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Teachers Indulge Their Creativity

July 31, 2009

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    July 31, 2009
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    Opera Carolina News

Teachers Indulge Their Creativity

They've been miming.
They've been drumming.
They've even been puppeteering.

They are third- and fourth-grade teachers who've been indulging their artistic sides, in a program designed to make their classrooms a more creative place to learn.

ArtStart, sponsored by the Arts and Science Council, blends art with language arts in hopes of improving students' reading and writing. The four-day program at University Park Creative Arts School ended Thursday. More than 100 teachers from Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools participated. They worked with professional artists in various fields who will have 10-day residencies at the teachers' schools. Fusing art with regular lessons brings enthusiasm back into the classroom at a time when schools are facing difficult cuts.

Anne Brooks is a music specialist at Druid Hills Elementary, and has taught for 11 years. She's been participating in ArtStart since 2005. Brooks has done different activities with her students through music education, which includes writing poetry in response to classical music. She said she often has students listen with their eyes closed and their imaginations wide open.

"What did they see? Where did the music take them?" Brooks said. "And then they write about it, edit it and present it to their peers." By the end of the summer sessions, teachers have created lesson plans for the coming year with artistic components. They will work with other teachers who have completed the program and with their resident teaching artists.

The artists say kinesthetic learners, who learn by doing and are often labeled as disruptive students, respond well to using art within a traditional lesson. "It opens up a tremendous door for kids who are struggling," said Kami Shalom, a storyteller who has been a part of ArtStart for 12 years. This year's program was the last under a four-year grant from the U.S. Department of Education. Katherine Mooring, the ASC's vice president of education and professional development, said that even though ArtStart's future is unclear, the arts council plans to always have an arts program available for teachers. "When we're impacting one teacher, think how many people can be impacted and transformed from that one teacher."

By Lindsay Ruebens
Charlotte Observer

To read the original article, visit the The Charlotte Observer.