"I can always tell when a kid is excited about something from what a parent will tell me," says Erin. "And when they ask me questions about things like, 'How come he signed his paintings with just his first name?' I have to think, wow, that is a really good question!" Also, she notes, "And when they get excited, I get excited. I was looking forward to this particular unit [on van Gogh] because I had planned some things that I knew they would get into. The birthday party was my favorite part because we don't often get to do that." Jeff notes that these units lead toward partnerships that benefit the kids. "When what I do with literacy connects with art and music, it becomes more meaningful. When these subjects are fragmented, I've found that the kids are less invested. They are quite a bit more invested when we are doing something in literacy and they can relate it to art and to what they have just learned in music or movement." Even after something as difficult as his biography-writing assignment, Jeff notes, "When all was said and done, there were some definite connections made. You could tell which kids could do it and which kids were still learning more basic skills. And when they go to our library, and pull out a book on Martin Luther King, for example, and ask me, 'Is this a biography?' then I know they got it." Liv is also impressed by the capabilities of her students. "Working with children has been a unique experience for me, and I find it amazing when we do things that are a hit with the kids. I think it is the best part of my job when I can see a child learn from something. Even if we are just pinning a band-aid on van Gogh, it still comes with the lesson of who this man was. Also, in gardening I have found something that not only makes the children proud with accomplishment, but myself as well." This unified approach to the youngest of students has its proof in the payoff. Jeff agrees and notes, "These kids are studying Picasso and his Blue Period, and the kids know that 'This artist uses primary colors,' and 'This artist has heavy brush strokes.' It's amazing!" Erin concludes, "Art history at this age is not even a consideration in most people's minds, and I want to change that, because they are so capable."
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