Posts Tagged With: arts education

Creativity and Innovation: developing tomorrow’s workforce

Arts in education week

Today marks my sixth month as arts education director for the Kentucky Arts Council.  As a veteran teaching artist with many memories in the field, stepping in as director has been a whirlwind of activity. Beyond learning how to manage four arts education programs, I have been trying to wrap my mind around the recent changes in the Kentucky Department of Education’s Arts and Humanities Program Review and the revised National Core Arts Standards. How will these changes affect our arts organizations and teaching artists? How can we help the schools?

Next week is National Arts in Education Week. As the arts council staff discussed the many changes in the field, we focused on how important our Kentucky Arts Partner (KAP) organizations are to the schools across the state. With the newer TranspARTation grant program, bus subsidies to arts organizations have become more important than ever.  Field trips, hands-on arts experiences and guest artists now count in the Arts and Humanities Program Review. To be proficient in Demonstrator 3 “teachers must provide models of exemplary artistic performances and products to enhance students’ understanding of an arts discipline and to develop their performance/production skills.” KAP organizations provide rich arts experiences for Kentucky students.

How can we help strengthen that relationship?  First, bring together business and education leaders to discuss what tomorrow’s youth need to bring to the workforce: the ability to be innovative and creative.  Next, connect the dots between the benefits of arts education and 21st Century work skills. Then, inform our KAP organizations about the Arts and Humanities Program Review, and open up a discussion on how they can work hand in hand with their local school districts.

Join us on Wednesday, Sept. 11, from 9:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. to discuss how providing students with rich arts experiences today will help ensure tomorrow’s successful workforce. The symposium is offered during National Arts in Education Week, which was passed in 2010 by House Resolution 275, stating congressional support:  “Whereas arts education, comprising a rich array of disciplines including dance, music, theater, media arts, literature, design and visual arts, is a core academic subject and an essential element of a complete and balanced education for all students.” The symposium is free and open to the public but does require registration.

Click here to sign up:

Jean St. John, arts education director

Categories: Arts Education | Tags: , , , , ,

Tikki Tikki Tembo No Sa Rembo

Both my boys are grown men now, but I do remember a summer when they went to camp at the Lexington Children’s Theatre and became immersed in the play “Tikki Tikki Tembo.” We would get up very early in the morning so I could drive them from Frankfort to Lexington before work. My sister, who lives in Lexington, would pick them up from the theater in the afternoons, and then I would bring them home in the evenings.

Since this was almost 20 years ago, my memory fails me when it comes to exact logistical details. But the experience for me and my children is fondly remembered. In a period of two weeks, I heard lines being read and recited over and over again with that familiar chant — “Tikki tikki tembo-no sa rembo-chari bari ruchi-pip peri pembo.” When it came time for performance, I think I was more impressed with the way the program worked than with my boys’ performances.

First, when you went in the theater there were no chairs. Carpeted risers were the norm and it put adults on the same level as children. Also, every child got a chance to participate and every child was a star. Of course, I thought my boys were the best. But I’m sure every parent, grandparent, aunt and uncle in the audience was made to feel that their child was the best also. I was so amazed that a full-scale production could be put together in such a short time.

Let me be clear, I did not sign my kids up for this because I thought they had great potential to be the next Johnny Depp or Russell Crowe. I wanted to give them something to do and let them see what live theater is about. But most of all, I just wanted them to have fun. Mission accomplished!

I’m quite sure that the Lexington Children’s Theater can still do that for your children this summer. I just checked their website and Summer Theatre School 2013 still has two sessions before summer ends.

Not near Lexington? The Kentucky Arts Council has put together a list of summer arts activities for kids across the state. Check it out at:

Beware! If you send your kids to theater camp, you might just find yourself 20 years later reciting some ridiculous lines from a children’s play and not remembering the context at all.  I’m just saying…

Tikki tikki tembo-no sa rembo-chari bari ruchi-pip peri pembo.

Note:  Lexington Children’s Theatre celebrates its 75th anniversary this year and is the oldest continuously running children’s theater in the nation.  It is also the 2013 recipient of the Governor’s Awards in the Arts Education Award.

Ed Lawrence, arts marketing director

Categories: Arts Education, Performing Arts | Tags: , , , ,

Participate in national arts standards public review

National Coalition for Core Arts Standards logoInterested in the future of arts education in Kentucky and across the nation? You should be. You currently have the opportunity to give feedback on proposed changes and updates made to the national core arts standards.

The national standards are available — in draft form — online. The standards haven’t been updated since the 1990’s and public input is being sought. You can make comments through July 15 as part of the National Coalition for Core Arts Standards (NCCAS) public review.

The coalition of national arts and education organizations and media arts representatives developing the 2014 National Core Arts Standards recently released the PreK-8 standards.

The new, voluntary grade-by-grade web-based standards are intended to affirm the place of arts education in a balanced core curriculum, support the 21st-century needs of students and teachers, and help ensure that all students are college and career ready.

The Kentucky General Assembly, as part of Senate Bill 1 (2009), mandated new academic standards in all subjects including arts and humanities. The legislature directed the Kentucky Department of Education, in cooperation with the Council on Postsecondary Education, to consider standards that have been adopted by national content advisory groups and professional education consortia.

Anyone with an interest is welcome to participate in the public review of one or more of the discipline drafts in dance, media arts, music, theater and visual arts.

For instructions, visit the NCCAS website.

For more information about the project, visit, or the NCCAS Facebook page.

Don’t miss this opportunity to make your voice heard on this important subject, and consider sharing this information with others in the arts and education communities.

Emily B. Moses, communications director

Categories: Arts Advocacy, Arts Education, Literary Arts, Other, Performing Arts, Visual Arts | Tags: , , , ,

Autism awareness and Derby’s ‘defining spirit’

Four years ago,  the offices of the Governor and First Lady asked the Kentucky Arts Council to decorate picnic tables for the Governor’s Derby Celebration. We took the project to extreme measures by turning the tables into horses. We also wanted to include the entire Commonwealth, so we found a way to let school children of all ages participate. Every year at the beginning of April, we mail blank canvases to Kentucky schools that respond to our open call. They design their own “blankets,” which are draped over “horses” at the celebration.

We’ve written about this before. Last year, students from Knox County Middle School honored a classmate who died with a blanket featuring an enlarged version of his notebook doodle. “The Shane Design” inspired many to think about our identities as proud Kentuckians and how that connects us across counties.

The 2013 blankets have arrived, and they are brilliant. As we laid them out to be photographed on our conference room table, one from Jacob Elementary School in Louisville immediately caught my eye. I admit that less than 10 years ago, the design wouldn’t evoke the emotional response in me that it does today. However, the primary-colored puzzle pieces are becoming  more common, and people are associating them with an important movement. The symbol encourages variation and evokes pride, much like each jockey’s farm-specific silk. This symbol is emblazoned proudly on everything from license plates to human skin. People with autism, and those who love them, are sharing their lives with the world through a simple-to-recognize design that alludes to the complex idea of solving a puzzle.

The letter attached to this blanket from teacher Angie Palmer reads:

Please accept and use this “blanket” as a piece of the positive youth spirit alive and thriving in our community. In a world where there are many questions and moments of despair, please allow my students to brighten the day of a person they touch. My students each have their own unique challenges, but be assured these challenges do not prevent them from living and enjoying their lives! We work daily to tackle their different abilities and create a life that is amazing!

This blanket signifies the uniqueness of my classroom, the breadth of the challenges we face, and the work we continue daily to help these children succeed. Four of the seven students in my classroom have autism. We decided to highlight the work we do every day to tackle the uniqueness of this special gift. This blanket uses the puzzle pieces to signify autism awareness., and the uniqueness of fitting the pieces together for the children that work every second of their days to combat the difficulties that autism presents.

The horses in the center of the blanket are each child’s own footprint, leaving their own unique mark for the festivities.  The manes of the horse that the children with autism created have the autism awareness colors to honor their fight daily. Their classmates, join together with their own footprints, fight their own struggles with their own challenges. The horses are all painted to the center of the blanket, signifying our unified work towards success. Their silhouettes represent their defining spirit and their specific gifts to this world we live in.

As we enter the day, we fill our hearts and minds with the “can do” statements for the day and push forward, As our blanket states “Autism…the race is on!”

I would like to underline Angie’s statement describing the students’ “defining spirit and their specific gifts to this world.” Therapists, scientists, doctors and social scientists are beginning to scratch the surface about this so-called disability. The puzzle  pieces are a fitting symbol for the awareness movement, as we can learn from people with autism (who daily assemble the pieces) how to find solutions to the problems we can no longer see, because we are predisposed to ignore and overlook them. Through the eyes of people with autism we may find evidence that it is actually our created environment which is disabled—not people.

Sarah Schmitt, arts access director

Categories: Arts Education | Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Ekphrastic Poetry: Inspired by Art and Structured According to W. C. Williams

For the past six years, I have been conducting ekphrastic poetry workshops in classrooms throughout western Kentucky, guiding students in grades 3 – 12 to write original poems inspired by works of art that are recorded and broadcast on our public radio station, WKMS-FM, every weekday in April to celebrate National Poetry Month. Response to the program has been overwhelmingly positive, not only as stimulus to writing and listening to poetry, but also as motivation to appreciate public radio and its role in the cultural life of the region.

Typically, one class period is all the time available for the workshops. Because of time limitations, I use short poems by William Carlos Williams as structural models, and images from “Picturing America,” a program of the National Endowment for the Humanities, to inspire the writers. In 2011-12, we used images from the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum on Main Street program, “Journey Stories.”

Williams’ short works (most notably “the red wheelbarrow” and “this is just to say“) offer permission to break some rules and focus on economy of language without sacrificing meaning. Especially with younger students in grades 3 – 6, the short poems are useful to review common core poetry concepts regarding stanzas, line breaks, word choices, imagery, etc. Between the images and the model poems, students of all levels are able to complete the assignment: to write a minimum of one poem before the end of the class.

A simple organizer guides writers in the number of stanzas and words per line of the poem. Students are urged to write, not to ponder too long over any aspect of their poems. Once they have a draft, it is easier for them to see where adjustments are needed. We dive right in and work fast, but there is always time allotted for students to read their poems aloud, with emphasis on reading loud and clear. Feedback focuses on specific strong points in each poem. (There is always something positive to say, now isn’t there?)

Some sophisticated concepts that are readily discussed in relation to the work include things like word choice, imagery, near rhyme, rhythm, line breaks, stanza breaks, point of view and parallel structure. Grammatical concepts sometimes arise — verb tense, subject-verb agreement, active voice — and, all are discussed within context. Kids beg to write more, and even after the bell has rung, they clamor to share their work.

Here are a couple of my favorites from this year’s batch:

Constance Alexander, faculty scholar, college of education, Murray State University,

Categories: Arts Education, Literary Arts | Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

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