Arts and Literacy

Imagine returning to school and teaching a song to your students that you composed yourself-and furthermore, imagine that you now have the tools to help your students create their own songs. That’s powerful stuff!

Fifty five elementary classroom teachers participated in the 2004 Institute, which focused on Literacy through the Arts. Each day the opening presentation, led by nationally recognized education consultant Deborah Brzoska, explored multi-sensory strategies to help learners become active readers, writers, and communicators through the arts.

The theme wove its way through hands-on arts discipline sessions. In the music sessions, teachers divided into groups to compose original songs based on the children’s literature of their choice. Visual arts workshops modeled collaborative learning in which teams worked individually and collectively to create a unified clay mural based on research, visual communication, and teamwork. Dance sessions created pathways to embodied learning focusing on the language of dance as a means of expressing distinctive ideas and feelings.

Arts Powered Schools teachers’ new insights directly impact classrooms around the state. Third grade Garfield Elementary teacher Lora Dawn drew on her theater sessions at Arts Powered Schools. Back in the classroom, she described playing silent statues where students imagined what their body parts would look and feel like with the stress of being unprepared for a test and then creating a museum of bodies prepared for a test. “One of the things I was pleased with was that I was able to create an atmosphere. . . . many jumped in and really got into it. We stayed on focus. No one created a disturbance. Hey-that’s a miracle!”