Dive Into Art, a program for K-6

May 21, 2013 at 11:27 am Leave a comment

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.

Entry filed under: arts education, curriculum, the arts.

Alumni Award Acceptance speech- Allison Keil ’04 Leslie Bedford’s Alumni Award Acceptance May 17, 2013

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