The integration of the arts at Elysian Heights Elementary will address the Five Harms of Racial Isolation by allowing all students to continually develop self-expression, self-confidence, and identity in all content areas by building on their strengths, diversity, and integrating their life experiences. The arts require teachers and students to explore multiple perspectives and methods when solving problems, ensuring that learning and instruction is differentiated through a variety of multi-sensory techniques. By fostering a community at our school where authentic arts integration is taking place, we will exceed the expectations set by Common Core as we shift to a culture of true inquiry and learning.
In 2008, teachers received training in the Arts Prototype program and we have purchased arts curriculum such as The Adventures in Art, Arts Attack, Masters in Art, which every teacher was provided visual arts supplies. The art kiln room was also purchased through these funds. Students have received instruction in theater, dance, visual arts and music since then. Visual and performing arts have been embedded in the school schedule. Although funding was discontinued, Elysian Heights saw the value of the arts in supporting the students and decided as a staff to prioritize and integrate the arts. As a result, every child is provided an opportunity to receive visual arts, ceramics, drama, dance, and music.
Elysian Heights Elementary has undergone a curricular transformation over the last three years. Teachers have spent time working to integrate the arts in our curriculum, however there is still a need to work collaboratively and reflect on the integration of the arts at each grade level. At the core of this work is the fundamental belief that through the application of content and concepts, students will become innovative learners, ready for high school, college, and beyond. This transformational work leverages the arts to establish a dynamic learning path for students.
The interconnectedness of our world is leading to an increasingly complex environment that requires educators to rethink how we prepare the future leaders of our world. Elysian Heights leverages students' conceptual understanding of their environment, refines their thinking by harnessing lessons taught by content, and applies the new understandings to solve real world problems with artistic expression. The learning environment will strive to support children in their evolution as learners. This rigorous thought process will allow students to engage in more meaningful learning that prepares them for college and beyond.
The professional development at Elysian Heights has been geared to enhance teachers' ability to write units that are interdisciplinary, taught through a conceptual lens, and applied through real world experiences. To that end, interdisciplinary concept based inquiry units are created using a backwards-planning model in which teachers identify desired learning outcomes, assessments, and finally lessons to build toward the stated objectives. The concept based, inquirý driven, visual and performing arts based curriculum is highly effective and appropriate for the student population.
The research based strategy that we will incorporate is Artful Thinking through Project Zero. Each grade level will focus and build on a specific set of thinking routines which will be used across all subjects. By focusing on these specific methods of questioning, students will build a habit of looking at art or a topic in a specific manner. It will make "thinking visible in the classroom and provide students with vivid models of what the process of good thinking looks like and shows them how their participation matters" (Tishman, 2006) These strategies are research based to help improve academic performance, reflect upon metacognition, and help build upon academic language for all learners. Some of these strategies are Think-Pair-Share, I See-I Think-I Wonder, and I Used to Think-Now I Think methods.
The integration of the arts allows us to address issues of academic achievement through instruction that is carefully and specifically designed to incorporate student interest, which will increase student performance in all subject areas. Additionally, many students who struggle in traditional academic settings will have alternative forms of exposure to content through different art forms. Whether or not they have an aptitude or talent in a particular art form, the open-ended nature of the arts allows them to grow and learn at their own pace, with their own style, and tap into areas of the arts in which their talents might lie.
Our English Learner students will benefit greatly from an infusion of the arts into their acquisition of English. We will continue to employ effective strategies and methods while enhancing instruction with attention grabbing, brain engaging opportunities for students to go deeper and richer into their learning.
The content or subject matter to be incorporated into the locally developed educational program consists of three closely related areas of study in art that will be integrated into the interdisciplinary units:
Understanding Art and Artists- which deals with the nature, function, and resultant importance of visual and performing arts;
Creating Art— which deals with the substance or constituent parts of visual artwork and performing arts, the creating process, and the end product.
Valuing Art—which deals with the manner in which one finds meaning in the arts and makes judgments about the artist's achievements.