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Cavallaro incorporates art integration teaching methods

Inspiring kids and building relationships are two reasons Marie Cavallaro likes teaching elementary students. Cavallaro is a new third-grade teacher at McAuliffe Elementary this year.

Last year, Cavallaro spent the year teaching fourth-graders at Doral Academy in Las Vegas, Nevada. She was recruited during a job fair at the College of Saint Benedict, where she graduated with a K-6 teaching degree.

Cavallaro said the Las Vegas school had an emphasis on arts integration so she became trained in those strategies and techniques. She said she is trying to find ways to incorporate that knowledge into her classroom at McAuliffe. One teaching technique in particular she uses in the classroom this year is called Tableaus.

“It’s kind of like a frozen picture,” Cavallaro said.

The students get together in groups and Cavallaro will give them a vocabulary word where they will then have to pose in a way that the rest of the class can pick out what the word may be. An example using the word “desert,” might involve students posing by fanning their face, drinking some water or fainting.

Cavallaro said the kids ended up loving the teaching technique.

“They loved it so much, they wanted to do it for their extra recess,” Cavallaro said.

Although she incorporates activities and games into her classroom, Cavallaro said she still holds her students to a high standard and incorporates responsibility. She said she treats her third-graders as if they are older than they are by setting expectations. For example, the fourth-graders walk quietly in the hallways, so the third graders should too.

The third-graders also have first-grade buddies that they meet with once or twice a month. Cavallaro said she is teaching the third-graders to be role models for those younger buddies.

She even incorporates a teacher’s assistant into their routine.

“They know that if they are the TA, they have to be on their game listening the entire day because they’re going to be the person that people go to for help,” Cavallaro said.

In addition, Cavallara relies on the iKids, the students responsible for technology in the classroom, to figure out what the problem is when there is an issue with an iPad, an app or other form of technology.

Even with those high standards of responsibility, Cavallaro makes sure her students have good self-esteem by doing weekly affirmations.

“The best part of my job is building that relationship with kids, it really is, so building that one-on-one connection and that relationship with them where they know that our classroom is a safe place,” Cavallaro said.

Every week the students pick a name out of a hat and have to write three things about that person that they like. For example, it could be “you are kind,” “you are a hard worker,” or “you’re a good listener.” Cavallaro said this technique is a great way to increase personal self-esteem in the students.

Cavallaro said she is excited to continue learning throughout the year and incorporating more art integration methods and techniques into her teaching.

Michelle Wirth

Michelle Wirth graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire in 2013 with a degree in journalism and web design. She worked as a web content editor for a trade association before coming to the Hastings Star Gazette in 2016.

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