School is at an end for the 2012-2013 year, but we were lucky to be able to extend our Literacy Through the Arts program an extra day at PS 15. Shawn Shafner, the Program Manager and Grade 2 Teaching Artist, updates us all on how:
Second graders at PS 15 enjoyed an extra day of Literacy Through the Arts this year, on June 19. I was incredibly humbled when their teacher, Ms. Sarah, suggested the idea and offered a generous donation to make it possible. In the past we've taken second graders to Central Park; this year we decided to give them a taste if their own community. We started at a community garden across from their school called Orchard Alley. Ayo Harrington of LUNGS agreed to show us around and talk to us about how the Lower East Side community organized to turn empty lots into gardens like that one. Then we headed to the Kenkeleba sculpture gallery, and their indoor gallery across the street. Back to the school for lunch, and then off to the Metropolitan Playhouse where artistic director Alex Roe showed us the inner workings of his theater. From there, we headed to Cafe Odessa for pierogi (a follow-up from their trip to the Ukrainian museum), and playtime at Tompkins Square Park. It was quite a day! I could say more, but Ms. Sarah said it all better in an email to me, as below:"Of course they asked "Where is Mr. Shawn?" the moment you left. You would have loved seeing Edwin and others counting on their fingers at the end of the day all the places they had gone and saying, "I can't believe we went on SIX TRIPS in one day! This is the best day EVER!" I think it was my favorite day ever, too. The glow remained today.During the morning share they said what they enjoyed most, and why, giving specifics. They all chose different parts of the trip, so it was extra worthwhile to have gone to so many spots. Ayani said she loved the gallery most, because she saw the artwork of so many different artists, and how they had made their art with different materials and feelings. Bianca and others spoke about the theater and the lighting, and some enjoyed the sculpture garden because a specific piece of art was so exciting. It was gratifying to hear that you reached so many learners by offering a variety of experiences. Of course the restaurant and playground figured in there, but the vast majority mentioned the art experiences over sour cream and applesauce (but there was some discussion about how sour cream also tastes good with hot sauce).It was a day of superlatives. I loved that you were teaching about negative space and they were acting it out, that you analyzed the artwork in the gallery in such a deep way, and you were acting off the cuff in the theater... your instruction continued as always in these new settings for them. The whole day made art ever more real for them."
Check out Arts For All's interview with Sarah Strong for more information! Sarah Strong is a Grade 2 teacher at PS 15, and generously supported the extra day of LTA programming this spring.
AFA: What made you want to be a classroom teacher?
SS: I became a classroom teacher so I could give back and be on the front line of education, where the good stuff happens. Much time, talent, money, and sacrifice went into my education. I have been lucky and privileged. We do not get here alone, and I wanted to pass on what had been given to me. I also have satisfaction knowing my overtime profits children, my taxes pay my salary, my dollar earned is 100% gender equitable, my organization has a transparent payroll structure, and my union has a history of protecting women from age discrimination.
I am a Cohort 6 Teaching Fellow, and volunteered to meet the needs of the city’s most vulnerable students. I started my career at a special education middle school in Brownsville, and have served needy children since. At the end of the day, I know I earned my keep and it has been a good excuse for a life.
That's beautiful. What have you learned in your work as a Grade 2 teacher at PS 15?
Second graders are capable of deep and meaningful discussions and social interactions. Keep your expectations high and prepare to be amazed.
Wow. Thank you for sharing that. What made you decide to support Arts For All financially? In your opinion, what does Arts For All add to the classroom?
After paying off my capitalized-interest student loans this May, I didn’t want to get too used to having pocket change, and AFA was my first priority. Shawn and I did not get to our trips this year because the children needed more time to practice our Skyrella performance, a Cinderella story they wrote that took place in the Empire State Building. I wanted them to see the sculptures and tableaux they had studied
Contributing to AFA helped extend Shawn’s stay, and he put together the most wonderful tours of community and sculpture gardens, a gallery, and a theater, all with the founders or directors. Shawn’s lessons included acting out negative space with hands and bodies (imagine a 40-person ensemble in a sculpture garden really looking like we belonged there), and facilitating a gallery talk with the children about how they related Jackson Pollack’s techniques to the lines, style, and colors of other prints and paintings.
I wanted to support Shawn and AFA. How do artists and actors afford NYC? Let’s keep art in NYC for everyone, and long live AFA for helping. You do such good work, AFA. We are far from a rich school, yet we have AFA. We are a small school, and the arts education from your talented artists makes a big impact. AFA provides us weekly art support and accessibility, and all for free! You also have generosity of spirit. It is a true pleasure to support you.
Read more of Sarah Strong's interview.
Thank you all for your geneorus support of Arts For All's ongoing programs!
Arts For All is pleased to be gaining recognition throughout New York City for the work that we do with over 3,500 in-need students annually! Mad River Grille reached out to us to develop a fundraising event for our new Documentary Creation Project at Incarnation Children's Center, and our longtime consultancy partner, Catchafire, sponsored a photo shoot of the ongoing Literacy Through the Arts program.
Thanks to your generous support and our partnerships with organizations like Catchafire, Arts For All is able to continue to provide free arts programs this year, even as school budgets are cut and costs rise.
Documentary Creation Project
On February 27, Mad River Grille in Manhattan hosted a Drink for A Cause Fundraiser for Arts For All - and it was a huge success! All proceeds of the fundraiser will support our Documentary Creation Project at Incarnation Children’s Center. The 3-day intensive workshops will teach young people living with HIV/AIDS the tools to express themselves through video. The teens will learn filming, writing, and editing skills, and use them to create original documentaries about topics that are important in their lives. Teaching Artist Franklyn Strachan will guide the young people through all stages of documentary creation
Arts For All met our goal for Drink For a Cause - thanks to all of you who joined us!
Literacy Through the Arts
On March 21, two Catchafire photography professionals Hayley Samuelson and Deb Marcano joined Literacy Through the Arts Program Manager Shawn Shafner and Kindergarten Teaching Artist Robin Cannon in the Hamilton Heights classroom to volunteer their time and talents to the organization. The photographers took photos and participated in the class, helping Kindergarten students to paint using water colors and warming up with the group. In the class, students explored the sea and sea creatures using music, watercolors, and creative movement. Everyone had a wonderful time! The photos, shown below, will be used in Arts For All promotional materials and on Catchafire social media.
Literacy Through the Arts increases students’ reading, writing, and verbal expression skills through a multi-arts curriculum incorporating theater, literature, music, visual arts, and dance. The program runs in Grades K-1 at Hamilton Heights School. Teaching Artists work closely with classroom teachers to create a comprehensive multi-arts curriculum that supports literacy and learning. This semester, Kindergarten students focus on syllables and phonic recognition, and in a few weeks they will make their own instruments from recycled materials.
What's Next? Our Annual Benefit!
Broadway star Aaron Lazar hosts Arts For All's 5th annual cabaret benefit on April 21, 2013 at Joe's Pub - Arts For All Goes Public: Celebrating 5 Years! For more information, please visit the website.
Happy 2013! Thank you to everyone who generously made a year-end donation to help keep us thriving in 2013. We simply could not do what we do without you and our other supporters.
All of us at Arts For All look forward to a productive programming year. We look forward to continuing our ongroing programs and residencies, like Literacy Through the Arts, our residency at PS 69, and monthly workshops at Children's Village Sanctuary House.
Here is our current schedule of winter and spring programming. Some programs are still TBD depending on availability and funding. We eagerly await a date for our annual A Day At the Met program, as well as new residencies and workshops and the resurgance of our Creative Works Program at at New Alternatives for Children.
2013 is going to be a banner year for Arts For All!
Please keep an eye on the Blog to get more updates, and Like us on Facebook to see photos of our Winter/Spring programs.
January 4, 11, 18, 25
Artist Robin Cannon teaches a music and movement workshop to children in a Special Education class at PS69 on Staten Island.
Artist Robin Cannon teaches an after school drama program to 4th Grade students at PS69 on Staten Island. This program will culminate in the children creating and performing their own play!
January 16, 23, 30
Artists Shawn Shafner, Lena Moy-Borgen and Robin Cannon each teach two Literacy Through the Arts Workshops, to children – Grades K, 1 and 2, at PS15. ***
January 17, 24, 31
Artists Lena Moy-Borgen and Robin Cannon each teach two Literacy Through the Arts Workshops, to children – Grades K, and 1 at Hamilton Heights Elementary School. ***
Artist Olivia Harris teaches a drama workshop at the Children’s Village Shelter.
*** This is an ongoing program which focuses on increasing Kindergarten, First, and Second Grade children’s phonemic awareness and letter recognition through a multi-arts curriculum focusing on movement, music and visual arts in order to improve their reading, writing and verbal expression.
February 1, 8, 15
February 6, 13, 27
February 7, 14, 28
Artist teaches a drama workshop at the Children’s Village Shelter.
March 1, 8, 15, 22
March 6, 13, 20
March 7, 14, 21
Artists Lena Moy-Borgen and Robin Cannon each teach two Literacy Through the Arts Workshops, to children – Grades K, and 1 at Hamilton Heights Elementary School.***
April 3, 10, 17, 24
April 4, 11, 18, 25
Artists Lena Moy-Borgen and Robin Cannon each teach two Literacy Through the Arts Workshops, to children – Grades K, and 1 at Hamilton Heights Elementary School. ***
April 5, 12, 19
May 1, 8, 15
May 2, 9, 16
WINTER PROGRAMMING, DATES STILL PENDING
A Day at the Met – A Saturday in May, TBD
Creative Works Program – Dates TBD
Artist residencies at PS 163, PS 212, the Renaissance School, Weeksville Elementary, and Long Island University after school program - Dates TBD
Incarnation Children’s Center Video Project – Dates TBD
Check out the update on Literacy Through the Arts from Teaching Artist Robin Cannon Colwell, or Captain Robin. Robin works with Kindergarten groups at 2 schools to enhance literacy using diverse creative means. The AFA staff is a little upset that we aren’t in this class – it sounds like a lot of fun!
The fall semester of Literacy Through the Arts for Kindergarten is divided up into three units – Songs, Instruments, and Dance!
We begin the year supporting the classroom teachers by singing songs using letters they are learning each week. Using songs like Apples and Bananas, Bumble Bee, N is for Noodle, P-P-P-Pumpkins, and Ukelele Lady, students identify the letters within the song they are singing, and engage in creating art with that letter.
One of my favorite lessons is Letter I. First, we read the book Inch by Inch by Leo Lionni, a story of a little inchworm that measures birds one by one. The class then sings the song Wiggle Worm while forming the letter I with their body and wiggling around the space as they dance to the music. Lastly, the students are each given a piece of construction paper and various green materials to re-create art from the book. This lesson is great and the teachers love showcasing the art in the hallways.
The second unit involves instruments. We begin by reading a book about instruments of the orchestra, and demonstrating how to create an ensemble. The class makes their own “orchestra” using their voices and sounds from the alphabet. Each week I bring in an instrument, or a picture of an instrument. The class learns what letter the instrument starts with, and we listen to the sound it makes. I play instrumental sounds and the students move like a tuba, piano, french horn, flute, trumpet, drum, and violin. During a journal time, students are asked to color a picture of the instrument and write out it’s name. One lesson plan involves moving to the Peter and the Wolf soundtrack, which the kids love!
Our last unit is a favorite: dance! Students learn simple steps for Mambo, Hip Hop, Ballet, and Waltz, along with the letter for each. Over the course of four weeks, they make their very own jingle bell shaker using recycled toilet paper rolls, paint, large jingle bells, pipe cleaners, and stickers. This project is a hit! At the end of the semester, students perform the different styles of dance to coinciding versions of Jingle Bells, while playing their instruments – so much fun!
As a Teaching Artist, it has been exciting to watch this program evolve and grow, expanding last year to another school. We strive to meet the needs of the school’s current curriculum, as well as the Common Core standards. I am constantly looking for new and creative ways to engage the students through music and movement, and enhance learning in the classroom! Watching some students who have a difficult time participating at the beginning of the year actually stand up to sing, dance, and play an instrument with their class at the end of the semester makes my own heart sing!
Last Thursday at Hamilton Heights, one student asked me if I could come sing with them again on Saturday…I am happy to know I am helping to make learning so much fun that students want to go to school on Saturdays!
Thank you for supporting Literacy Through the Arts and all of Arts For All's creative programming! Thank you for helping us reach over 3,000 in-need New York City children!
Arts For All is committed to providing programs in the summer as well as the school year. This summer, Melissa Smith is on of our Teaching Artists working with New York City youth. She is leading summer AFA workshops at New Alternatives for Children, a center for children living with disabilities, teaching theater skills and preparing the kids for final presentation for family and staff.
What are you up to?
I’ve been doing a theater workshop at New Alternatives for Children for the past 4 weeks. The sessions are 3 hours with a break each week. We are able to work towards a presentation at the end of each session.
What has that been like?
The first few weeks the challenge was to get the group to reveal things about them selves that related to the group, make bold choices and take leadership positions. Some did not even want to share their name on the first day. I have also been working on getting them to release their voice. Literally – in the beginning it was the quietest theater workshop in all of the land.
This past week the new set of challenges were quite the opposite! The group is starting to gel and open up and are clearly having lots of fun, building healthy relationships and self esteem while learning. This week, the challenge is quite different. We are focusing on collaboration in the group. In the last session, every single kid wanted to take the lead, so we worked on giving in the group, not always being in control or being the leader. What a difference from the first class!
Through the games and exercises, they are learning to make negotiations and compromises with their peers and exploring ways to express themselves.
How do you organize your curriculum?
I introduced storytelling the first week and have layered in theater techniques and terms each week as we progress. With very few materials – simple scripts, scarves, and of course their IMAGINATIONS – they have put together some very elaborate and creative stories each week.
What about you? What’s your reaction to seeing all of this?
It’s so fun to see their imaginations take the lead and watch the elaborate stories they build around these simplistic scripts!
Thank you for letting Melissa lead her students at New Alternatives For Children in self-expression through story telling and theater, and thank you for keeping Arts For All thriving in 2012!
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