By: Roser Salavert, Ed.D.
In today’s classroom environment – in-person, hybrid and/or online, keeping students motivated to learn requires innovative ways to foster their interest and resilience. The visual arts used with intentionality, in the way that Suzanne Demarco, a visual artist demonstrates in her webinars, is one of these motivating and powerful learning strategies.
Suzanne De Marco, a visual arts educator and author, incorporates in depth Visual Arts Education into the content areas by aligning it with the New York State Next Generation Standards for grades Kindergarten through High School. This series of five webinars are the result of the collaboration of the Fordham PDRC with the Learning through an Expanded Arts Program (LEAP), a non-for profit organization that as described in their website “believes in the power of the arts” and is dedicated to inspiring joy, hope, and resilience for children in a safe and creative learning environment.
In the webinars that we offered this month, participants engaged in art making techniques that:
At the beginning of a lesson, Suzanne prompts students to express how they feel on the Mood Meter designed by Dr. Brackett (1). The Mood Meter is a colorful grid that measures the energy of a feeling with coordinates that help define it. The version that Suzanne presented has divided the grid into small areas, each of them defined by a specific emotional word. So, when students are presented with this visual grid complete with emotional vocabulary, they are able to identify and express their own emotions. This reflection in turn, helps students ‘feel present’, and therefore ready to engage in the lesson, pay attention, participate and learn.
Visual Mapping: A Communication and Learning Tool A visual map uses drawings, lines and images to express ideas and concepts. And as Suzanne explained, visual mapping are organizational tools that foster creativity and motivate students to communicate in ways that support oral and written communication. In the classroom, she continued, a teacher could use Visual Mapping to create ‘a powerful way for students to look at this difficult year and see positive elements that can take forward” or, using the Year 2021 as the subject build a visual map that uses shapes, structures and colors to show students’ hopes and goals for the new year. To that end, participants guided by Suzanne learned to create a visual map by changing a 1-D word into a 2-D drawing.
Pop-art Book Making & Journaling Building on the first webinar, and after reviewing the value of a Mood Meter and inviting participants to use it to identify and share with the large group their current state of their emotions, the group actively engaged in the construction of pop-up books. In the words of Suzanne , they are a piece of art that makes a great tool for journaling in any content area and that teachers and students can reference on a daily basis and use throughout the year to enhance and reinforce their content instruction from literacy to mathematics and social studies.
Upcoming webinars with Suzanne Demarco Please join Suzanne Demarco as she continues to share her toolbox of visual techniques geared at activating students’ creativity skills to build their resilience and academic learning. Visit the Fordham PDRC website for details and registration links.