It’s About Place. The 2009 Institute focused on place as a unifying theme for engaging students in arts learning that makes connections to their lives and community. Teachers were also introduced to the newly created arts education foundation piece, Arts Powered Learning: An Idaho Arts Educational Framework.


Nationally recognized presenters focused on topics to help participants gain skills in effective arts instruction. Each plenary session illuminated the content of the Idaho Humanities Standards

What is the Big Idea? 
Big conceptual ideas provide a framework for both art and academic content areas. The big idea provides a container – or frame – to unify the parts into a meaningful whole. Cynthia Weis discussed the parallels between arts and learning across the curriculum.

Cynthia Weis is co-editor of the book Renaissance in the Classroom: Arts Integration and Meaningful Learning and AIMprint: New Relationships in the Arts and Learning. She is an award winning public artist and educator. As a member of the Chicago Public Art Group, Cynthia directs large scale public art projects that invite community participation.

The Artistic Process

As students use their own ideas to create original work in an artform, they make essential connections to engaged learning. They also draw on the impulse to make work right – a driving force in the artists’ creative process.

Deborah Brzoska is a specialist in art assessment and served as group leader for the National Assessment of Educational Progress in the Arts (NAEP). As a national teaching artist for The Kennedy Center, Deb has presented professional development for teachers and artists internationally and in nearly all fifty states.

Teaching a Great Lesson from Start to Finish

Truly, a great lesson is a work of art. Skillfully constructed, it has fascinating and important underpinnings (well-chosen objectives) played out in a gorgeous, unfolding architecture (engaging instructional strategies) throughout which students check their own, are checked for, and check others’ knowledge (embedded assessments).

Since 1984 Eric Johnson has worked with thousands of teachers and students from Florida to Alaska to Tokyo.   A national workshop leader for the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC,  and mentor teacher in area school districts, Eric teaches 550 students weekly in Seattle public and private schools.

Telling Your Story
Reporting project outcomes is a persuasive means for teachers to contribute to wider knowledge and reach people that may be interested in your unit or lesson design and student learning results. Deborah Brzoska discussed how to take deliberate steps to analyze and share evidence of the learning that takes place in your classroom with a wider audience.

The Imagine Nation
In a global marketplace that calls for innovation, American schools should be developing skills of the imagination. A large majority of Americans has come to recognize that, in order to foster innovation in the marketplace, we must cultivate imagination in schools. This session discussed the role of the arts in integrated, interdisciplinary learning that is essential to developing the imagination and meeting the demands of the 21st century workforce.


Each ArtsPowered Schools participant chose and participated in two Art Studio Intensives. These daily sessions modeled “teaching for meaning” and helped participants gain skills in developing dynamic arts units.

  1. Bringing Every-day Movements to Life – teaching artist Eric Johnson
    One of the most important developments in 20th century modern dance was the incorporation and manipulation of every-day movements into the dance vocabulary. This small group choreography project used every-day movements to wittily explore the topic of beginning/middle/end and taught the writing trait of Organization. A multitude of lesson plans for integrated arts instruction were included.
  2. Plein Air: Taking Your Paints Outside – teaching artist John H. Davis
    This studio session focused on the joy of painting in the great outdoors. Plein air is a term derived from the French phrase en plein air, which literally means ‘in the open air’. It’s a familiar concept today, but in the late 1800s when the Impressionists ventured out of their studios into nature to investigate and capture the effects of sunlight on a subject, it was quite revolutionary.
  3. Digging Deeper – Advancing Arts Teaching and Learning Through Reflective Practice – teaching artist Deb Brzoska
    Participants gained tools to take home for use in the classroom as well as in team planning, and whole school faculty meetings. Six teams presented an engaging lesson and posed a question about their practice. These were “workshopped” during the week. Some of the questions explored by groups included: How can I improve my own teaching strategies through the arts? What do I say to my students about the quality of their work in the arts? How do we work as a school to get more teachers engaged in this practice? How can we share our work with the entire community?
  4. I Can Call Back—Writing, Memory, and Place – teaching artist Malia Collins
    This workshop taught how to make writing as specific and vivid as the images we have in our minds.
  5. Drawing Architecture – teaching artists Jane Morgan & Margery Christensen
    This workshop involved drawing Coeur d’Alene’s downtown landmark buildings under the direction of two experienced ‘Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain’ instructors.
  6. Voices Sharing Traditions: The Art of Interviewing Tradition Bearers – teaching artist Carol Spellman
    Conversation is a powerful way to learn many things. This workshop taught the art of interviewing by observing artists from Idaho’s three northern tribes share their artforms and by engaging in conversations with them. The session helped educators enhance the teachable moments from guest artists’ visitations.


Planning time at the conclusion of each day provided opportunities for participants to find a comfortable spot to reflect on the days’ learning in their journal or to create Unit and Lesson Plans for professional credit, and/or for residency teams to meet with ArtsPowered Schools teaching artists to develop an artist in residence plan for the upcoming school year.

Evening events provided opportunities to experience and enjoy live arts performances and exhibitions of artwork and to connect to the rich arts resources of the community. Participation in the evening events provided opportunities to sharpen skills and deepen understanding by observing, describing, analyzing, and interpreting the work of others – key components of the Humanities Content Standards.