Integrating Visual Arts into Instruction: Teacher Candidates Learn the Value of Artful Social Studies
Currently in the United States, the testing craze fostered by the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act has had the ultimate effect of taking the joy out of learning for thousands of students. Although there is research evidence that creating and analyzing art can both enhance learning and improve satisfaction among students; teachers, in an effort to "cover" extensive content, employ a more direct instructional approach that may not be motivating for children. The purpose of this research is to train teacher candidates to incorporate both the analysis of works of art and the creation of authentic art work into lessons for elementary students at Professional Development School (PDS) sites. In an effort to shift instruction from the current rote learning model consisting of reading the textbook and answering the questions at the end of the chapter to a meaningful, exciting, pedagogically suitable model, instructors of teacher candidates at Buffalo State College promote Social Studies Literacy through the use of a dynamic framework that connects social studies content with the visual arts. It is our belief that these future teachers have the ability to influence practice to create a culture of social studies instruction that is more meaningful and powerful. Sixty teacher candidates created and delivered lessons that incorporated the dynamic Model for Building Understanding in Social Studies (M-BUSS) using appropriate Works of Art at several urban and suburban elementary PDS sites throughout one semester. Following each lesson, questionnaires were administered to determine student and teacher satisfaction as well as perceived learning. Focus group discussions about the efficacy of this process were conducted with the targeted teacher candidates. Presentation participants will examine the implications for teaching and learning that the M-BUSS Model suggests. Additionally, we will be sharing the results of the classroom experiences of the teacher candidates and students involved in this study.
Keywords: Visual Arts, Visual Literacy, Social Studies Methods, Teacher Education, Integrated Curriculum
Dr. Nancy A. Chicola
Associate Professor in Elementary Education and Educational Leadership, Department of Elementary Education and Reading, Faculty of Applied Science and Education , State University of New York, College at Buffalo
Ms Barbara J. Smith
Lecturer in Elementary Education, Department of Elementary Education and Reading, Faculty of Applied Science and Education , State University of New York, College at Buffalo