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Arts Integration

Studio Art Program

RHS has had a thriving Studio Art Program since 1998 and in 2010 became an OUSD Arts Learning Anchor School. Every student goes to the Art Studio for at least one hour per week for 32 weeks. The Studio focuses on principles and fundamentals of art and design and uses the California Department of Education Visual and Performing Arts (VAPA) Standards.

Studio lessons are integrated with classroom curricula and are grade, age, and ability appropriate. Lessons are carefully designed and modified to be inclusive of all students, including students with disabilities.

Lessons provide varied and dynamic experiences that promote skills, critical thinking, problem solving and visual expression.

Project-based Learning

Arts integrated projects are designed by the Artist-in-residence in collaboration with classroom teachers to complement the academic curriculum in Science, Mathematics, History, Cultural Studies, and Language Skills. For example, fourth grade students engage in a 2-month art and science exploration process where they learn about marine animals, creating 3-D dioramas and painting seascape murals.

Throughout their time at RHS, students develop and refine their art skills, steadily building their ability to express their thoughts and analysis visually and verbally.  With art integrated into their curriculum, students learn to see connections across disciplines and cultures. Working in the studio sharpens their diagnostic skills and ability to understand complex subjects. Making art that requires continuous problem solving and revision prepares students for future challenges in many fields, as do studio projects that are culturally responsive and respect student individuality.

Research-Based Instruction

We use best practices from Project Zero, the research arm of Harvard's School of Education, and other leaders in the field of arts integration.

RHS uses the following research-based thinking and reflection frameworks:

Arts Assessments

Throughout the year, each student maintains an art portfolio and a process journal in which they plan, revise, reflect, and sketch. Students take notes in these journals on field trips to local museums or galleries. The portfolio and journal provide a sequential record of each student's perceptions, growth and understanding and help the classroom teacher and artist to assess student progress.


Students engage in collaborative projects and linked learning that connect their academic and art projects at RHS with the real world. For example, fifth graders engage in a 22-week unit that explores portraits as a focal point when learning about art history, techniques and expression.  While studying and practicing a range of artistic styles -- including Realists, Impressionists, Cubist, Pointillists, Futurists, Abstract, Traditional African, and Contemporary - students learn about artists and their role in creating social change. Integrating skills and knowledge related to math, history, writing, social studies and art, the unit culminates in a collaborative grid mural of a famous person. For example, students have created murals of Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai and Scientist Neil deGrasse Tyson.

Community Art Events

The Studio Art Program also facilitates school-wide community-building events such as the 2014 exploration of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Family Art Nights, the Cultural Heritage Learning Exposition, Dia de los Muertos celebration, murals, and other events where parents and children do art projects together.

Redwood Heights Arts Program
redwood heights students doing ceramics
RHS Students Making Clay Masks


What is Maker-Centered Learning or Makerspace?

We believe that kids learn best by doing.

RHS teachers are exploring new ways to do hands-on learning that emphasizes making, design, engineering, and tinkering. Research shows that Makerspace is a "responsive and flexible pedagogy that encourages community and collaboration (a do-it-together mentality)."

RHS has a large Maker Space in the RHS Art Studio with low and medium workbenches, tools, and raw materials. Several classrooms have built a designated Maker Space with support from families.

In terms of learning, creative and critical thinking are mental processes that are different yet inseparable. Creative thinking is the process of generating ideas/information (fluency, flexibility and originality) and elaborating on them. Critical thinking is the process of reflecting on the merits of information generated and forming a judgment about it to suit a situation. Both types of thinking are involved in creative problem solving. We believe that students need to manipulate their environment to understand spatial concepts.

RHS teachers have participated in Maker-Centered Learning professional development training offered through Agency by Design:

About Agency By Design

Agency By Design in Oakland

Agency By Design Professional Development Opportunities

"Our classroom has a culture where failure is a positive.  Making is such an authentic learning experience where students take charge of their learning, solve their own problems and share how they solved them. They create challenges like building sturdy towers from newsprint and creating super slow marble runs."- Theresa Sanders, 3rd grade teacher

Maker-Centered Learning Resources