As an arts integration learning community, we will engage, create, and problem solve as cognitively active learners, using the arts to make connections and gain a deeper understanding of the world and our environment.
Potomac Elementary School is an arts integration model school in Montgomery County and is located in the Maryland suburbs of Washington, DC. Arts integration has been an integral part of the school curriculum since it was designated a model school in 2003. Through a federal grant, we were able to provide our staff with professional development in arts integration strategies and many arts opportunities for our students. The arts, including dance/movement, theater, music, and visual arts, have moved to center stage in our school and are visible from kindergarten through fifth grade.
What is Arts Integration?
Arts Integration is a teaching approach that incorporates the indicators of an arts curriculum as well as other content areas. Natural connections are made between subjects within lessons. Each enhances the topic. During a lesson, students learn about art forms(movement, theater, visual art or music) and content (reading, math, science, writing, and social studies).
Arts Integration Program
Potomac Elementary has a strong arts program, whose creativity is evident as you walk through the hallways. Classroom arts integration lessons are displayed in the hallways, showcasing how the arts are related to math, reading/language arts, and science.
Observing classrooms will also demonstrate the strength of our arts integration program. Art, for example, could combine science and visual art. Students in second grade learning about balance might incorporate science technology to create mobiles in art after learning about the work of Alexander Calder. The music teacher may work with a first grade teacher using musical instruments to teach punctuation, with each instrument being a different punctuation symbol. In another class, students could work collaboratively to create a tableau illustrating a poem. (A tableau is a "frozen" picture in which students create a frozen shape with their body to illustrate a person, place or thing.) In another class students might be create a mural based on the characteristics of tall tales and art elements.
Student-created "museums" are another facet of the arts integration program. Student displays demonstrate their involvement in the arts. Students develop a museum based on a content area--such as science--with studies of butterflies or the solar system. The resulting class work exemplifies how arts integration lessons support the theme of the museum. Students determine how the museum will look and install it at school for the rest of the student body to view. Students become docents in the museum, and share their knowledge with "hands on" activities for their peers. The opening night involves student performances that might include: dance/movement, reading poetry, singing and/or plays. The museums and their openings are a key part of communicating to the community about the arts integration program.
Artists-in-residence are also a part of the program. The residencies vary from poetry to painted murals and add a component to the program where students can work with poets and artists. Our partnerships with these artists have created permanent art pieces for our school, which enhance the environment for students, staff, and the community. There is a mural in the cafeteria, a structure in front of the school, and a mosaic collage in the school lobby. Students develop a deeper appreciation for art, because they are involved in the creation of permanent works.
Potomac ES Sculptures
In 2005, David Hubbard created a sculpture, Night Boat, at Potomac
Elementary School. The 20-foot-tall sculpture was designed by the artist
with input from the students that would encapsulate part of the spirit
of Potomac. The result is a a sculpture mixing aquatic curves and the
angular elements of the titular boat, a concept befitting Potomac’s
river setting. This project was funded by grant money from the Arts and
Humanities Council of Montgomery County and by a donation from Julie
Dobson, PTA President at the time.