Bringing More Arts to Elementary Students

Local reporter, Laura Giles, is currently earning an Arts Integration Endorsement through the CITES office at BYU to bring more arts to her elementary students. We appreciate her commitment to arts education and her voice in the community.

Read the article here:
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The Learning Edge 2017

The Learning Edge Annual Administrator’s Conference took place at the Provo Marriott on November 14, with over 300 principals, administrators, and teacher leaders participating. This biennial conference alternates between focusing on the arts and gifted and talented every other year. The conference theme, The Arts: A Renaissance of Relevance, was chosen by the planning committee to demonstrate the importance of the arts in education and meet the objective of having quality arts experiences that engage students while also connecting to curricular standards. The conference is hosted by the BYU CITES program within the McKay School of Education.

Lois Hetland, coauthor of Studio Thinking 2: The Real Benefits of Visual Arts Education and research affiliate of Harvard’s Project Zero, was the keynote speaker. She introduced the Studio Thinking framework, which is the way learning experiences are organized, and suggested ways it can support hiring and evaluating arts and non-arts teachers. She also demonstrated ways that school leaders can use Studio Habits of Mind: cognitive dispositions natural to artists that can support learning in every discipline and enrich school communities.

The conference featured three breakout sessions, with 21 total classes, that offered participants more in-depth discussions, research, and resources to improve instruction and school culture in the arts. Classes covered a number of topics, including twenty-first century skills, arts integration, resources and strategies for arts implemention, arts skills, arts assessment, building school communities with the arts, and many more. Presenters included educators and artists from BYU and UVU; the Beverley Taylor Sorenson Art Learning Program; and principals, administrators, and teachers from various school districts.

Participants were also treated to a variety of performances by talented local artists, including One Voice Children’s Choir, former Utah poet laureate Lance Larsen, Brazilian dance and drumming group Samba Fogo, and singer and songwriter Lauryn Judd from TV’s The Voice.

The Learning Edge Conference is made possible each year by the Don and Mima Hicken Endowment at BYU. Mima Hicken was an elementary school teacher for most of her life and wanted children to have access to learning that included quality arts experiences. She also wanted to give teachers creative resources for improving instruction in their classrooms. To honor Mima, Don set up an endowment at BYU that would fulfill Mima’s vision through an annual conference. This year, the conference was also co-sponsored by Art Works for Kids, the Utah Film Center, and the Utah Division of Arts and Museums.



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BYU Arts Bridge

Heather Francis, Arts Bridge Program Coordinator

This semester, the Arts Bridge Program at BYU has 25 university students—or arts scholars—providing arts education in elementary classrooms. Arts scholars are working with a coordinating classroom teacher and an assigned BYU faculty mentor, giving both BYU students and grade-level teachers a truly unique learning opportunity.

The arts scholars are working hard on their lesson plans, visiting their classrooms, and blogging about their experiences. Blogs provide ideas about arts-integrated lessons and invite everyone to follow their journies through the semester.

Here are some highlights from the blogs:

·      Arts scholar Savannah Angle and elementary music specialist Cheree Rowley from Westland Elementary in West Jordan coteach effectively. Ms. Rowley teaches her class for 10–15 minutes while Miss Savannah observes, and then Miss Savannah teaches her dance lesson for 30 minutes while Ms. Rowley observes. Both teachers serve one another by modeling practice in classroom management and art-specific instructional methods.

·      Casey Greenwood, drama scholar, invited the children in her fourth grade class at Sunset View Elementary to play the part of magician, knight, physician, or commoner to come up with a plan to save the princess—played by Wendy Bruce, their classroom teacher—­­­­who was being eaten by the dragon in their play.

·      Heidi Dimmick, coordinating teacher from Spanish Oaks Elementary school, has used Kristen Freeland’s blog to reflect and share the things she and her students have enjoyed about the music lessons they’ve participated in.

Thanks to the talented and dedicated arts scholars, coordinating teachers, and faculty mentors providing arts education to children in our schools. This year, approximately 650 children are benefitting from Arts Bridge, as are the 25 teachers and 25 future teachers.

See all the Arts Bridge scholars’ blogs below:

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Robot Rumpus with Elicia Gray

Get Ready for the Robot Rumpus!

Elicia Gray’s Students at
Lakeview Elementary in
Provo City School District
Create Robots!

Elicia is happy to be able to talk about her diverse group of students at Lakeview Elementary School. Each week she has the unique opportunity to interact closely with more than 800 students, each with different skills and attributes. At the school she has students from all over the globe, many of them speaking English as a second language. In addition, a great number of students come from economically deprived families and do not normally have access to a diverse array of art supplies.

Elicia says, “As an art specialist, it is my pleasure to help students cultivate imaginative skills that can be applied to every other aspect of their lives. It is a pleasure to spend time with them and watch as their creative minds devour information and generate new ideas. I love being a part of a classroom where students are given opportunities to explore and discover new things.”

The Robot Project
For this project, the students were invited to design and create robots that would be useful in society today. Students were asked to identify problems that they encountered on a daily basis as well as problems in the larger world around them. After pinpointing these difficulties, students created possible solutions to those problems and designed robots that were forged to meet specific needs. Students were  invited to think creatively as they explored different possibilities and focused on resolving some of society’s greatest grievances, both simple and complex.

Henri Kaiser stated,
"Problems are only opportunities in work clothes.” During this project, students are encouraged to view problems as opportunities for growth and learning.

When a student encounters a difficult obstacle, it is important for them to understand that the process of tackling that issue can take considerable time and effort. This project will help them to understand this concept in a number of ways. They will each choose a real problem to address, and then they will explore a variety of new media and techniques as they design and create a robot to meet a certain need.

During this creative process, students were introduced to a variety of new media. They learned some simple printmaking techniques that would integrate contemporary ideas into their robots. They used rubbing plates, Crayons, and watercolors to blend colors and understand color theory. They learned the difference between actual and implied texture as they created three-dimensional additions to their robots. They experimented in paper marbling, collage, and other mixed media techniques. Students learned to identify and solve problems as they formulated and implemented their ideas. This process of brainstorming, exploration, and creation is truly remarkable, and it is exciting to watch it happen!

Thanks to all of the donations on for making this project happen!
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