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Arts Integration

The kids have an amazing sense of wonder about the world they live in.
Art becomes a vehicle for them to show the world what they care about.

—Trena Noval, artist-in-residence


What is arts integration?

Peralta’s program is based on the idea that art can be used as a powerful tool for investigation, problem-solving, and learning. Our two Artists-in-residence, Trena Noval and Ellen Oppenheimer, work closely with classroom teachers to develop multi-layered projects that add new angles to the subjects they are teaching. Projects can be as simple as making wood-block prints of Mt. Fuji during a unit on Japan, or as complex as a year-long, interdisciplinary inquiry into the paper industry, waste, and recycling. When students create visual representations of what they’ve learned—whether it’s through drawing, painting, sculpture, drama, or film or even conceptual art—they must absorb and process the material deeply, and think about how to express it.

These projects have spurred some of the deepest thinking
that takes place in my classroom…Art is a perfect way for a young child
to develop critical thinking skills, to learn how to observe,
visualize, and act on their observations.

—Pam Lucker, 1st grade teacher and former dancer

Peralta students also have the opportunity to learn about different materials and methods during more traditional weekly art classes taught by Artist-in-residence Ellen Oppenheimer, a noted textile artist. They learn to understand and appreciate art during regular visits to the de Young Museum, through an ongoing partnership. These museum visits may, in turn, spin back into classroom instruction, such as when kindergarten students studied Papua New Guinean masks, learned about animal spirits, and made their own elaborate headdresses from recycled materials.

Teaching Stewardship

Ellen and Trena have built Peralta’s program around a vision of community and environmental stewardship—simply, teaching students to understand and care about place they live. Students explore this theme in many ways, including animated films on subjects like local history, bio-remediation, and clouds, public art like the original Peralta quilts displayed in hospitals, offices and airports, and building community connections such as craft project with seniors at a local day center.

It’s about the joy of finding something beautiful.
Or something that only they could make.
As the academic program gets more constrained,
it’s great to give the kids options that are more creative.

—Ellen Oppenheimer, artist-in-residence

Peralta’s program is based around frameworks developed by the Alameda County Office of Education’s Alliance for Arts Learning Leadership in partnership with Harvard University’s Project Zero. The three frameworks are: Teaching for Understanding, Studio Thinking, and Making Learning Visible. Read more about them here.