This Spanish-Visual Arts collaboration, based on the festival of El Día de Muertos (Day of the Dead), has its roots in faculty discussions on how to take learning for Middle School students beyond the dimensions of the traditional classroom setting. In this project students used Spanish in a comfortable, safe environment and worked on their unique artistic interpretations of the ‘Calaveras’ (skulls) while analyzing and considering the use of some of the traditional decorative elements.
This collaboration, from the perspective of the Spanish teacher, is an opportunity for students to practice all aspects of using the Spanish language as they also learn about culture and make cross-curricular connections. Moreover, students did not only have the chance to learn about common cultural celebrations amongst Spanish-speaking countries, but they also reflected on how art plays into celebrations from their own cultures and discussed the similarities they found.
The Visual arts teacher emphasizes that this collaboration is about integrating visual expression into learning across disciplines. Cross-curricular connections such as this allow for students to engage and challenge themselves to notice and apply their skills of visual expression in variety of real-world contexts outside of the Art studio. Combining visual expression and the study of Spanish language and its culture is an obvious opportunity for students to be intrinsically motivated and creative in their learning.
Another benefit of this project is that students with different levels of Spanish proficiency and learning styles collaborated, which gave them opportunities to practice their Spanish in a relaxed and safe atmosphere. The students, as well as the Spanish and Visual Arts teacher now look forward to showcase these ‘Calaveras’ and reflections with the ISP community. Take a look at the final exhibition of the Calaveras here.