The Arts In Every Classroom: A Workshop for Elementary School Teachers
Watch the Program
While watching, consider these focus questions:
- Where do your curriculum topics originate?
- Once you select a topic, what design process do you follow?
- What is the value of considering the “why” as well as the “what” of instruction?
- What are essential questions and how can they help clarify unit objectives?
Activities and Discussions
Beginning the Curriculum Design Process (30 minutes)
Facilitator: Distribute the handouts Indicators of Enduring Ideas/Understandings and Essential Questions (PDF) and Enduring Ideas/Understandings Worksheet (PDF). Divide participants into four groups. Assign each of the groups one of the following topics:
- Arts and History
- Arts and Literature
- Arts and Math
- Arts and Science
Each group will begin the curriculum design process for a lesson that integrates the arts by constructing an enduring idea/understanding for their topic. Begin by brainstorming and mapping a web of concepts that supports your assigned topic. From the concepts, construct a list of generalizations — general statements developed by connecting concepts together.
Using the generalizations, craft the enduring idea/understanding for the unit. Refer to the handout Indicators of Enduring Ideas/Understandings and Essential Questions(PDF), for criteria.
Then, using the same handout, construct the essential questions. These should support and address the unit concepts you have identified.
Finally, use the essential questions to define your unit goals and objectives.
Reflection (5 minutes)
Facilitator: Use the following questions to focus a closing discussion:
- What affected your ability to work collaboratively?
- How has this process encouraged you to explore the “why” in your teaching?
Save your written work and notes and bring them to the next workshop session to discuss these topics further.
workshop 1 What Is Art?
The Learner Teams and students explore the nature of theatre, music, dance, and visual art as they consider their own definitions for each art form. They watch an excerpt from Quidam, a surrealistic performance piece that combines the four art forms in unusual ways, and begin to explore connections between fantasy and reality.
workshop 2 Responding to the Arts
Learner Team members and students compare two multi-arts performance pieces from different eras, Quidam (1996) and Parade (1917). They discover how our perception of a work of art is influenced by what we know about the time and place it was created. They also explore how music can establish a mood, create their own vaudeville acts, and learn a process of critical evaluation.
workshop 3 Historical References in the Arts
Learner Team members and students examine costume designs for Parade, focusing on how the designs help convey character. They interpret works by painter René Magritte and choreographer Alwin Nikolais, discovering influences on the creators of Quidam. They also conduct research into the history of street performance and report their findings, in the role of art historian.
workshop 4 Creating a Multi-Arts Performance Piece
Learner Team members and students examine the elements of the classic journey as identified by Joseph Campbell. They then create a multi-arts performance piece that represents a journey story. They apply what they have learned in previous lessons in order to rehearse, critique, revise, and perform their work.
workshop 5 Designing a Multi-Arts Curriculum Unit
Learner Team members are introduced to a curriculum design process that asks teachers and students to focus on why rather than what — sometimes called backwards design. The teams begin to construct their own arts-based units of study, identifying enduring ideas and constructing essential questions that lead to carefully planned unit objectives and performance tasks.
workshop 6 The Role of Assessment in Curriculum Design
As the Learner Teams continue working on their own units, they examine strategies for determining how well students meet unit objectives. By revisiting the lessons in the first four programs, they discover how to build formative and summative assessments into the units that they are developing.
workshop 7 Three Schools, Three Approaches
Documentary segments filmed during the next school year show the Learner Teams planning and teaching arts-based lessons that grew out of work in the first six programs. Discussions at the end of the school year, facilitated by one of the workshop leaders, give the Learner Team members a chance to reflect on some of the developments in their teaching practice.
workshop 8 Building on New Ideas
More documentary segments show further work by the team members with their students, among themselves, and with colleagues. The end-of-year discussions continue, with team members reflecting on how their new initiatives in the arts have affected them and their schools, and offering advice for other teachers who want to bring the arts into their own classrooms.