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Blog: Thursday, January 18th, 2018

Learning through an Integrated Arts Pedagogy

At ASIA Sumas Secondary, we are committed to developing artistic habits of mind such as exploring and creating, reasoning and reflecting, communicating and documenting, and connecting and expanding. Our students experience their learning through an integrated arts pedagogy. So, what exactly does this look like at our school?

First, students are learning skills and techniques vital to a variety of different art forms. This learning is accomplished in a community where creativity is supported and risk taking is modeled. All teachers at ASIA Sumas are artists with Fine Arts degrees and/or a great deal of artistic training. Many of the teachers continue to create and perform in life outside school, as do many of our current and former students. There is a high expectation for our students to perform or present their art publically. Visual and digital artwork is also on display to support the performers. Every year, ASIA Sumas hosts an all-arts Remembrance Day Ceremony, Christmas Show, and our year-end Exhibition of Learning and the Arts. Our Fine Arts students have the opportunity to perform multiple times each year in coffeehouses, festivals, arts-specific shows such as a Jazz Gala, Dance Shows, Art Shows, Drama and Musical productions, and Poetry Slams, to name just a few. In September, our students attended the Vancouver Art Gallery to observe the Claude Monet Exhibition to inform this year’s theme of “Journey”. Later this year, our Music Students will be performing in Victoria, and another group of students are off to London, England to experience the Globe Theatre and other well-known arts’ sites.

As our students learn their academic subjects, they are encouraged to communicate and document their learning through a variety of the arts, carefully structured by their teachers. The arts that students explore provide room for collaboration and permit students to reflect on their learning and growth areas in powerful individualized ways. As Grade Nine Science students learned about circuitry, their final assessment was to design an art piece using circuitry and lights to enhance their models or paintings. Students created paintings, flower bouquets, a mini fridge, and model vehicles that drove and had headlights! They reflected on their own work as they did a Gallery Walk of their classmates’ scintillating creations.

Biology 12 students have created and performed rap songs to demonstrate their understanding of the respiratory system. PreCalc 11 students created art pieces from mathematical formulas using the x,y vertices. Grade 10 Math students designed and built 3D figures using their knowledge of geometry. Socials 11 student designed, created and presented works of art in many mediums (paint, pastels, fabric, string, cardboard, musical compositions, etc.) as a final assessment of the Big Ideas in the course.

Some of the richest experiences our students have are the collaborative, cross-subject, cross-arts projects. Often we bring in an artist-in-residence, a highly skilled expert from the community, to work closely alongside students and teachers.  

Our goal at ASIA Sumas is to build a rich learning environment for students in which they can become critical thinking, multifaceted artists and learners, able to collaborate and communicate their ideas with others, and connect their art skills to the real world.  It seems to be working.  Our recent Grads have been accepted into Engineering, Medical Bioengineering, Astrophysics, as well as Fine Arts Programs in various universities.

Principal, ASIA Sumas Mountain