Monday, January 21, 2013

Day Two - Art, Drama, Dance

Day Two in the Pine Street Media Center provided me with an up-close look at arts infusion in practice. The morning began with a Reader's Theatre rehearsal of  Melinda Long's How I Became a Pirate.  Lee Anne works with nine advanced readers in 2nd grade every Thursday and they have been preparing for a recorded performance that will be shared with their classmates. In the coming weeks this group will be doing a research project on pirates. Lee Anne encouraged my idea of developing a webquest on famous pirates to help guide the students' research.

Lee Anne gave me a tour of the school and I was impressed with the many displays of student artwork as well as the beauty of the architectural details in the original 1929 part of the school.  Several art pieces were created with visiting artists including large scale mosaic and stained glass installations.  The main hallway features a "tree" of partners, local businesses and individuals that help support the school's many activities and projects.  The upper grades have lockers for their lunch boxes, backpacks, and coats which frees up space in the classrooms.  I was happy to meet the assistant principals as well as the guidance counselors.

Lee Anne took some time to talk about what arts infusion really means and how it is implemented at all levels of the curriculum content.  She suggested that I arrange to come next Wednesday in order to observe class sessions with Eric Johnson, a nationally recognized dance educator.  The sessions will focus on Integrating Math & Dance/Creative Movement.  I am excited to have the opportunity to sit in on a session or two.  During my graduate education courses integrated curriculum was held up as ideal and now I get to see an arts infused curriculum in the real world.

Following a tour of the school, I was able to visit classrooms to observe.  Lee Anne facilitated visits to three classes - 4th grade social studies, 2nd grade, and a 5th grade dance class.  The 4th grade combined analyzing a painting with their study of the Revolutionary War and the signing of the Declaration of Independence.  The 2nd graders used dance and movement to express the varying types of wind.  The 5th grade class was in the dance studio working on interpreting works by Matisse and Munsch through dance.  Creativity and expression abounded and I was struck by the students' almost universal participation and engagement in the process.  My head filled with ideas to utilize the library resources to enhance the classroom arts infused curriculum.

The rest of the day included library times for a 3rd grade and a 2nd grade class.  Some of the 2nd grade students I managed to see three times in one day - at the Readers' Theatre, the classroom observation, and in the library.  I have a feeling that I will know these students well by the end of my internship time!  I was able to provide readers' advisory to several students and I enjoyed interacting with them and helping them find books that fit their interests.

Lee Anne shared her insights on using the STAR reader test results to increase students' reading comprehension and the importance of setting individual goals and conferencing with students.  It is my impression that Lee Anne is an essential figure in maintaining the strong culture of reading and literacy at Pine Street School. I wonder if other elementary school media specialists play such a large role in this area?  Reading and literacy are very important to me and I would love to one day be involved in school-wide leadership in these areas.

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