MERCED -- Prevalent thinking among students is the courses they take don't have any connection with each other. A pilot program launched this fall at Golden Valley High School has linked English and art classes, and this subject matter collaboration is likely to grow.
Thirty juniors are taking an English class in American literature during their sixth period and an art elective in the seventh period. Poems, short stories and other literary forms come to life as the students illustrate what they have learned.
Christy Lobao, Golden Valley associate principal for guidance, said English and art fit well. Future linked subjects could involve math with marketing and fashion design or math and accounting classes.
"The overall program linking classes provides rigor and relevance to learning," Lobao said. "The goal is to create meaningful connections for them. Students get excited when they see what they learn in one class applies to others."
Angel Rodriguez teaches the English class. He said the linked classes create a continuity for students so they are not receiving isolated instruction.
"The times we have created linked lessons I've noticed that they are more engaged and have more to contribute. So far they (students) are pretty psyched. They are very hands-on and are more engaged, excited about it."
Rodriguez's students currently are working on Edgar Allan Poe's "The Pit and the Pendulum." They have written a modernized version, and in Gloria Vargas' art class they are creating a comic book version of the story.
In Anne Bradstreet's poem "Upon the Burning of Our House" students were asked to sketch four important personal belongings they would save if their homes were on fire, Vargas said.
"The sketch and writing prompt served as an anticipatory piece of what they were going to later read in their English class," Vargas said. "Linking the two classes enhances student literacy and it also allows them to express their ideas visually."
Lobao, who serves as the administrative resource for the linked classes, said students have more of a buy-in about what they are studying. During this school year, teachers are talking about how they can connect subject matter in quarterly planning sessions.
"It's a relatively new concept," Lobao said. "Teachers have not been asked to come together and share subjects before. The kids are excited about it and what they will come up with."
Future English-art projects will include character portraits for "The Great Gatsby" and linking satire with cartoons. The students will create a PowerPoint presentation on famous artists and write persuasive essays on why certain artists are the best for that period.
Rodriguez said the linked classes are a different approach to education. Students aren't used to one teacher knowing what another teacher is doing. It's all part of getting students prepared for the real world.
"Ultimately, it will be great for the kids," Rodri-guez said.
Student Chayeng Lee said the English-art cooperation on group projects spices things up and makes it fun.
"Art is a very fun class," Lee said. "All of it has been interesting, so far. It's not hard and you really get to have fun with art whether you are good or not."
Student Quanryce Cook thinks the English-art collaboration is a great idea.
"I've never seen this done before, but I would recommend this to other art and English classes and look forward to more projects later this year," Cook said. "Most of the stories we go over in English tend to be very interesting, and being able to create artwork that goes along with what we read allows us to take initiative and sketch the story how we see fit."
Lobao said the school is exploring more partnerships between teachers of core subjects and electives, with lessons complementing each other. She said people in their jobs and social lives use many skills imparted from different classes.
The linked classes also will help students prepare for implementation of Common Core standards-based learning. In future years, students' literary tasks will be increased across academic areas.
"The first time we did this, it was like doing a magic trick," Lobao said. "The teacher wishes he had recorded the looks on the students' faces."
Student Susana Cortez also favors the linked classes.
"With this we are able to brainstorm more on our topics in English," Cortez said. "Working with art helps many students review what we are learning about because the images help many visualize and reflect on the main ideas."
Reporter Doane Yawger can be reached at (209) 385-2407 or email@example.com.