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United Arts Council

Arts Integration: Magic in the Classroom

Arts Integration: Magic in the Classroom
Teachers from Lead Mine Elementary work on their claymation movie at the 2016 Arts Integration Institute.

by Mimi Herman, Arts Integration Institute Director

“Every moment is a teaching moment. If I’m not doing that, I’m not doing my job.”

Marla Brautman

Magic is happening on a daily basis in classrooms all over Wake County.

As director of the United Arts Council Arts Integration Institute, I get to see that magic throughout the year. I’d like to say the magic starts at the Arts Integration Institute, but the truth is that it begins when someone chooses to be a teacher—a job which takes passion, dedication, intelligence and creativity.

At the Institute we provide a wonderland of hands-on workshops where teachers can discover ways to integrate the arts—dance, music, theatre arts, visual arts and creative writing—with every area of the curriculum. Our goal at the Institute is to help teachers rediscover the excitement they had when they began teaching and bring that back to their students.

“The Institute for me just reminded me of how fun it is to teach, and we really have to put more time and effort into making those kinds of things happen when we have so much pressure to be rigidly academic.”

Sally Moseley

Starting early in the year, I get to peek in on that magical excitement when I visit teachers from the Institute to watch them in action with their students. This year I’ve already observed a number of these teachers and am amazed at what I’ve seen.

At Lead Mine Elementary School, I saw first graders in Sally Moseley’s classroom dancing the punctuation marks they found in Eric Carle’s classic, The Tiny Seed, adding different sound effects for each type of punctuation. Carol Milstead’s kindergarteners acted out verbs and translated what they’d done into writing sentences about their favorite activities. In Marla Brautman’s first grade art class, students sang an African song, listened to a storybook, discussed a video, invented metaphors and played the game “I Spy” to learn about kente cloth. Ken Warych launched his fifth grade students into rewriting song lyrics to explain text structures such as compare and contrast, cause and effect, and problem and solution. The students worked—or rather, played—in groups of four: choosing songs, writing lyrics, rehearsing and revising. At the end of the lesson, they begged to keep working.

These four extraordinary teachers became a team at the Arts Integration Institute, but their teamwork didn’t end after that week in June. Their principal has designated them the Arts Integration Team for their school.  On early release days, they teach hands-on arts integration workshops to their colleagues at Lead Mine, ranging from Claymation to dancing the water cycle to shadow puppetry. Here’s what they said about their early workshops: “I wish you could have been in there. Everybody making progress, learning, laughing. Ahas everywhere. There were groans at first, but we figured we’d just throw them in like we were thrown in. I would have been one of the ones groaning in the audience if I hadn’t gone to the workshop. What I took away from this is that I can do this. You can do this at any grade level.”  

The next Arts Integration Institute will be held at the Cary Arts Center on June 19-23, 2017. For more information on how to send a team of four to the Institute, contact Ragen Carlile at rcarlile@unitedarts.org.


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