One Bank Street Alumna’s Answer to Arts Integration…A Dive Into Art® Program!
By Anne Taggart ’96 April 29, 2013
These days, the roaring buzz in education is about 21st Century Skills and Arts Integration. In these exciting times filled with myriad points of view, I see a real chance to celebrate what I learned at Bank Street!
I am sure, like me, you have many happy memories of your times at Bank Street. For two years, my professors, peers, and mentors enthusiastically shared their experiences and encouraged me to explore the world with “all five senses alert.” In 1996, with a dual degree in museum studies and special education, I strode off on my new path as an educator eager to make a difference. Seventeen years later, I can look back and say that I am achieving my goal with the Dive Into Art program.
What is the Dive Into Art program?The award-winning Dive Into Art program, specifically geared toward students in grades K-6, began as a parent run, art appreciation program that I developed with a close friend for our local elementary schools in NJ. Each month parent-volunteers coordinate with their children’s regular classroom teachers and present grade specific artists following comprehensive lesson plans. Each lesson plan meets curriculum standards and includes lesson extensions, which suggest ways that educators can integrate each artist across the curriculum. The program’s success led to an NJPTA Award for Excellence in Arts Education out of more than 100 school programs. This award and the overwhelming encouragement from our school community prompted us to further develop the program and bring it to market.
How This Bank Streeter Became an Arts Advocate: We developed our program after discovering that many so called “vibrant” elementary art appreciation programs consisted of random handwritten notes on loose-leaf paper jotted down by various parents over the years. These program curricula were frequently heavy in one genre of art or medium—i.e. Impressionism, textiles, painting, etc. and included way too many dead white guys! Don’t get me started on the art projects either…a whole room of students following careful directions in order to create identical works of art…ughh! Although, these parents had good intentions, these programs were disappointing on many levels. I was particularly horrified when we found notes on Diego Rivera, which stressed that parents serve Tostitos and salsa as a culminating activity! We knew we could do better!!
Drawing on my art history background and my Bank Street training, while spring boarding off of my friend’s previous art appreciation program experiences and market research, we set out to develop a program that celebrated multi-generational, relevant, experiential, and integrated learning. We designed a balanced curriculum exposing participants to a broad range of art and artists, representative of various styles, media, and world cultures from prehistoric times to the present day. We selected specific artists for each grade, wrote age appropriate lessons and lesson extensions that tied into myriad curriculum strands offering opportunities to integrate art throughout the day. Our comprehensive lessons have a consistent, interactive, and easy-to-use format (including fun facts about the artists) and allow volunteers to confidently share these artists with students whether they are art novices or experts. Mindful of budget limitations, we chose simple art materials for the lesson projects, and all of the projects encourage students to create works of art that are individually relevant and reflective. (Thank you Jean Piaget, John Dewey, Lev Vygotsky, Naomi Pile, Nancy Smith, etc.!)
As we implemented our program, we joyfully observed:
- parents who had never heard of a particular artist or led a lesson in a classroom and were consequently nervous, approach us afterwards to tell us how wonderful it was to learn along with their child and that they couldn’t wait to sign up to teach another lesson or visit a museum
- grandparents who wanted to get involved and share their experiences (one grandparent even knew one of our artists personally!)
- children bounding out of school waving their art projects, eager to share new knowledge and creations
- teachers who had been reluctant to make time for another “activity,” subsequently effusive with praise and excited by the lesson extensions, as well as
- administrators who were surprised by the ease of program implementation and the rapid formation of waiting lists of volunteers who appreciated a meaningful opportunity to be in the classroom.
These multi-tiered and enormously positive results illuminated the difference integrating the arts made in our community, and fuels our efforts to see the Dive Into Art program thrive in communities everywhere. In time, we hope to increase the program’s accessibility by translating the Dive Into Art program into several world languages, offering lessons online, and by creating a foundation which would provide the program, art materials, art images, and art books to underserved communities.
What You Can Do: So the next time you hear the buzz words: arts integration; the “4Cs”—critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity; or 21st century skills remember to chat up this Bank Streeter’s grass roots solution…the Dive Into Art program.
Please visit our website at www.diveintoart.com to learn more about the program, to view a sample lesson plan, and comment on my latest blog about an epic American art heist.
And don’t forget to follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest! Lastly, please contact us if you would like to help us achieve our larger dream—lesson translations, lessons online, or our philanthropic goals; or if any of your friends, colleagues, or family would be interested in implementing the Dive Into Art program as we are running a Spring Deal through the end of May.
Allison Keil ‘04
2013 BSCAA Distinguished Service Award Acceptance Speech
May 17, 2013
Firstly let me start by saying it is an absolute honor to be here tonight and to be introduced by Frank, a longtime mentor to me is an additional honor.
Tonight feels like a night to be reflective to think about what I have been able to accomplish with the support of Bank Street. But tonight is also a night to share with you some of my hopes and some of my deep worries.
I hope that each of you in this audience can think of a teacher who is partly responsible for getting you to where you are today. I can almost guarantee you that when you think of that teacher you think of how that teacher inspired you to think differently about yourself or abut the world. I bet you can point to experiences you had with that teacher where you were engaged in a conversation or a study that allowed you to think deeply, outside of the box, creatively. Maybe like me it was the books that this teacher suggested I read and the conversations she held in that classroom where we fought passionately for our interpretations of that literature. Again, if you are like me I can almost guarantee you that the experiences that come to mind when you picture that teacher, whoever that teacher was to you, are not memories of that teacher preparing you for a State assessment in 3rd Grade or a multiple choice test in high school. And yes, here lies my worry.
We as a country are losing track of what matters in our classrooms in what arms a child for success. What is most disturbing is we have more answers than we are listening to. We know that creativity, defined as “the production of something original and useful” is essential for success. Reading a recent Newsweek article I found an IBM poll where 1,500 CEOs identified creativity as the No. 1 “leadership competency” of the future. Yet when we hold schools “accountable” we base those accountability measures solely on high stakes standardized tests that have nothing to do with creativity or creative problem solving and therefore we completely discourage schools and teachers from considering one of the most important elements of success and how to teach to that.
Please do not misunderstand I am very pro accountability and high standards for students and for schools, however how we hold students and schools accountable matters. We must be measuring across meaningful domains, we must be looking for and ultimately testing what leads to success.
To go one step further we know from research what experiences and modes of instruction lead to creativity and we know that creative thinking can be taught and fostered. We know that creative thinking requires generating unique ideas and then combining those ideas for the best result. We as educators know how to give children these experiences, we know this from places like Bank Street. But we as educators need for accountability systems to catch up to us and to reward and value teachers and schools who give children this type of educational experience, the kind of experiences that we can all point to when we think of that one classroom, or that one teacher or if we are really lucky that one school that gave us this type of experience, the one that helped us become who we are today.
Around the world countries are turning their educational attention to how to teach creativity in school. In this same Newsweek article it highlighted how the The European Union designated 2009 as the European Year of Creativity and Innovation, holding conferences on the neuroscience of creativity and instituting problem-based learning programs—curricula driven by real-world inquiry—for both children and adults. And this article went on to discuss how In China there has been widespread education reform to extinguish the drill-and-kill teaching style and Instead to adopt a problem-based learning approach. Why, you maybe asking is our country going in the other direction – and yes this is the question I am constantly asking myself.
And just to bring this out of the classroom and into the real world, the real world problems we are leaving with our children are vast and will no matter if we prepare them or not require creative thinking and problem solving, how are we going to solve our energy crisis? What can be done to repair the damage we have done to our natural environment? Where can we even begin to address gun violence? These questions do not have simple answers, and we are not given multiple choices to solve these problems – we must teach our children to face multi-faceted problems, to think creatively and to work together. And yes, this work has to be done in classrooms, in schools and across our country.
So, supporters of Bank Street we have our work cut out for us. We as a group have to think creatively to insure that those who have a voice in public school reform and accountability measures for public schools consider the things that we know are important and essential for the success of our children and for our world. Let’s help them catch up.
Dear Fellow Bank Street Alum:
A tremendous opportunity to raise funds for Bank Street’s Alumni Association (BSCAA), without writing a check, has come our way. A fellow alum has introduced us to a cutting edge energy company called, Viridian, which provides affordable green energy to customers. This initiative has the potential to engage all of us based on an important issue of our time, renewable green energy. The program offers an innovative way for BSCAA to raise funds. The way it would work is that each time a Bank Street alum pays their energy bill under Viridian through BSCAA’s future participation, BSCAA would receive a residual income to continue to support our alumni programs and events.
Energy deregulation allows all of us to select an alternative supplier for our electric and natural gas needs while staying with our current utility. This means your current utility company takes care of delivery, service, and maintenance needs and you get the same utility bill. The only difference is you’ll be making a significant contribution toward greening and cleaning up our environment, and you’ll see Viridian’s name and competitive rate on your monthly statement.
Making the right choice doesn’t have to cost more. In fact, the average Everyday Green customer saves money on energy costs over time.
At this time, we are asking you to let us know your interest in supporting this program. Please fill out the simple form below and send it to Linda Reing at Bank Street. If there is significant interest from our fellow alumni, BSCAA will consider moving forward with this project.
I look forward to hearing of your intelligent and thoughtful choice.
Mary Timson (’94)
Chair, Bank Street Alumni Association Advisory Board
Yes, I would be interested in signing up for greener energy at a competitive price and at the same time assisting the alumni association if this program is adopted.
Name:_____________________________________________ Preferred email:____________
Please return to: Linda Reing
BANK STREET GRADUATE SCHOOL ALUMNI: ARE YOU AN EXCELLENT WRITER? WOULD YOU LIKE TO GIVE BACK TO BANK STREET? DO YOU LIVE WITHIN COMMUTING DISTANCE OF THE COLLEGE? THE GRADUATE SCHOOL WRITING ASSISTANCE PROGRAM NEEDS YOU!
Bank Street Graduate School is seeking alumni who are excellent writers to serve as volunteer tutors for current grad students with writing challenges.
You must be able to attend three 3-hour training sessions in October 2013, and work face-to-face with a student for at least one hour per week during the academic year.
From a second-year tutor: “The hard-working and hard-studying students allowed me the opportunity to open windows into their personal and academic thinking, translate their lives and learning into their academic papers, and trust me with their struggles to express themselves using the written word. Not only was I touched by our mutually cooperative working relationships, but I was reconnected to my own hopes and visions for the education of adults and the children they will teach.”
For further information and application, please contact Rena Rice, program director, at email@example.com.