Art teacher draws from all subjects CARROLL COUNTY EDUCATION

CREATING A WEB OF KNOWLEDGE

November 09, 1992|By Anne Haddad | Anne Haddad,Staff Writer

When art teacher Linda Nordling was looking for a way to draw in her students, along came a spider.

She learned that the fourth-graders at Carrolltowne Elementary School in Eldersburg were going to be reading "Charlotte's Web."

The benevolent, eight-legged title character offered just the inspiration Mrs. Nordling was seeking. Most important, she was able to extend a theme from the students' classwork, a trend more educators are following.

Mrs. Nordling, in her 22nd year of teaching in Carroll County, wonders why she didn't integrate her art lessons with other subjects earlier. A few years ago she started asking other teachers for schedules of themes they would be studying to use in art lessons.

When students studied Indians in social studies, for example, she taught them about weaving.

"One of the big reasons for doing this is that it shows a connection between art and life," Mrs. Nordling said. "You can also reinforce in each other's class what they learn in other areas." "It makes so much sense, I can't see in the past how you could not have done it," she said.

When Mrs. Nordling introduced the spider unit, the classroom discussion sounded more like science than art. Especially when fourth-grader Lisa Wentz informed her art teacher that she had a pet tarantula she'd be willing to bring to school.

Lisa brought the large, hairy, but tame "Grinch," and demonstrated how he crawled up her arm. Grinch even offered a few strands of silk from his spinnerets.

But if the students were to make spiders out of papier-mache, would have to learn a few things about the arachnids, that include mites, ticks and scorpions.

"Arachnophobia," said Brian Roos, son of Mona and Rick Roos of Sykesville, making a connection with a popular film of a few years ago.

Brian, like some other students in the class, preferred to make up his own spider instead of choosing an species to duplicate.

Mrs. Nordling allowed the children latitude, as long as their final creations had the features that all spiders share: two body sections and eight legs; one to four pairs of eyes; and spinnerets that produce silk, even though not all of them spin their silk into webs.

"They sit there until their food comes to them, and then they jump out at it," said fourth-grader Josh Metzger, son of Kenny Metzger and Joanne Marchak of Eldersburg.

One spider that ambushes its prey is the thomisus onustus, which fourth-grader Jennifer Sheffer chose to duplicate for her art project.

"It's a crab spider, and it doesn't make webs," said Jennifer, daughter of Donna Sheffer and Edward Spindler of Sykesville. Instead, the bright yellow arthropod camouflages itself on a like-colored flower and waits for a honeybee.

Carrying on the theme of integration, all art, music and physical education classes include special education students along with other pupils.

One boy who has Down's syndrome took part in Mrs. Nordling's question-and-answer session.

"Eat flies," he said, after raising his hand to answer Mrs. Nordling's question on what spiders do.

Fourth-grade teacher Kris Tyssowski decided to expand even more on the spider theme than just reading "Charlotte's Web."

Mrs. Nordling had the students make up crossword puzzles about spiders, which required them to do research to find facts about arachnids.

"This turned into a non-fiction exercise as well," she said.

She also reminded them that E.B. White, in writing "Charlotte's Web," had to do a little research and observe spiders to make sure that what he wrote was authentic.

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