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Art School

McCall Arts & Humanities Council

In 2017, 232 students from the rural districts of McCall, Donnelly, and New Meadows participated in the McCall Arts and Humanities Council’s Art School program. Fifth graders worked with fine arts under the tutelage of artists Kristin Eames, Valerie Harris, and Melissa Shelby who visited their classrooms throughout the winter and spring. Third graders explored performing arts during a 2-day intensive in McCall featuring learning stations facilitated by artists Sara Walker (storytelling with shadow puppets), Erin Lowen (storytelling with dance), Maggie Crawford (storytelling with costumes & props), and Dawn Kolden (storytelling with body movement).

The Essential Question that guided our projects’ focus was:

5th: How can specific skills help me become a better artist? 3rd: How can I tell a story through performance?

During the 2017 Art School program, fifth-grade students worked with professional fine artists throughout the winter and spring to learn specific technical skills to allow them to become better artists and to better-communicate visually. Through these lessons, the following Anchor Standards were met, as noted under Grade 5 program focus Visual Arts:
Anchor Standard 2, Creating: organize and develop artistic ideas and work
Anchor Standard 3, Creating: refine and complete artistic work

Third-grade students worked with professional performing artists during a 2-day learning intensive to learn how to tell a story through movement, gesture, facial expression, and using props & costumes. Under the Performing Arts category for Grade 3, lessons met Anchor Standard 6, Performing: convey meaning through the presentation of artistic work.

At the conclusion of the project, students responded to questions related to the identified Standards:

From 5th Grade:
“In my painting of the nebula, or exploding star, I mixed lots of primary colors to make secondary colors. For example, when I was painting the background, I mixed red and yellow to make orange.”
“I used leading lines to make a complex and interesting photo. In my photo, crayons lead in to two crayons in the center that are stuck.”
“I used bigger shapes in the foreground and smaller shapes in the background because when you look at something close it looks larger than when you look at it from a distance.”
“I used different brush strokes to make something bold or not as bold.”

From 3rd Grade:
“Costumes and props help me become a realistic character like being a gorilla and it also helped me have fun.”
“In dance, I express myself by having big movements when I am happy. I am always happy when I am doing hip-hop.”
“As an actor, I can communicate without words by using my eyebrows, facial expression, and expressive body.”
“In shadow acting, I can show the audience what my character is doing by showing my body movement or by showing my profile.”

Impact

Through student surveys, photos, teacher feedback, student work, performances, and artist feedback, we confirmed that we successfully met our educational objectives. More importantly, perhaps, is that students had so much fun with art and were therefore inspired to do more. Participating Art School students gained confidence in themselves as creators; an appreciation for uniqueness and diversity was fostered; art was “demystified” and made accessible; students gained specific skills; students learned how to effectively and creatively communicate non-verbally; students were able to work on projects that were open-ended rather than prescriptive. Additionally, benefits of the program included the relationships built among working artists and the schools, classroom teachers and artists, students and artists, and the community and our students.

Reflection

The 2017 Art School program was overwhelmingly beneficial. Each of our artists presented the students with lessons that were age-appropriate, skill-building, fun, and inspirational. The program this year was very well-organized and this helped us to create a very smooth and positive learning experience for the students. It was beneficial for us – the adult teaching team – to meet several times before and throughout the program to discuss ideas, concerns, overlap, consistency of vocabulary, and cohesiveness. Working closely with classroom teachers while planning also helped us to be able to tie specific projects into the curricula whenever possible for cross-disciplinary learning. Keeping things simple and having specific goals (learning objectives) really helps to provide students with a few solid art building blocks that they will be able to apply outside of school as well as within the classroom.

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