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Artist in the Classroom at Big Park School


Artist in the Classroom project at Big Park school



 Jillian Ziebell, Summer Stewart and Christiana Benites with Nancy Lattanzi 


left to right; Ceci Estrada, Morgan Hawes, Asia Brown, Yvesche Schlee,

Natalie Grandaw, Savanah Cooper


             You may wonder, what is an artist doing in a science classroom?  Well, she is teaching students how to paint plant and animal biology through twelve geographinca eras of time so they can remember it better. That’s what!

Working with science teacher, Diane Schumacher, and Artist-in-the-Classroom instructor, Nancy Lattanzi, children from four different classrooms at Sedona’s Big Park Elementary in the Village of Oak Creek were guided into creating a time line of murals of animals and plants on land and sea so that each student could easily learn environmental history.

Now, explained the teacher and instructor, if you casually ask these students why there are holes on some of our Sedona rocks, they will tell you exactly what it’s from, how it happened, and in what time span.

It is a well-known fact that working with the senses, touch, sight, smell strengthens memory. Often memorizing scientific names and elements can be boring, but when painting a science scene, students become actively involved.

An enthused Big Park student wants to do it again because when she tries to remember something from a time period all she has to do is “picture the mural.”

“Learning in this way, gave me a whole new prospective,” said one student while another offered, “This really helped me understand how to put my thoughts on paper.”

Ms. Lattanzi worked with 100 students in groups of 10, explaining the eras which they would be working on. The students were partnered and asked to research on the computer, and look in the books, so that they could better understand the time line. Then using books opened to the different eras, they each drew what was in that era. They did this on consecutive tables so that they could walk the timeline and comprehends how it how it all developed. They created six murals, which are now hanging in the science room, and are a constant reminder of what they learned individually and accomplished as a group.

“The goal and purpose of this project for students was to reconstruct a visually rich representation of plant and animal environments that occurred through time. This process reinforced their science curriculum, giving them a hands on approach to study and create  geological details of evolution ranging from the Precambrian through the Centrazoic Eras,” said Ms. Lattanzi. “They also were asked to evaluate their progress by a follow up meeting engaging in discussion about what they created, was it accurate, and did it change their views.”

The Science teacher, Diane Schumacher, was amazed, “The only thing I would do differently is plan on more time, as I had not anticipated how involved and interested the students would become!”

The Artist in the Classroom program is is coordinated by Nancy Robb Dunst and is part of the Art and Culture department in the City of Sedona.

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