In Maryland, we have a wonderful opportunity each year called MATI.
The Maryland Artists Teaching Institute (MATI) was established over 12 years ago and is funded through the Maryland Department of Education and the Maryland Arts Council. You must apply as a school team to attend and spaces are limited, so only a few schools are chosen each year. It is a highly competitive process, but so worth the time and effort. MATI runs for a week in July in the summer and educators and administrators of all grades and subject areas come together to learn about arts techniques, arts integration, and to develop a school-wide arts integration plan that they can take back with them for the upcoming school year. Each teacher is responsible for creating an arts integration lesson plan. The school action plan must include ways the school improvement plan for that year integrates the arts.
One of the things I like best about MATI is the focus on arts techniques.
Many classroom teachers turn away arts integration because they fear they don’t have the skills/ability to use the arts in their content areas. MATI helps to dispell this myth by providing teachers with sequential tools that are open-ended and allow for a lot of creative ways to integrate the arts into their teaching. One of the ones that I’d like to share with you was from our dance session with Karen Bernstein. Karen shared with us several ways to use dance in the classroom to study text, learn sequencing, and even connect to science and social studies objectives.
Karen taught us the techniques of Freeze Dance, Human Sculpture and Book Dance to bring movement in the classroom. Teachers may use these simple techniques in a variety of ways. For Freeze Dance, students simply move to an adjective or a mental image while listening to music. When the music stops, they freeze. They can experiment with making their bodies into shapes with curves or with straight lines, and even depict something as simple as the first letter of their name.
In Human Sculpture, students create a sculpture using only their bodies. One person goes into a circle and creates a frozen picture of an image. The next person goes in and adds to the first person’s frozen image. This goes on until everyone is in the center and you have a final “human sculpture”.
In a Book Dance, you have the students summarize the beginning, middle and end of a story. Write out the summaries in 2-3 sentences and then circle the most important words. The group must then move to the highlighted words in each part of the story, making a complete book dance at the end.
These techniques sound so simple – and they are!
And I bet that while you were reading them, you could think of a few ways you could use this in your own teaching. This is the power of an arts technique class. The more tools you have in your toolkit, the more powerful your lessons will be. If interested in learning more arts techniques, try out our arts techniques class: What’s In Your Toolbox? this fall!
The other thing I found really helpful during our stay at MATI was the large posters for each of the arts areas. By putting these up in your classroom, you are enabling students to have these technique tools at their fingertips every day. Be sure to check out these posters that I shared last week so that you can have your own taste of MATI.
Susan Riley is the founder and President of EducationCloset.com. She focuses on teacher professional development in arts integration, Common Core State Standards, 21st century learning skills, and technology. She is also a published author and frequent presenter at national conferences on Arts Integration and Arts and the Common Core.
Susan holds a Bachelor of Music degree in Music Education from the prestigious Westminster Choir College in Princeton, NJ and a Master of Science in Education Administration from McDaniel College in Westminster, MD. She lives in Westminster, MD with her husband and daughter.