Interdisciplinary Connections

Editor’s Letter: Interdisciplinary Connections

By Nancy Walkup, posted on Oct 4, 2023

As an elementary art teacher, I was always curious about what interdisciplinary connections I could make in the art room. An art-centered interdisciplinary focus provides students with opportunities to solve problems and make meaningful connections within the arts and across disciplines. These critical thinking skills naturally cross curricular borders and positively impact learning between and among content areas.

SchoolArts magazine, The Interdisciplinary Connections Issue, November 2023, Editor's Letter
Nancy inside the Dwan Light Sanctuary at the United World College-USA in Montezuma, New Mexico. The sanctuary was designed by Virginia Dwan (conceptualizer and funder), Charles Ross (solar spectrum artist), and Laban Wingert (planner-architect), with some definite interdisciplinary connections! Photo by Jean Crawford.

Art is always central—a bridge that unites content areas in meaningful ways. Seamlessly integrating content into cross-curricular, art-based experiences just makes sense.

It is easier to collaborate with classroom teachers at the elementary level because of scheduling and other factors, but it can be done at every level. At the beginning of the school year, I would invite classroom teachers to share with me what they would be teaching throughout the year. They didn’t all respond, but I tried to work with the ones who did.

I would search my art lessons for natural and logical connections. Art lessons that encompassed science and math connections were some of my favorites. Even just using a shared vocabulary makes an impact on student learning.

You don’t necessarily have to collaborate with another teacher to develop your own art lessons with interdisciplinary connections. Our authors this month share a wide variety of interdisciplinary studio lessons that are meaningful and engaging.

In This Issue
At the early childhood level, Sue Liedke shares “Space Explorers” (p. 34), an engaging science connection with a classroom teacher. Young students create space suit helmets and souvenir photos of their imaginary journeys through the solar system.

In “Under Construction” (p. 17), Jane Montero’s elementary students use architectural principles in a cardboard construction project that includes layering cardboard and painting with acrylics.

Middle-school teacher Krissy Ponden’s “Rethinking Radial Balance” (p. 22) is a mashup of multicultural and contemporary views of symmetrical balance, math concepts, and cut-block printmaking.

“Light the Dark” (p. 29), Monique Dobbelaere’s high-school lesson, explores scientific concepts of black light in bioluminescent beach drawings and fluorescent watercolor.

What engaging interdisciplinary connections will you and your students explore?

View this article in the digital edition.