The Arts In Every Classroom: A Workshop for Elementary School Teachers
What Is Art? Getting Ready
Getting Ready (15 Minutes)
The following information will help you focus and organize your professional development session.
- Engage in discussions and activities leading to the discovery of some basic characteristics of theatre.
- Investigate musical elements and create a basic definition of music.
- Experiment with movement and identify essential elements of dance.
- Formulate, discuss, and revise personal definitions of visual art.
- Examine ways in which fantasy impacts perceptions of reality in Cirque du Soleil’s Quidam and in everyday life.
These are questions for your group to consider as you work through your session:
- What is art?
- How do the arts connect with each other?
- How can the arts be integrated into every classroom?
Materials and Resources
- Videotape or broadcast of Program 1 — What Is Art?
- Reading: Cirque du Soleil (PDF)
- Reading: Quidam (PDF)
Facilitator: Distribute copies of the print guide, in its entirety, to all participants.
Discuss your expectations for this professional development workshop. You can use the Guiding Questions above as a starting place.
Before you watch the program, briefly consider the question “What is art?” Discuss in your group or reflect and write down comments on your own.
PDF: What is Art? — Complete Lesson Plans
Lesson plans, handouts, and readings needed to teach the lessons from this program in your classroom.
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workshop 3 Historical References in the Arts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.