Amy Traggianese | July 2018

Summer Reflection: Arts Integration, Theatre and a Mini-Me


The most exciting thing happened to me during this past school year – one of my students portrayed ME in their play! How cute is that?

And she nailed it.  (She chose the perfect wig, right? And I’m always wearing an apron.)

Honestly, I didn’t know she was wearing purple for the performance!

My arts integrated elementary school chooses different teaching artists to work with students and teachers each year. In addition to these artist residencies, our second grade classes work with teaching artist Carol Glynn.


As one teacher described her, “Carol is SO animated!”

Carol specializes in theater, writing, dramatics, as well as kinesthetic curriculum activities. Each class produces a play based on children’s literature. This residency integrates ELA, theater, music and art. Furthermore, all the plays revolved around the theme of kindness.

One of the classes based their play on a book called Ordinary Mary’s Extraordinary Deed, by Emily Pearson. The book shows how one ordinary good deed can make a big difference to many people. Also, what goes around comes around!

The story structure and some of the transitional language was the same as the book, but the characters were different. Students brainstormed on common ways that kids can help others, like shoveling snow and raking leaves. They included characters who they encounter on a daily basis, including their classroom teacher and art teacher. All the students agreed that art teachers need help because they are ALWAYS hanging artwork around the school.

Finally, the students matched the ways they could help people with the characters, and put them in order like a puzzle. They made the story circular, just like Ordinary Mary’s Extraordinary Deed.

The parts of Mrs. Traggianese (me), Mrs. Zazula (their classroom teacher), and French Fry, the dog were the most coveted roles.  (You probably knew this already, but teachers and dogs rule! Just sayin’.)


Adorable Georgia, portraying me. And, yes, I DO talk with my hands!

And Arts Integration!

The second grade teachers find that this teaching artist residency is fun for students, but additionally, it teaches many important lessons on many levels. (NCAS Theatre Enduring Understandings in italics)

 Students are able to: 

  • Create a performance based on literature – Theatre artists share and present stories, ideas, and envisioned worlds to explore the human experience and Theatre artists work to discover different ways of communicating meaning
  • Rehearse and use different acting strategies – Theatre artists refine their work and practice their craft through rehearsal
  • Be responsible to memorize lines, use props and costumes – Theatre artists develop personal processes and skills for a performance
  • Learn how to tell a story with others helps students mature and feel good about themselves – Theatre artists make strong choices to effectively convey meaning

As Kristin Zazula gushes about her class, she also mentions that the dynamics change: students who are quiet and never choose to share in front of their peers can shine as actors. And, of course, bringing a character to life helps students grow in reading, writing, speaking, listening: all of the CCSS ELA fluency areas.

About the Author

Amy Traggianese has been an elementary visual arts educator in CT since 1995. A former kindergarten and first grade teacher, she has over 30 years of arts integration experience. Amy specializes in integrating language arts, math, science and technology into the choice art studio. She is an arts integration coach for The Institute for ARts Integration and STEAM. Amy is an active educator voice on Facebook and Twitter and loves a good Twitter chat. Connect with her on social media or at