Friday, May 15, 2009

Arts Integration in Action - A Teacher Speaks

Here are a few words from Murdock Elementary Fifth Grade Teacher Rebecca Schpero about using arts integration techniques in her classroom:

My school has participated in multiple arts integration professional development workshops presented by The Kennedy Center in partnership with Purdue Convocations. We have been taught many different ways to integrate the arts into our classrooms through a hands-on approach to learning. While all of the professional development sessions I attended were informative and full of great ideas to take back to my classroom, the professional development that was particularly helpful for me, as a fifth grade teacher, was the presentation on the concepts used in the Actor’s Toolbox activities created by Sean Layne.
Since using the Actor’s Toolbox activities with my class, the dynamics of my classroom have changed. The Actor’s Toolbox activities allowed me to teach my students to be aware of and control the five tools (body, voice, imagination, concentration, cooperation) throughout the school day. It reminded students that they have the ability to train their brains to control these five tools, not only during the time when we are working with the arts in our classroom, but at all times throughout the day (controlling voices in the hallway, controlling bodies in personal space, teaching your mind to focus on a focal point such as an assignment on the desk). The intense focus on cooperation has caused my students to work and think together as a team rather than a group of individuals. It has eliminated the moans and groans after announcing who will work with whom during group activities because all students recognize that they can work with any team member cooperatively. I found the language used in the Actor’s Toolbox to be extremely effective within my classroom as well. Recognizing “strong” and “weak” choices really affected the attitudes and helped reduce behavioral issues for my students.
Overall, I have truly enjoyed learning about the different techniques for integrating the arts into my classroom. Trying these different activities in my classroom has motivated my students, boosted group morale, reduced behavioral issues, and made my classroom a fun place to be. Whether it is building tableaus, mimicking partners in mirror activities, or challenging students in the concentration circle, my students have truly enjoyed my attempt to integrate the arts into our classroom. I hope to continue to learn more about integrating the arts through our school’s partnership with the Kennedy Center and Purdue Convocations.

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