This summer, a group of elementary school educators spent a week in Balboa Park learning how to integrate the arts into their language arts curriculum while aligning to the Common Core State Standards. As the teachers moved from the Museum of Photographic Arts to the Timken and Mingei Museums of Art and to the La Jolla Playhouse, they engaged in various arts-based strategies that can be used in their own classrooms to enhance their students’ learning and literacy development.
The week-long institute, hosted by CARE (Collaborative Arts Resources for Education) and funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, took an arts-based approach to introducing teachers to the Common Core national curriculum standards, slated to be implemented in California in the 2014-2015 school year.
“These standards are different in that there’s a focus on critical thinking and problem solving that really wasn’t in the content standards before,” said keynote speaker Marva Cappello, Associate Professor of San Diego State University’s College of Education.
Throughout the week Cappello and the CARE partners demonstrated that these instructional shifts offer teachers an exciting opportunity to integrate the arts into classroom learning.
“These strategies are going to open students’ minds and will give me a way to measure their thinking," said Pershing Middle School sixth grade teacher Terry Miller from Pershing Middle School.
Story writing, role-playing, photo-sharing and engaging discussion were used to help teachers recognize the many benefits of incorporating art into their curricula.
"All of my kids can be successful using the strategies," said Rhonda Sloan, fifth grade teacher at Carver Elementary. "Every last one of them, regardless of their labels, regardless of their reading levels or their English language proficiency.”
Inspired and empowered, participants look forward to returning to their school sites to implement what they learned.
“Before this institute, I felt art-lame,” one teacher admits, “but now I understand that art is a message that I can use in my classroom.”