Master of Arts in Teaching, 2013
School of Education
December 1, 2013
“At the School of Education at UC Irvine, I was encouraged to think outside the box to create a unique learning environment.”
Kelly Casassa is a 2013 graduate from UC Irvine with a Master of Arts in Teaching and a Single Subject Teacher Credential in Art.
Upon her graduation this past summer, she was offered a position teaching K-5 Art and Writing at a progressive elementary school in the San Diego area. As part of the school’s STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) program, Ms. Casassa joined a team of teachers committed to implementing 21st century skills. The school offers project-based learning to promote higher order thinking, STEAM for all TK-5 students (transitional kindergarten-5th grade), and Haiku as a meaningful instructional and communication tool. Students receive weekly enrichment classes focused on state Visual and Performing Arts (VAPA) standards and the integration of STEAM components.
Ms. Casassa, who has been given her own classroom, shared the following observations after her first three months of teaching:
Please excuse the noise and mess: My fifth grade students are being creative. Paint bottles, brushes, palettes, markers, colored pencils, poster board, HB pencils, erasers, books, and articles cover each student’s workspace as the students as a group are currently creating a community mural to be displayed outside of the school’s library.
Students are not just slapping paint on paper though. Each student has taken responsibility of his or her own learning by pairing up with another student to collaboratively research a profound artist. From da Vinci to Seurat to Hokusai, student teams learned about not only their artist’s contributions to the art world, but also the contributions their artist made in engineering, science, music, and other academia.
Through the practices of collaboration, creative expression, and critical thinking, students utilized the knowledge they learned through research to emulate their artist’s style in the creation of their own artwork. From markers to colored pencils to paint, student teams chose their own medium and are hard at work. After completing the artwork portion of the mural project, each student team will conclude the mural project by reflecting about the team’s learning in an informative/explanatory writing piece.
Visual art is not a hand-traced turkey; it is dynamic, inquisitive, and academic! When you walk into my classroom, it may be noisy and one might find it odd that there is no “front” of the classroom, but thanks to my experiences at the School of Education at UC Irvine, I was encouraged to think outside the box to create a unique learning environment in which every student is inspired to be creative.
I particularly would like to thank Dr. Kim Burge for her instruction and encouragement. During my job interview, my panel was impressed with my view of art education and motivation to create community exhibits and cross-content projects. Dr. Burge thoroughly prepared me with the tools and knowledge to become an art educator.