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Articles: Art/Music

Kaya Henderson lead District of Columbia Public Schools for more than five years.

Kaya Henderson will step down in September as chancellor of the District of Columbia Public Schools after serving in the position for more than five years.

She says she will spend time with family before considering other offers in education, published reports state.

Gail Pletnick, superintendent of Dysart Unified School District 89 in Surprise, Arizona, was elected president of AASA for 2016-17.

Gail Pletnick, superintendent of Dysart Unified School District 89 in Surprise, Arizona, was elected president of AASA for 2016-17.

The 2016 Arizona Superintendent of the Year and a member of AASA’s digital and personal learning consortia, Pletnick will focus on reshaping the national public education agenda and empowering district leaders through advocacy, networking and PD. She begins her term July 1.

27 states identify the arts as a core academic subject and 49 states have adopted elementary and secondary standards for the arts. (Click to enlarge)

The arts survive in American education, despite pressures placed on school leaders to focus on high-stakes tests in math and English: 27 states identify the arts as a core academic subject and 49 states have adopted elementary and secondary standards for the arts.

Speakers at upcoming conferences (clockwise from top left): Rochelle Gutierrez will speak at NCTM about the next generation mathematics for all; Lisa Nyberg will speak at NSTA about giving students more ownership of their education; Deborah Gaston and  Andrea Kantrowitz will speak at NAEA about adding arts to the sciences.

At three annual conferences this spring—the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM), the National Art Education Association (NAEA) and the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA)—experts and educators will offer guidance in developing STEAM instruction across a range a subjects and projects.

With the ever-increasing reach of technology and the corresponding growth of STEAM-related curricula, it is challenging to find the right tools to help bring such concepts into the classroom in engaging, student-friendly ways. STEAM-focused classroom products also must easily integrate into existing lesson plans.

Luvenia Jackson knows students can’t learn when they’re in jail. During 40 years in education, the Clayton County Public Schools superintendent has seen that academic performance cannot improve systemwide under zero-tolerance discipline.

Injecting the arts into science, math, engineering and technology encourages students to think creatively and critically in traditional STEM subjects that, until the recent and widespread adoption of new standards, didn’t often encourage students to think outside the box.

Little Kids Rock, a national organization dedicated to ensuring music ed through modern bands, partners with Nashville Public Schools’ guitar students one day last spring.

Some districts can’t find music teachers while others struggle to buy instruments. Many administrators must cut music classes to prepare students for testing. Still, schools large and small have kept the music playing with innovative grants, online fundraising and by scouring their budgets for any available resources.

Transforming school libraries into communal learning “playgrounds” offers students technology support, remote access to research resources and expanded opportunities for creative exploration. One of the biggest trends is “makerspaces” where students use their imaginations to create crafts, electronics, videos and other projects.

Magnet schools have made a big comeback in America’s education system, offering curricula that span the spectrum—from medicine to the arts to language immersion. The revitalized programs provide plenty of hands-on experience, while the academic themes are infused into traditional classes such as math and English.

The National Core Arts Standards were released in October. They emphasize developing artistic ideas, refining them, and following projects through to completion. (Americans for the Arts/Scott Cronan Photography)

You think math and English have high standards? Try the arts.

The National Core Arts Standards were released in October. They update the initial standards released in 1994, which included instructional guidelines for dance, music, theater and visual arts.

Critical Exposure is a nonprofit after-school program that trains District of Columbia Public Schools students to use photography and advocacy to make real changes in their schools and community.

High school students gain skills in documentary, photography, leadership and advocacy as they critically examine their schools and communities, and document issues that affect their lives. The photos are shared with the public through travelling exhibits in galleries and libraries. They are also shown to public officials as a means of advocating for policy changes in the community.

Some Jennings School District students play the violin and viola—using music to help them make connections in core subjects of math, science and language arts. The students above rehearse for their district gala recently.

When students in music class at Jennings School District in Missouri started taking violin lessons, they would show when they were frustrated. After a year of playing beautiful music, the students wait a beat, and calm down, instead of acting out. With troubled schools where standardized test scores are abysmal, absenteeism runs rampant and aspirations of breaking out of poverty feel like a pipe dream, the district in urban St. Louis County has the look and attitude of a feisty kid that wants to overcome the long odds for success.

The Whole Schools Initiative's arts program is helping drive up test scores in Mississippi schools.

The arts are driving up test scores and closing achievement gaps in more than 30 Mississippi schools that are blending music, theater, visual art and dance into core subjects.

Philadelphia schools are taking a new approach to arts instruction by introducing students to art and music they can find in their own backyard. With the new Literacy Through the Arts curriculum, created with the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Philadelphia Museum of Art, students in grades one through eight are not only learning about these local institutions but also about the musicians and artists whose work featured there.

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