Summer Institute 2004
Albertson College campus

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 from throughout Idaho returned to school this Fall with new skills to connect the arts and learning. The Arts Powered Schools Summer Institute presented by the Idaho Commission on the Arts in partnership with the State Department of Education annually trains teachers to be able to use the arts in their classrooms as ways to engage learners, meet the needs of a variety of students, increase literacy, and promote creativity and critical thinking.

The workshop series is intense and engaging. Presenters of national caliber, including many from Idaho's cultural organizations, lead educators to envision and learn to use the arts as invaluable components of teaching young people. The focus during the six days includes not only activities in the arts, but their integration into the classroom via integrated curricula and lessons, authentic performance-based assessments, and partnerships with local artists and cultural organizations. Teachers who complete the Institute leave with a finished series of lesson plans that they can implement in their own classrooms.

Arts Powered Schools activities are built around an annual theme. The 2004 Institute 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 a 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 are directly impacting 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!"

Teachers may make use of several on-line lessons created during the Arts Powered Schools Institute. They are posted on the State Department Humanities webpage at: www.sde.state.id.us/instruct/humanities

ICANational Endowment ISDE
Idaho Commission on the Arts National Endowment for te Arts eaprrtment of Education, State of IDaho