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Cross-Curricular Collaboration

December 18, 2013

ImageYesterday I visited Gretchen’s English 3 class, which was studying Mary Oliver’s book of poetry, “House of Light.”  Many of the poems mentioned works of art by Van Gosh, Michelangelo, Picasso and da Vinci – so she had John McGiff come to the double period to talk about some of the specific paintings mentioned.

What ended up occurring was a collaboration on many levels:

  • there was a collaboration of the written and the visual;
  • there was a collaboration of an English teacher and an art teacher, bringing two perspectives to a poem about a painting;
  • students were wrestling with words and brush strokes;
  • there was a collaboration between the paintings and the poems – there were two artists talking to each other;
  • and there was a collaboration between a whole book of poems and numerous paintings by a sing artist – Van Gogh – allowing the students to assess the meaning and artistry of a writer’s/artist’s oeuvre: the students had the chance to know a bunch of poems and paintings of a single artist well;
  • the students had the chance to explore how two different mediums made an argument about life, existence, meaning, guided by two teachers from different yet overlapping disciplines.

Let’s keep thinking about ways to collaborate, ways to teach and expose students to ideas from multiple perspectives, and ways to have students connect different disciplines, time periods and assertions together.

My thanks to John, Gretchen and her students for a brilliant 90 minutes.

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