With the “AIM” of helping teachers find more joy in the classroom through art, Arts Integration Menomonie partnered with the School District of the Menomonie Area and University of Wisconsin-Stout to offer a free Fine Arts Camp for elementary students this past summer.
Ten art education students co-taught with school district mentor teachers for the weeklong camp, which was held at River Heights Elementary, July 26-30.
Art education students who worked at the camp were: Olivia Bonlander, Chilton; Jackson Gardner, Eau Claire; Paige Hansen, Farmington, Minn.; Hannah Heimer, River Falls; Holly Hopkins, Cornell; Lauren Landsverk, Minneapolis; Jacob Mazourek, Rice Lake; Benjamin Mohr, Appleton; Samantha Snyder, St. Paul; and Hannah Waldner, McFarland.
"Children at the Fine Arts Camp got the best of both worlds – experienced and licensed teacher mentors and vibrant university students who are learning more about how to be qualified teachers,” said Ann Oberding, art education program director. “Collaborative, hands-on, career-focused programs like this help to create happy future teachers."
There were 125 first- to fifth-grade students who participated in the camp. UW-Stout and SDMA have partnered through the AIM grant for six years.
AIM Coordinator Nicole Cook facilitated the roles of mentors and students throughout the week. “The purpose of AIM is to help teachers feel competent and confident using arts integration in the classroom,” Cook said. “Often, if they haven’t been involved in the arts, they don’t feel comfortable using it in the classroom.
“The whole week was about the college students and mentors sharing teaching and classroom management skills and artistic abilities, while making connections for future student teaching or practicum opportunities.”
Collaborating in the classroom
Bonlander, a senior in art education, was paired with Shelly Duex, a health education teacher at Menomonie Middle School. They taught students to use acrylic paint, teaching them important skills, vocabulary and art-making techniques to use in their own work, Bonlander said.
“By working with an educator that was unfamiliar with the content, I focused on not only teaching the information in a fun and interesting way but also making the information manageable,” she said. “We worked on how to use the paint and keywords when working with multiple colors. We discussed gradients, tints, shades and tones.”
Bonlander then led the class through creating a painting and a step-by-step landscape using the art techniques. “I chose this project so that students could 100% feel successful in and confident with their ability to use acrylic paint. The landscape was a huge success and proved that the vocabulary we covered can be used in their future projects.”
As a health teacher, Duex’s main goal is to help students live a healthy life physically, socially and emotionally. She participated in the camp because she wanted to assist future educators with effective classroom management skills, she said.
“I also wanted to learn from the artist, so I can incorporate art into my health classroom,” she added. “Working with Olivia was an enjoyable experience because we both brought different strengths to the classroom, and we were able to learn from each other. It is also wonderful to meet people who have a similar passion as you do.”
Duex’s biggest takeaway from the camp was learning the importance of vocabulary when teaching a skill related to art. “Putting purpose and meaning behind an art form allows students to broaden their vocabulary and create a sense of worth with what they are doing,” she said.
“Focusing on arts integration is impactful because it is important to understand that art can be used as an aid in many different subjects,” Bonlander added.
Bonlander also worked in the STEAM and TEAM summer school camps. She will graduate in spring 2022 and hopes to teach in either middle or high school.
UW-Stout’s School of Education has prepared teachers and educators since 1891. It offers seven undergraduate programs, five graduate programs and post-baccalaureate educator certifications.