Enrolled in the Faculty of Education’s Exploring Arts Education Graduate Diploma Program in the Surrey School District, Karissa had the opportunity to use the Field Studies portion of the program as a testing ground for educational research and practice. “To help build community in my classroom, I chose to use collaborative art projects. My students created numerous art pieces together (paintings, Van Gogh’s Starry Night and a Van Gogh Bouquet) then initiated a grade 4/5 mural and a school wide popsicle stick community art piece,” recalls Karissa.
The students learned to collaborate and work together in creating each piece of art. Karissa discovered that the experience brought the students together and helped build self-esteem, cooperation, leadership, stronger communication, problem solving skills and ultimately, community in the classroom. The impact this project had on the students did not go unnoticed. “Students shared messages about building self confidence and self esteem, helping to improve relationships and develop problem solving abilities which impacted both the classroom and the playground, increasing skill development in social skills and collaboration, as well as generally bringing the group closer together as a community of learners,” shared Colleen White, school principal.