For many, Arts Infusion is a new approach to teaching, and as with anything new, time is needed to create true, lasting change. In the Mississippi Whole Schools Initiative program, schools typically participate as "Arts in the Classroom" schools for a number of years before applying for "Whole School" status. During that time, teachers learn and practice arts infusion in the classroom. This time for trial and error is crucial to the teacher in learning to deliver content infused with the arts. Just as the musician practices for a concert, or a dancer rehearses dance steps for a recital, the teacher must also practice teaching math or reading/language arts through the lens of the arts.
The San Francisco Symphony Orchestra's "Keeping Score" program offers teachers resources for integrating the arts into the general school curriculum. One very useful tool offered on their website is a chart outlining how teachers move through the steps and levels of arts integration. Remember, activities such as rapping multiplication tables do not constitute true arts infusion. A deep, thorough exploration of a concept or idea in an arts and non arts setting, along with standards and assessments for both areas, are required for a co-equal student experience. The Keeping Score "Pathways to Integration" chart may be accessed by clicking here. While you're at the site, explore the lessons and interactive content as well. You may find inspiration in this valuable resource!
Shelby County Schools is quickly approaching the end of year 1 in its U.S. Department of Education PDAE grant program. Known as the SCS Arts Infusion Project, teaching teams from 10 schools are currently receiving professional development, supplies and materials, and support in their efforts to infuse music and visual arts into the school curriculum.
As schools go through the process of infusing the arts, they naturally pass through phases of development. A realistic timeline, from the beginnings of arts activity in the classroom to whole school reform, has a three to five year span. Arts Infusion is much more than an activity- it is an approach to teaching that becomes part of an instructor's daily practice.
Arts Every Day, an Arts Infusion project with the Baltimore, Maryland City Schools, outlines the phases of involvement on their excellent web page. As you read the explanations of continuing phases, it becomes clear that SCS is currently in PHASE 1 of Arts Infusion. While we have made much progress, we still have "miles to go before we sleep." Please click here to read the Arts Every Day explanation of the phases of Arts Infusion development, and comment accordingly.
As part of our ongoing work to build key partnerships in the arts community, an Arts Infusion Teacher Advisory Panel has been formed to advise local teaching artists and arts organizations on how they can best serve teachers at our arts infusion schools. The committee members are:
Tarique Martin- 8th Grade Math, Shadowlawn Middle
Virginia Rodgers- 3rd Grade, E.A. Harrold Elementary
Eliza Friskillo- Art, Rivercrest Elementary
Camela Blanchard- 5th Grade, Rivercrest Elementary
Christine Hughes- Choir/Music, Dexter Middle School
Letitia Sutherlin- APEX Language Arts- Mt. Pisgah Middle School
These teachers will represent YOUR interests, and they need to hear from you! Think about your own classroom: how could a local arts organization support your efforts to teach or write an arts infused lesson or unit? Would you like to have the opportunity to consult with a teaching artist before a performance takes place at your school? Would you be open to working with teaching artists as you teach an arts infused lesson? Think about these questions (and others you may have), and post your thoughts here.
The Shelby County Schools Arts Infusion wiki is now online! Please sign in and join the wiki to edit the page and post your questions, comments and answers to questions. The wiki may be found at:
Scott Hamilton, Olympic Gold Medalist in figure skating and skating commentator, commenting on skater Sasha Cohen's attempted comeback in the 2010 US Figure Skating Championship:
"It was all there, and she has the performance ability, but IT'S ALL ABOUT THE PROCESS!"
Even though Cohen had been skating professionally for years leading up to the championship, and even though the performance ability was there, the PROCESS of preparing was the determining factor in the performance. Cohen left competitive figure skating to focus on a professional career., and the 2010 US Figure Skating Championship was her first major competition since her silver medal finish in the 2006 Winter Olympics. The process she took to prepare for the performance did not give her the opportunity to practice her skills under the pressure a major US Championship competition provides. Professional skaters, while they perform multiple times in a given year, are not faced with being assessed in such a strict manner or being forced to measure up to rigid standards.
Are our students like the professional skater, performing multiple times but not really facing pressure? Is the end product (performance) more important than the process? The rigorous process is what produces the exemplary performance, whether it be in an arts integrated unit or on a standardized test. Skills must be practiced in real life situations so that when they are needed, they will be available. It's not enough for them to just "be there..." they must be accessible in high-pressure situations. It's all about the process!
Welcome to the Arts Infusion Project blog! This space will be used to discuss the arts infusion approach to teaching, as well as to provide a vehicle for teachers working in the project for communication and collaboration.
During the 2010-11 school year, SCS will be emphasizing the building of Professional Learning Communities (PLC) in the schools. The Arts Infusion Project provides a proven model for creating a PLC in the local school, as well as across the district. However, the PLC concept will not be realized without your input. Please use this space to discuss and exchange ideas.