campfireI don’t know about you, but I absolutely love it when I participate in a professional development session and I come away energized with new ideas ready to use. This summer I am stoking my arts integration fires by participating in two awesome arts integration teacher programs here in Maryland.

Last week, I had the great honor of being a group facilitator at the Maryland Artist Teacher Institute (MATI), a five day arts integration immersion camp! The Maryland State Department of Education partnering with and the Maryland State Arts Council and Arts Education in Maryland Schools Alliance (AEMS) brings approximately eighty PreK-12 teachers from around the state together for a wonderful Intensive professional development summer program at the University of Maryland.

Starting today, I am facilitating a similar immersion program right here in Anne Arundel County: Building 21st Century Schools with Arts Integration. Ninety of our county teachers will spend a week exploring how to integrate music, dance, drama, and visual art by participating in STEAM focused arts integration lessons as well as exploring how to use technology for the arts integrated classroom. Over the next few weeks, I will be sharing some of my favorite new strategies and ideas learned at these arts integration summer camps with you!

At MATI, my group and I attended sessions with six master teaching artists from music, drama, dance, visual arts, puppetry and poetry. Each session focused on Common Core literacy standards and presented a lesson plan based on a common text (a children’s book). The award winning book selected this year was Mama Miti: Wangari Maathai and the Trees of Kenya by Donna Jo Napoli and illustrated (beautifully) by Kadir Nelson. This biography offered many rich cross curricular connections as well as opportunities to explore the culture, conditions and traditions of Kenya and Africa. The book’s themes, characters and illustrations became the vehicle for demonstrating arts integration strategies in each of the arts. We danced, sang, performed and painted the story as part of a close reading of the text. Any story, text, book, or novel in any content area can be used with the strategies we learned.

Here are the first two of my favorite text connected strategies experienced at MATI:

Puppetry with Michael Lamason: Collaged story boards. After discussing the main ideas, themes, setting and characters of the text, we were asked to reinterpret the biography and illustrate it by means of a story board. (This would be turned into the script and we would make puppets for each of the main characters.) After deciding on our new story, each person in our group of six made one panel or 1/6 of the storyboard on a sheet of paper. A short, one sentence title (summary) of the scene was written on the bottom of the paper; no other words were used.

Then we illustrated the scene with collage. No drawing was allowed—everything was cut, torn, glued, layered with fabric, paper, buttons, glitter—all kinds of collected and recycled materials. What resulted was an artwork illustrating the element of texture and the main idea of the scene in an abstract art form. They were quick, easy and beautiful and no drawing skills were needed!!

The great thing about this activity is that it could be used with any sequential concept or skill. Storyboarding the water cycle, the order of operations, steps of a game, or the events leading up to the Revolutionary War are some curricular connections we found. In a classroom students might be asked to order the story by looking at a mixed up collection of the boards.

Poetry with Rosanne Singer: Haibun poems. A haibun is a form of Japanese poetry that combines imagery in prose and a haiku poem. Traditionally, it was written while traveling to record personal experiences but it we can use it to record any scene or special moment in a highly descriptive manner in a few short sentences- typically five. The description is then followed by a related haiku poem (a three line poem with a 5-7-5 syllable structure).

We were given different copies of outdoor landscape paintings by famous artists to inspire our poetry. We had to imagine that we had been traveling in the place in the painting and record what we saw, heard, tasted, smelled and felt as if we were really there. We used these words and ideas to develop and incorporate in the haibun. I thought that this would be a great activity after an Artful Thinking routine such as I See, I Think, I Wonder. The poetry activity could further help students develop visual connections to any place or environment that is targeted in a unit, such as being in the middle of a storm, in a rainforest, or in an animal habitat.

Using this simple poetry format is an engaging way of responding, reflecting, and connecting to the text (print or non print) as well as building background knowledge, especially if the paintings are selected to connect to the themes and settings of the text. A world language student could step into the culture of the country or language being studied and write in the target language. Travel and nature are obvious connections- so science and geography associations are numerous as well.

Stay tuned! Next week I will share more text connected arts integration strategies: composing a soundtrack of the story and creating artwork with powerful words from the text.