Skip to main content Skip to main content

The Arts In Every Classroom: A Workshop for Elementary School Teachers

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.

Learner Team members Angela Snead and Connie Usova attend “Critic School.”

How is our perception of a work of art influenced by what we know about the time and place in which it was created? How does music establish a mood or atmosphere? How do you evaluate a work of art?

Program 2 features two multi-arts performance pieces from different eras, Quidam (1996) and Parade (1917). Using these productions as references, you will explore how artists use various elements to shape their works. You also will learn a process of critical evaluation to decide whether a work of art successfully carries out the artist’s intentions.


Key Concepts/Vocabulary

These definitions will help you as you watch these lessons.

  • Body percussion: using the body as a percussive instrument; in the music lesson, Susanne uses different parts of the body to introduce parts that will be played on specific instruments, preparing students to be successful when they transfer them to instruments
  • Listening map: a simple picture representation of what is being heard; it is a useful visual reinforcement to help students with auditory focus
  • Solfège: general music training to help develop sight-reading skills; the word also refers to hand signs that help singers learn pitches (Susanne uses these signs when she teaches the melody for “Rolling in the Grass.”)
  • Tuning fork: a small, two-pronged, steel instrument that gives a fixed tone when struck and is useful for tuning musical instruments or setting a vocal pitch

Teacher Notes

Creative Work
When students are asked to make creative decisions and collaborate on creative tasks, it is important for them to know what outcomes are expected before they begin their work. Use a rubric to clearly outline the assignment criteria. Be specific about time allowed for completion.

In-Role Teaching
The teacher engages in role-play along with students, taking on a character appropriate to the drama. Kathy uses in-role teaching during Critic School.

Reinforcing Vocabulary
It is helpful to reinforce new vocabulary for students when they are describing what they hear. Sometimes this means interpreting physical representations as auditory descriptors. Gestures or facial expressions may need a bit of clarification: “Do you mean the music is getting louder?”

Restating Questions
In the Musical Cues lesson, there were times when the Learner Teams had trouble responding to Susanne’s questions about the music they heard. It helped them focus their thinking when the questions were restated in a simpler way. For example:

“What is the difference between Zoe’s first theme and her second theme?”
(No response.)
“Just look at the music. What is different?”
“The second theme has more notes.”

Tuning Fork
In order to sing the musical examples at the correct pitch in the Musical Cues lesson, Susanne used a tuning fork before she began singing.

Lesson Plans

Complete Lesson Plans: PDFs of the lesson plans, handouts, and readings needed to teach the lessons from this program in your classroom.

Classroom Demonstration Materials: Use the audio and visual materials on this tape to teach these lessons in your classroom.



If possible, introduce the purposes and process of criticism to your students and have them work in small groups to write a critique of a work of visual art, dance, music, or theatre with which you all are familiar. Discuss students’ ideas together as a group.

Be prepared to respond to the following questions at the next workshop session:

  • What knowledge base was necessary for your students to succeed?
  • How did your students work together?
  • With what kinds of vocabulary did your students need the most help?

If you plan to use these ideas in your classroom, see the reading Setting Up Your Discovery Stations (PDF) for materials you may wish to include.

If you are unable to explore these activities with your students at this time, think about how you could adapt this lesson for your classroom. Prepare a lesson plan in your journal.

Reading Assignment

The following required readings will support your understanding of Program 2 for the for-credit workshop:

To prepare for Program 3, study the following additional readings:

Ongoing Activities

Here are some other activities that can boost learning between workshop sessions.

Watch some or all of these programs from The Arts in Every Classroom: A Video Library, K-5:

Research resources on costumes, vaudeville, and criticism at your school or public library or on the Web.

Attend a show at a museum, theatre, dance company, or orchestra in your community. Write a critical appraisal of the performance. Share the experience with students in your classroom.