Kent School Inspires Deeper Learning with Cross-Curricular Instruction
Teachers at Kent School have fully embraced the enhanced teaching and learning opportunities that come from cross-curricular instruction. Inspired by the professional learning done with Mind, Brain and Education Science in conjunction with the Center for Transformative Teaching and Learning, Kent School teachers understand the power of introducing, teaching and assessing students across different subject areas. Two recent projects illustrate the depth of student understanding when students can study one topic in different classes.
Middle School History and Literature curricula have been linked for many years. Literature is selected based on the period of history covered in each grade. Eighth grade students explore Twentieth Century American History and in literature they read Twentieth Century American writers. Eighth Grade students recently completed John Steinbeck’s The Pearl. In addition to classroom discussion and assignments based on their reading the students were challenged to show deeper understanding of the novel through Art and Science.
Middle School Science teacher Hannah Richardson was able to interweave prior knowledge of oyster anatomy and life cycle to give the students a broader understanding of the story. In Art, teacher Pat Parkhurst incorporated The Pearl into two lessons. First, students honed their oil pastel drawing skills by drawing a detailed oyster shell. Secondly, Parkhurst asked her students to choose and recreate a meaningful scene from the novel in silhouette form. Eighth Grade Language Arts Teacher Liz Filler remarked, “The students really impressed me with their silhouettes. They were able to incorporate so much of the story’s symbolism into their artwork. It was truly gratifying to see this deeper understanding of the subject through these different classes.”
More recently, Fifth Grade students combined Science, Art and community service. In Science class, the Fifth Grade is currently studying fresh water movement within a Chesapeake Bay Studies lens. Connecting the lesson in Art class, the students created stencils of several different species that live in local waterways. With stencils in hand the students went downtown to paint the images around local storm drains. The students used Rainworks paint so the images will only appear when it rains. Pedestrians throughout Chestertown will have a visual understanding that everything going through our storm drains ends up in our waterways and effects the species living there. Hannah Richardson said, “This is a great stepping stone towards becoming a Chester Tester and understanding of how human activity affects water paths and water quality.”
Art Teacher Parkhurst said, “I want students to understand that they can create art that makes a difference or raises awareness. Making the species stencils and then painting the images on the ground gave the students a visual and physical understanding of the power art can have. This project, in conjunction with science and our commitment to Chesapeake Bay Studies at Kent School, was a perfect way to demonstrate that.”
Michelle Duke, Assistant Head of School for Academics said, “Teachers truly are brain-changers. I am inspired by our teachers’ creative use of cross curricular instruction for the benefit of our students. We are deconstructing silos and as a result our students are learning holistically. I believe our commitment to Mind, Brain and Education science is helping us educate children to be problem solvers who understand that the best solutions involve creativity and can be applied to real-world situations.”
Kent School is located at 6788 Wilkins Lane in historic Chestertown. Kent School serves children from Preschool through Grade Eight on its scenic campus on the bank of the Chester River. Kent School's mission is to guide our students in realizing their potential for academic, artistic, athletic, and moral excellence. Our school’s family-oriented, supportive, student-centered environment fosters the growth of honorable, responsible citizens for our country and our diverse world. For more information call 410-778-4100 ext. 110 or visit www.kentschool.org.