they did research and wrote a paper on a certain animal. But Belmar students are beginning to learn in more artistic ways too.
“Our biggest win on this is engagement. They have been so excited, and they want to research, they want to write, and they’re taking it home and talking about it there as well,” Saeger said.
The pairing of research papers and dioramas is a form of learning that all of Belmar Elementary is beginning to use, called arts integration. Arts integration is a cross-curricular way of teaching where students engage in a creative process which connects an art form and another subject area, according to the Kennedy Center for Arts in Education. Belmar Elementary School will fully rebrand to an arts integration school next year, and it is asking the community for input on its new name. The school is hosting a meeting about the subject and arts integration at its library on Nov. 13 at 5 p.m.
“We want the community to come out, and we want them to better understand how exciting the educational model will be,” said Meredith Leighty, principal at Belmar Elementary School.
One reason why Belmar Elementary School’s staff is excited about arts integration is, because they are already seeing it help students learn. Second graders at the school were assigned to write a memoir, but before they began writing, they created collages where they chose images that represent feelings, or a time in their lives. Sarah Mcmahon, an art teacher at the school, said the collage helped students write their memoirs when they had writer’s block.
The school will have a grand opening to celebrate becoming an arts integration school next year. Leighty said the school is considering names like Belmar School of the Arts, Belmar School of Integrated Arts, Belmar School of Academics and Arts and Belmar Creative Arts. Despite becoming an arts integration school, Leighty said the school will still welcome all types of students.
Belmar Elementary School educates kindergarten through sixth grade, but this is the last year that it’ll host sixth graders. The school currently has 320 students.
“(Arts integration) is not just for high achievers, or low achievers. This is for every kid,” Sarah Strong said. Strong is the school’s PTA president, and her daughter is a second-grade student at Belmar Elementary School. “Belmar is a fantastic little school. This is a smart move for us.”
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