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    Rio Vista High School art teacher Megan Brooks works on her assemblage Thursday at a workshop at Crocker Art Museum.


    An Arts Academy participant shows off an original creation Thursday at Crocker Art Museum.

Sacramento County workshop hones the art of teaching

Published: Friday, Jul. 26, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 1B
Last Modified: Friday, Jul. 26, 2013 - 12:57 pm

Dozens of students sifted through pipe cleaners, colored masking tape and metallic scraps of paper Thursday in an exercise of assemblage – art created with everyday objects – at the Crocker Art Museum.

But those 45 students were also public school teachers and administrators, taking part in the first-ever Arts Academy professional development workshop put on by the Sacramento County Office of Education Leadership Institute.

"We want them to experience these lessons as their kids will," said L. Steven Winlock, executive director of the academy.

The weeklong workshop started Monday as a way to prepare for the Common Core State Standards – the new public school curriculum taking effect this fall – and to rethink the way educators integrate art into their lessons.

On Thursday, the group learned four steps for considering art. First, look – describe colors, lines, textures – then analyze themes and ideas. Next, interpret the context and importance, and finally, judge the execution and overall success.

Winlock said these guidelines parallel the sort of critical thinking emphasized in the Common Core standards.

On top of the Crocker outing, the academy group met representatives from the Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commission, the Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts, the Sacramento Ballet and the Music Circus, as well as educational specialists.

The excursions not only informed teachers of resources for classroom field trips of their own – places such as the Crocker have their own educational programs – but provided ideas for future lesson plans.

During their trip to the ballet the teachers stretched and danced, but also thought about bodily expressions of kinetic movement and the movement of elements such as gas and liquids.

The Mondavi illuminated unexpected, practical requirements for backstage careers. Stage riggers, for example, need to know algebra and geometry. Lighting specialists need computer technology skills.

"We need to look at available careers in the arts and then teachers can tell kids how to get there," Winlock said.

In 2010, California became one of 45 states ready to implement the new standards, which encourage collaboration, technology and critical thinking over memorization. The nationwide effort aims to better prepare students for life beyond the classroom.

Teachers filled the Arts Academy spots quickly – each paying $400, which helped to fund the program – and poured onto a wait list. With the positive response, Winlock said the SCOE Leadership Institute intends to continue the academy next summer.

And in February, the academy will assemble to discuss new lesson plans inspired by the workshop.

Ideas are already percolating. Laurie Slatkin, a fourth-grade teacher at Don Riggio Elementary School in Stockton, mentioned having students look at a sculpture and then write a short story.

Teachers who specialize in the arts had room to learn, too.

"I'm expanding my capabilities to integrate some of the other arts into music education," said Karla Davis, a music teacher at Cottage Elementary School in Sacramento, who may have students paint with watercolors while listening to classical music to further explore the creative process.

For Yvonne Evans of the California Department of Education, the Arts Academy showed ways to link school curriculum to after-school programs.

"People think it's baby-sitting, but activities need purpose," she said. "It's important to bring more intentionality to what kids do after school."

Call The Bee's Janelle Bitker, (916) 321-1027. Follow her in Twitter @JanelleBitker.

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