Eager to learn, my 26 kindergartners are full of energy and excitement and ready to tackle the challenges of living in a low socioeconomic neighborhood in Anaheim, California. My students have a wide variety of learning needs. They come to school with speech and language disabilities and emotional and behavioral challenges. Some are dealing with homelessness. Two-thirds of my students live in a household where English is not their first language. Two-thirds receive a free or reduced-price lunch.
Even though they come to school with challenges, my students are still eager to learn to read, write, and meet the 21st-century skills of today.
Recently our school adopted the distinguished practice of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math). While this is an exciting change for our community, it does pose challenges as far as providing the students with the materials and resources needed to adopt this new distinguished practice. The students are eager and excited to delve into engineering units, and watching them embrace these ideas is exciting to me as a teacher.
Our school recently became a STEAM school. STEAM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics. The goal of a STEAM education is to teach kids to use these skills across the curriculum to become well rounded, creative thinkers and problem solvers. It is a very powerful and engaging school model and I am very excited to implement it fully.
As a STEAM school the district has supported my students with engineering units, technology, science kits, and hands on math materials, yet we still can't get classroom sets of art supplies in order to effectively implement the A(rt) in STEAM.
Currently if I want incorporate art into a lesson, I have to hope there is a bottle of paint available and that there is more than one color to choose from. Crayons are only replenished once a year and by mid year they are usually broken or lost. Watercolors, oil pastels, and paint brushes, are not available at all. Classroom sets of these art materials will make it possible for my kindergartners to explore a variety of art medians on a regular basis.
There are untold opportunities to integrate the A(rt) into the STEAM curriculum. Students will use water colors and crayons not only to create beautiful works of art, but also to explore the science of how oil and water resist each other. The oil pastels will be used to create gorgeous drawings of bridges on black construction paper in conjunction with our bridges engineering unit. The tempera paint will be used to decorate animals with 100 dots incorporating mathematics and life science. These are just a few examples of how putting the A(rt) into my STEAM classroom will make the students well rounded, creative citizens.
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