Our school is unique in that we have a relatively large number of EAL (English as an Additional Language) students. One of the challenges, then, is incorporating language learning in a meaningful manner that also integrates well with the transdisciplinary nature of the IB PYP program. Recently, we've really started to look at the Artful Thinking Routines, part of Harvard Project Zero as a way to leverage language learning and also have students engage in a deep way with art.
Artful Thinking Routines are a way for students to respond to artworks (Responding and Creating are the two aspects of the IB PYP Arts curriculum that we assess and plan for). I've been having a lot of success with structuring students' engagement with artworks, adn really getting them to delve deep into what they are seeing. For example, the Colors/Shapes/Lines routine helps focus students' observational skills and examine the elements of art (color, shape, and line) and the influence on their response to the artwork. From a language point of view, we are finding these routines a great way to meaningfully incorporate language structures into the curriculum.
For our Junior School Arts Week, we decided that instead of an assembly that we would have all students experience reflecting and responding to artworks by their peers. We had a number of gallery and performance spaces set up around the school, and invited classes to view and respond to the artworks and performances using a number of thinking routines.
This afternoon of reflection and response to artworks and performances allowed us to introduce thinking routines to the students and teachers, as well as provide an opportunity to share in the creative spirit of our students.