A description and rationale for students, parents, community,
teachers, administrators, and auditors.
What is core?
Core is a student-centered, project-based experience that facilitates
a full range of learning styles, contextualizes knowledge and skills
to assure relevance and brain-compatible learning, and assesses what
is worth measuring. It teaches collaboration that rewards individuals
for what they know and encourages social skills and respect for others.
Core consists of arts and academics based work directly aligned with
an art-centered theme. It is the heart of integration for an entire
school. A framework of inquiry, know as the fundamental questions,
or FQs, guides the study to be deep and significant. Inclusion of
many disciplines through the five voices (artist, mathematician, scientist
social scientist, and writer) insures breadth of learning. Core is
a meaningful application of knowledge and skills learned in separate
classes and through guided/independent research.
Assessment in core is authentic, collaborative, on going, and holistic.
It has true value because students choose work that is creative, useful,
and relevant to them as individuals. Evaluation involves stages of
reflection by teachers and students. Clear targets, common to all
disciplines, are based on essential learnings (problem solving, communicating,
connecting, and critical thinking) and are shared at the start. Checkpoints
are provided to determine where improvement can be made and time for
revision towards mastery is provided. Students demonstrate where/how
they incorporate each discipline into their project in a reflection
paper.Integration of art and academic subjects is tracked yearly and
remains on file.
Why is core important?
The purpose of an integrated curriculum is to eliminate fragmentation
of a separate subject approach, to alleviate problems of relevance,
and solve dilemmas of overcrowded curricula with separate methods,
procedures, and assessments in each discipline. An interdisciplinary
approach builds life-skill competencies without regard to subject
matter divisions. Information is re-positioned and accessed when pertinent
to studies. Knowledge is not acquired as a collection of facts, but
in a context created by a theme or topic. Learning becomes about doing
something with/for it's own value. Arts projects have proven to be
an effective catalyst for integration as they provide a rich source
of meaningful themes.
A large body of scientific evidence shows learning is accelerated
by connections among disciplines. Experts in educational brain research
(Jensen, Sprenger, Sylwester, others) explain the biochemistry of
increased neurotransmitter flow and growth of dendrites in the brain.
Numerous case studies provide the concrete evidence of enhanced learning
in areas of investigation, analysis, problem solving, synthesis and
reflection when students study arts connected to core subjects (Davis).
Thinking skills, self-perception, and involvement are shown to be
significantly higher across science and the humanities among students
who study arts (University of Maryland study).
In addition, graduates of VSAA provide a testimony to the value of
the learning environment and structure of core. Students have high
test scores and are successful in college and work environments. Individuals
speak willingly of their love of integrated project learning and the
high degree of preparedness it gives them for post graduation years.
The following links allow you to view the full documents
in either pdf format or microsoft word documents.
What is Core?