Editor’s note: Las Cruces Public Schools elementary school students are continuing to create beautiful and imaginative artwork as they learn online during the pandemic. This is the first in a Bulletin series that will feature art created by students from across the school district.
At Doña Ana Elementary School (DAES) at the end of October and the beginning of November, fourth-grade teacher Dominque Alston had students draw pictures of themselves as the president of the United States, including one- to three things they learned about the presidency in class. Students could also draw poster, make a flyer or record a commercial on video encouraging everyone they know to vote, Alston said.
“Teachers and students are experiencing a shared journey through online learning,” Alston said. “We are often trying to find creative ways to have students engaged and express themselves. Art has become empowering for young students to draw connections from what they have learned in the classroom transitioning into creative assignments, where students are allowed creative freedom to display emotions as well as opinions. Adding art into my fourth-grade social studies assignments has shown me as an instructor that students are very aware of life around them, and their art spoke loudly when encouraging others to vote or envisioning themselves as the president.”
Here are some of the responses Alston received from DAES fourth graders to this question: What message did you want to get across with your art?
Nathan Ornelas: "It is important to vote with how things are going in the country."
Anthony Barela: "There are requirements to become president and I want to be a leader."
Nycholas Holguin: "You should vote because it is your right as an American."
Kyara Sains: "My art shows it's a beautiful day to vote."
“I believe that art has relevance to every area of study,” said DAES Principal Cherie Love. “It's a reflection of our history, culture and ideas. This year, DAES's focus has been on ways to engage students while they are learning fully online. As we pop into our teacher's Canvas (course management program) shells, we have observed great lessons integrating visual arts, plays, movement and music into reading, math, science and social studies. Art integration increases the depth of students' learning, improves critical thinking and problem-solving skills, develops creativity and imagination and enhances social emotional growth.
“Parent Involvement has been essential as students learn fully online,” Love said. “We have found that our parents have been more supportive when students are excited about their learning and want to engage in the lessons and assignments. When students use creative ways to demonstrate their understanding of a topic, the whole family often gets involved in the project.”
Love said Emily Bennett has been DAES’ art teacher for many years. Bennett also teaches art at Hillrise Elementary School.
Bennett “works closely with our classroom teachers to integrate the arts into all academic areas with an emphasis on social studies and literature,” Love said. “Students love creating projects and art pieces that reflect what they are learning and who they are.”