A Day in the Museum

Welcome to the Salon des Beaux Arts, a model of integrated teaching and learning. When traditional subject walls come down, opportunities for learning expand. At the seventh grade Salon, students focus on the creative process. Using specific Impressionist and Post-Impressionist artists as inspiration, seventh graders create their own art, write in the voice of their artist, learn about historically significant movements, dialogue in the language of the artist, and present their learning to both peers and families.

Sounding exactly like every museum docent you have ever heard, one student described the work of Vincent Van Gogh to an audience at the Salon. She focused on the details of Van Gogh’s life, presented her understanding of Post-Impressionism, and interpreted examples of the artist’s work with clarity and depth. The stars, the crows, and the artificial light present in Van Gogh’s paintings were all significantly connected to his troubled life.

Another student read a letter he wrote in the voice of the artist, including details of his life and work. A Spanish language dialog took place in the Prado where students defended their favorite paintings. Two students wore “I (heart) Dali” t-shirts. Another student presented examples of the artist Joseph Cornell’s box constructions, including one of her own. In one room, a student wrote a Chinese language poem on the white board while another student translated it into English.

The Salon took place in seven different classrooms last Tuesday morning. Each location had a master of ceremonies and a delicious spread of fruit and cheese for afterwards. Visiting parents, grandparents, and Greenhill faculty and staff were entranced by the depth and variety of knowledge. Every single seventh grader had the opportunity to present some aspect of their work on this project.

The Salon des Beaux Arts features the very best of what we do here. The seventh grade teaching team collaborates across departments to add significance and depth to the learning. Student choice and creativity are highlighted by the many facets of each presentation. Because of the complexity and context provided them, students connect with the artists forever. Find any seventh grader and ask them about their artist, especially if you are in the mood for a thorough conversation on Magritte or Monet. You’ll think you are in Paris!

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