Two workshop series opportunities for teachers from our current artsBASICS schools and others were made possible through grants from the Quad City Arts Dollar$ Program. The first workshop series brought in the dynamic duo of Dan and Jessica Sheridan from the Davenport Junior Theatre. Dan is their Performing Arts Supervisor and the Artistic Director there and Jessica is an instructor. The workshop topic was: Theater Arts Integration Strategies for the Classroom Teacher. Grade level teacher participants ranged from Kindergarten to 7th grade and included McKinley, Jackson and Jefferson Elementary Schools, as well as Sudlow Intermediate and the Creative Arts Academy. Data gleaned from an online survey at the culmination of the workshops echoed the positive opinions shared by the teachers as they reported on their successes with their students. They mentioned that they had seen increased engagement of their students to learn in a variety of content areas. We are excited that we have provided more access to the arts for students in the schools to have implemented the learned strategies. We expect these positive returns for many of their students in the years ahead. This project is supported with the Quad City Arts Dollar$ funds, provided by Hubbel-Waterman Foundation, Illinois Arts Council Agency, John Deere, and the Doris and Victor Day Foundation.
Workshop Series 1 – Part I — Teaching basic acting games and exercises, for Kindergarten through 7th grade. Besides acting exercises, creative dramatics for younger student and beginning improvisation for the older ones were covered. Acting exercises can strengthen public speaking skills, diction, and confidence in talking to others. Approaches to introduce these ideas in class were explored.
Part II — Teaching playwriting. The emphasis was for upper grades and a more teacher-let group approach for the younger students. Playwriting is a different kind of story-telling, as the writer is limited to what is seen and heard. It is great for conversational skills and problem solving. A series of exercises were presented that ease the young playwright into the format. On the early grade levels, all playwritings would actually be oral or could be combined with visual drawings. The oral playwriting could be scripted and later combined by a teacher while the students relate their ideas.
Part III — Integrating theatre skills into other content areas. Theatre is the ultimate meeting ground for various art forms to collaborate and work together to communicate a story/idea. Theatre is the ultimate meeting ground for various art forms to communicate a story/idea. This cross collaboration allows a greater sense of understanding for others’ ideas. Students also develop empathy, processing stories and exploring different perspectives of different people and places. Theatre can bring content areas alive for the students. Performance skills were presented for oral reports along with the basics for public speaking.
Our presenters agreed to be available for teachers’ emailing of questions as to their practice of the ideas with students.
Workshop Series 2 – The second workshop/presentation series, given by Dorian Byrd, Director of the Imani Dancers, was entitled Dance/Music/Art: Community Arts Integration and provided classroom dance strategies for teacher participants and awareness of the possibilities of arts integration to the community. In conjunction and collaboration with the Figge Art Museum’s exhibition, African American Art Since 1950: Perspectives from the David C. Driskell African American Art, first, two workshops were given to artsBASICS and other Davenport Community School District teachers in grades Kindergarten through 6th grade from McKinley, Jackson, Jefferson, and Harrison Elementary School teachers, as well as those from the Creative Arts Academy of the Quad Cities. Jazz pianist Coleman Harris and some Imani dance students also assisted. The teacher workshops and an evening community presentation involved strategies and awareness of the possibilities of the integration of dance, music and visual arts, inspired by 4-5 exhibit selections for Ms. Byrd’s choreographic inspiration. Works were used to illustrate how the arts can integrate and further interpret a common theme. Teacher feedback was very positive.
This project offered a collaborative effort between artsBASICS, the Figge Art Museum, a musician and dance artists sharing their insights and demonstrations. The Figge staff provided background and a tour of the exhibit and shared their various program offerings. They also distributed an extensive exhibition packet of descriptions and sample color reproductions for the teachers to use in their classrooms. Teachers were given “hands-on” experience with warm-up exercises and an exploration of basic dance elements used in choreography. Teachers were encouraged to glean ideas/strategies they could later use in their classrooms to help students respond to visual art. Dorian and Coleman discussed the commonalities in their crafts, our creative process, and elements they share in dance and music with the visual arts. Student dancers assisted as demonstrators. Teachers and the community audience moved from one art work to another in the exhibit hall during the workshops and evening presentation. Dorian included a choreographed piece and several structured improvisations with the dancers, along with a little “hand dancing” with the audience. The huge evening attendance was enthusiastic in their participation which helped for a “magical evening!”