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Lisa Ricciardelli reflects on 2012 National Art Education Association’s Annual Convention

April 12, 2012

I attended the National Art Education Association’s Annual Convention. The following 3 sessions proved to be most relevant to my work with gifted students plus the most thought-provoking and motivating in my experience at the conference:

1. Teaching with Artful Thinking Strategies: Developed by Harvard’s Project Zero – Through Project Zero Researchers I learned some terrific high-level thinking/questioning strategies which promote creative mindsets. Excellent examples can be found here. NOTE: I find these strategies from the webpage to be best for use with GT students in the elementary Art (and other subject) classroom: ‘Creative Hunt’, ‘Creative Questions’, ‘Does it fit?’, and ‘Options Explosion’. I look forward to sharing these and other constructive thinking strategies with colleagues.

2. Fusing Brain-Based Teaching, Training, and the Visual Arts: A K-12 Case Study: Developed by the Center for Transformative Teaching & Learning – In this session we explored the question, ‘How do students best learn?’ Through educational neuroscience we know that teachers must tactically incorporate understanding of various learning modalities and incorporate multisensory learning into the curriculum for students to best learn. Arts participation has been consistently linked to better academic performance. This is largely because the Arts are inherently multisensory and do uphold diverse learning modalities. The arts can enhance spatial reasoning, attention, thinking habits, motivation, and collaboration. Arts activities naturally incorporate factors that are known in cognitive psychology to improve long-term memory for information, rousing active retrieval of factual knowledge.  The following books are highly praised publications presented to us in this seminar on the topic of educational neuroscience:

3. Creative Classroom: A Professional Development Program Focused on Creativity and Thinking – This seminar provided strategies to ignite creative and critical thinking, paying close attention to cultural forces found in classrooms. We focused on the inquiry process, the role of creative and critical thinking, and successful  innovative teaching practices. The importance of establishing a collaborative culture in the school was emphasized in this lecture and I found it particularly helpful to my role as Art Specialist working with gifted students.

Better education is cumulatively co-produced over time by a variety of experts contributing to an evolving method. Therefore it is essential that teachers work together toward goals for instruction while students also collaborate in order to facilitate better learning. Research indicates that the needs of students who are gifted can be met in the inclusive classroom if the students are appropriately grouped and teachers balance instructional strategies to the specific learning needs of the students.

Collaborating with our campus GT specialist in order to ascertain information on students in the program, in addition to sharing ideas for the Art and GT classrooms is vital to student success. I’ve gathered  many creativity exercises and hands-on art activities that could certainly contribute to the learning of students in our GT program here in CISD… some of which I picked up from this NAEA 2012 conference.

Lisa Ricciardelli

Art Teacher

Austin Elementary

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