Perpich Center for the Arts: Full STEAM ahead

By Jean McDermott

Parenting Resource Center

I.J. Holton Intermediate School was notified in January that they have been selected as one of four Minnesota schools to newly join the Turnaround Arts: Minnesota program in collaboration with the Perpich Center for the Arts. As a STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, ARTS, and Mathematics) focused school. This is exciting news.

Turnaround Arts is a program that uses the arts to improve student learning and transform schools. At the national level, Turnaround Arts is a signature program of the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Education, the National Endowment for the Arts, and several private foundations.

Decades of research show that art-engaged students perform better than their peers academically.

For example, recent studies show that students who participate regularly in the arts: 1. are more self-confident and better able to express their ideas, 2. have higher attendance and high school graduations rates, 3. are more likely to attend a four-year university, graduate and go on to a career with potential. Arts education can also benefit overall school culture and climate, especially when it is integrated into the school, giving teachers new tools, increasing collaboration, creating an atmosphere of creativity and inspiration and engaging parents and the community.

What does this mean for I.J. Holton School students and staff? The principal and two teachers will be attending a week-long Turnaround Arts National summer conference at the end of June. All Holton teaching staff will be attending a professional development day-long gathering with the Perpich Center for the Arts and our partner schools in August.

A nationally-recognized Turnaround Artist will “adopt” our school for the next two years and work with both students and teachers during the school year. Grant dollars of up to $20,000 will be made available to us each year of the grant to support the acquisition of teaching artist residencies, field trips, and arts supplies/materials to support art integration.

To start the process for the 2016-17 school year, the school leadership team selected an arts-based strategy on which to focus. Arts-based strategies are instructional methods that come directly from an arts discipline.

They are all fairly simple to learn, but can be pushed to deeper levels over the year and can be used across subject areas. Pantomime, observational drawing, and rhythm clapping are a few. But the most successful initial strategies for that schools use in the first year of implementation are Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS) and Tableau. I.J. Holton has selected Tableau as our first strategy to develop.

Tableau involves creating frozen group pictures. Students have to work as a team to use their bodies to express ideas, using important means of dramatic communication such as gesture, facial expression, body position, etc.

This strategy is a great community builder as groups of students learn to negotiate and work together to form a product, a product based on their understanding of the content they are learning in their classes.

 

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