The faculty of the Elementary Teacher Certification program believe that gifted teachers know how to create a classroom culture that invites children into exploration of new worlds. The Arts and Humanities are often the vehicles into these worlds. Students in the Arts and Humanities concentration take a shared set of core courses with students in the Science and Environmental Education concentration, and then specialize with a set of project-based courses.
All students in this concentration take Integrated Arts during the first semester that provides them with a grounding in diverse classroom media and suggests how the arts can serve as the glue that holds the rest of the curriculum together. Students learn the skills of printmaking, wire sculpture, and mask-making, and then create puppets and adapt a children’s story for an end of the semester puppet extravaganza.
Arts, literature, and humanities electives have included:
- Music Every Day
- Classroom Drawing and Painting
- Image-making and the Writing Process
- Creative Bookbinding
- Drama in the Classroom
- Poetry as Self-Expression
- Storytelling: Stories in the Classroom
- Sheep to Shawl
- Movement and Dance in the Early Childhood Classroom
- Children’s Literature and the Social Studies Curriculum
- The Dancing Classroom
- Circus Dreams
In each of these classes, there’s an explicit connection between learning the craft and then using the craft to integrate curriculum. For instance, in Bookbinding, students learn a variety of different techniques for making handmade books, from simple and doable by 2nd graders to elegant and sophisticated. Then there’s a focus on how using handmade books increases students’ investment in writing and formal presentations of their curricular work. In Sheep to Shawl, students learn the process of fabric production, from shearing sheep, to carding and preparing wool, to spinning, dyeing and then weaving. Then, the social studies and science curriculum content are elaborated — the history of agriculture in New England, the science of dying, the vocabulary development potential of all the specialized terms can all be the warp of an integrated curriculum unit.
By the end of the program, Arts and Humanities concentration students have a rich palette of skills that allow them to immerse children in classroom play production, storytelling and poetry reading festivals, authors’ teas, historical simulations and seasonal celebrations. These projects make the language arts, math and social studies curricula come alive.