Visual & Peforming Arts PD “Buy Back” Day at International Community School

Participants: Visual Art Teachers – Jamie Treacy/Skyline, Deborah Green/Oakland Tech, Carissa Moline/New Highland, Michele Lee/Encompass, Aracely Sifuentes-Ordaz /Melrose Leadership Academy; OUSD VAPA team – Ann Wettrich.

We enjoyed gathering with music teachers in the morning for a workshop on Trauma Informed Schools and Positive Behavioral Interventions & Supports (PBIS) and then having our own visual arts teacher breakout group in the afternoon.

Morning Session

Workshop presenters included Phil Rydeen, who did an engaging visual arts/writing exercise that included partnered and whole group conversation–a good warm up and lead-in to PBIS specialist, Kathy Bennet’s workshop. Kathy guided us through purposes, strategies and best practices of PBIS and facilitated conversations and questions. We discussed brain research and how it has led to new understandings about the impact of trauma. Fortunately, neuroplasticity tells us that brains are responsive to positive interventions that can mitigate damaging effects—underlining the valuable role teachers can play in shiftingfullsizerender outcomes for students by creating supportive schools and classrooms. As strategies, we discussed the value of self-reflection and the concept and cultural humility, unlearning privilege and surfacing cultural blind spots while understanding historical trauma, power imbalances and institutional accountability.

To explore these topics further, check out: Nadine Burke Harris’s TED Talk How Childhood Experiences Affect Health Across a Lifetime. You can take the ACE (Adverse Childhood Experiences) test, where high scores correlate with significant biological repercussions via the stress response system. You can also learn more about PBIS strategies applicable to your teaching, here. Check out on the RESOURCES page of our website—downloadable PBIS resource handouts from the workshop.

Afternoon Visual Arts Teachers Breakout Session

 1) Curriculum development design support

  • Social Justice – We thought together about how to deepen and build on curriculum in this area and explored useful on-line resources. This generative discussion meandered and challenges discussed included: integrating themes to deepen still life drawing exercises, defining terms such as race and how does whiteness play into erasure of culture, power dynamics and accountability, ESL vs. dual language immersion. Strategies included cultivating a growth mindset and mindfulness exercises.
  • Curricular Examples – Social Justice themed highlights: Deborah’s Climate-Change School Poster Project, Michele’s 4-5 grade Flag Project, making ancestor heritage flags and then working in diverse partner groups to create new flags for America; 1-2nd grade Guided Drawing – making a book of animals in Spanish/English; Carissa’s “Wall Project” working with New Highland’s post-election theme of student empowerment, inspired by works of contemporary artists. Every class will made a wall connected to overarching theme, i.e. First grade—Wall of Us, Third grade—Wall of Wonderful. At the end of the year, it is hoped that all walls will be joined together across the school.
  • Designing AP Studio Course – Jamie presented his challenges of helping students create sustained investigations with both breadth and depth to build successful portfolios that rank highly on the college board APR reviews. Successful portfolio samples examined include connecting student autobiography to a theme of investigation. Examples highlighted portfolios of students with exotic and/or outstanding life experiences. Jamie’s students are finding it difficult to come up with relevant competitive themes. We brainstormed how a student who is interested in popular culture beach photos could deepen her investigation to include things like—sea level rise/environmental issues; refugee crossing, etc. We suggested mind-mapping as a strategy to help students widen their ideas, as well as researching artists whose work included this theme. If a student is more interested in the principles of art and design—a theme like color investigation could emerge. They could research how artists working at different times and across different genres considered color, look into the physics of color, and/or explore diverse cross-cultural color perspectives.
  • Resources recommendations: Carol Dwek/Growth Mindset TED talk; Class Dojo – simple ways to build happier classrooms, the Beautiful Oops – to foster creativity; Spiral Art Education “Cool Curriculum” for secondary school engaging social justice approaches; Art Assignment PBS series / exploring history through the lens of the present with contemporary artists offering up engaging assignments.

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