Hello and welcome back to another episode of Artworks for Teachers. I’m your host, , and if you’re listening to this in real time, it is Happy New Year! Welcome to 2024! I’m so glad that we were able to turn that calendar page and step into the possibilities for a new year. I know for us as educators, our New Year’s is actually taking place in August and September, when we get our new classes and all of that stuff. But there’s something about the magic of turning a calendar year, right? And so I hope you’ll have a wonderful winter break. Those of you who were on winter break in this hemisphere and that you’re ready, that you’re rested and that you’re ready to go and excited to get back into your classroom. Now, if you’re not, that’s normal, right?
How many of us wake up right after a break and we’re like, Ooh, I’m not ready to go back there just yet. I haven’t done all the things that I wanted to do at the house. And I really kind of wanted another day or two to just kind of relax. And I don’t necessarily want to be rushed into heading back into that classroom. If that’s you, hey, that’s normal. Right? We all do that. And so in today’s episode. I’m going to share with you some arts strategies, some creative activities that you can use to ease your way back into your classroom. I’m going to give you some lesson examples that are more enhancement lessons that are a little bit easier to start to begin again after a winter break. And you know, sometimes it’s not just us, our students are coming to us after having, you know, variety of different experiences on their break. Some of them had the picture-perfect, you know, a holiday season where they were ripping open presents and got to play with all their stuff, and some students are not that lucky. And so they’re really looking forward to coming back to school. And so no matter what, you have students who are either loving that they’re back at school, or that are really energetic and wish they were still back on break, and you need a little bit of something to kind of gel them back together. So that’s what I’m going to share today.
This is going to be based around our work on the Arts Integration Continuum. Now, if you don’t know anything about the Arts Integration Continuum, if you don’t remember anything about that, go back just a couple of episodes where I talk about the difference between enhancement and integration, and I reference that continuum there. In 2024, our organization is going to commit to really diving deep into this continuum for you as an educator because everybody at some point lives on some area of this continuum, right? You could have a stellar arts integration lesson and that’s awesome, but then the next class maybe integration isn’t the best fit for them. Maybe it’s more of a theme-based lesson or arts enhancement. And so understanding each stage of the continuum, honoring where we are as educators on that continuum and knowing where our students need to be is really important when we’re integrating the arts into our classrooms. And so we are dedicating ourselves as a team this year to diving deep into each of these sections of the continuum to giving you tools and strategies and resources in each of these areas so that no matter where you are on the continuum, you have exactly what you need to feel really to be using Arts Integration in whatever capacity with your students. So in this episode, we’re actually gonna start by talking about today’s strategies, activities, arts enhancement tools that we can use with our students to give them optimal success, right?
And so I want you to be excited about this because even if you’ve been using Arts Integration for a really long time, it’s just a joy to use, right? So we know that arts enhancement and arts integration aren’t the same thing. Again, going back to that other episode, right? Arts enhancements like the cupcake with an icing on top and arts integrations like a blueberry muffin, right? But you can have both, right? Who doesn’t love both of those things? And so allowing ourselves, giving ourselves permission to say this is okay, and I love using arts enhancement is really important.
So, and I think it’s really helpful for things like when we’re stepping back into the classroom after a break, right, going into a full-fledged arts integrated lesson with standards alignments and diving deep is not necessarily appropriate when we’re all just trying to start again. So I’m gonna actually use the create and think app to help me today. I’m gonna share this with you. Those of you who are watching on YouTube, you can watch me in real time. Those of you who are listening to this, know that we have a free app. It’s called Create and Think. If you have not already downloaded it, definitely go do that whenever it’s safe to do so. If you’re listening while driving, don’t do it now. But once you’re done, go download the Create and Think app. It’s available on the app store. It’s available in Google Play. You can download it anywhere. And it’s completely free to you. And what this has, is a list, you’ll see it right here on my screen for those of you, here we go, gotta make sure I’m doing this right, so you’ll see a list of warm-ups, strategies, thinking routines, as well as creative thinking prompts. All of these are meant as a Kickstarter for you in your classroom and there’s lots of different ways that you can use it. So today I thought it would be helpful to kind of go through some of these categories, give you some examples and then set you off and running with using this app in your own classroom. So for example, let’s take a look at the warmups area. When you click into the warmups area, you’re gonna see this large scroll. So we have them kind of labeled based on the art form on this side. So if you see a palette, it’s gonna be an art strategy. If you see a dancer, it’s gonna be a dance strategy music note, you’ll see, or a piano, it’ll be a music strategy. And so if I just scroll with this and I get to 123 Echo Me, that’s a music warm-up, it says it’s five minutes long. If I click on view, it’s going to give me step by step directions on how to do this. So in 123 Echo Me, it says to clap an eight count rhythm, pause and have students mirror that back to you and then we’re gonna talk about whether or not that clap sounded the same and why. So if I’m gonna do that, I’ll give you an example. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight. Okay, and if you can repeat that back to me, that would be great, let’s try that together.
Did yours sound the same as mine? If not, try it again. You can always pause this, go back, and do it again, right? And then we’ll sing a piece of a song or something that’s connected that they would know, like, you are my sunshine, my only sunshine. And this, it gives an example that you can actually click on and listen to, and then have students echo that back to you. So you do a little piece, and then you try, and then have them echo that same thing.
So if I were to sing, you are my sunshine, my only sunshine, can you sing that back to me? You are my sunshine, my only sunshine. Did yours sound the same as mine? You can think about that critically and then make an adjustment as you need. So this warmup is all about, can you listen actively, repeat back and have it sound exactly like what you heard previously?
Okay, so we’re looking at following directions. We’re looking at can we have something where students are reflecting on whether or not their actions are the same as what were modeled to them. This is an excellent classroom management tool that you can bring into your classroom right away at the beginning of class. Could you imagine if you start your class like this week and you’re just like, we’re gonna try a new activity. I’d love for you to follow me. I’m gonna clap something, clap it right back and then have them right away. You may not even need to explain it. Sometimes I walk into a class and I just start clapping and they’re gonna clap it right back because that’s what we naturally do as humans, right? And then you can give them some direction, okay? This time I’m gonna clap something. I want you to clap it back and I want you to think about does yours match mine? Okay, so this is a wonderful room. It can take 30 seconds. It can take three minutes. It can take anything you like in there.
What I love about this app too, is that it has lesson ideas and extensions along with each of the things that are included. So for this warm up, the lesson idea is to use this warm up as a way to begin any poem unit or compositional analysis project. You could also use this as a way to begin a lesson on repeating patterns in math. And as an extension, the warm up is ideal for lessons where students will be creating their own music because it allows them to consider the concept of a musical chorus that repeats. So that’s just one warm-up out of probably 75 that are in here that you can use with a lot of different ways that you can get started. I like it at the beginning of class for coming back from break because it’s immediately engaging students. It’s getting them into an action rather than passively just kind of coming in, sitting down, waiting for you. It allows them to jump into action and it’s directly connected back to our classroom management of paying attention, making sure that they’re following directions. Does it match what is being modeled? All of the good stuff that we know that we need to implement on a regular basis. So that’s just one example. There’s lots of different ones in here if you want them, have them drawing.
There’s a simple drawing exercises in here they can do. Movement exercises great for brain breaks if you need students to move in a different way. Like the one minute switch up is a great example of that. You can have students spend one minute doing jumping jacks, small jumps in place, and then have them do one minute completing a full body stretch. So they’re swinging their arms, they’re using their torso, and then have one minute working on core stability. So sit on the floor and tuck their knees up to their chest. Grab the nooks of their knees with their hands and then lean back to lift both feet off of the floor and then have them extend their arms out so they’re working on that core. And then one minute working on their balance. So have them stand with one knee raised and then do it on the other side. And if you just do one, five minutes, five minutes at the most and your students have moved their bodies stretched, given themselves a little bit of a break before they sit back or perhaps transition to the next piece that you want them to do in class. So I love one minute switch up. You don’t have to do all five either. You could just do a minute of a switch up and that is your transition cue for them to move to their next location. So if I’m
having circle time with some first graders and I’m like, okay, we’re gonna get ready to move to our desks. Before we do that, I want everybody to stand up, lift your right knee, hold your arms out, see how long you can hold that. All right, let’s do it with our left knee. All right, this time when you put your knee down, I want you to walk quietly to your desk. Do you see how that’s an easy transition? Gets them moving, gets them simple up and then at the same time prepping them for the next piece that they need to do. All right, so that’s in our warmups area. Now, if I move to the next section in our app, we have strategies. Again, we have strategies in all arts areas. So if you wanna pick a strategy or an arts area to use and then pick a strategy within that arts area, that’s fantastic.
One of my favorites is always mirroring. I’ve talked about that before on this podcast, but I’ll go ahead and share it with you just briefly, that if you have students stand across from one another and then have them silently mirror the actions of their partner. So one person has to be selected as person A, the other is person B. Partner A gets to decide how they’re gonna move their bodies. I always try to give them very specific examples because otherwise,
You get some students who are really silly with it. If you’re working with older students, high schoolers, they’re not gonna wanna move, right? So, but it’s important because what this skill works on is again, being able to track. It allows your brain to work across the hemisphere, which is really important. We wanna engage that before operating and into any kind of intense thinking activity because we need both sides of the brains engaged during those deep conversations or activities where we’re gonna ask our students to really be thinking deeply about something. We need to engage that before we actually ask them to do it, especially after a long break. So with mirroring, what happens is that if partner A, for example, if you tell them, I want you to just move partner A, I want you to move your hands in a way that demonstrates 90 degree angles.
Okay, for our older people, that’s easy, and it’s not outside of their comfort zone, right? So, and give them an example, so maybe their hands go down, and then to the right or the left, and then come back. Partner B is going to mirror whatever action Partner A does. Okay, so Partner A can go quickly or slowly, they can move forward, they can move backwards, but again, they’re trying to move in this 90 degree angle. Partner B has to then mirror that.
Then we switch roles so that both partners have that opportunity. And then here’s where it gets really interesting. And this is what begins to activate that cross hemisphere work in our brain. Partner, we’re going to come back to partner a partner. A is going to continue to do the same activity. So 90 degree angles with their hands. They could engage their feet if they wanted to really complicate it. But at some point partner, a is going to the leadership role over to partner B, but they’re not going to say it. So at some point partner B has to be ready to take that leadership on. It has to recognize, okay it’s my turn now and then they become the leader. That then continues the activity. Now that is a challenge for many students. So if you need a bridge to help them out, I always like to let them try it first, but if they need a bridge…
Partner A can raise their eyebrows when it’s time to toss it over to partner B. That’s an easy kind of cue, right? If they need a cueing system. But at some point try to take that away. Now that mirroring activity, again, could be as short as two minutes. It could be as long as ten minutes if you really wanted. But it again activates an important area in our brain. We can use it for a very specific purpose. You can easily connect to that to lots of different math concepts, right? Right off the bat. But you can also think about it in a variety of different ways. For example, if you’re doing pair reading, you can do that mirroring activity prior to the pair reading, where that makes a little bit of sense. So again, I like that as a movement tool, it’s a way for it to engage our brains in a different capacity. So love mirroring.
There’s also one in music that’s called the improvisation frame, which I don’t talk about a lot, but I think it’s important. The reason I like it is because for me as a music educator, it was really difficult for me to teach improvisation to students, not because my students couldn’t improvise, but because I felt uncomfortable with improvisation. Because think about it, like if you’re a jazz musician and you can improvise and just kind of make things up on the fly and it sounds good, right?
I’m not that kind of a person by nature. So I actually created improvisation frame as a strategy to help me help my students become comfortable with improvisation, because it’s not something that I come by naturally. So I’m gonna outline this again, it’s in the app when if you wanna use it. This encourages your students to experiment while providing a frame for exploration. So here’s what I discovered about improvisation, that’s why I called it improvisation frame. When you just ask students to randomly create something, it sets your brain off in a way that is uncomfortable. Because your brain needs a frame. It needs a boundary to know, OK, where can I play within this? It automatically creates stories and gives frameworks for yourself.
Think about how many times you have to consciously ask yourself, is that true or is it just a story that I’m making up? Right. Because your brain will do that automatically. So what you want to do is when you have your students creating something and it’s uncomfortable because it’s something that’s new or different, or they’re not sure if it’s right or not, you want to provide a frame or a boundary that supports them. So they can create, but it’s within this context. So to create a frame for students, you’re gonna have students actually form a rectangle or square. We’re literally going to create a frame instead of a circle, a rectangle or a square. This becomes your human frame. And then you’re gonna assign each side of that rectangle or square a specific rhythmic value or an element or a process. So my left side might be doing this rhythm.
My right side might be doing this rhythm.
my top side might be doing this rhythm.
and my bottom side might be doing this rhythm.
So they each have a different rhythm that they have to do. They practice that. And then when you combine all those rhythms together, each side can play all together. It all works together, right? And you can even have some of them using their feet, some of them using their hands, some of them patting their legs so that you can hear the differences if you want. You then select a student to go into the center. And while the sides are all doing their individual rhythms. The person in the center can make up whatever they want. So in the middle, they might be going.
Right? It doesn’t matter. They are improvising within this frame. Now, if they’re very nervous about how to do that, they can pick rhythms from each of the sides to put together. And so if they were just doing the beat, rest, beat, rest, they might want to try a different side when they’re in the center. So there’s always a fallback for students to kind of go back to, but then the students who really thrive in this are going to love being able to be in the center kind of experimenting and playing with that. Now, how does this relate to other pieces or concepts that you might be working on, right? You could use this in a variety of ways. You could connect it back to science when you’re working on hypothesis for something. Let’s say each group has a different hypothesis. You could connect that hypothesis to a rhythm. Like if you hypothesize that the liquid is going to change to a gas. Okay, you’re going to say liquid change to a gas. Liquid change to a gas. That might be your hypothesis. And another group hypothesizes that the liquid changes to a solid. That’s a totally different rhythm. So then you pull that together and then you can kind of see how that would connect and you can pull it into your lesson. Again, it’s a strategy. You can use it as a connector for a lot of different things. So those are two strategies that you could experiment with in this app. And then we also have thinking routines. Now thinking routines are practices that are meant to be done on a regular basis. They take about 15 minutes to do. And some of these are things you’re familiar with, like see, think, wonder, right? So you might look at an illustration in your textbook and ask students, what do you see going on here? What do you think is happening and what questions or what wonderings do you have about that? That’s something really easy to engage them in that illustration prior to them trying to dig into the text and figure it out. But another one that I really like is the four read routine. And so when we go in here it gives us these directions. This strategy works best with expository, argumentative, and persuasive text. So this is a great one for older students. Oftentimes when I’m sharing
I know my middle and high school teachers are like, yeah, but what about me? This gives you a great example of something like that. So this is great for older students. Step one, you’re going to read a piece of text that you’re studying four different times and four different ways. So the first way you’re going to read it is you’re just going to read the text for vocabulary. So you’re going to have students read the text in circle or outline anything, any word that they are unfamiliar with so that they can then go look that word up and have a better understanding of what that word means. Okay, so we’re reading the whole text just to identify vocabulary terms that we need to look up. Then you’re gonna read the whole piece again, but this time you’re gonna read it for sections and claims. So this offers the students a chance to chunk information, making the text easily digestible and less threatening. That’s really helpful with longer texts.
And then have students section the text by main idea, using a highlighter to create section breaks and write the topic of the section in the margin or on a post-it note. Remember the sections are not necessarily the paragraphs. Multiple paragraphs can be on one specific topic or main idea, but the idea is to have students understand what the topics are that are being shared here as long as the main idea, and then have students identify and highlight the claims that are made by the author to support that topic and then rewrite the claim in their own words on a post-it. So this goes much deeper into actually reading the text. Now, once they do that, they’re gonna read it again. This time they’re gonna read it for dinner. What that means is that this is gonna give the reader a chance to kind of interact with the text and think about how you read each section and answer the following questions. What does it say? What does it mean? And why is it important?
So think about if you’re having dinner with your parents, school and they ask what did you read they might ask what is it what did it say what did it mean and why was that important for you to know so you’re gonna have students capture that key information that they could then share at their dinner table right and then finally they read for the assignment so the purpose of the final read is to complete in an assignment so to make sure that each text is accompanied by an activity or a task that allows for students to draw on a deeper depth of knowledge that requires them to design, connect, synthesize, apply concepts, critique, something along those lines. So think about your activity. Normally, when we’re doing a reading activity, we would have that activity and we would have the text. We’d have students read the text to complete the activity, right? In this method, we’re actually having them read it for various purposes prior to that final read and that activates a whole lot of different things that are going on in our students’ brains. It allows them to interact with the text in a different way, to identify where they might get tripped up, and then to really close read in a way that’s more important for them so that they can really grasp the information being shared. So that is an example of a thinking routine that would be helpful. Now, I know that I’ve shared a lot of examples with you today.
But really, it’s only about four. And I would love for you, as your action step for today’s episode, I’d love for you to download the Create and Think app and then select one piece from each of those areas, a warmup, a strategy, and a thinking routine, to try out with your students this week so that you can ease in to the work but still have meaningful work being done the first week back after break. And as I said, this is very much an arts enhancement tool, but I think it’s really great, right? It’s a way to have fun with our learning while still having meaningful, relevant conversations and work being done by our students, which is super important. All right, I hope you enjoyed this episode and I look forward to being back with you again next week, right here on Art Works for Teachers.