Getting students to learn through the arts

What happens when Beethoven meets Thomas Edison? The Hamilton Wentworth District School Board’s answer to this is Learning Through the Arts (LTTA), a series of innovative programs that combine core curriculum with art-based teaching methods to create fun learning experiences that encourage students’ creativity and self-expression in the learning process.

The HWDSB placed specially-trained Arts Educators in over 100 classrooms to create more dynamic learning experiences in collaboration with teachers and their students.  A grant from the HCF’s Edith Turner Foundation Fund has extended the reach of the programming to over 500 more students from eight high needs schools.

Music composition, poetry, dance and aboriginal drumming were just a few of the many arts activities that HWDSB students got to experience as they learned about environment responsibility, social justice, fiscal responsibility and more.

Students composed new music to express their thoughts on the health and restoration of the Hamilton Harbour and watershed. Through spoken word and dance, students explored topics on social justice and used choreographed movements to illustrate their viewpoints.

The Hamilton Community Foundation grant also enabled the introduction of two new programs:   Youth Empowerment Program (YEP) and the Music Champion program to HWDSB.  YEP  supports youth in vulnerable situations, using the arts to engage students experiencing learning difficulties.  Its impact is far-reaching, beyond just supporting the learning of core curriculum but also addressing critical social issues faced by these youth. Similarly, Music Champion is a program harnesses the power of music to teach math, science and language arts.

The LTTA programs prove that the arts and engaged learning go hand in hand. School-wide survey results showed 100% of teachers agreeing that LTTA lessons kept their students more interested and engaged. Additionally, teachers also noted that students with behavioural issues responded positively to LTTA programs.  Said one staff member, “It was an exciting program for the kids. Every single student loved what they were doing and when I talked to them about what they were doing, they were able to articulate the learning that was taking place in the classroom as well.”