Vans Custom Culture 2016: That’s a Wrap!

Posted by Kristen Engebretsen, Jun 10, 2016

This week, we've been featuring stories from high schools around the country that were awarded arts education grants funded through the Custom Culture partnership between Americans for the Arts and Vans. On June 8, the winner of the annual Vans Custom Culture shoe design contest was announced at a special event in Los Angeles. It was an incredible celebration of a program that proves that when businesses partner with the arts, everyone wins.

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A Week of School Year Successes

Posted by Kristen Engebretsen, Jun 06, 2016

I’m always amazed at what a teacher can do with a small grant. This year, as I managed another round of grants through our partnership with Vans, I was again filled with appreciation for how much impact $2,000 can have for an arts program at a school. For the next week, Americans for the Arts will be sharing success stories from schools that were awarded Custom Culture grants.

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We Have a Perception Problem on our Hands…

Posted by Kristen Engebretsen, Sep 13, 2013

Kristen Engebretsen Kristen Engebretsen

This week I invited 20 very smart people to join me on ARTSblog for a discussion about arts education. We tried to tackle issues around the trifecta of education accountability—standards, assessment, and evaluation. A tough topic for sure, but we wanted to address some questions such as:

1) How do you assess students in arts classes?

2) Are there reliable ways to evaluate arts teachers?

3) What does this era of educational accountability look like for the arts?

One of our bloggers, Aliza Sarian, wrote eloquently about why assessment and evaluation are important in her work as an arts educator:

“Evaluation and assessment are at the core of what I do as an educator and as a classroom teacher. I make that distinction because as an educator, I am constantly looking at the work I do and reflecting on how it can be improved. As a classroom teacher, the kids, parents, and administrators demand the feedback to help students become better speakers, writers, and learners. In my world of arts education, assessment and evaluation are invaluable.”

But she and other bloggers and commenters also raised valid concerns about education accountability—how does it affect the arts? How is it different for the arts than other subject areas?

For example, a couple of commenters were worried about the use of time and resources on things like standards and evaluations. To quote just one:

“Let me suggest before we jump into measuring fine arts teachers job performance, we first focus on providing every child in America with regular fine arts learning opportunities in all of the fine arts.”

And I cannot say that I disagree. But I also agree with Aliza about the importance of accountability in terms of refining our practice and moving our field forward.

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Students Embrace Their Creativity through Custom Culture

Posted by Kristen Engebretsen, Jun 18, 2014

A winning school is picked by vote, based on a set of four uniquely designed VANS shoes.

 

Editors Note: Americans for the Arts has partnered with VANS for the past two years on their Custom Culture program. Last night in New York City was the final event, where the winning shoe design was picked. Below are remarks that our Arts Education Program Manager made during the event:

Hello, my name is Kristen, and I'm the Arts Education Program Manager at Americans for the Arts. Whether you like to sing in the shower, dance like no one is watching, or design the next great VANS shoe, we want to support that. Our motto is "All the Arts for All the People."

We firmly believe that the arts have the power to transform lives. In fact, last year we had the privilege of featuring an artist at our annual convention named Inocente. Her story is nothing short of incredible. As a teenager, Inocente was homeless, the victim of abuse, and the daughter to undocumented immigrants. Her life had hit rock bottom until one day she walked into an arts center in San Diego called A Reason to Survive. She began painting, and indeed, it gave her a reason to survive. She graduated from high school and selling her art kept her from living on the streets. Her powerful transformation was featured in the Oscar winning documentary, Inocente.

Inocente designed these as an ambassador for Custom Culture. Inocente designed these as an ambassador for Custom Culture.

 

Americans for the Arts knows that learning in the arts enables every individual to develop the critical thinking, collaborative, and creative skills necessary to not only survive but thrive in today's ever-changing world. And so when VANS approached us a few years ago about partnering on Custom Culture, we could see that they too value the arts as an integral part of all students' education. Together we hope to encourage high school students to embrace their creativity and inspire a new generation of youth culture.

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Freestyle Love Supreme Shows Some Love for Arts Education

Posted by Kristen Engebretsen, Dec 10, 2014

Kristen Engebretsen Kristen Engebretsen

Freestyle Love Supreme. It sounds a bit like a funk band from the 70’s. It’s not. It’s an improv group that uses freestyle rap as its style. The group has been described as a mashup between the Wu-Tang Clan and Whose Line is it Anyway. They’re featured on a new reality show on Pivot TV, where they take their freestylin’ to the streets and schools of NYC.

As part of all new content created at Participant Media (the parent company of Pivot TV and producers of An Inconvenient Truth, Waiting for Superman, and The Help), the company uses its social platform, TakePart, to encourage readers to take action around a cause inspired by the content. In this case Freestyle Love Supreme inspired an action campaign about the importance of arts education called Love Arts Ed. Since we here at Americans for the Arts do indeed Love Arts Ed, we caught up with the leader of Freestyle Love Supreme, Anthony Veneziale, to ask him about his passion for improv, and how it connects to arts education. Answers are edited for brevity.

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Introducing…"Encourage Creativity: Teach the Arts"

Posted by Kristen Engebretsen, Feb 13, 2015

Americans for the Arts (AFTA) believes that the arts are an essential part of preparing students for success in school, work, and life. We provide practical tools, advocacy resources, and research-based publications, such as our Field Guide and Navigator e-book series to help convince leaders of this important role the arts play in student success.

Because we work in the arts, one of most powerful forms of advocacy is using our art forms to communicate. Having artistic and high-quality materials, such as the Field Guide and Navigator e-books, is essential to how valuable these advocacy tools are.

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Inspiration Needs to be the Starting Line for Professional Development

Posted by Kristen Engebretsen, Feb 20, 2015

Dear Educators,

How many times have you been in this situation?

A classroom full of students sits arms crossed, slouched, or fiddling with their phones. Their thoughts are elsewhere. You can tell because of their daydreaming absent gazes.

Is this a typical High School classroom? Perhaps, but today I’m talking about one of the many professional development courses I’ve attended over the years. You see, these students are also educators. And ideally they are being taught new ways to teach.

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VANS Inspires the Next Generation of Artists, Designers, and Innovators

Posted by Kristen Engebretsen, Jun 22, 2015

Editor’s Note: Americans for the Arts partners with VANS on their Custom Culture program. Last week in New York City was the final event of the competition, where the winning shoe design was picked. Below are remarks that our Arts Education Program Manager made during the event:

My name is Kristen, and my organization, Americans for the Arts, partners with Vans to ensure that schools all over the country have amazing arts programs, just like yours.

Custom Culture was developed to encourage high school students to embrace their creativity and inspire a new generation of youth culture.

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My life’s not busy, it’s full. Except today.

Posted by Kristen Engebretsen, Nov 13, 2015

I first met Jessica Wilt 5 years ago. She and I were both new to Americans for the Arts...I was a new staff member and liaison to the arts education advisory council, and Jessica was a newly minted council member.

Jessica immediately took a leadership role within the council, helping us craft a strategic plan for arts education at Americans for the Arts. Her leadership in arts education in New York City gave her plenty of expertise in arts education planning. Jessica was a tap dancer and teaching artist. She worked in the education departments at Dance Theater of Harlem and Flamenco Vivo Carlota Santana. She served on the Leadership Committee of the New York City Arts in Education Roundtable and was a school board member for VOICE charter school.

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Presenting Our Vans Custom Culture Grant Winning Schools

Posted by Kristen Engebretsen, Jan 15, 2013

Learning in the arts enables every individual to develop the critical thinking, collaborative, and creative skills necessary to succeed in today’s ever-changing world. Vans and its national charity partner Americans for the Arts envision a country where every child has access to—and takes part in–high quality learning experiences in the arts, both in school and in the community.

Americans for the Arts is pleased to announce, as a component of its ongoing partnership with Vans, the winners of the inaugural year of the Vans Custom Culture Grant Program. This new grant program seeks to increase both visibility for and resources available to schools across the country who are engaged in working to sustain the arts as a vital part of education.

The grant program is supported by funds from Vans Custom Culture—an art competition whose winners design a shoe that is produced and sold by Vans. (Make sure your school registers to enter the shoe design competition to win up to $50,000 for its art education program!)

Vans Custom Culture Grants are available to public high schools (grades 9-12) that have allowed arts education to thrive in their school community. The grants are intended to encourage the inclusion of the arts as an integral component of an excellent education, and to support activities that are consistent with local and national learning standards for arts education.

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And the Oscar Goes to...Arts Education

Posted by Kristen Engebretsen, Feb 26, 2013

First Lady Michelle Obama presented the nominees for Best Picture and announced "Argo" as the winning film via satellite. First Lady Michelle Obama presented the nominees for Best Picture and announced "Argo" as the winning film via satellite.

The big winner at Sunday night’s Academy Awards was arts education. In two key moments, a spotlight was shone on the important role the arts play in children’s lives.

At the end of the broadcast, there was the wonderful statement of support by First Lady Michelle Obama. She said, “They are especially important for young people. Every day they engage in the arts, they learn to open their imaginations and dream just a little bigger and to strive every day to reach those dreams."

But before the First Lady’s surprise appearance, there was another big moment for arts education during the Best Documentary Short category. The winning film, Inocente, is the story of a 15-year-old girl who refuses to let her dream of becoming an artist be stifled by her life as an undocumented immigrant forced to live homeless for the last nine years.

Inocente was introduced to the arts through a program in San Diego called ARTS | A Reason To Survive, which uses therapeutic arts programming, arts education, and college & career preparation to create pathways to success for youth facing adversity. Founder Matt D’Arrigo is a member of Americans for the Arts and we featured his programs in our December 2012 edition of the Monthly Wire, our member newsletter.

The following video from San Diego’s ABC affiliate shows the arc of events for Inocente—starting homeless, then participating in ARTS’ programs, all the way up to production of the documentary and standing onstage at the Oscars after Americans for the Arts Artists Committee member Kerry Washington revealed her story as the winning documentary: 

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Welcome to Youth Arts Month

Posted by Kristen Engebretsen, Mar 01, 2013

Kristen Engebretsen Kristen Engebretsen

March 1 kicks off a month-long celebration of youth participation and learning in the arts. Many states, cities, and organizations have their own way of celebrating.

Here is just a random sampling of ideas I’ve seen from around the web:

1. National Young Audiences Arts for Learning Week, March 24–30

2. March is Music In Our Schools Month

3. Youth Art Month

4. March for the Arts in Education Month: Empowering Youth through the Arts

5. Theatre in Our Schools Month

At Americans for the Arts, we’ll be hosting a Blog Salon about early childhood education later this month (March 18–22), but for today’s kickoff of Youth Arts Month, we wanted to share something special.

Today we are releasing the first part of a new Arts Education Navigator series of e-books designed to help educators, students, and advocates navigate the complex field of arts education.

Part of our partnership with Vans Custom Culture, each e-book in the series will cover a specific topic, ensuring arts education supporters like you are equipped with the knowledge, statistics, and case-making techniques needed to effectively communicate with decision-makers. 

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Celebrating Early Arts Education

Posted by Kristen Engebretsen, Mar 18, 2013

Kristen Engebretsen Kristen Engebretsen

“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up." - Pablo Picasso

As the mother of a four year old daughter (Sofia), I have seen firsthand how natural it is for young children to communicate and express themselves through singing, drawing, and dancing.

These mediums allow youngsters a chance to express thoughts, ideas, and emotions that they might not have the words for. They also help them explore the world around them through their five senses—one of the primary ways that young children learn.

As my daughter’s first teacher, I have tried to provide her with materials and experiences that will nurture her innate curiosity and foster a lifelong love of self expression through the arts.

Sofia and I love to do what we call "projects.” The projects usually involve art, music, or nature, but more importantly, they involve discovery, exploration, and a focus on process over product. You’ll see through the pictures below some of the projects that Sofia and I do together.

For example, one project might involve multiple days’ worth of activities: 

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Ask Yo-Yo Ma About Arts Education

Posted by Kristen Engebretsen, Apr 03, 2013

Yo-Yo Ma (Photo by Todd Rosenberg) Yo-Yo Ma (Photo by Todd Rosenberg)

Have you ever chatted with someone about the importance of the arts in our schools? Would you like the chance to discuss it with Yo-Yo Ma?

Yo-Yo Ma will deliver the 26th Annual Nancy Hanks Lecture on Arts and Public Policy on April 8 at 6:30 p.m. EDT and, for the first time, Americans for the Arts will stream the event live from the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts (courtesy of Google), so you can watch regardless of whether or not you made it to National Arts Advocacy Day in Washington, DC.

Drawing on his training as a musician and what he has learned traveling the world for more than 30 years as a touring performer, Ma will discuss where in nature, society, and human interactions we can find the greatest creativity, and what we can all do to help students grow up to be contributing and committed citizens.

And, if you have a burning question that arises during the lecture, you can ask Yo-Yo the next day. On April 9, Yo-Yo will take a break from his Arts Advocacy Day visits with members of Congress to participate in a Google Hangout video chat about arts education with Matt Sorum (Rock and Roll Hall of Fame drummer for Guns N’ Roses and Velvet Revolver, Co-Founder of Adopt the Arts in California); Damian Woetzel (Former Principal Dancer at New York City Ballet and the director of the Aspen Institute Arts Program); Lisa Phillips (Author of The Artistic Edge and CEO of Canada’s Academy of Stage and Studio Arts); and, Bob Lynch (President & CEO of Americans for the Arts).

We’ll be collecting questions before the Hangout via Twitter and email. You can either tweet using #AskYoYo or send an email to artseducation@artsusa.org with #AskYoYo in the subject line and your question in the body. We’ll take questions anytime from now until the Hangout. 

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Doubling Down on What Works

Posted by Kristen Engebretsen, Apr 05, 2013

Kristen Engebretsen Kristen Engebretsen

During the Friday, March 29 meeting of the National Council on the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) revealed their new four-point plan for arts education, under the leadership of new Director of Education Ayanna Hudson.

Ayanna is my former boss from when we both lived in Los Angeles and worked on the Arts for All initiative at the LA County Arts Commission. So I wasn’t surprised by this new direction for arts education at the NEA—it is great to see Ayanna have a national platform to spread her expertise on issues like collective impact.

At the beginning of the council meeting, Ayanna stated that the NEA wants to weave arts education into the very fabric of every school so that ALL students have access to the arts. And given the scope of the NEA, they want to focus on the following four key areas to achieve this:

Point 1 - Leverage Investments: The NEA is looking to invest its grant dollars for arts education in a way that can really spur change in the field. Their new investment strategy is what former NEA chairman Rocco Landesman called "doubling down on what works."

Ayanna mentioned that new guidelines for arts education grants are currently under review and they MIGHT start allowing larger, multiyear grants to models based on best practice and collaboration. She mentioned several examples, such as Arts for All, A+ Schools, Ingenuity Incorporated, etc. 

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A Nation at Risk: 30 Years Later

Posted by Kristen Engebretsen, May 01, 2013

Kristen Engebretsen Kristen Engebretsen

“If an unfriendly foreign power had attempted to impose on America the mediocre educational performance that exists today, we might well have viewed it as an act of war. As it stands, we have allowed this to happen to ourselves...We have, in effect, been committing an act of unthinking, unilateral educational disarmament.” ~ from A Nation at Risk

Last Friday I attended an event at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute looking at the impact of the report released back in 1983, A Nation at Risk: The Imperative For Educational Reform. According to the Fordham Institute’s website:

“Thirty years ago, A Nation at Risk was released to a surprised country. Suddenly, Americans woke up to learn that SAT scores were plummeting and children were learning a lot less than before. This report became a turning point in modern U.S. education history and marked the beginning of a new focus on excellence, achievement, and results.”

The report language itself called for many sensible reforms, including more instructional time, higher standards for courses and content, stringent high school graduation requirements, and demanding college entrance requirements.

But the sound bite that came out of the report was that we have a “desperate need for increased support for the teaching of mathematics and science.” And, "We are raising a new generation of Americans that is scientifically and technologically illiterate."

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Common Core and Arts Education: The End of Our Blog Salon

Posted by Kristen Engebretsen, Sep 14, 2012

As we wrap up our Blog Salon for this week, I wanted to provide three types of summaries:

First, here are two resources where you can find out more information about the Common Core:

  1. A list of Common Core resources from our website
  2. A list of Common Core resources on the Arts Education Partnership website

Second, here is a Wordle of the most commonly used in our Blog Salon posts:

The largest words are used the most common, but I love some of the smaller words, such as collaborate, opportunities, processes, and creativity. With this image, the finer details make all of the difference. (If you click on the image, you'll be able to zoom in on the version that opens in a new window.)

As Common Core begins implementation, I’m sure that similarly, the devil will be in the details, in terms of how successful each district and school are in utilizing this opportunity to its full potential.

And third, I hope that you watch the following seven minute video in its entirety, because I think this quote from David Coleman, one of the authors of the Common Core, summarizes how I feel about the possibility of Common Core to “return elementary teachers to their rightful role as guides to the world.”

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Join Our Common Core Twitter Chat

Posted by Kristen Engebretsen, Sep 12, 2012

Kristen Engebretsen

Based on a survey Americans for the Arts completed last year, 46% of respondents said that they would be interested in arts education programming that related to broader education reform issues, such Common Core State Standards, No Child Left Behind, the achievement gap, student engagement, and state or federal policy.

This week, we have 15-20 arts and education leaders from across the country discussing the intersection of the arts and common core here on ARTSblog.

To accompany our blog salon, we will also be hosting a Twitter chat today (Wednesday, September 12) from 6:00– 7:00 p.m. ET. All you need to participate is a Twitter account (or simply follow along without one). Don’t have one? Sign up for free! If you’ve never participated in a chat on Twitter before, here are some tips on how to participate:

Twitter Basics

Here are some of the basic Twitter functions to get you started, adapted from Allison Boyer’s article on Blog World:

  • @ Reply: If you see an @ symbol followed by someone’s screen name (or their “handle”), it’s a way to hold a public conversation with that person.
  • DM: DM stands for direct message. It’s a way to hold a private conversation with another Twitter user, but you can only DM people who are already following you.
  • RT: RT stands for retweet. If you like what someone says on twitter, you can retweet it to spread the message to your followers as well.
  • MT: MT stand for modified tweet. It's just like an RT, but you might have had to change a piece of it in order to RT something and still fit it in under 140 characters
  • Hashtag (#): If you see the pound symbol (#) before a word or phrase, it is essentially a keyword tag for the tweet so that others can find it more easily. On Twitter, this is called a hashtag, and they can help people search for your tweet. Basically, it’s a way to follow the stream of everyone talking about a specific subject.
  • Twitter Chat: A Twitter chat happens when several people get on Twitter at once to share ideas with one another. They do this by using a specific hashtag.
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Stop the Patchwork (from Arts Watch)

Posted by Kristen Engebretsen, Jan 25, 2012

Kristen Engebretsen

Our patchwork approach to providing arts education has gotta stop!

I recently read an article about a school that won a $25,000 contest by HGTV to redesign their arts room, and it actually left me upset. Why, you ask?

The short answer? I’m tired of the band-aid approach. The stop gap measures.

It’s the same reason I had to stop watching Oprah’s Favorite Things and Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. For every deserving person that is honored on these shows, I know someone who is just as needy and just as deserving.

As I watched the following video about makeovers, I couldn’t help but wonder if that money could be put to better use:

What would I do with $25,000?

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John Legend & Partners Ask Students: What's Going On...NOW?

Posted by Kristen Engebretsen, Feb 15, 2012

Kristen Engebretsen

“In 1971, Marvin Gaye captured and commented on the spiritual and cultural chaos of the nation with his album, What’s Going On. It's been 40 years. What's changed? What's Going On...Now? You Tell Us.”

That quote is from the homepage of the What’s Going On...Now website, the product of a collaboration between the Kennedy Center, Digital Youth Network, Universal Music Enterprises, and Grammy Award winning musician John Legend.

Together, they hope that Marvin Gaye’s still relevant question will spark youth to use digital media as a lens to understand the world around them and empower those youth to change the world around them.

Here are the details of the initiative:

Through the lens of Marvin Gaye’s landmark album, students are asked to create an original media piece that shares their vision of What’s Going On…Now. They can then upload their piece to either YouTube or Flickr, and are entered into a contest to win a trip for two to attend a tribute concert featuring John Legend, the National Symphony Orchestra, and Sharon Jones and The Dap-Kings at the Kennedy Center in May.

To launch this new initiative, the Kennedy Center held a press conference on January 31 that included a live performance by John Legend. Besides the press in attendance, there were also students from Duke Ellington School for the Arts, who were rehearsing for a performance later that night. Legend surprised them by spontaneously inviting them up on stage to perform with him. Here is their incredible and moving performance:


  

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Equation for Quality

Posted by Kristen Engebretsen, Mar 12, 2012

Kristen Engebretsen

Happy Arts Education Month, and welcome to our bi-annual blog salon. To celebrate Arts Education Month, I’ve invited authors from around the country to tackle a big issue in arts education—quality. Participants will be discussing what that means in terms of engaging our students and what partnerships are required of our organizations in order to deliver quality arts education.

This topic was inspired by a recent trip to Dallas with the arts education council members from Americans for the Arts. One of the board members at Americans for the Arts, Margie Reese, graciously agreed to host us so that we could learn more about some of the programs at her organization, Big Thought.

During our 2 days visiting Big Thought, we learned about the driving philosophy behind their programming, which was this simple equation: relevance + excitement = engagement.

There is, of course, a lot of substance behind this equation, including numerous partnerships across the city with teachers, libraries, scientists, and artists, which truly embodies the idea that “it takes a village” to educate a child.

And in order to ensure the quality of their programs, Big Thought has developed a process to document, evaluate, and improve their programs, which they share on a new website called Creating Quality.

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It Takes a Village in Arts Education (Part 1)

Posted by Kristen Engebretsen, Aug 28, 2012

Since I started my tenure at Americans for the Arts, we’ve been discussing variations on the theme of: “It takes a village to educate a child.”

During the 2011 Annual Convention, we had two arts education leaders (Ayanna Hudson and Margie Reese) discuss how this works in their respective communities. At the time, we were calling this phenomenon “coordinated delivery.”

We featured this trend in our Fall issue of ArtsLink. "Tete-a-Tete: Integrated Arts Education Approaches" defines coordinated delivery as “collaboration across communities for both shared delivery of arts instruction by arts specialists, teaching artists, and general classroom teachers AND shared leadership for arts education among arts agencies, education agencies, parents, and businesses.”

The article highlights the similarities and differences between two well-known coordinated delivery systems in the country: Arts for All in Los Angeles (Ayanna) and Big Thought in Dallas (Margie).

Here are two charts to illustrate the idea of coordinated delivery:

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It Takes a Village in Arts Education (Part 2)

Posted by Kristen Engebretsen, Aug 29, 2012

Kristen Engebretsen

In my previous post, I described an arts education trend called “coordinated delivery,” in which I discuss the roles of some of the key stakeholders in arts education. Over the past year, Americans for the Arts has been refining our thinking about the theme, “It takes a village to educate a child.”

While the term “coordinated delivery” includes all of the major players that make arts education happen in a single community, it falls a bit short in defining all of the stakeholders, including those at the state and national levels, such as funders or legislators.

The field of arts education is a complex network of partners, players, and policymakers—each with a unique role. After the work we did last year in investigating coordinated delivery, Americans for the Arts wanted to create something that demonstrated how all of these players interact, and to help arts education practitioners understand their relationship with other stakeholders in arts education.

So...we created The Arts Education Field Guide.

The Field Guide is a 48-page reference guide that captures information in a one-page format for each arts education stakeholder, from national down to local partners. Each page defines a constituency and highlights its relationship to arts education in several key areas: support, barriers, successes, collaborations, funding, and national connections. The Field Guide is divided into sections based on federal/state/local tiers, and each page provides information that will help readers understand a stakeholder’s motivations and connections in arts education.

The Field Guide utilizes the concepts from biology of a network or an ecosystem. When bringing this concept to life, we wanted a way to graphically illustrate all of the key players in the field of arts education. I used Google Images to find a representation of the word “network” and then worked with a designer to come up with the motif for our ideas. We also utilized the term “field guide” (the kind that a botanist would use when trying to identify a plant or flower), as a play on words of “the field of arts education” to come up with the title.

Let’s take a quick look at the diagrams in The Field Guide:

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Welcome to the Blog Salon: Common Core 101

Posted by Kristen Engebretsen, Sep 10, 2012

Kristen Engebretsen

Back in February, during the winter meeting for the arts education council, we discussed the results of a survey we had completed asking members of Americans for the Arts what type of programming they were interested in for arts education.

Forty-six percent of respondents said that they would be interested in programming related to broader education reform issues, such Common Core State Standards, No Child Left Behind, the achievement gap, student engagement, and state or federal policy.

As the council discussed how we could weave some of this into our programming, we began an interesting conversation about the intersection between the arts and the Common Core.

First off, several council members asked, what is the Common Core State Standards Initiative (or “Common Core” for short)?

Simply put, the Common Core State Standards are the new English Language Arts and Math standards for student learning.

This initiative started as a collaboration between the Council of Chief State School Officers and the National Governors Association. They wanted teachers to have common standards for what was being taught so that a third grade student in California would have the same standards as a third grade student in Massachusetts. Makes sense, right?

In a day and age where we can’t get our elected officials to agree on much with regards to education reform, it seems impressive that 46 and DC have adopted them so far. These new standards are not “federally” mandated, but rather adopted by individual states. However, there was motivation for states to adopt these standards—they had to adopt them in order to be eligible for Race to the Top funds, which offered states millions of dollars in grant money.

The standards are focused on college and career prep, with an emphasis on higher order thinking skills. They dictate what is to be taught, but not how or when. There are two assessment consortia who are designing digital-based and performance-based assessments for students to accompany the new standards.

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Are Federal i3 Grants Right for My Arts Education Program?

Posted by Kristen Engebretsen, Jul 15, 2011

Kristen Engebretsen

As I had been preparing some blog posts on the topic of Investing in Innovation (i3), I decided at the very last minute to sit in on an Education Week webinar about i3.

It turns out that it was very worthwhile, as one of the featured speakers was John Bridges from Beaverton School District in Oregon, highlighting their Arts for Learning program.

The webinar accomplished much of what I had hoped to do with my blogs - disseminate information from last year’s awardees about what made their application successful and encourage (or discourage) people to apply.

It’s tough to wade through that amount of paperwork, so I hope some of the information I gathered can help you self select whether or not your program is a good fit for i3.

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i3 Grantee Lessons: Studio in a School

Posted by Kristen Engebretsen, Jul 22, 2011

Last year, Arts Achieve: Impacting Student Success in the Arts, won the distinction of being one of the forty-nine winners of the Investing in Innovation competition. Project applicant Studio in a School, along with project partners Weill Music Institute at Carnegie Hall, ArtsConnection, Inc., 92nd Street Y / Harkness Dance Center, Dance Education Laboratory, Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, Smithsonian Institution, and the New York City Department of Education, were the recipients of this $4.4 million, 5-year grant from the U.S. Department of Education.

Reviewers that scored this grant application gave it high marks because they felt that creating high-quality student assessments in the arts would improve arts education experiences for students, create collaborative experiences for teachers and arts p九龙高手水心论坛精选, and would benefit students for years to come.

One of the reviewers of this application felt that high quality arts assessments are greatly needed in today’s schools, and the use of assessments can help the arts to remain a strong part of the curriculum. Another reviewer commented that the project was highly innovative because it 1) had a strong base of community support 2) utilized professional learning communities 3) connected to the new common core standards; and 4) incorporated the use of technology for disseminating units of study, assessments, PD materials, and toolkits.

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This is What Democracy Looks Like (from Arts Watch)

Posted by Kristen Engebretsen, Aug 03, 2011

Kristen Engebretsen

This weekend I had the pleasure of experiencing my first authentic D.C. experience—the protest. I was drawn to the Save Our Schools March because I want to believe that America can still offer all students a quality PUBLIC education.

The Save Our Schools March (SOS) was a large umbrella event for anyone who is dissatisfied with our educational system. As a parent and an arts education advocate, my dissatisfaction has grown as our curriculum has dwindled. Cutting of subjects such as the arts, social studies, and science has been, to me, one of the worst consequences of No Child Left Behind.

So, on Friday my activism began with a screening of the film, The Inconvenient Truth Behind Waiting for Superman. It was great to watch this film in a room full of frustrated teachers.

There was booing when Arne Duncan said that the best thing that happened to New Orleans schools was Hurricane Katrina. There was hissing when Michelle Rhee bragged about her own private school experience. There was cheering when the teachers in the film spoke about public schools’ responsibility to educate the poorest and neediest of students.

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