Arts Help Make Learning Matter at ArtsPowered Schools 2006
The 2006 ArtsPowered Schools Summer Institute gathered teachers, parents, administrators,
and residency artists for a week long exploration of the power of the arts in
Nationally recognized arts education consultant, Eric Booth opened each day by
providing insights into how the arts engage students in high quality learning
by drawing on students’ central and active roles as meaning makers. Artwork’s
natural connection to the artmaker’s life experiences helps to make learning
matter to students.
By designing learning opportunities around “big ideas” or
essential questions educators can invite inquiry and encourage students to ask
questions about the world and about themselves. This personalization of learning
taps into a powerful human impulse to confer relevance and provides opportunities
for students to bring their personal voice to subject matter in Eric’s words,
“Students use their own voices to make stuff they care about”.
To unleash the potential of the arts to help learning to become personally relevant
and meaningful, teachers explored various arts disciplines during hands-on workshops
in puppetry, water color, experimental music, and dance, and experienced the intellectual
and emotional processes required to reveal themselves through their artwork. Each
arts discipline workshop emphasized the importance of reflecting and refining
in the creation of art, with a nod to educational theorist John Dewey via Eric
Booth, “reflection is where the learning is”.
College credit was offered for the successful completion of project plans for
units of classroom study built around an essential question or “big idea”. Teams
of teachers, administrators, and artists met each day to design artist residencies
that would enrich individual schools’ inquiry around their “big idea” and provide
opportunities for students to bring their own lives and experiences into the exploration
and demonstration of learning.
I have had many "ah ha" moments this week. Many times, I found myself choked
up by the emotion I felt for what I was learning-personally and professionally.
For our residency, we developed the essential question we will explore with our
students this year-"what is beauty?" In my heart and mind, I will begin each activity
next year remembering and bringing forward the beauty I discovered here.
Many of the things Eric presented caused me to reflect
deeply on important issues. I re-evaluated many of my teaching philosophies, and
the things he spoke on have caused me to change the way I design & present my
Every day I ended with my mind full of ideas for tweaking
my teaching and lessons to truly move them into the third space. I often felt
validated for what I was already doing well, while also being challenged to improve
my teaching. I also felt challenged to continue my own artistic endeavors and
try new experiences.
ArtsPowered School 2006 drew on recent research by the Arts
Education Partnership, Third
Space: When Learning Matters, and the Habits
of Mind principles. To learn more, go to: Powerful
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