Thursday, July 31, 2008

The tableau thing-frozen picture-that we learned in the beginning....the students just developed it into PICTURE IDOL. They are reading about one of the battles and making a "scene" for it. Any member who talks or moves without being tapped causes the group to be disqualified from Picture Idol. Only one group at a time performs! It is GREAT!!!! It is awesome to hear them talk about whether or not the picture is accurate!

Melissa Gill
Educator Grade 5
Glen Acres Elementary

ArtWorks for Schools culminated in the development of a program that teaches high-level thinking in and through the arts. The program was developed collaboratively by the DeCordova Museum, Project Zero, Underground Railway Theater, and schools in Cambridge and Lincoln, Massachusetts. The purpose of the program is to help teachers and students discover the power of the arts to enrich high-level cognition across school subjects.
Designed primarily for the upper elementary and middle school grades, but used by teachers of younger students as well, the ArtWorks program focuses on four high-level thinking dispositions which it views as central to responding to and making art and also as central to thinking and learning in other disciplines.
the disposition to explore diverse perspectives
the disposition to find, pose, and explore problems
the disposition to reason and evaluate, and
the disposition to find and explore metaphorical relationships.
These areas of thinking are characterized as dispositional in nature, rather than skill-centered, because they involve attitudes, emotions, and sensitivities, as well as cognitive skill. The areas have been selected because they satisfy three criteria which ArtWorks views as essential for teaching thinking in and through the arts: 1) Each of the thinking dispositions are authentic to responding to and making art in the sense that they are the things that people who view and make art actually tend to do; 2) each have genuine cognitive power in the arts, in the sense that they significantly contribute to aesthetic learning and understanding; and 3) each have genuine cognitive power in other areas of learning, particularly traditional school subjects.
The ArtWorks for Schools Curriculum Materials are
now available. Program concepts are introduced through a videotape for educators. Lessons designed to cultivate the four forms of thinking--first in the arts and then transferred from the arts to other school subjects--are included in the teacher handbook. The teacher handbook also offers tips for teaching each lesson, guidelines for assessing student participation, additional lesson ideas, pictures of practice, and advice for making the most of field trips to the art museum or theater. Slides of contemporary art from the DeCordova Museum’s Permanent Collection accompany the lessons. The use of the curriculum materials can be supplemented by access to museum resources and theater performances.
Principal Investigators:
Shari Tishman
Tina Grotzer

For more information on Project Zero, go to:
The Artful Classroom
by Maureen Pinto
A child becomes totally engrossed immersed in the process of making a work of art. The sensation of feeling the smooth thick paint sliding onto the paper calms the child and brings pleasure in the creation. When children grapple with the challenge of representing an object or person on the page, they are engaging in a task that is both demanding and satisfying.
Teachers provide an assortment of art materials that children may choose from to make their own unique creations. We do not have children copy a teacher's model or make a designated product. We encourage them to use the materials in different ways. Art is a vital and vibrant part of the early childhood program, contributing to all aspects of the young child's development.
As they draw, paint and sculpt, children think creatively, make decisions and solve problems. Children's fine motor skills are developed naturally through manipulation of brushes, crayons scissors and clay. All of these activities prepare children for writing in later years. Language also is developed as kids talk about color, shape and size, and as they describe their work to friends and teachers.
Value your child's efforts and expose him or her to quality artwork through visits to museums and art shows. Recognize that your children learn in a variety of ways and that creative activities provide positive, satisfying experiences for all children.
Sixteen Reasons Art is Good For Children:
Art stimulates both sides of the brain
Thirty three percent of children are visual learners.
Studies show that children who have more art read better, and do better in math and science.
Studies show that children who have early art and music training are better able to visualize complex mathematical problems and solve them creatively.
Children need a place in school to express themselves.
Piaget states that children need to learn through their senses.
Art enhances self esteem.
Art develops awareness of physical environment.
Art develops hand eye coordination.
Art enhances perceptual development.
Art teaches open ended thinking.
Art teaches children that there can be more than one solution to the same problem.
Art teaches children how to engage in creative problem solving and thinking.
Children create beautiful art and they need to do more, not less of it.
When integrated with other curriculum areas children become more engaged in the learning process.
And last but not least, art nurtures the human soul! (It feels good to do it!)
Maureen Pinto is a preschool teacher at Kumara School in Mill Valley, California.
Artists as Education Consultants
By Marcia Daft
I am a professional musician—a pianist and composer. I’ve worked with actors and dancers since high school, and am comfortable with all of the performing arts. But I am also an education consultant, with a busy travel schedule crisscrossing the country, leading teacher-training seminars and professional-development institutes. This is the story of a professional journey I never imagined taking—the path that connected those two seemingly distant dots.
Starting out as an artist in the schools 20 years ago, I was hired to perform in the auditorium, engage small groups of students in hands-on arts activities, and share with children my life and perspective as an artist. At that time, schools felt that it was valuable for students to have an intimate, personal experience with a professional artist.
About 15 years ago, a new kind of school-artist relationship started to evolve. Schools began asking guest artists to connect their work to the content that students studied in the classroom. This was a monumental shift from my previous experience, and was not achieved overnight.
To do this, I needed training to be able to interpret national and state content standards, and to identify concepts and experiences that would be faithful to the arts and meaningful to classroom learning. This training was most frequently offered by performing-arts institutions, working overtime to keep artists in the schools.
Imagine dancing the water cycle—moving through the stages of liquid flow, evaporation, condensation, and rainfall—as a way of learning in the classroom.
Through this work, I came to be known as a “teaching artist.” I was called upon to collaborate actively with classroom teachers. If my assigned teacher was teaching geometry, I would lead a creative-movement experience in which students used their bodies to learn. They connected line and shape in geometry to body line and body shape in dance. If children in mathematics classes were learning about repeating patterns, skip counting, or multiplication, I would pass out drums and teach them to create rhythmic patterns that represented those mathematical ideas. Similarly, if students were studying point of view in language arts, I led a drama experience in which they could go into character and express and analyze their feelings.
Teachers were immediately impressed by students’ motivation and learning during these teaching-artist sessions. Students who typically showed no interest in daily classroom activities joyfully volunteered to be part of the class. Troubled students who had failed year after year and been all but written off shocked us with the imaginativeness and sophistication of their thinking. Preschoolers who had never uttered a single word in the classroom began speaking during my sessions. Students were able to absorb ideas on a deep, conceptual level and with what seemed to be less effort. Retention was off the charts, with students able to remember information for weeks and months between visits. This was not just my experience—every teaching artist I knew was having the same level of success in the classroom.
Once teachers and administrators saw the power of the arts for revolutionizing the classroom environment, they wanted to capture that magic and move toward a new phase in teacher-artist relationships. Over the course of the past decade, I have been called upon to share my craft with classroom teachers—to train them to teach like artists.
To train teachers, I had to know what they knew. I needed to attend the training sessions they attended and learn about current educational theory and instructional best practices. In the course of this, I began to notice that while many educational theories were quite powerful, they often lacked practical models for classroom application. I found few teachers who had ever seen educational theory at work in a classroom.
Over time, as I built my knowledge, I also began to realize that many of the ideals valued highly by education theory were embodied naturally, and practically, in the arts. I’ll offer two examples:
Most teachers understand Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences and value its ideal of reaching diverse learners through a wide range of instructional strategies. They may struggle, though, to find ways to apply the theory in a real classroom. For example, when asked how to teach the “kinesthetic” learner, one of those identified by Gardner, many teachers may suggest periodically inviting students to get out of their seats and stretch. This is only a first step. Dance is an art form that immediately lends itself to science. When students use their bodies to connect elements of dance (such as weight, time, force, energy, and transformation) to concepts in science, we are truly reaching the kinesthetic learner. Imagine dancing the water cycle—moving through the stages of liquid flow, evaporation, condensation, and rainfall—as a way of learning in the classroom.
We need to stop talking to educators about high-quality teaching, and get in the classroom and show them how to do it.
When asked how to teach the auditory/musical learner, teachers may suggest inviting them to read out loud. This falls short, too. Music is intimately related to language. When students explore their voices and use musical phrasing, articulation, inflection, and timing to bring expression to their reading, the sound environment in the classroom shifts from mundane to marvelous. So, the arts can offer dramatic yet practical examples of Howard Gardner’s theory in action.
Another educational theory, that of social constructivism, holds that the optimal learning environment is one in which an active and dynamic interaction between all participants leads students to create their own meanings and personal truths. How can this theory be brought to life in classrooms where teachers are afraid to free students from their desks to engage in active learning?
We can look to the arts to see this theory in action. Artists are skilled at creating environments in which learners must cooperate, collaborate, compromise, and reach consensus when working together in groups. Think of how actors and directors work in the theater. Groups of actors often meet independently to discuss and rehearse scenes. After practice, these scenes are shown to the director, who guides the actors through a process of questioning, observation, reflection, and revision. In school, when students use this process to develop scenes from, say, the Civil War, the theory of social constructivism has moved into the realm of classroom practice.
Through my decades of bringing the arts to schools, I have been in thousands of classrooms nationwide. I have seen firsthand that teachers do want the best for their students. They do believe in best-practice theory, but too often have not been shown what it looks like. In preservice training—before teachers enter the classroom—future educators must be shown theory and practice working hand in hand. We need to stop talking to educators about high-quality teaching, and get in the classroom and show them how to do it.
The arts are not about talking—they are about doing. And the arts have the power to show excellent teaching in action.
Marcia Daft is an arts and education consultant in Chevy Chase, Md., whose work has been presented by the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the Wolf Trap Institute for Early Learning Through the Arts, the Smithsonian Institution, and numerous arts and education organizations throughout the United States.
Vol. 27, Issue 23, Pages 32-33

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

ArtsEdge is a Primary Resource

Looking for lesson material that integrates the arts? The John F. Kennedy Center has material on many subjects with lesson plans, standards, website links, and how-tos on hundreds of subjects! All you have to do is find your area of interest and go for it! You can find all this great material at
I had my sixth grade students act out the life of Antoine Lavoisier in order to learn more about him. It was really two years back that we put on our "production". We included his birth, marriage to his 13 year old wife, Marie, his work in the lab, the work of the tax general, his arrest, and of course the most exciting event, for the boys especially, his death at the guillotine. Lavoisier is mentioned in our 6th grade standards and I was struggling for a way to bring this "father of chemistry" alive for my kids. Anyway, for what it's worth, the classes enjoyed being main characters, King Louis XV, Marie Antoinette, parents, peasants, tax collectors, jailers, and of course Lavoisier himself. We used some written materials about him and I made a power point including pictures of him, the royal family, his lab, a guillotine, etc.

Beth Nahre
Shelbyville (Indiana)

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

A Literature Review

Arts Integration
Frameworks, Research & Practice
A Literature Review
Gail Burnaford, Ph.D. with Sally Brown, Jomes Doherty & H. James. McLaughlin
(ISBN 1-884037-23-2)

Dr. Gail Burnaford, a Professor in Curriculum and Instruction at Florida Atlantic University has spearheaded a gathering of the most current research (1995-2007) on arts integration. In cooperation with the Arts Education Partnership, the document is published in electronic format at For information on ordering printed copies, please visit or email

Monday, July 28, 2008

The Artful Classroom Blog!


If you have come here it is because you are a educator, an artist, an arts enthusiast or a presenter interested in knowing more about how the arts can be integrated across the school curriculum to help children learn! Our purpose is to help teaching professionals understand how the arts can be used everyday in the classroom to help make learning more interesting, more engaging, more permanent and more fun!

We are here to share ideas, techniques, experiences, trials, tribulations, triumphs and success stories! We are here to learn from teaching artists, other teachers, arts presenters, administrators, and anyone else who can contribute to our thoughts about arts integration.

So, here's the plan! Come to learn, come to share, come to care. Be supportive. Be inventive. Ask questions. Offer answers. Enter our forum for growth. The basic concepts that we share have been proven to increase test scores in arts integrated schools and to offer a different way of learning to students who need to do more than just sit in a chair.

All the best,

Team Leader