• March 6, 2018

    Streams second graders celebrate learning through performance

    Wishes A synergy is created when the academic classroom, art, music and physical education all intersect. For students, that’s when education is most impactful.

    Second graders at Streams Elementary School presented an interdisciplinary program about Japan and its culture on Thursday, March 1, 2018. The program, led by student teacher Alex Wing, incorporated social studies, English language arts, music, art and physical education.

    “Alex has a particular interest in cross-curricular projects and in finding ways to connect the music program to what is happening in the homerooms,” Angela Stevenson, art teacher said.

    A music education student at Duquesne University, Alex is completing his student teaching this semester with Jeff Leonhardt, Steams music teacher.

    “Cross-curricular projects allow the students to apply what they are learning throughout the day to a larger objective. These second grade students now have the capability to not only discuss the ramifications of music in Japanese culture, they will also be able to fit music, art, and dance into their studies of other topics,” Alex said. “Hopefully through continued use of cross-curricular learning, students will leave elementary school with an inquisitive perspective of the world around them.”

    Within the second grade curriculum, each year students learn about Japan and its culture. This year, they also spent time singing Japanese folk songs, performing a traditional mirror dance and presenting interpretive Haiku readings that incorporated reading, dance and an original instrument performance.

    “When I first began searching for ways to incorporate musical objectives into cross-curricular molds I looked at the IB curricular guidelines that outlined each grade’s overarching goals,” Alex said. “For second grade, these goals included the term ‘once upon a time,’ where students use stories to incorporate concepts from the classroom to the outside world. After speaking with teachers about what students were learning in their classrooms, Japan fit the story telling mold perfectly, and gave me enough room to fulfill the music curriculum’s goals as well.”

    As part of Thursday’s culminating program, students shared the legend of Tanabata, two stars separated by the Milky Way that are allowed to meet just once a year, on the seventh day of the seventh month. On this day, children and adults write their wishes on narrow strips of colored paper and hang them, along with other paper ornaments, on bamboo branches placed in the backyards or entrances of their homes with the hope that their wishes will come true.

    During art class each Streams second grader wrote his/her wish on a strip of paper. Mrs. Stevenson attached all the wishes to four sticks – one for each class. Wishes ranged from finding cures for cancer and diabetes to stopping littering to filling the world with kindness.

    For students who would like the opportunity to extend their knowledge of Japan and its culture further, Stephanie Kellner, Streams Elementary librarian, created a collection of a dozen or more books for students to select.

    While the second grade classrooms came together for a combined performance, cross-curricular connections are made regularly throughout all grade levels.

    “Although the other classes did not give performances at the end of their lessons, each grade used cross-curricular connections in their learning,” Alex added. “One example is fourth grade, where the students are working on projects for charitable groups in their classrooms. In a conceptual sense, the Underground Railroad unit in music class taught students how to help others by using music to communicate.”