Arts + Youth Development = Influence

Posted by Denise Montgomery On September - 15 - 2014
Denise Montgomery

Denise Montgomery

We know what quality creative youth development (CYD) programs look like through our own work, thanks to model programs, and through publications such as Engaging Adolescents, Something to Say: Success Principles for Afterschool Arts Programs From Urban Youth and Other Experts, and The Mosaic Model for Youth Development through the Arts. So let’s just implement the principles and increase the number of young people who are benefiting from such programs.

If only it were that simple. Read the rest of this entry »

Back to School Arts Education Checklist

Posted by Stephanie Milling On July - 30 - 2014
Stephanie Milling

Stephanie Milling

With the end of the summer rapidly approaching, it is time to start thinking about the new school year. Even though I have been living on an academic calendar most of my life, I never get tired of the excitement and exhilaration that accompanies new beginnings. As a college professor, the new year provides a time to develop an artistic and educational vision for the future and determine how I will guide students in their learning. As we wrap up summer looking forward into the fall, it is time to consider what should be on our back-to-school checklist. In addition to planning curriculum, it is necessary to consider the arts education advocacy agenda for the year ahead and our role in supporting its continued benefits to students around the country. Read the rest of this entry »

“This Must Be Your Down Time!”

Posted by Janet Starke On July - 29 - 2014
Janet Starke

Janet Starke

Raise your hand if you’ve heard this one. It is the inevitable statement that numerous friends and colleagues make to me each summer (most still trying to determine precisely what I do for a living).

“So, what do you do when school is out?”

“This must be your slow time of year, right, when the schools are out?”

Of course, they are well-intentioned and demonstrating genuine interest in our work and what we (actually) do, but the simple answer is NO! Read the rest of this entry »

Too Big To Fail

Posted by Erin Gough On July - 11 - 2014
Erin Gough

Erin Gough

One of the wonderful things about the annual Americans for the Arts’ Annual Convention is that the discussions held there reverberate beyond the days of the conference and beyond the people who were able to participate in person. As someone who was unable to attend, I was so pleased to be able read about, and dig into, some of the dialogues that were held last month in Nashville.

My interest was piqued when I read Devon Smith’s piece on the fate of failing arts organizations. She dives into a debate session held at convention on the controversial but essential argument that as an arts community, we too often distribute scare resources to keep struggling organizations on life-support when it may be more beneficial for the arts ecosystem as a whole to let them die gracefully. Read the rest of this entry »

Teaching Artists Help a School District Restore Arts Education

Posted by Erika Boardman Kraft On June - 18 - 2014
Laura Norman

Laura Norman

Erika Boardman Kraft

Erika Boardman Kraft

Can the work teaching artists do in school districts impact a district’s long-term arts programming?  Absolutely!, as illustrated by the Twin Rivers Unified School District in northern Sacramento, California.

Founded in 2008 when four districts merged, Twin Rivers Unified School District saw more than $100 million in state cuts during its first three years of existence. This exacerbated an already difficult situation for arts education in the district composed of primarily Title I schools.  Most elementary schools had no credentialed arts specialists in any of the disciplines. Middle schools had a few arts education offerings, often available only as electives, and the arts programming in the high schools varied by school, but did not come close to matching what more affluent districts in the region could offer or what the state mandates.

In spite of this, the district’s arts education leadership was determined to provide what arts education programming they could, using resources from the local arts community. They brought in programming from the region’s arts organizations, found grants to take students to arts events, and contracted with regional teaching artists for residencies and workshops. Read the rest of this entry »

Deb Vaughn

Deb Vaughn

Funders are increasingly skeptical of the impact that a short-term interaction with an artist has on students, especially those who may count those four hours as their only arts experience for the year.

But despair not! There are ways to make the most of those limited contact hours. A recent best practices sharing session of The Right Brain Initiative illuminated several ways to make the artist-student time really count. Read the rest of this entry »

Evolution of a Program

Posted by Rob Schultz On May - 7 - 2014
Rob Schultz

Rob Schultz

For many years, the Mesa Arts Center (AZ) conducted a successful program with Lowell Elementary, a Title I public school located in one of Mesa’s most challenged neighborhoods. The basic premise was to send a teaching artist to work with two grade levels, and introduce the students to a particular literary work. Those same students would be brought to the Center to view a live theater performance of that literary work created and presented by the Center’s in-house theater for young audiences program, at no cost to the students. Reinforcement of classroom teaching would occur through the integration of theater and language arts. The kids would enjoy Q&A with the actors, and classroom teachers would be provided with additional resource materials for future use. It was a valuable, simple, easily-replicated formula for arts integration. Read the rest of this entry »

My Most Memorable Day of Teaching and Art Creation

Posted by Sandy Brunvand On March - 14 - 2014
Sandy Brunvand

Sandy Brunvand

No WAY!” is literally what I said when a participant from my Saturday professional development workshop, Rosie Mitchell, asked me if I would run a steamroller printmaking day at her elementary school in South Salt Lake City. For those of you who have never heard of “steamroller printmaking,” this is a technique for making very large woodcut prints using a steamroller as the printing press. More on that in a bit…

It is not that I am unkind; it’s just that it is so much work to move a printmaking studio off site. I know, I have done it before for the Utah Arts Festival when I was invited to demonstrate steamroller printmaker along with my two fellow Saltgrass Printmakers co-owners and founders – my husband, Erik Brunvand, and our business partner Stefanie Dykes. That’s when Rosie first participated in the steamrolling event.  Later she joined us at our non-profit print studio, Saltgrass Printmakers (facebook page here) and steamrolled some more works of art. She knew how much fun it was and wanted to share it with her elementary school kids. Read the rest of this entry »

Shelley Toon Lindberg

Shelley Toon Lindberg

While gathering supplies for the Summer Arts and Apps Academy for students of the Lower Kuskokwim School District in bush Alaska, we came across a box filled with bags of beautifully colored sand.  Although the two-week academy was centered on developing eBooks and exploring various apps on the iPad, we knew we were not leaving the supply closet without the colored sand in tow.

Working as a teaching artist is thrilling on just about every level. I have the privilege of collaborating with brilliant educators, fellow teaching artists, and students who inspire me daily. I especially relish the time I spend developing curricula and planning interesting visual art experiences for students. I like to be organized and to structure lesson plans, but I must admit that after 15 years of working as a teaching artist, I have learned the value of spontaneity.

Read the rest of this entry »

Learning Elsewhere: Digital storytelling and collaborative media production

Posted by Christopher Kennedy On March - 14 - 2014
Christopher Lee Kennedy

Christopher Lee Kennedy

In 2003, one woman’s 58-year collection of thrift was rediscovered by her grandson and transformed into a living museum and artist residency program called Elsewhere. Today, we invite artists from all over the world to create site-specific projects that respond to this collection, while working inside a three-story former thrift store in downtown Greensboro, NC. As the building and its contents are continually transformed into an evolving artwork, publics are invited daily to play, collaborate, and curate alongside this changing creative community.

As a teaching artist at Elsewhere, the museum and its vast collections provide a platform for learning projects, workshops, and tours that engage schools and publics across North Carolina. In 2012, we launched CoLab, a collaborative laboratory for youth-led media experiments and digital storytelling. Each CoLab session brings together a teaching artist and a group of youth to explore a theme or question, creating interactive media works that range from short films and live performances, to digital publications, websites, and sound recordings in response. Read the rest of this entry »

A Pipe Organ? Really?

Posted by Ray Cornils On March - 14 - 2014
Ray Cornils

Ray Cornils

What does a 100+ year old pipe organ have to offer school children in today’s world?

Portland, Maine’s iconic Kotzschmar Organ, donated over a century ago by publishing mogul Cyrus Curtis and the centerpiece of Merrill Auditorium ever since, has become the inspiration for a progressive and multifaceted education program in Maine schools. Developed by the Friends of the Kotzschmar Organ (FOKO) nonprofit, the curriculum includes a series of events, presentations, and in-school courses.

As an organist and choir director of both youth and adults, I am teaching all the time. My experience with FOKO’s education in the schools over the past ten years, presenting youth concerts on the Kotzschmar, has been eye opening to say the least. I continue to grow as a teaching artist through teaching in different school systems and working with teams of classroom teachers. Read the rest of this entry »

Design Thinking in Education

Posted by Kim Dabbs On March - 14 - 2014
Kim Dabbs

Kim Dabbs

Take Action!

This was the mantra I was given during my time at the famed d.school at Stanford and it has stuck with me as we began the process of redesigning a pedagogy for an entire organization.

The West Michigan Center for Arts and Technology (WMCAT), located in Grand Rapids, Michigan, is taking the fundamentals of design thinking outside of traditional school classrooms and piloting a best practice of infusing an after school arts and tech program with this innovative method of teaching and teen engagement. Under this model WMCAT teen students are working in cohorts to explore and tackle a pressing community issue using arts and technology as a basis for inquiry, critical thinking and practical application. We are serving 144 teens from Grand Rapids Public Schools on 12 design teams that are each connected to a local community partner. It is arts education through a 21st Century skill development lens. This is the exciting, innovative and proven world of project-based learning where students learn through exploring real-world challenges and issues. It is grounded in student experience and driven by student interest. Read the rest of this entry »

How to Make Time for Reflection in the Arts Classroom

Posted by Sarah Reece-Cusey On March - 14 - 2014
Sarah Reece-Cusey

Sarah Reece-Cusey

Let’s be honest, when an art project goes long, or a class is a little crazy, structured reflection is the first thing to go. This happens in spite of the fact that we KNOW reflecting makes all the difference when it comes to students retaining their discoveries and being able to apply their learning in other contexts. In the words of John Dewey, “We do not learn from experience…we learn from reflecting on experience.”

Like most things that are of paramount importance, creating an environment in which meaningful reflection can happen is difficult, especially if you are a teaching artist who only temporarily inhabits another teacher’s classroom. I am currently in the middle of teaching an 8-week, 5th grade residency for the Rainforest Art Project. My students are a perfectionist group, bordering on unruly. Some of the students are so worried about making a mistake, it’s difficult for them to even start working. They are very critical of themselves and their artwork. Read the rest of this entry »

Rich in Rewards – Why Teaching Artists Teach

Posted by Milly Hough On March - 13 - 2014
Milly Hough

Milly Hough

Why do some artists decide to teach? For many, the attraction is a desire to connect students to a creative process and to the larger arts community. For others, teaching fuels their work as artists. The South Carolina Arts Commission’s Roster of Approved Artists includes more than 900 artists who have been approved to conduct residencies and performances in schools. Many have been teaching for as long as they’ve been artists. We wanted to know more, so we asked four Roster artists about their experiences.

 

The artists, the number of years they’ve been teaching, plus a brief description of their work with students: Read the rest of this entry »

Teaching Artists: The Need to Reach Wider Audiences

Posted by Rosalind Flynn On March - 13 - 2014
Rosalind Flynn

Rosalind Flynn

Everyone I know who works as a teaching artist has amazing success stories of student learning experiences with, through, and in the arts. There are stories about reaching the “unreachable” student, motivating whole groups of resistant learners, creating breathtaking products, deepening understandings about curriculum subjects, and engaging the minds, bodies, and imaginations of young people in extraordinary ways.

This is great stuff. This is the kind of information that should be shared.

  • How do effective Teaching Artists get the results we get?
  • What are our methods?
  • What precisely do we do in a class session or series?

We know that what we do works and we know why it works. But are we sharing this information with a wide enough audience? I don’t think so. Read the rest of this entry »