Even though the school year ended two weeks ago today, these last two weeks have been far from a break. Last week was spent working on writing curriculum, and then I headed to Washington DC for an arts integration conference put on by the Kennedy Center. My school is in the beginning stages of becoming and arts integrated school so my principal, the district's art specialist, an upper grade teacher, and I were sent to the conference to enhance our understanding of this type of school. My colleagues and I have spent the last three years participating in the Kennedy Center partner program through our local performing arts center and have already started integrating the arts into our general education programs for math, language arts, social studies, and science. The purpose being that with all the general curriculum we have to teach in order to pass all those tests, there just isn't time to teach the arts (fine art, dance, drama, music, etc) in addition to what is required. Integrating the arts, or using the arts to teach/assess core curriculum allows us to fit the art within our day. Plus, using the strategies make that basic curriculum enjoyable, so the kids are really engaged.
After the first week of break writing curriculum was over, the last thing I wanted to do was get on a plane and go work some more. I knew it would be a great trip, but I was tired. I had one day to get my act together and do laundry and pack before heading to DC first thing Sunday morning. And I'm sure glad I did. The conference was really well done. It was a combination of theory and practical application. The theory sessions simply solidified what we already know about integrating the arts, and the application sessions gave me some additional strategies to add to my teaching tool box.
I returned from DC on Thursday afternoon and am SO glad to be on break for real now. I look very much forward to being lazy in the month of July. But I have to admit, I'm really excited to return in August armed with more arts integration ideas. Teaching to the test isn't all that fun. Using the arts is right up my alley and inspires me just as much as the kids.
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