Community Connections: Classroom Connections

Community Connections: Classroom Connections
Posted on 07/19/2017
Classroom Connections, AASD’s partnership with the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center and Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, has energized Appleton educators since 2012.  

Badger’s efforts particularly shine this year. Third-graders “Opera-fied” Pilgrim history, first-graders morphed into dancing volcanoes for science and fourth-graders tied Hip Hop moves to analyzing Shakespeare. A school wide study of South Africa and trip to see PAC’s production of “Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters,” sparked student performances of African drumming, lullabies and dance.

CC teacher workshops, paired with PAC performances for students, inspired these collaborations and helped educators use the arts as a catalyst for effective instruction in every curricular area, said AASD fine arts coordinator Renee Ulman. “We also bring teaching artists into the classroom to show teachers what arts integration teaching practices look like.”

“The impact is profound as we see teachers become more creative in their teaching styles, more excited to implement the arts, and as a result, witness students who construct and demonstrate understanding through an art form,” said Cassie Schwandt, PAC education coordinator. “We need creative, engaged, innovative and critical thinking individuals. Arts integration helps students gain these traits."

Badger first-grade teacher Amy Wara, music instructor Sarah Phelps and art teacher Stephanie Knutson infused science, reading and writing with fine arts to teach plant growth. Children learned plant parts, portrayed the growth cycle in song and then drew and painted flowers using watercolor techniques. “This gives kids such a broader opportunity to learn,” Knutson said. “Some may have trouble writing, but they can create an amazing picture.” 

“When you use your body or look at things in a different way, you learn it deeper,” added music teacher Patty Merrifield. “It’s active, not passive. You can see instantly who understands. If their job is to be lava, and they act oozy, they get it.”