The Arts In Every Classroom: A Workshop for Elementary School Teachers
Watch the Program
As you watch the program, challenge yourself and other participants to think about these focus questions:
- How will you build on your previous awareness of the arts to develop your knowledge and skills in arts education?
- How will you assess your understanding of the concepts presented in these programs?
Activities & Discussions (45 minutes)
Discussion (30 minutes)
In small groups, reflect on the lessons about theatre, music, dance, and visual art.
Discuss these questions:
- What are the similarities and differences among the art forms?
- How have the workshop leaders presented diverse styles and methods of instruction?
- Which activities challenged your thinking the most? Why?
- What questions do you have about teaching the lessons you’ve seen in this program?
- What interdisciplinary connections can you make between these activities and your existing curriculum?
Share your findings with the group or keep a journal of your own ideas.
Reflection (15 minutes)
Explore the ideas in the last segment in this program, “Combining the Art Forms,” which introduces Quidam by Cirque du Soleil (Circus of the Sun).
Facilitator: Share these facts about Cirque du Soleil and Quidam with the group:
Cirque du Soleil (Circus of the Sun) is a world-renowned organization known for its striking, dramatic mix of the circus arts and street entertainment, featuring fantastical costumes, magical lighting, and original music. Its production of Quidam is a surrealistic and highly theatrical circus event that has been performed worldwide since 1996.
Quidam is the story of Zoe, a young girl whose world is meaningless until a headless stranger invites her on a journey through a fantastic world where gravity is irrelevant and the impossible is possible. Like Alice’s adventures in Wonderland and Dorothy’s quest through Oz, Zoe’s experiences with the strange and unreal change her everyday life, demonstrating the “enduring idea/understanding” for the unit modeled in Programs 1-4: Fantasy impacts our perception of reality.
Think back about the opening three minutes of Quidam and discuss these questions:
- In what ways did Quidam meet the expectations you formed when you heard it described? What surprised you?
- What kinds of movement did you see? Would you call this dance?
- How did the music communicate an idea, feeling, or process?
- How were dramatic and visual elements used to juxtapose reality and fantasy?
- What are some big questions that you have about this work?
- What is your understanding of the enduring idea/understanding that fantasy impacts our perception of reality?
Programs 2 and 3 will explore the topics of research, criticism, and historical precedents. You will discover how Cirque du Soleil has integrated the arts to create a unique contemporary art form all its 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.