A Great Learning Experience

Reflections Student Art by Vy Nguyen (Grade 5)

Reflections Student Art by Vy Nguyen (Grade 5)

Creating art is a valuable learning process. Artistic exploration and expression enhance and develop intellectual, social and physical skills.

When children express themselves through words, pictures, music, photography and other art forms, they grow intellectually. The National PTA Reflections program helps parents encourage and recognize the continuous self-discovery process of their children.

With art, children learn to analyze their thoughts, feelings and ideas; look at objects, people and experiences in a fresh and exciting way; and develop curiosity for the ideas and works of others.

There are four skills students demonstrate and enhance through their artwork in the Reflections program:

  1. Critical Thinking—Students draw upon many skills and explore the creative process while reflecting on the annual Reflections’ theme. Oftentimes, students solve problems to real-world global issues or identify opportunities and strategies that really work.
  2. Communication—Students hone their writing and communication skills by articulating their thoughts and ideas in an artist statement that is shared with their peers and the greater school community. Reflections will give students a voice (using art) to inform, persuade, motivate and inspire others.
  3. Collaboration—Families and classrooms have fun discussing the annual theme and exploring new art-making techniques. A student choreographer or film director will cultivate leadership skills while working with their peers, and a Reflections Art Night will offer time and space for the whole family. Student leadership and ownership are key for a successful Reflections submission.
  4. Creativity—Students find themselves at the epicenter of their imagination. Reflections artwork is a product of mastering the creative process. Students must brainstorm multiple ideas and even combinations of them by elaborating, refining, analyzing and evaluating. The process allows students to think outside the box and create a tangible, useful work of art that inspires others to be engaged in their own learning.

It’s programs like PTA Reflections that allow students to cultivate and curate creative skills that give them an academic advantage.

Students who participate in arts programs like Reflections show the greatest relative improvement in academic achievement, especially for those in underserved communities. Arts education has the ability to level the playing field because it provides a safe learning environment where students take risks, explore ideas and express their individuality. Students also learn to support their peers in a positive way by breaking down communication barriersprobably because the arts are a universal language (ArtsEdSearch.org).

Reflections is designed to enhance arts education. It provides opportunities for students to express themselves and to receive positive recognition for their artistic efforts. Family members, school personnel and the community all play a critical role in fostering a positive learning environment for children. Supporting a Reflections program in your community is one way adults can help maintain that environment.

I encourage you to support student learning through the arts so that today’s Reflections artists can find their voice and continue to explore their world in creative ways.

Learn more and get started at PTA.org/Reflections.


Ethan Clark is the Manager of Education and Arts Initiatives at National PTA.

Encourage Creativity During #ArtsEdWeek

ArtsEdWeekThis September 14-18, PTAs and schools nationwide encourage creativity during National Arts in Education Week to raise awareness of the value the arts bring to a high-quality, comprehensive education.

The weeklong initiative is designed to celebrate the arts, spotlight the importance of arts education and encourage participation in arts programs and activities like PTA Reflections.

The timing of the week honors National Arts in Education Week as designated by the U.S. House of Representatives, but also serves as the official kickoff celebration for the 2015-2016 National PTA Reflections program.

Each day of the Sept. 14-18 school week, PTAs across the country and in U.S. schools overseas will celebrate arts education by hosting school-wide arts activities based on the 2015-2016 PTA Reflections program theme, Let Your Imagination Fly.

PTA Reflections encourages students to create original artwork that reflects their interpretation on the annual theme and acquire many educational and life-long benefits.

You can introduce the theme at school or at home by starting a conversation. Try these questions to help students explore their world as it relates to the theme.

  • What would happen if you let your imagination fly?
  • Where does your imagination take you?
  • How/when do you use your imagination?
  • Why is your imagination important to you?

Give students time and space to reflect on the theme and offer arts supplies and materials for them to explore the following PTA Reflections categories each day during National Arts in Education Week. Consider the following ideas to encourage creativity:

Monday – Dance Choreography: Choose a time during the school day and invite everyone to dance together. Choose a story based on the theme that is read aloud or song based on the theme and have students create movements to phrases that communicate the theme.

Tuesday – Film Production: Have students create a storyboard/comic based on their interpretation of the theme. Set up a place where students can rehearse and record their skits.

Wednesday – Literature: Students may write a poem/short story related to the theme. Consider inviting a guest author to talk about how they use their imagination.

Thursday – Music Composition: Host time and space for students to participate in a music making activity using instruments or found objects. Provide studio time where students explore sounds/instruments and record their compositions.

Friday – Photography & Visual Arts: Encourage students to take photos of their peers using their imagination to be more creative in class and at home. Have students post their photos on a designated wall that promotes the Reflections theme.

Throughout #ArtsEdWeek, share photos and videos of your #PTAReflections program encouraging creativity in your school. For inspiration, share this video and visit the online art exhibit featuring student interpretations on past years’ themes.

After National Arts in Education Week is over, the fun continues! Family and peer encouragement is key to a student’s success in school and in life and this is what PTA Reflections is all about.

To get involved, join your PTA and visit PTA.org/Reflections to get started! And for more info on National Arts in Education Week, visit PTA.org/ArtsEdWeek.

Reflections: A Gallery of 2014-2015 Student Art

Since 1969, the PTA Reflections program has encouraged students across the nation and in American schools overseas to explore their creativity. Each year, students in preschool through high school are invited to create and submit works of art in the areas of dance choreography, film production, literature, music composition, photography, and the visual arts. In the 2014-2015 school year, Reflections students shared their artistic interpretations on the theme “The World Would Be a Better Place If…

National PTA Reflections submissions are reviewed by experts in the visual, literary and performing arts. Judges look for personal interpretation on the program theme that best exemplify creativity and technical skill. We are proud to share with you this year’s award winning works of art and invite you to join us at future exhibitions.


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Dance Choreography

Outstanding Interpretation in Dance Choreography –
“The World Would Be a Better Place If everyone Was True to Themselves” by Madison Duellman

When [my friends and I] heard the song “Try” by Colbie Caillat, I was inspired to create a dance about being yourself and not trying to be something you are not. We all feel that if we could dress, look, and be ourselves, we would be happier and if everyone did that, the world would be a better place.” – Madison Duellman

View all of the national award winning dance choreography submissions.


 

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Film Production

Outstanding Interpretation in Film Production –
“Masks” by Jacqueline Fashimpaur

I always noticed that people act differently around others then they do in private. Even Ida Shel Silverstein wrote a poem comparing this phenomenon to wearing masks, and I thought it was a great metaphor. This film shows how “wearing a mask” can lead people to be isolated and lonely. I think that if people felt free to be themselves, there would be more friendship and understanding between people, and the world would be a better place. Hopefully this film inspires some change in that direction.” – Jacqueline Fashimpaur

View all national award winning film production submissions.


 

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Literature

Outstanding Interpretation in Literature –
“The World Would Be a Better Place…” by Sarah Murphy

Poem“The world would be better if hatred, jealousy, war, and disease were eliminated. Focusing on the negative makes life harder. The world has flaws and sadness but we must also see the good to appreciate what we have. I used alliteration in the beginning to show anger and agitation when talking about the “bad” things. The second part has no alliteration to convey accepting the good with the bad. The spacing emphasizes the meaning. The “negatives” are on the left side, the contrasting feelings are on the right. The conclusion is in the middle to combine the two.” – Sarah Murphy

View all national award winning literature submissions.

 

 

 

 


 

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Music Composition

Outstanding Interpretation in Music Composition –
“It’d Be Better” by Fritz Hager

This song [It’d be Better] focuses on the greed that is in the world. My song states that the world would be a better place if we all gave more than we received, and showed love through our giving.” – Fritz Hager

Check out all national award winning music composition submissions. Video coming soon!


 

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Photography

Outstanding Interpretation in Photography –
“Determination” by Cesily Covey

My artwork illustrates my belief that everyone should receive an equal opportunity and equal exposure to the culture around us. Regardless of where we come from, we all come from one planet and that everyone deserves equal access to education and global culture so we can all unite not under the name of a country, but under Earth.” – Cesily Covey

View all national award winning photography submissions.


 

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Visual Arts

Outstanding Interpretation in Visual Arts –
“Unity” by Catherine Park

My artwork illustrates my belief that everyone should receive an equal opportunity and equal exposure to the culture around us. Regardless of where we come from, we all come from one planet and that everyone deserves equal access to education and global culture so we can all unite not under the name of a country, but under Earth.” – Catherine Park

View all national award winning visual arts submissions.


 

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Special Artist

Outstanding Interpretation in Special Artist Division –
“Everything Will be Ok I’ll Just Stay” by Maria Quiles

Giving someone a hurtful nickname, making fun of their medical conditions, claiming you’re their true friends and during all this feeling like not even family cares. Having it lead you fell as well, there is no other choice, suicide is the only possible answer for all this to just end. To ignore these problems, bullies, and this non-stop hurtful pain deep inside. Well no, it’s not. Believe in yourself instead! To continue staying strong, ignore those bullies, those that have no idea what they are even talking about or what your’re truly going through. Tell yourself ‘Everything Will Be OK’.” – Maria Quiles

Learn more about the Special Artist Division for students with disability.

Northwoods Elementary is STEAMing ahead!

NorthwoodsElem

On April 16, Northwoods Elementary in Cary, N.C. held their first STEAM Fair. The idea was to take STEM a step further by adding art into the equation. Northwoods’ PTA President, Crystal Hartzell explains, “Most will agree that art is a major key to creativity, and that creativity is the catalyst to innovation. Merging STEM and Arts education could accelerate the innovation and progressive thinking of our students. It is our responsibility to give our future leaders a well-rounded quality education preparing them for the many challenges they will face in their future and that can’t be done by only enriching half of the brain.”

1gfeMore than 70 students created projects at home from one of the STEAM categories: Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math. They were then displayed during the schools STEAM Fair for the community to see. The evening included hands-on demonstrations by multiple local companies like StarWitness, STEM for Kids, and Vision Martial Arts. As well as representatives from East Cary Middle Schools Coding and Robotics clubs and St. Mary’s Biology Explorer’s Summer Camp. Families were encouraged to get involved, interact with others and have fun. The school’s Title 1 team handed out free math and reading books and games to over 150 students during the event.

The 275+ attendees were also invited to participate in a collaborative art project titled “The Art of Community” with the assistance of Cary Teen Council.  This will be displayed in the front lobby of the school in the coming weeks for Northwoods families and guests to enjoy. The evening was topped off with the attendance of Big Mikes BBQ food truck and Kona Ice truck for dinner and dessert. The Northwoods STEAM Fair was hosted by Northwoods Elementary PTA.

How are your local schools demonstrating STEAM in the students’ curriculum? Leave some comments below!


Crystal Hartzell is the Northwoods Elementary School PTA president.

A Day in the Life of an Arts Teacher

shutterstock_121398937It is important to thank those who are able to bring the arts to our students’ lives. One of the best things about being an arts teacher is to see my students succeed. I chose to become a music teacher at the young age of eight years old. I was inspired by the great movie: Mr. Holland’s Opus. Here’s a brief description (and spoiler) of the movie for those who haven’t seen it. In the 1960s, Mr. Holland, played by Richard Dreyfuss, was a composer and professional musician.

He wanted to settle down from his crazy performance schedule to spend more time with his wife. In order to do so, he became a music teacher in the local high school. Although he dreaded being a teacher because he loved to perform so much, he grew to love his students as if they were his own children. Mr. Holland taught for over 30 years and changed hundreds of his students’ lives through music both inside and outside of the classroom.

At the end of the movie, Mr. Holland was forced to retire because of funding and lack of administrative support, however, the majority of the students who he taught came back and planned a huge concert for him where they performed a piece that he spent decades composing. I want to be just like Mr. Holland. I want to be able to break through the barriers of my students’ lives to let them know that they can use music (or other arts) to express themselves.

Currently, I teach elementary instrumental and general/vocal music in Baltimore County, MD. I usually teach about 5-6 classes a day, depending on the day, with 1 planning period. Each of these classes (and the planning period) are 50 minutes long. During these 50 minutes, a lot of activities and topics are reviewed, learned and evaluated. I also make sure that what they are learning coincides with things they may be currently learning in their other classes as well as incorporate familial aspects from my students’ lives to help them better understand concepts.

5:00 a.m. – Wake up, shower, eat, and get dressed.

6:30 a.m. – Out the door, on the road from Washington, DC to my school in MD, which is about 50 miles away.

7:45 a.m. – Arrive at school, begin putting up objectives, clean instruments, rearrange classrooms, compile old papers, and sharpen pencils.

9:15 a.m. – 4th Grade. This class is composed of about 22 students who are extremely excited about music. We warm up with vocal exercises and techniques and review old topics. We then focus on the topic of the day and work in groups to explore the topic. Students usually perform at the end of each class period so that I can evaluate their understanding of the new topic.

10:05 a.m. – 5th Grade Electives, World Drumming. This class is an elective class in which students choose to participate in their favorite activity. This class consists of about 15 5th grade students who mostly compose their own songs using Orff instruments, drums and other world instruments like the claves.

10:55 a.m. – 3rd Grade. The third grade curriculum is currently a mix between Kodaly techniques and Recorder. Students essentially love music at this age because they become more responsible with purchasing their own instruments (the recorders). Depending on the day, students are both learning music theory and a new recorder piece or they are testing to receive their next belt in recorder karate.

11: 45 a.m. – Lunch

12:15 p.m. – 2nd Grade. This class loves to play with different instruments so we continue to sing, use Kodaly methods and learn about new instruments during the class.

1:00 p.m. – 10 minute break to re-adjust my classroom.

1:10 p.m. –1st Grade. This class loves to sing, dance and perform! We continue to work on our 1st grade play for our parents, which we will perform at the end of the year. We also talk about different topics in music class and how they apply to the songs that we are learning to perform.

2:00 p.m. – Kindergarten. A very playful class that loves to perform, sing and dance. They are learning the fundamentals of music such as loud vs soft (piano/forte), locomotive sounds, ostinatos, rounds, etc.

2:50 p.m. – Planning Time. Finish lesson planning for the next day, clean up room, make copies, etc.

3:30 p.m. – Afternoon Duty. Making sure students go straight to the bus and saying our goodbyes for the day.

4:00 p.m. – After-school step practice with students (or talent show practice depending on the day).

6:00 p.m. – Last student leaves for the day, and so do I!

7:30 p.m. – Finally get home. Continue to plan lessons/units for the upcoming weeks.

“The practice of art isn’t to make a living. It’s to make your soul grow.” – Kurt Vonnegut


Quanice Floyd is the Arts Education Graduate Fellow at National PTA. She is currently working on her Masters in Arts Management at American University while teaching in Baltimore County Public Schools. She received her Bachelors of Music Education at Howard University and Masters of Music Education at Kent State University. She is passionate about arts education and one day hopes to one day open her own performing arts school for urban youth.

The Art of Sharing Power

SharingPowerCo-authored by Ethan Clark.

Lights! Camera! Action! Check out the following dramatic script to see an example of how arts education can be limited and one parent who wants to make a difference.

Colors for Timmy: A dramatic play about sharing power
by Sherri Wilson and Ethan Clark

Cast:
Timmy Wilson

Mrs. Wilson
Principal Clark

Late one evening at the Wilson’s dinner table…

Mrs. Wilson: “What was the best part of your day today, Timmy?”

Timmy: “I liked the painting we did in art class but we only had two colors to choose from and all of our pictures looked the same.”

Mrs. Wilson: “What? Only two colors? Why don’t they have more?”

Timmy: “Mr. Clark said they didn’t have any money in the budget to pay for more paint.”

Later that week, at the principal’s office…

Mrs. Wilson: “How can we get more colors of paint for the children?”

Mr. Clark: “The budget decisions were made by the committee last year.”

Mrs. Wilson: “How can I get on the committee? I’d like to make sure that all the kids get all the colors they need!”

Does this dramatic script resonate with you? Do you think your school needs more arts education? Ask your friends to role play this with you so you can practice having a voice in decisions that affect children. For inspiration check out The Quest, a national award winning film production from Reflections participant Ansel LaPier of Liberty, WA.

The PTA National Standards for Family School Partnerships were developed by leading researchers and practitioners to empower PTA leaders, parents, educators, community members and students to work together for the educational success of all children. The fifth of the six standards Sharing Power. Families and school staff should be equal partners in decisions that affect children and families and together inform, influence, and create policies, practices, and programs. Families and school staff should be equal partners in decisions that affect children and families and together inform, influence, and create policies, practices and programs.

Share power and advance arts learning in your school, with these 3 steps:

  1. Create a PTA taskforce of student, teacher and other school leaders. Welcome community arts professionals.
  2. Assess your school’s arts in education needs: Survey school leaders identify school policies that support arts teaching and learning (e.g. arts learning standards, arts instructional requirements, assessment of arts learning, licensure requirements for arts teachers, etc.). Use the Arts Education Partnership’s State of the States Arts Education State Policy Summary to compare school policies with state laws. Identify areas needing improvement.
  3. Develop an action plan with recommendations to school leaders on how update, adopt, or implement art education policies. Include your “shared power” strategy in official school documents such as a school improvement plan.

The arts — and the National PTA Reflections® program, in particular — can be a valuable tool for building stronger partnerships in your school community and meeting the Standard for Sharing Power.

Read more to learn about each of the National Standards for Family-School Partnerships and the steps you can take with PTA Reflections to meet them. Also, consider enrolling in the National PTA School of Excellence program to gain new ways to engage all families in each of the standards. National PTA School of Excellence is a recognition program that supports and celebrates partnerships between PTAs and schools to enrich the educational experience and overall well-being for all students. Contact excellence@pta.org or call (800)307-4782 for more info.

Fifth in a series of blog posts co-authored by National PTA’s Senior Manager of Family Engagement Sherri Wilson & Manager of Arts in Education Ethan Clark.

 

The Art of Speaking Up for Every Child

Co-authored by Ethan Clark.

Roses are red. Violets are blue. Students love art and you should too! How would you express your feelings about arts education in your school community? Take a moment and write your thoughts on why the arts are important for your child’s education. Bonus points if it rhymes!

Does your poem resonate with the following key facts about arts in education?

  1. Participation in the arts through programs like PTA’s Reflections develops the whole child. Through movement, social interactions, emotional expression and application of skill, arts education provides an academic advantage to students. The arts provide safe learning environments where students take risks, explore ideas, express their individuality and support their peers in a positive way. Studies also find that students are more engaged and teachers are more effective in arts-rich schools.
  2. PTA’s Reflections program can level the playing field for underserved students. Studies find that students from low socioeconomic backgrounds, English language learners, and students with special needs—often underserved in public schools—show the greatest relative improvement in academic achievement when participating in arts programs such as PTA Reflections.
  3. Participation in the arts connects families and schools to one another and to their communities. Research shows a significant relationship between arts education, family engagement, and community participation. Students who study the arts develop a sense of personal responsibility toward their communities and have the ability to positively affect the community social life through their artwork. Insert a sentence about the way Reflections accomplishes that.

That Kind of TeacherIt’s important to let your school leaders know how you feel about arts in education! Share your perspective with school leaders so that they understand why you feel your child needs opportunity for arts learning.

For an inspirational look at education through the eyes of a child, take a look at That Kind of Teacher, a national award winning poem by Reflections participant Jared Weiss of New Jersey.

Sharing your views with school leaders is the heart of Speaking Up for Every Child, the fourth of the six National Standards for Family School Partnerships. Families should feel empowered to be advocates for their own and other children, to ensure that students are treated fairly and have access to learning opportunities that will support their success.

Consider advocating for state or local policies to support arts in education. It takes a variety of policies across many areas of education to ensure a high quality learning experience, such as:

  • Arts as a core academic subject
  • Resources for early childhood learning in the arts
  • Learning and teaching standards
  • Time, space, and resources for elementary, middle and high school arts programs
  • Schools offer opportunities to participate in the arts during and after school
  • Students are graded on content knowledge and skills they’ve learned in art programs

Visit ArtScan by Arts Education Partnership to learn more about your state’s policies supporting arts education. And check out the Arts Education Field Guide by Americans for the Arts to expand your arts in education network.

The arts — and the National PTA Reflections® program, in particular — can be a valuable tool for building stronger partnerships in your school community and meeting the standard for speaking up for every child. When families come together at Reflections events, they have the opportunity to dialogue about the value of art education and how to work together to advocate for more.

Read more to learn about each of the National Standards for Family-School Partnerships and the steps you can take with PTA Reflections to meet them. Also, consider enrolling in the National PTA School of Excellence program to gain new ways to engage all families in each of the standards. National PTA School of Excellence is a recognition program that supports and celebrates partnerships between PTAs and schools to enrich the educational experience and overall well-being for all students. Contact excellence@pta.org or call (800)307-4782 for more info.

Fourth in a series of blog posts co-authored by National PTA’s Senior Manager of Family Engagement Sherri Wilson & Manager of Arts in Education Ethan Clark.

ED Celebrates Award-Winning Student Art in the National PTA’s Exhibit ‘Believe, Dream, Inspire’

Reposted from U.S. Department of Education’s HomeRoom blog.

Travez

Travez Bradford, recipient of a National Award of Excellence for Music Composition/High School Division, performs his winning rap Believe, Dream, and Inspire. (Photo credit: Paul Wood/U.S. Department of Education)

On January 13, 2015, more than 200 teachers, family members, arts education leaders, PTA members, policymakers, and local-area students came together to honor student artists from 21 states at the U.S. Department of Education (ED) auditorium and art gallery. The young artists – and winners of the 2014 National PTA Reflections program — came to celebrate their works of visual art, film, dance, music, and creative writing based on the theme Dream, Believe, Inspire.

Two dynamic artists performed their winning pieces. Travez Bradford, recipient of a National Award of Excellence for Music Composition, performed his rap Believe, Dream, and Inspire. With a whirlwind of energy, Jillian Miller, winner of a National Award of Merit for Dance Choreography, performed her lyrical dance You Can Be Anything.

Jillian Miller, recipient of a National Award of Merit for Dance Choreography/Intermediate Division, performed her lyrical dance You Can Be Anything. (Photo credit: Paul Wood/U.S. Department of Education)

Prior to the start of the ceremony, Travez, who had traveled with his grandfather from Natchez, Mississippi, talked about his musical inspiration: the gospel rap he experienced at church. His winning composition is in response to his classmates’ fear of performing poorly on tests and failing to graduate, “Believe in yourself when other people doubt you. Dream big, even when some dreams don’t come true. Inspire yourself when others don’t.” Travez now attends community college in Mississippi.

Secretary Duncan launched the celebration by championing arts education, “The arts should be — must be — part of a well-rounded curriculum for every single child.” The National PTA’s Reflections program, he noted, “helps students gain core knowledge — in areas like history, geography, and math — alongside 21st-century skills like critical thinking and problem solving. This program prepares students for success not just in school but in life as well.”

Echoing the secretary, Dawn Small, chair of the Reflections program, observed, “These students … have gained … the ‘arts advantage.’ Their creativity is alive. … Their mind’s eye is awake. … We look forward to great things from them.”

Robert Lynch, president and CEO of Americans for the Arts, underscored the value of the exhibit and audience to help decision makers learn about the transformative power of arts education. To demonstrate that, he presented an information tool developed by Americans for the Arts, a national nonprofit organization for the advancement of arts and arts education. “If we do it right,” he charged, “the return on investment is a better child … a better nation and a better world.”

Otha Thornton Jr., National PTA president, stressed the importance of promoting arts education, observing that, “our children’s education is our future … we are their advocates. We are the conduits of their dreams.”

After the ribbon cutting, Vy Nguyen of Texas talked about her acrylic painting Dream with Eye Wide Open. A recipient of an Award of Excellence for Visual Arts, she developed her skill through sheer determination. Blinking away tears of joy, she shared her dream to graduate from high school and attend college. The silhouetted figure depicted in cap and gown represents this dream amid a class of graduating seniors in an eye full of awareness and hope.

Vy Nguyen, recipient of an Award of Excellence for Visual Arts/Intermediate Division, shares the inspiration for her painting Dream with Eye Wide Open. (Photo credit: Paul Wood/U.S. Department of Education)

One of the most exciting sights of the day was the middle school class from Jefferson Academy of Washington, D.C., critiquing student art. Their art teacher Michelle Green explained their presence, “It’s been a long and arduous process of getting them comfortable with the [art criticism] vocabulary. This is a great opportunity for us to see other kids their own age from around the nation looking at artwork” and to get the desire to “join in these competitions!”

Students from Jefferson Academy in Washington, D.C. critique artwork in the student art gallery. (Photo credit: Paul Wood/U.S. Department of Education)


Isadora Binder is on the staff of the Office of Innovation and Improvement at the U.S. Department of Education.

All Department of Education photos are by Paul Wood. More photos from the event may be viewed on the Department of Education’s Flickr

The Department’s Student Art Exhibit Program provides students and teachers an opportunity to display creative work from the classroom in a highly public space that honors their work as an effective path to learning and knowledge for all. To visit the exhibits or for information about exhibiting, contact Jackye Zimmermann.

The Art of Supporting Student Success

with co-author Sherri Wilson

Art_EducationA picture is worth a thousand words! Next time you visit your school, take out your phone and take a picture of something around you that shows evidence of student success.

Look at your picture. What elements of the picture lead you to believe that student success is happening in your building? Do you see examples of high quality student work? Do you see evidence that learning standards are met?

The PTA National Standards for Family School Partnerships were developed to empower PTA leaders, parents, educators, community members and students to work together for the educational success of all children. The third of the six standards is Supporting Student Success. Families and school staff should continuously collaborate to support students’ learning and healthy development both at home and at school, and have regular opportunities to strengthen their knowledge and skills to do so effectively.

Arts programs allow for families and school staff to collaborate in ways that prepare students for the next America. The Arts Education Partnership states that, “America’s global stature, culture of innovation, and entrepreneurial spirit depend on the strength of a world-class education system. Perhaps now more than ever—as the country becomes increasingly diverse, the world more interconnected, and the workplace more oriented around technology and creativity—arts education is key to such a system and to ensuring students’ success in school, work, and life.”

Consider the following resources to support students in school, in work and in life:

  • Explore the new National Arts Standards.
  • Host a Creative Career Fair to match student’s interests in the arts with today’s Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts & Math workforce.
  • Apply for a Mary Lou Anderson Grant to support art projects for the whole school community.

The Arts — and the National PTA Reflections® program, in particular — can be a valuable tool for building stronger partnerships in your school community and meeting the Standard for Supporting Student Success.

Read more to learn about each of the National Standards for Family-School Partnerships and the steps you can take with PTA Reflections to meet them. Also, consider enrolling in the National PTA School of Excellence program to gain new ways to engage all families in each of the standards. National PTA School of Excellence is a recognition program that supports and celebrates partnerships between PTAs and schools to enrich the educational experience and overall well-being for all students. Contact excellence@pta.org or call (800)307-4782 for more info.

Now that we’ve learned about the basic elements of supporting student success, take another look at your picture and write an artist statement to accompany your photo. Share your photo with us on twitter (@ClarkEthan & @PTAswilson)!

Third in a series of blog posts co-authored by National PTA’s Senior Manager of Family Engagement Sherri Wilson & Manager of Arts in Education Ethan Clark.

 

Arts Education Is Critical for Students with Disabilities

Art_Education

At VSA, our mission is to ensure that people with disabilities—specifically students in grades K-12 and emerging artists up to age 25—have opportunities to learn through, participate in, and enjoy the arts.  We believe arts education is critical for students with disabilities.  You, as a parent, guardian or caretaker, should invest in, advocate for, and participate in the arts education of your child. Here’s why:

Arts education develops critical 21st century skills such as creating and innovating, listening to and building on the opinions of others, practicing problem solving, and developing empathy. These skills are crucial for academic and professional success.  In the arts, these skills are conveyed through engaging learning experiences where the student’s voice, intuition and feelings are valued.  For many students with disabilities, these creative experiences provide opportunities to exceed expectations through the expression of unique perspectives.  And the collaborative nature of many art forms encourages students to learn to work with peers, form relationships and solve problems.  Thus, the arts offer students with disabilities unique opportunities to demonstrate understandings in ways that they may not experience in more traditional academic settings.

A growing body of research demonstrates positive life-long outcomes for students who have rich arts experiences. Music education and skills acquisition is linked to greater executive functioning skills, theater education is linked to verbal and literacy skills, dance education improves fitness and health, and the list goes on and on. All you need to do is Google “value of arts education” and you will find a veritable treasure trove of literature supporting the assertions above. Here’s one link I’ve been sharing recently:

Music: http://ed.ted.com/lessons/how-playing-an-instrument-benefits-your-brain-anita-collins

But we should also advocate for arts education for its own sake. Singing a song in three-part harmony brings a particular sense of joy.  What else feels like dancing but dance?  And the first time a child makes a mark on a canvas that represents her unique perspective, she knows power.

At the Kennedy Center’s Office of VSA & Accessibility, we offer arts education opportunities for students with disabilities in theater, visual arts, and music.  We also provide resources for teachers and parents to provide art experiences at home, enter a competition or online exhibition, or connect with experts in your community who are passionate about arts education for students with disabilities.

Students with disabilities deserve opportunities to develop their creative voices, individually and collectively.

By investing in your child’s arts education today, you are developing her capacity to embrace and shape her future.

We want to be your resource.  Reach out!

Here’s our website:  www.kennedy-center.org/education/vsa/

Or connect with us via email: vsainfo@kennedy-center.org

Sonya Robbins Hoffmann is Manager of VSA Programs at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.