The Arts In Every Classroom: A Workshop for Elementary School Teachers
Watch the Program
While you watch, consider these focus questions:
Lesson 1: Influences of the Past
- What historical references might have influenced Quidam?
- What role does history play in the ideas that artists have?
Lesson 2: The Power of Costume
- What do costumes symbolize or represent in various works of art?
- How is a costume a work of art?
Lesson 3: Magritte and Nikolais
- How might biographical information about an artist inform our understanding of his or her works?
- How could the work of one artist influence the work of other artists?
Lesson 4: Art Historian Role-Play
- What is street performance? Is it art?
- How does historical precedent affect our view of art today?
- What criteria should be used to identify and define works of art?
Activities and Discussions
Costume Design (30 minutes)
- Distribute and discuss the Criticism (PDF) handout (also used in Program 2).
- Distribute and read the Summary of Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are (PDF) handout.
Using available materials, design and construct a simple costume item, such as a hat or a scarf, that an actor might use to portray a “wild thing.” The costume should support the way the character would move and should communicate the following things about the character:
- personality traits
- historical period
- social status
Reflect on the symbolic or literal nature of costume elements.
Share costume pieces or pictures of costumes with the entire group using the following focus questions:
- What are the similarities and differences among these pieces?
- Why might these similarities and differences exist?
- How have symbols been used to express character traits?
- What effect might particular materials, color choices, or construction techniques have on the designs and the way the characters can move?
Reflection (10 minutes)
Facilitator: Use these questions to focus a closing discussion:
- Why is an understanding of history informative in the creation and analysis of works of art?
- What opportunities do you have in your daily classroom routine to address important historical connections to learning?
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.