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7_2 Curriculum Community Arts

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Fall 1998,  Vol. 7, No. 2
CURRICULUM, COMMUNITY, AND THE ARTS

This issue of Service-Learning Network looks at how the arts—in addition to building skills and help strengthen interdisciplinary learning and reach beyond the classroom to form meaningful connections between students, the curriculum, and their communities. Sarah Petto, an art teacher and service-learning coordinator in Madison, Wisconsin, discusses how students can integrate their curriculum with a primary function of art and apply both to community projects. Ushma Shah, a middle-school collaborative arts teacher, offers several examples of how the arts can help link service projects to classroom study. The Profiles section describes two effective service-learning projects that integrate curriculum, community, and the arts. The Technology section features a list of arts-education resources on the Internet. Finally, two art and ecology lessons from ArtsEdNet, an arts-education web site developed by the Getty Education Institute for the Arts, appear alongside notices of conferences and resources of general interest to educators.

Art and Service Learning: Connection within a Community of Shared Experience 

by Sarah Graham Petto

In Art as Experience (1934), educator John Dewey wrote The nature of experience is determined by the essential conditions of life.” He continued:

Even in the caves the human habitations were adorned with the colored pictures that kept alive to the senses experiences with the animals that were so closely bound with the lives of the humans. . . . [T]he arts of the drama, music, painting, and architecture thus exemplified had no peculiar connection with theaters, galleries, museums. They were part of a significant life of an organized community.

Dewey’s point was that, for most of humanity’s history, art has served as a connection among people within a community. Dewey went on to describe the evolution of “fine art,” as a process in which artists became specialized and divorced from their initial purpose of reflecting “emotions and ideas that are associated with the chief institutions of social life.”

This separation of fine art from the shared life of the community has also affected learning and teaching about art. Often, students do not understand the process of making art as an experience that they share as members of a community. And, except for the recent infusion of multiculturalism in arts education, art teachers are often more likely to teach about the technical skills and qualities of art work and to ignore the initial purpose of art—to reflect the shared experience of a community.

Service learning and curriculum integration have breathed new life into arts education by giving renewed purpose to art and providing opportunities to weave the arts back into our communities. In turn, integrating arts education with service learning can contribute dramatically to an effective framework for active community participation.

The following models demonstrate how integrating art work with curriculum and community service can help students actively link their own experience, perspectives, and individual vision to the world around them.

Exploring the Community

African-American artist, Romare Bearden, is recognized for his collages, many of which depict everyday life for African Americans in New York City’s Harlem. Bearden’s artwork is an example of experience shared with his community. Using magazine and newspaper images, cut or torn paper, and found objects, Bearden creates pictures of urban life like The Block, where people of all ages lean out of tenement windows, interact on the street, or act out their personal lives in the privacy of their apartments. Bearden’s collages give the viewer an opportunity to discuss what life on The Block would be like.

In the classroom, art work that portrays a social landscape, or slice of life, can introduce students to the notion of community exploration. For example, a discussion of an art exemplar such as The Block can then segue into a discussion where students describe their own neighborhood.

Following some research about their own community, students can then create a collage of their own neighborhood. Completed student collages can be hung around the classroom for a critique. In addition to a discussion of technical issues such as design or composition, this critique should include a discussion of what the student artist may be trying to say about his or her feelings, culture, and community. This activity prepares students to begin the process of creating art-making partnerships with the community, i.e., integrating service learning and art.

Making a Community Connection

Jennifer Holderman, an art student from University of Wisconsin, provided a useful model for a public art project. Holderman’s projects require a response from the community. In her first project, Holderman sculpted 500 small figurines and distributed them in Madison and surrounding communities. She then asked for feedback. Responses were varied: Some people took pictures of themselves with the art, others described how they had discovered it, and still others passed the figurines on to acquaintances.

In 1996 Holderman created “The Beauty Project,” 700 spheres that were distributed around the community with an added twist—the finder was invited by the artist to reshape the sculpture. Again, the community was asked to interact with the process of art making.

In response to “The Beauty Project,” several students asked if we could begin a public art project of our own. I was teaching art at Spring Harbor Middle School (SHMS), a science magnet public school with an emphasis on environmental studies in Madison, Wisconsin. The school’s curricular emphasis shaped the kind of questions we would ask through our art. With Holderman acting as an outside resource person, we began to plan our public art project.

We explored the form of “wood spirits” in a variety of cultures, focusing on Native American, African, and Oceanic peoples. We learned that wood carvers from these cultures looked for a face, animal, or other character that they saw imbedded in the grain of the wood; the artist then worked to “release” it. Students searched for their own “wood spirits” at a park that SHMS was using to study conservation and habitat restoration. The search for wood spirits reinforced the existing relationship between the school and the park, highlighted the role of parks and preserved land, and encouraged students to predict what the environment might look like in the future.

Students personalized these retrieved wood fragments with carving, yarn, and paint. Each wood spirit received a tag with six questions about the environment and an identification number. Students placed the wood spirits around the community and recorded their locations on an enlarged map of Madison. The community was then invited to search for and respond to the students’ wood spirits. Correspondents described where they found their “spirit” and what they had done with it.

This public art project demonstrated that it was possible to integrate a community connection into the existing curriculum and to use art as a way to introduce service learning into the school.

Addressing Community Needs

A partnership between Madison’s Habitat for Humanity and Spring Harbor Middle School offers another example of the integration of art and service learning. First, students identified and prioritized community needs in a series of classroom discussions. Most student ideas focused on environmental and human needs. Next, students invited people from service organizations to describe what was already being done to address these needs. After further brainstorming sessions, students decided they needed more research to assess the need for these services.

In art class, students were studying the relationship of architecture to basic shelter. A guest speaker from Habitat for Humanity told the class about a local Habitat project that was rebuilding a neighborhood apartment complex. Upon visiting the Habitat site, we were all personally moved by the families who shared their stories with us about the need and desire to own their own homes. Students also learned that insurance regulations prohibited their direct participation in the rebuilding efforts and that the Habitat project was being hampered by a lack of funds.

Back in the arts classroom, students decided to raise money to help complete the Habitat project. They decided to accomplish this goal by collecting, restoring, and painting old chairs for resale. The chairs were symbolic of hearth and home. The classroom curriculum easily accommodated the restoration of the chairs with lessons about design, color-to-form, and applied design and painting techniques. Students also developed and used their interpersonal skills on the telephone and applied writing, problem-solving, organization and planning, and math skills to this project.

Building on an existing community partnership with a local shopping mall, the students planned a silent auction. The mall donated space and tables and paid for event publicity. Habitat for Humanity sent a representative to the auction, and students presented a video of the Habitat project, a display of the architect’s plans, and a box for cash donations. By the end of the auction, students had sold every chair and surpassed their fund-raising goal.

A Fully Integrated Service-Learning Effort

On the basis of previous service-learning partnerships, the University of Wisconsin Children’s Hospital invited SHMS to join 30 community partners in a Children’s Health Care Week. The hospital was planning a “space theme” and wanted the school to provide decorations, learning activities, and games for the patients and families of terminally ill children. Three SHMS seventh graders wrote and received a small grant to fund the event.

This request fit the curriculum: The seventh-grade science team had just begun a semester-long study of space. With support from NASA, students planned to photograph Earth via computer from the space shuttle. They had also developed a model “Mars Rover” that responded to remote computer commands and transmitted images of a simulated “Martian” landscape over the Internet.

A multidisciplinary team planned a fully integrated experience, which included studying earth and space science, bilingual Spanish and English writing and illustrating books about space, and lessons in the mathematics, physics, and biology of space flight. Art students painted life-size, stand-up characters with cut-out faces for photo opportunities. Then, students transformed themselves into space aliens with costumes, music, and an improvisational performance, using the hospital elevator as a spacecraft. They also built a space-shuttle replica and a worm-hole entrance to the hospital. In addition, the hospital invited SHMS students to plan next year’s event, making curricular connections even easier.

Our reflection activity featured a celebration and afternoon picnic in the park where the science class launched student-made rockets. This multidisciplinary service-learning project generated a strong sense of commitment by students, teachers, the hospital staff, and the community. Learning was implemented on many levels. The Wisconsin Art Education Association will honor three members of the hospital staff who chose to use children’s art and artistic expression for the benefit of their young patients.

Conclusions

John Dewey said that artmaking “belongs to the very character of the creative mind to reach out and seize any material that stirs it so that the value of that material may be pressed out and become the matter of new experience.” This creative experience is shared by the whole human community. As individuals, we and our students are “active through our whole being” when we are creatively engaged in the arts. Service learning enables us to connect our artmaking with the wider community in which we serve and learn. The arts, with their long tradition of cultural connection, problem-solving, creativity, and reflection, are a natural place for service learning to take root in the schools.

Sarah Graham Petto taught art at Spring Harbor Middle School in Madison, Wisconsin before relocating to Philadelphia where she teaches at Philadelphia Mennonite High School and University of the Arts.

References.

Dewey, J. Art as Experience. New York: Minton, Balch & Company. 1934.

Hughes, L. The Block. Illustrated by Romare Bearden. New York: Viking Press. 1995.

Montvilo, J.A. Quote, Unquote: Finding the right words to enliven our teaching. Journal of College Science Teaching. 23(6):372-374. 1994.
 

For more information, contact Sarah Petto, Philadelphia Mennonite High School and University of the Arts, 860 N. 24th St., Philadelphia, PA 19130. (215) 769-5363. E-mail: phillymenn@aol.com (Send e-mail to the attention of Sarah Petto).
 


Beyond School Walls
by Ushma Shah

Teachers and students at Chicago’s Sabin Magnet School have been expanding the meaning of arts integration in their school. Most arts projects at Sabin are collaborative projects, i.e., integrated with the material that students are studying in their classrooms. For example, second-grade students studying Mexico in social studies created box sculptures in art class painted in traditional Oaxacan style. While studying biology, these same students spent art time creating claymation videos that demonstrated the different cycles in the life of a flowering plant. While curriculum integration informs the use of collaborative arts, the action arts projects discussed in this article take another step—they help move the learning process beyond the walls of the school. Artwork from this public school has sparked dialogue with prison inmates, brought parents to school to learn about election issues, initiated funding for playground equipment and after-school sports programs, and more.

Reaching Out to School and Community

An action arts project should allow students’ voices and visions to flow through their artwork into the community. At Sabin, sixth-grade students transformed a muddy schoolyard into an art garden featuring benches with collages, brilliant flowers, and mosaic patterns. Student committees worked with an adult facilitator to design the project, build models, and research building materials. When planning was completed, the families of Sabin students were invited to help bring the vision to life. Under the supervision of a local artist, students and family members created artwork on garden benches, helped shape soil berms, lay sod, and plant flowers. A community group called Archi-Treasures also contributed to the project. The art garden continues to develop as students add new dimensions and ideas.

Faculty members collaborate across classrooms, disciplines, and even grade levels to develop action arts projects. For example, a partnership between a seventh-grade math teacher and the collaborative arts teacher enabled students to make connections between mathematics and art. The students worked in groups to research statistics about AIDS and domestic violence. Students then created collaborative sculptures that integrated design with statistics and wrote dramatic sketches to support their research and present their findings to other students. In this way, students used the arts to explore and represent statistics and provided a service to the school by sharing their artwork with other students.

Student-Driven Projects and Teacher Control

Ideally, arts action projects should be student-driven. As teachers, we are continually searching for the balance between the ideal of student freedom and the need for teacher direction. Learning how to facilitate, rather than direct this time- and energy-consuming process presents an ongoing challenge. For example, students at Sabin decided to participate in a Chicago Transit Authority program in which community groups “adopt” a subway stop. The middle school students collaborated with younger students to design nine interconnected murals that would reflect Chicago’s past, present, and future. The murals would then be installed in the adopted subway station. Students were directed to determine “thru lines” of form and content that would connect the murals. Unfortunately, no teacher was available to facilitate this coordination process. While the students were capable of understanding what it would mean to create a connected series of murals, the expectation that they could—without prior experience—accomplish this task without supervision was not realistic. We are currently working to re-create murals that are truly collaborative.

With each project, teachers and students are learning more about what it means to bridge action and art, service and learning. The constant metamorphosis of our action arts projects, the frustrations and elation of collaboration, and the sharing of one’s work with the community make the challenge of integrating arts and service learning a memorable and moving experience for everyone involved.

Three Action Arts Projects

Project: Puzzles—Questioning Criminal Justice
Grade Level: Middle School
Classroom Integration: Language Arts, Social Studies, and Collaborative Arts
Classroom Integration Theme: Wellness

In the spring of 1997, Sabin students attended a Crime Awareness Program at the Cook County Jail. The program aims to keep youth out of trouble and out of jail by listening to the rse). Another group, concerned about the future of bilingual education, transformed their chair into an electric chair with a Spanish book on it. Their message read, “Don’t electrocute bilingual education.” Students completed nine different message chairs.

Students then made an appointment at the Board of Education to present their chairs to the CEO of the Chicago Public Schools. Members of each group used their chair art to convey their concerns and each presentation was followed by a dialogue between board of education administrators and Sabin students. As a result of the presentation, Sabin was placed on the list to receive a new playground the following year and was approved for increased after-school sports funding.

Project: The Chair Project
Grade Level: Middle School
Classroom Integration: Language Arts, Collaborative Arts
Classroom Integration Theme: Humans and Society 

The Chair Project began with a cluster of old folding chairs found gathering dust in the auditorium storage space. Because the chairs were labeled “Property of the Chicago Board of Education,” students were asked to work in groups to brainstorm messages that they would like to send to the board of education. This assignment dovetailed with classroom discussions in literature about the interaction of humans and society.

Once each group decided on a message, they were asked to transform the chair to represent this message. One group translated their request for more athletic funding into a sports chair complete with basketball hoop, hockey net, and a court painted on the seat. A second group decided that student bathroom stalls needed doors. They transformed an abandoned chair into a toilet seat and used a cardboard box to build a stall (without a door, of course). Another group, concerned about the future of bilingual education, transformed their chair into an electric chair with a Spanish book on it. Their message read, “Don’t electrocute bilingual education.” Students completed nine different message chairs. 

Students then made an appointment at the Board of Education to present their chairs to the CEO of the Chicago Public Schools. Members of each group used their chair art to convey their concerns and each presentation was followed by a dialogue between board of education administrators and Sabin students. As a result of the presentation, Sabin was placed on the list to receive a new playground the following year and was approved for increased after-school sports funding. 

Project: The Art of Us
Grade Level: 3rd Grade
Classroom Integration: Social Studies, Computer Skills, Collaborative Arts
Classroom Integration Theme: The Chicago Community

As part of an exploration of the Chicago community, third grade students were involved in a project to build awareness of the school community. Students paired up with school staff members—teachers, lunchroom employees, administrators, members of the custodial staff, office personnel, etc. Each student interviewed his/her adult and asked him/her to create a piece of artwork on a 3 x 5 index card. The students, with the help of their teachers, copied their interviews into school computers and printed out the transcriptions. All students were photographed with their Sabin adult. Students then arranged the three components—the photo of adult and third grade student, artwork by the adult, and interview transcriptions—on a display board. The display boards currently form a gallery in our school called, “The Art of Us.” Anyone who enters our school can see that it is a place where students and teachers know each other and where even adults take artistic risks!

Ushma Shah teaches collaborative arts in the Chicago Public Schools.

For more information, contact Ushma Shah at Sabin Magnet School, 2216 Hirsch St., Chicago, IL 60622. (773) 534-4491. E-mail: ushma@megsinet.com.


PROFILES
Arts-Based Project Involves Incarcerated Juveniles, Parents

RIKERS ISLAND, NY—This summer, a unique series of mother-and-child reunions unfolded within the confines of Rikers Island, New York’s massive city jail complex. Under the supervision of John Cates Curtis, the arts coordinator for the Austen H. MacCormick Island Academy, incarcerated juveniles worked side-by-side with parents to construct larger-than-life styrofoam puppets. According to Curtis, the puppets are “large, colorful, and very individualistic.” The puppets are fitted together from patterns and feature moveable mouths and lifelike eyes.

As the project progressed—the group met once a week—both mothers and sons personalized their puppets. “One participant made a hat for his puppet,” Curtis explains. “One made an eye patch, another a tie.” Many of the mothers gave their creations distinctive female features. Even before the construction process had been completed, children and parents were using the puppets’ differing personalities to open dialogues. “Parents and children practiced talking to each other with the puppets,” explained Curtis, who feels that the puppet dialogues encourage spontaneous interaction between parent and child and help develop parenting skills.

The puppet project has become an integral part of Island Academy, the school at the Rikers Island facility. Established in 1985, the school is a New York City Board of Education facility and serves over 1200 student inmates each year. Only 10 percent of Island Academy students earn GEDs, and a smaller percentage earn high school diplomas. According to Curtis, the majority of students make little progress and “invariably return to incarceration.” To stem the “rush back to jail,” Curtis was determined to develop a curriculum that uses art and reflection to reach youth and their parents, encourages literacy, and falls within the guidelines of the New York State learning standards.

Curtis maintains that reflection is key to the progress that incarcerated juveniles must make toward responsible adulthood. “Using puppets, the adolescents were prompted to reflect upon themselves, their families, and their communities. We were able to involve the boys’ parents as well,” he continued, “making the reflective process familial, not only individual.” Curtis measures the success of this reflective mode by working closely with the social worker and job counselor attached to the academy. They track recidivism rates, academic achievement, and family unity to evaluate student progress.

The Island Academy Puppet Project has established community links beyond student/parent relations. They have developed a unique method of reaching out to other Rikers Island inmates and New York-area schools. By enlisting the aid of the Waterway Ten-Penny Players, a New York-area dramatic company, the Puppet Project now uses new technology and print media to reach beyond their Rikers Island classroom. By using closed circuit television and videotape, the Puppet Project can broadcast and record workshops and performances and distribute them to other Rikers Island inmates and New York-area schools. “With this technology, the inmates can create presentations without the viewers having the slightest idea that they are incarcerated,” Curtis explains. The Waterway Ten-Penny Players also publish the puppet plays, stories, and poetry written by the inmates and their parents.

Future plans call for a peer mediation program that uses puppets to establish communication between disruptive Rikers Island youth, mediators, and their community court. Another project will involve adult Rikers Island prisoners in a family literacy program similar to the one already in place in the juvenile sector. The Puppet Project also hopes to create a documentary about a group of puppet “inmates” who learn how to return to society. Curtis also underscored his gratitude for the cooperation given him by the New York State Department of Corrections. “Without the cooperation of people like Deputy Warden Joseph Patarisi,” Curtis says, “none of this would be possible.”

In closing, Curtis said: “We at Island Academy are making a demonstrable difference in the lives of our students and their families. That is the least that any educator can do. This [project] has tempted the children to learn through art. Learning is the least that a student can do. The parents are communicating with their children. That is the least that parents should have done. Together we will do much more. That is the least we can all do.”

For more information, contact John Cates Curtis, Austin H. MacCormick Island Academy, 18-00 Hazen Street, East Elmhurst (Queens), NY 11370. (718) 546-6183.
 
 

PICASSO Mentors Learn While Teaching Elementary Students

WOODWARD, OKLA—Teachers and students in Woodward, Oklahoma, came up with a clever acronym to describe a comprehensive service-learning program. Programs for Interactive Creative Art Students Serving Others (PICASSO) was designed by students and teachers at Woodward High School to expand students’ learning experiences, develop their communication skills, and employ their visual arts abilities to benefit a diverse population in their community.

PICASSO begins by recognizing that students retain a high percentage of knowledge that they teach to others. PICASSO’s students use higher-level thinking skills to analyze their own knowledge of artistic elements, principles, styles, and techniques. Then they synthesize this knowledge to provide artistic experiences for elementary school students, special-needs students, Head Start kids, and senior citizens.

Art students, teachers, and parents begin a project by conducting school- and community-based surveys to identify groups that can 1) benefit from PICASSO’s attention and 2) provide students with opportunities to strengthen their communications and arts skills through service. For example, a PICASSO survey determined that there was no certified art instructor available to Woodward public school students in grades K–4. Students and teachers organized a collaborative mural project that allowed PICASSO students to supervise elementary school students. This collaboration produced curriculum-based murals that reflected fourth grade learning in oceanography, rainforest ecology, Oklahoma history, multicultural studies, and mythology. The completed murals were mounted on portable frames and displayed in the community.

Other PICASSO programs offer a variety of direct and indirect service opportunities for students. Reading readiness is the focus for Head Start PICASSO projects. Students created story picture books without words to illustrate sequencing and continuity for pre-school children. PICASSO mentors stress self-expression and enhanced curriculum for alternative education students. These students made baskets for themselves under the supervision of a PICASSO mentor. The alternative education students sold the baskets at a community art show and decided to donate the proceeds to a local youth shelter. All projects integrate curriculum, visual, and tactile learning methods.

In addition, PICASSO students are asked to provide written evaluations and reflections. Journal entries, poetry, essays, and short stories reflect students’ thoughts on their individual and group service-learning experiences. Several PICASSO students’ written reflections have been included in Woodward High School student anthologies, while art work created as a part of PICASSO service and reflection has been displayed at community art shows. PICASSO students’ efforts at curriculum development are being documented to be compiled in a future manual that would promote service-learning methodologies. In the future, Woodward High plans to include arts collaboration as part of the core curriculum.

Finally, PICASSO has created a varied set of community partnerships. The education committee of the Woodward Chamber of Commerce helped identify organizations, businesses, and individuals who might want to participate as a PICASSO partner. The Chamber of Commerce, local businesses, the Woodward Arts Council, a senior citizens organization, the local Head Start program, and others have contributed time, financial support, advice, and materials to increase the productivity of the program. Roxy Merklin, arts instructor and Learn and Serve coordinator believes that community partnerships have “increased a sense of respect for what was happening at school, raised awareness of the kinds of learning and abilities we are developing, and highlighted the talent that students have.” These partnerships increase student awareness of the larger community while they raise out-of-school respect for student contributions to Woodward’s cultural life.

For more information, contact Roxy Merklin, Learn and Serve coordinator, art instructor, Woodward High School, Woodward Oklahoma. (580) 256-5329.
E-mail: merklin@woodward.k12.ok.us.


LESSONS
Art and Ecology: Curriculum Integration and Service Learning

These art and ecology lessons integrate community action projects with an interdisciplinary approach to curriculum. These lessons and others are available in unabridged form on ArtsEdNet, an online service developed by the Getty Education Institute for the Arts. URL: http://www.artsednet.getty.edu. ))))))))))))))))))))))))))
 

Lesson One: Building and Maintaining a School Courtyard Topiary

by Susan Sherlock West Middle School

Overview

In Lima, Ohio, students created topiary figures for their middle school courtyard. The topiary project was designed to illustrate art’s connection to other subject areas. Teachers worked in teams to form connections that crossed disciplines, grade levels, and established community partnerships. Students and teachers worked together to learn more about the interconnectedness of art, aesthetics, culture, and ecology through action-oriented inquiry.

1. Exploring Local Topiary Sculpture

A field excursion by teachers and students to a local topiary sculpture enabled them to develop a more complete understanding about interdisciplinary connections among art, aesthetics, culture, and ecology. Students and teachers learned about topiary design, construction, and how maintenance is an ongoing process. Direct experience: identify, examine, touch, smell, see, hear, taste.

Using action-oriented inquiry, teachers and students can:

* Identify local, regional, national, and international
   topiary gardens and art work.

* Explore local topiary sculpture to learn
   more ecological issues connected to topiary design.

2. Educational and Ecological Considerations

From our experiences at the topiary park, team members developed educational and ecological goals for the school courtyard topiary project. Eighth graders would mentor sixth and seventh grade students on ways to maintain the topiary project at the school. When the sixth graders entered seventh and eighth grade, they would assume mentor roles and offer prior knowledge and understanding to maintain the plants and metal wire forms. From visiting and observing the existing topiary site, new ideas formed for curriculum implementation. Observation and Reflection: investigate, reflect, discuss, observe, watch.

Using action-oriented inquiry, teachers and students can:

* Pose important questions about topiary history: Why
   were topiaries developed? What ethnic and cultural
   groups of people have created topiary gardens and
   sculptures? For whom were they built and what was
   the purpose of their construction? What materials are
   used in topiary design?

* Reflect on how the social, cultural, and historical contexts
   of a topiary park or courtyard are related to its geographic
   location.

* Consider why artists should address ecological life-centered
   issues.

3. Making Connections

Curriculum integration was used to make connections between concepts explored in the different subject areas:

* Language Arts—Students explored creative writing,
   storytelling, and oral narratives/history and created
   childrens’ books with topiary figures as main characters.

* History /Social Studies—The historical and cultural
   development of topiary gardens was discussed in world
   geography. This inquiry included an examination of how
   topiaries were created and used by ethnically diverse
   populations from around the world.

* Science—Ecological issues of local importance were
   addressed such as recycling, preservation of plants
   specific to regional ecosystems, and compatibility of natural
   and human-made materials (i.e., materials used specifically
   to create our topiary - plants versus steel frames, concrete
   anchors).

* Home Arts—Edible plants and flowers were discussed in
   relation to growing herbs for ground cover and drying them
   for use in recipes.

* Health—Students researched issues concerning the creation
   of physical environments that promote health.

* Studio Art Education—Students developed an on-going
   photographic essay to document topiary design and construction
   that included black and white photographic techniques and
   darkroom experience. Additional studio work included the
   selection of metals; cutting, bending, and shaping wire forms
   for the topiary figures; welding; choosing appropriate plant-life;
   and maintaining and shaping living plant materials annually.
   Critical Thinking: analyze, interpret, assess.

Using action-oriented inquiry, teachers and students can:

* Investigate the historical, cultural, and social development
   of topiary sculpture and gardens.

* Examine if topiaries are works of art or techniques
   employed in landscape design.

* Learn why ecological life-centered issues are an
   artist’s responsibility.

4. Community Involvement

Community involvement was a result of our collaborative process. Various community members were contacted who offered advice, donated materials, and volunteered their assistance during construction. Alliances with businesses and individual community members were made and have continued to grow. Taking Action: write, draw, plan, produce.

Using action-oriented inquiry, teachers and students can:

* Learn how to provide creative solutions to urban,
   rural, and suburban ecological problems.

* Identify possible designs for small topiary projects
   using wire and ivy plants.

* Work collaboratively with peers, teachers, parents,
   and community members to develop and improve their
   school and community environment.

For more information, contact Susan Sherlock at West Middle School, 816 College Ave., Lima, OH 45805. (419) 998-2150.E-mail: sherlock@q1.net.
 

Lesson Two: Perspectives of the Environment

by Janet Reger Dublin Scioto High School

Overview

Perspectives of the Environment was a pilot art-centered interdisciplinary class developed by the students, parents, administrators, and teachers of Dublin Scioto High School. The class approached environment from diverse points of view. Five disciplines were involved: art, science, social studies, language arts, foreign language, and journalism. During class periods, we explored issues and concepts connected to student-selected subjects. In most instances, the student interest leaned toward ecological issues.

The course moved beyond the interest of technical manipulation of art materials to developing unique ways of creating art with a message. Students spent as much time interviewing and researching as they did making art. Research and personal ideas were recorded in sketch notebook/journals. Computers were used for research and to create Hyperstack slide shows. Visits from a local installation artist lead to philosophical discussions e.g., “Why do humans make art?” and “Can art serve to influence?”

The elements and principles of design and student-driven assessment were embedded in the instructional activities. At the conclusion of the unit, students presented their art work to the community. Demonstrations included a body of writing and visual art that supported informal oral presentations.

1. Qualifying Successful Ecological Art

First, students critically examined contemporary ecological works of art. They used class discussions, debates, group work, and research to establish criteria for judging “successful” ecological art. Criteria included:

* Value of the purpose served (the more important
   the purpose served by the work, the more valuable
   the work);

* Effectiveness of the work in achieving its purpose;

* Quality of the craft.

These criteria were applied in subsequent lessons and served to link all teaching and learning activities. Students recorded the agreed upon evaluation criteria in their sketch notebook/journals and provided information about the process used to establish them.

2. Examining Ecological Art

Students examined different forms of ecological art and viewed examples of ecological art. Then they assessed the success of the works by using evaluative criteria they had previously established. Students used art criticism techniques to evaluate works of ecological art and provided evidence supporting their views. The students also recorded descriptive information about each work of art they researched in their sketch notebook/journals and explained what qualified it as a success.

3. Investigating Ecological Issues

Students conducted a media search to survey the impact of local ecological issues on their community. They identified officials who have direct knowledge about local ecological issues. Next, students invited an environmentalist to class to discuss the impact of local ecological issues on the community. This informal conversation provided an opportunity for students to integrate their artistic evaluation with community issues.

4. Installation as Ecological Art

Students used 1) the established criteria for successful ecological art and 2) their investigation of ecological issues to create their own ecological art installation. This installation process involved collaborative planning on the part of the students, teachers, parents, and community. Students applied their evaluation criteria to speculate about the success of their installations as ecological art. Students then invited the public to view their installations. At the opening, they displayed information about 1) the historical significance of ecological art, 2) the ecological issues that spurred the creation of their installation, and 3) the process they used to create the installation.

Students also designed a survey to document attendance and the installation’s impact on viewers about the ecological issues represented through their work. Later the survey was distributed to those attending the opening/installation.

For more information, contact Janet Reger, Dublin Scioto High School, 4000 Hard Rd., Dublin, OH 43016. (614) 717-2464.
 


FYI

Arts and Education Advocacy


AAAE Surveys Arts/Education Studies

In 1996, the Association for the Advancement of Arts Education (AAAE) commissioned a review of over 400 studies in dance, music, theater, and visual arts. This review, titled How the Arts Contribute to Education—an Evaluation of Research, found “compelling evidence that we must include the arts in the education of all our students if we want our children to be prepared for the challenges of life and work in our global society.”

For a copy of the complete review, contact the Association for the Advancement of Arts Education, 655 Eden Park, Suite 730, Cincinnati, OH 45202, 513 721-2223. An electronic version of How the Arts Contribute to Education is available from the AAAE web site at http://www.aaae.org.
 

ARTS AND EDUCATION FUNDING

State Arts Funding Reaches New High

In 1998, funds awarded to the nation’s 56 state and jurisdictional arts agencies increased by over 12 percent to $305 million, the highest total funding ever awarded by state governments. Jonathan Katz, executive director for the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies (NASAA) said, “This growth represents the confidence that governors and state legislators have. . .to provide funds and services that effectively broaden citizen access to and participation in the arts.”

For information on arts and education funding from your state arts agency, contact the NASAA web site at http://nasaa-arts.org.
 

react TAKE ACTION AWARDS

College scholarships and philanthropic prizes are given annually to outstanding teenagers who have made significant contributions to their communities, the nation and/or the world.

The Awards, sponsored by react magazine and The New World Foundation, grant $20,000 college scholarships to each of five top winners and $1000 college scholarships to ten second-prize winners.

Applicants for the react Take Action Awards must be between the ages of 12 and 18 years old, and not yet have entered college. The application form is published in react, is also available on the magazine’s Web site at www.react.com/takeaction.


TECHNOLOGY

Arts and Education Web Sites

Here is a sampling of web sites dedicated to arts and education:

ArtsEdge 
ArtsEdge helps artists, teachers, and students gain access to or share information, resources, and ideas that support the arts as a core subject area in the K–12 curriculum.

ArtsEdNet 
An online service developed by the Getty Education Institute for the Arts that supports the needs of the K–12 arts education community. It focuses on helping arts educators and general classroom teachers using the arts in their curriculum.

Arts Education Partnership 
The Arts Education Partnership (formerly the Goals 2000 Arts Education Partnership) is a private, nonprofit coalition of education, arts, business, philanthropic, and government organizations that promotes the essential role of arts education.

The Art Teacher Connection 
Arts-education resources, images, art lessons, and tips on how to integrate computer technology into a visual arts curriculum and methods to connect arts activities to curriculum with emphasis on materials and Internet projects that meet national standards.

Association for the Advancement of Arts Education
Using AAAE publications, workshops, and this Internet site, teachers get connected to classroom-tested arts lesson plans, program models in the areas of arts curriculum and integration, teacher training, and funding for arts education.

The National Art Education Association
Administers funds to promote the teaching of art, encourages research and experimentation in art education, holds public discussions on art-related matters, sponsors conferences on art education and publishes articles, reports, and surveys about art.

Also FYI for additional arts and education resources.


ABOUT CRF
Constitutional Rights Foundation(CRF) is among the leading national organizations promoting school-based youth service and service learning. Since 1962, CRF has used education to address some of America’s most serious youth-related problems: apathy, alienation, and lack of commitment to the values essential to our democratic way of life.

Through a variety of civic-education programs developed by CRF staff, young people prepare for effective citizenship and learn the vital role they can play in our society. Em powered with knowledge and skills, our youth can interact successfully with our political, legal, and economic systems.

CRF is dedicated to assuring our country’s future by investing in our youth today. For more information about CRF programs including Youth Leadership for Action, Active Citizenship Today (a collaboration with Close Up Foundation), CityYouth, California State Mock Trial Competi tion, History Day in California, Sports & the Law, or curriculum materials, please contact our office.

We welcome your recommendations of themes for future issues, conference listings, resources materials, program evaluations, book reviews, or curriculum and activities ideas. Thank you for your contributions and most of all for your dedication to youth.



This issue of Service-Learning Network is made possible by a generous grant from The Ford Foundation.



©1998, Constitutional Rights Foundation, 601 South Kingsley Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90005 (213) 487-5590  Fax (213) 386-0459   www.crf-usa.org

Haley J. Fromholz, President; Susan J. Troy, Immediate Past President; Todd Clark, Executive Director; Marshall Croddy, Director of Program and Materials Development; Kathleen Kirby, Senior Consultant; Charles Degelman, Editor; Julie Glaser, Program Coordinator; Andrew Costly, Production Manager.