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Rockwood Fine Arts Teachers Connect Students through Creativity, Choice-Based Projects

Rockwood elementary music teacher Katie Brown poses with three of her students in her classroom.Ellisville Elementary music teacher Katie Brown and Rockwood South Middle art teacher Ashley Harper both strive to engage their students through creative arts education.

Brown, who connects literacy to music, is often looking to involve her students in creative lessons.

Last week, Brown’s students learned a poem and then added their own creative twist to it by adding movement. First-graders focused on using word imagery to create their movement for the poem, "Rain on the Green Grass." Second-graders focused on the ways different types of movement can illustrate a poem.

“Literacy and music are interwoven in so many ways, particularly through poetry, and poems are such an excellent vehicle for learning rhythmic fluency, expressive speech and social communication,” Brown said. “It is essential that students are given frequent opportunities for creativity and self-expression, and arts classes are the perfect avenue for that.”

Students in Harper’s art classes will be working on a choice-based unit for the next two weeks.

The Choice Project is a unit that gives students the opportunity to find a personal connection to what they are making. In this unit, students choose a theme, the materials they want to use and the process to make their artwork. Drawing, painting, sculpting, digital art and papier-mâché are all areas where students can discover their own style.

Rockwood South Middle art teacher observes one of her students as she works on a project.“I am very excited to see the students express a deeper message in their art during this unit,” Harper shared. “Choice-based projects are very important for student’s growth in finding their personal art style. The students are able to find a passion in what they are making because they are allowed to express themselves in a way unique to them. I hope this unit helps students find the process and materials that fit their style, and I want them to be inspired by artists they research and also to inspire others with their own artwork.”

As Rockwood celebrates National Arts in Education week, Sept. 13-17, Coordinator of Fine Arts Megan Meier is supportive of our fine arts educators, such as Brown and Harper, who are thinking outside the box to create profound lessons for students.

“There is a great deal of excitement in the Fine Arts Department as we are able to return to offering many of the arts education experiences that are points of pride for our district,” Meier shared. “Performing in a play, having artwork displayed in an art show and competing at music festivals are meaningful experiences that continue to impact students' lives long after they graduate.”

Meier said the district will make modifications to arts programming as needed for health and safety as we continue to offer a rich arts culture within our school communities.

Learn more about our Fine Arts program.