Akua Kouyate

Akua Kouyate

At a Congressional Briefing about the national dissemination of Wolf Trap’s Early Childhood STEM Learning Through the Arts (Early STEM/Arts) project—now in the third year of a U.S. Department of Education Arts in Education—Model Development and Dissemination grant—a District of Columbia Public Schools classroom teacher who had participated in an Early STEM/Arts residency approached me.

The teacher talked excitedly about one parent who came to her in tears of joy as she shared how her four-year-old explained to her that the sun does not rise and fall, but stays still while the earth orbits around the sun. The teacher also described how her children spent time in the dramatic play area of the classroom taking turns being the sun while directing their playmates and teachers to “orbit” around them.

What happened in that Wolf Trap residency that had such a strong impact on that classroom? I was able to see it myself a week earlier, when I’d visited the teacher’s classroom during an Early STEM/Arts session. This is what I witnessed:

Through the drama techniques of imaginary journey and utilizing sensory experiences, a classroom of four-year-old preschoolers prepares to embark on an outer space expedition. Before they leave, they put on their imaginary space suits, like the one that is projected on the big screen/smart board.  Read the rest of this entry »

Use Arts Integration to Enhance Common Core

Posted by Susan Riley On December - 20 - 2012

Susan Riley

These days, integration in any area, be it STEM or the arts, seems to be the buzzword to curriculum designers everywhere. There are so many resources floating around out there with the claim of integrating content areas. Yet, true integration is often difficult to find. Indeed, integration is a rare yet seemingly “magical” approach that has the capacity to turn learning into meaningful practice.

Which of course, as any teacher will tell you, is anything but magic.

Integration requires collaboration, research, intentional alignment, and practical application on behalf of the teachers who take on this challenge. From the students, integration demands creativity, problem-solving, perseverance, collaboration, and the ability to work through the rigorous demands of multiple ideas and concepts woven together to create a final product.

Integration is not simply combining two or more contents together. It is an approach to teaching which includes intentional identification of naturally aligned standards, taught authentically alongside meaningful assessments which take both content areas to a whole new level. Put together, these components set the foundation for how we will be able to facilitate the Common Core State Standards. Read the rest of this entry »

Unpacking Shared Delivery of Arts Education

Posted by Talia Gibas On December - 18 - 2012
Talia Gibas

Talia Gibas

When some brave soul writes an updated history of arts education in the United States (any takers?) I think he or she will describe the early-to-mid-2000s as an ambitious era. The arts education sector, mirroring the broader arts field and the constantly reforming field of education, is having larger and broader conversations about impact, outcomes, and sustainability. In the process it’s moving toward large and broader models of best practice such as the idea of  “shared delivery” (also known as “blended delivery” and the “three-legged stool model”).

Shared delivery has been in vogue for the last few years. It was a central topic of conversation at the Grantmakers in the Arts Conference in 2008. Americans for the Arts identifies shared delivery as a key component to a broader approach called “coordinated delivery”—which, in turn, was identified as a major arts education trend in 2010. My own initiative, Arts for All, upholds shared delivery as integral to the vision of ensuring high quality arts education for all students in Los Angeles County.

In the K–12 public school setting, shared delivery envisions students receiving arts instruction from three distinct parties: 1) generalist elementary school teachers, 2) arts specialists, and 3) teaching artists and/or community arts organizations.

Under this model, the three collaborate to provide visual and performing arts programs to children. The generalist teacher integrates the arts throughout daily lessons across subject areas, the specialist hones in on skills and content specific to his or her art form, and the teaching artist supports one or both while engaging directly with students and providing the perspective of a working arts professional. The model posits that each of these three roles is of equal importance…

(Editor’s Note: To read more of Talia’s post (reprinted here with permission), visit Createquity.com where it was originally published on December 3, 2012.)

Teacher Gets to Core Curriculum through the Blues

Posted by Jon Schwartz On November - 20 - 2012

Jon rocks out with students.

By day I am an elementary school teacher; by night I’m a wannabe blues musician. For years I kept these two callings separate, but with the Kids Like Blues Band, I found a way to combine my love for the blues and teaching.

By using blues music to engage kids in academic core subjects and the visual and performing arts, my students and I have discovered an innovative program that has brought endless creativity and excitement to thematic, standards-based teaching.

The gig hasn’t ended there though—we’ve taken our act on the road and performed at a street fair, a local college, and live on television. My students and I approach school with a sense of excitement and eagerness, motivated by the blues and rocking out each day!

In addition to having tons of fun, we’ve received recognition from the academic community. The U.S. Department of Education recently featured our work in their “Teaching Matters” newsletter, KPBS-TV did a feature on us, and several professors of education are using our videos to teach their students how to integrate the visual and performing arts into academic instruction.

Using Blues as a Thematic Teaching Tool

Wondering how this creative approach to learning works? Check out this video: Read the rest of this entry »

Is Arts Integration Working?

Posted by Ken Busby On September - 28 - 2012

Ken Busby

Earlier this year, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, discussed the importance of the arts to the overall education of our children:

“The arts are an important part of a well-rounded education for all students.  All of the arts—dance, music, theatre, and the visual artsare essential to preparing our nation’s young people for a global economy fueled by innovation and creativity and for a social discourse that demands communication in images and sound as well as in text.” 

He went on to say, “research shows that arts-rich schoolsones that provide opportunities for students to experience the arts in deep and meaningful ways and to make curricular connections with math, science, and the humanitiesare more engaging for students.”

And he referenced research that all of us in the arts education field have used for years saying, “We know that students who attend arts-rich schools are more likely to stay in school and go on to graduate from college.”

At the end of his comments, Duncan issued a challenge: “Now is the time to make the arts a vital part of a complete education for all students.”

Here’s the conundrum…

The U.S. Secretary of Education states what we know to be true. He states it with authority and without equivocation. And yet, we continue to see education budgets slashed year after year. And we continue to see the arts and art opportunities diminished within our schools in favor of more “time on task” for reading and math, and more testing. The disparity among schools is widening, with some really outstanding schools at the top, a few in the middle, and more and more considered “failing.” Typically, the schools with the lowest performing students are also the schools with the least amount of arts opportunities and integration.

What to do? Read the rest of this entry »

Common Core Collaboration Key for Fine Arts and Classroom Teachers

Posted by Amy Johnson On September - 11 - 2012

Amy Johnson

My school district is unpacking Common Core State Standards (CCSS) this year and I have endured many meetings and trainings on CCSS. There has been a consistent show of how Language Arts, Math, Social Studies, and Science teachers will utilize CCSS. Yet, there has not been one devoted meeting for non-core subject teachers about CCSS.

When I make inquiries about how I, an Art teacher, can meet the demands of CCSS, there is a typical comment about “modifying the standards to suit [my] classroom.” I find this inconsistency worrisome; the indifference means my subject is not viewed as important or relevant. Ultimately, that could lead to less funding and/or the eradication of my subject; I’m not about to let that happen.

I will let you in on a secret: CCSS presents a teaching philosophy closely aligned with most fine arts classrooms. The methods of CCSS rely on teachers working as facilitators as opposed to lecturers, stress the value of modeling over telling, and emphasizes valuable learning occurs when subjects are interrelated and meaningful connections are made. Art is not created in a vacuum, and we already know the methods CCSS highlights are valued when it comes to teaching; we have been teaching this way for years.

My classroom.

This leads me to believe arts educators have a lot to offer CCSS. The only obstacle between fine arts educators and quality CCSS integration is finding a way to bridge the gap between our subjects and core subjects. To put it another way, we have to find a way to get core-subject teachers to collaborate with us in a meaningful manner. Read the rest of this entry »

Defining Roles in Arts Education Delivery: A Healthy Discomfort

Posted by Talia Gibas On September - 4 - 2012
Talia Gibas

Talia Gibas

On my first day of my Ed.M program in arts education I was asked to reflect on a simple series of questions:

Do you consider yourself an educator? Why or why not?

Do you consider yourself an artist? Why or why not?

I’ve gone through a few ‘Nervous Nelly’ phases in my life, one of which coincided with my starting graduate school. These questions threw my ‘Nervous Nelly’ into an existential panic. It seemed crucial that I find a satisfying “yes” to both questions. If I couldn’t, well, clearly I was some sort of fraud.

At the time, that exercise seemed like a really big deal. Today, I can’t even remember how I answered the questions. My ultimate takeaway came later, when I compared my classmates’ reflections to my own.

I was one of a diverse group—classroom teachers, musicians, museum educators, arts administrators, etc. We had different skills, backgrounds, and inclinations that would lead us to go on to play different roles in the arts education ecosystem when our program was over. Whether we agreed on a definition of “artist” didn’t matter. What mattered was that we honor the broad and deep skill sets in the room and support and complement their differences.

My personal “artist-and-or-educator” identity crisis was an experience with healthy discomfort. I hope the broader arts education community can find the same in the recent white paper put out by the State Education Agency Directors of Arts Education (SAEDAE).

Roles of Certified Arts Educators, Certified Non-Arts Educators, and Providers of Supplemental Arts Instruction attempts to unpack the “shared delivery” model of arts instruction that many arts education initiatives, including Arts for All, state as their ultimate goal.

It describes strengths and limitations of the three key partners involved in teaching the arts in public schools—named as certified arts educators, certified non-arts educators, and providers of supplemental arts instruction. Read the rest of this entry »

Dr. Joelle Lien

Like in many other states, arts and education leaders in Utah are concerned that children in elementary schools are not receiving high-quality, regular instruction in the arts. As a result of these concerns, a unique and comprehensive set of arts education collaborations is taking shape in the state.

Due in large part to the visionary leadership and financial support of philanthropist Beverley Taylor Sorenson, partnerships between colleges of fine arts and colleges of education, as well as with the state office of education, school districts, and various arts organizations are thriving and growing at an amazing pace.

As a result of these collaborations, people whose paths may otherwise never have crossed are instead working closely together to ensure that Utah children receive an education that includes high-quality arts learning and art-making experiences.

Building Relationships

Faculty and administrators within and across universities throughout Utah are working together as never before, collaborating in planning, teaching, researching, community engagement, and advocacy. In March, deans of Utah’s colleges of fine arts and university arts educators met for a statewide “Arts Education Summit” to share successes at their respective institutions and to develop strategic goals for expanding and improving elementary arts education.

Out of that meeting came action items that included the development of a “wiki” for comparing arts education curricular requirements across universities, as well as a plan to expand the reach of the summit to include stakeholders in colleges of education. Then, in July, deans of colleges of fine arts and education met to discuss topics based the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities’ Reinvesting in Arts Education: Winning America’s Future Through Creative Schools report.

Topics of discussion included how university arts and education programs can: build collaborations, expand teaching opportunities for the arts in K-12 schools, influence policymakers to reinforce the place of the arts in schools, widen our research focus to include evidence gathering on K-12 arts education, and prepare pre-service teachers to provide high-quality arts instruction in their future classrooms. Read the rest of this entry »

Katherine Damkohler

Katherine Damkohler

When visiting a foreign country, you are expected to know at least a few choice phrases, if not speak the language. In addition, you need to know local customs, pastimes, and the economic/social contexts of its citizens.

In much the same way, a school’s arts partner must also be aware of the academic environment they enter, and understand the perspective of the faculty and students. Of course, as arts partners we have something unique and important to contribute to the school (that’s why we’re there, after all), but speaking the language and understanding the challenges of the school make the connections so much richer.

We all talk about the power of the arts to engage students. Engaging students is vitally important, but it cannot be empty engagement—they must be engaged in a way that inspires learning and connections across the curriculum. By speaking the language of the school you help the school’s mission and your organization’s mission simultaneously.

Currently, and in the near future, the dialog within schools focuses upon the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). The shifts that are required to implement the CCSS are vital for arts partners to understand. Read the rest of this entry »

DREAM & TELL!: Arts Integration Models at Work (Part One)

Posted by Merryl Goldberg On March - 15 - 2012

Merryl Goldberg

In considering quality, engagement, and partnerships, I’m really thrilled to be writing about DREAM and TELL!

Developing Reading Education through Arts Methods (DREAM) is a four-year arts integration program funded through the United States Department of Education Office of Innovation and Improvement: Arts in Education Model Development and Dissemination Grant Program.

Theater for English Language Learners (TELL!) is a multi-year project with funding this year from the National Endowment for the Arts, Arts in Education category.

Both programs are partnership programs involving school districts, a university, and professional artists. In this post and my next one, I will describe each of these projects. This one introduces DREAM.

“Some schools don’t have what kids need to enjoy school,” said Jordan Zavala, 9. “I used to have a hard time reading, but since I’ve been in Mr. DeLeon’s class I’ve done better because we act out what we learn. It’s really been fun.” (San Diego Union Tribune 2/10/12)

The DREAM program is a partnership of the San Diego County Office of Education via the North County Professional Development Federation, and Center ARTES at California State University San Marcos.

The program’s goal is to train third and fourth grade teachers to use visual arts and theater activities to improve students’ reading and language arts skills. Read the rest of this entry »

Where We Are & Where We Ought to be Going

Posted by Jane Remer On March - 14 - 2012

Jane Remer

In my first post, I suggested we needed definitions of quality, engagement, and partnership. I offered my thoughts on these three issues and left a “tentative conclusion” saying we probably ought to decide whether we as a group want to deal with the three “topics” together, or separately.

The posts from the other bloggers do both and so I have decided it’s best to follow my own train and offer a short list of where I see the field still stuck for answers.

I have no idea whether or how this will clarify or motivate collaborative thinking among us (a disparate group with very different agendas), but here goes…

In random order, here are some of the issues that have stymied us for decades:

1. Without committed classroom teachers and specialist arts educators as well as principals and their assistants, we (arts organizations, artists, consultants, et al) have no solid validity as partners in the arts as education.

2. Without the district’s or state’s education office heavily engaged, represented and fiscally invested, we have no chance, whatsoever, to build a growing and sustained constituency for the arts as education.

3. Without strong leadership and some attempt at unity and dialogue among the schools and the arts and cultural organization, we will continue to face the rather vast chasm between them as “them” and “us. Read the rest of this entry »

Alyx Kellington

Alyx Kellington

Okay class, please open your civics book to learn about the United States and its government. Now turn the page and we’ll learn about state and local government. And turn the page to find out about elections, parties, vetoes—Hey! Wake up! This stuff is important.

How does one engage a class of 22 seventh-grade students in a discussion of civics?

For the past two years, Roosevelt Middle School in Palm Beach County (FL) has been involved in an arts integration pilot. Resource Depot, a cultural organization that collects reusable materials from local businesses and donates those items to educators, teamed up with teaching artist Jennifer O’Brien, and social studies teacher Cierra Kauffman to teach civics through the arts.

Challenged with making the House and Senate relevant to her students and still required to teach the vocabulary and concepts of government, Kauffman had to find a way to reach the kids and get them engaged.

O’Brien needed to find the art form that would work with the subject matter and the pace of the students.

Together, they focused on one aspect of government and decided to make a stop motion film on “How a Bill Becomes a Law.” Read the rest of this entry »

Arts Integration Isn’t Enough

Posted by Katherine Damkohler On July - 6 - 2011

Katherine Damkohler

Integration across academic disciplines can strengthen a child’s learning. When teachers reinforce content through a variety of approaches it helps children retain information and fully appreciate academic concepts. However, one academic discipline cannot fully convey the fundamentals of another.

For instance, a History teacher cannot expect to effectively relate the scientific processes of an electrical current to students by teaching them the historical biographies of Nicola Tesla and Thomas Edison. And yet, many educators apply this approach of substituting subject instruction to the artistic disciplines.

I have seen too many schools refrain from hiring an arts teacher because they have been lulled into thinking that training a classroom teacher to integrate the arts into their lessons serves as an acceptable substitute for bringing a full-time arts instructor on staff. Read the rest of this entry »

ARTSblog holds week-long Blog Salons, a series of posts by guest bloggers, that focus on an overarching theme within a core area of Americans for the Arts' work. Here are links to the most recent Salons:

Arts Education

Teaching Artists

Early Arts Education

Common Core Standards

Quality, Engagement & Partnerships

Emerging Leaders

Charting the Future of the Arts

Taking Communities to the Next Level

New Methods & Models

Public Art

Best Practices

Evaluation

Arts Marketing

Audience Engagement

Winning Audiences

Powered by Community

Animating Democracy

Arts & the Military

Scaling Up Programs & Projects

Social Impact & Evaluation

Humor & Social Change

Private Sector Initatives

Arts & Business Partnerships

Business Models in the Arts

Local Arts Agencies

Cultural Districts

Economic Development

Trends, Collaborations & Audiences

Art in Rural Communities

Alec Baldwin and Nigel Lythgoe talk about the state of the arts in America at Arts Advocacy Day 2012. The acclaimed actor and famed producer discuss arts education and what inspires them.