Local teachers get hands-on lesson at ArtBridges Workshop

Published 3:00 am Saturday, July 22, 2017

Lights, camera, action.

A hush came over The Studio mid-afternoon Friday as the participants in the 2017 ArtBridges Teacher Workshop took their places around their theater boxes.

Two groups of teachers had worked together designing the scenes, creating the puppets, writing the scripts and selecting the music that would culminate in a theatrical presentation of what they had learned in the two-day workshop.

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And, when the curtains went up, there was no doubt that the teachers from the Pike County area would go back to their classrooms in August well equipped to integrate the arts into their subject areas and to do so enthusiastically.

The Art Bridges workshop is designed to teach art techniques that can be used as a bridge to other disciplines, including the language arts, history, social studies, math and science.

Tara Sartorius, a presenter for the workshop, said the goals and objectives of ArtBridges are basically the same each year although the methods differ.

“This year, the teachers created cardboard-engineered puppet theaters using a variety of media and techniques,” Sartorius said. “They created paper-engineered puppets and wrote and edited content-related readers’ theater scripts. They also developed a plan to implement readers’ theater in the classroom.”

Creating a theater box is physically and mentally challenging. The “construction” of the box requires measuring, cutting and assembling and that is not accomplished without stooping, bending and reaching and some stretching “to get the kinks out,” as one teacher said.

But the end result was worth all the efforts.

Theater boxes are great learning opportunities for students, said Emily Kessler, Goshen Elementary School.

“They are interesting, fun and creative ways for students to learn,” she said. “Theater boxes are visual learning tools and I’m excited about the possibilities for my students.”

Halee Hodge, GES, said hands-on learning appeals to students and also makes lasting impressions on them.

Charlotte Walden, Charles Henderson High School, was one of two art teachers that participated.

Her group’s theater box was designed around the theme of the water cycle and included “Purple Rain” as background music.

She said integrating art into core curriculums will allow students to use their creativity while exploring subject areas where art is not the norm.

The objective of ArtBridges is to introduce arts education based on Alabama Course of Study Standards across the core curriculum, utilizing the high quality exhibition schedule of the Johnson Center for the Arts as the catalyst.

“The mission of the two-day workshop is to collaborate with teachers on how to integrate visual arts into their standards-based curriculum,” said Wiley White, JCA staff member. “Our intentions are to enhance how they teach their required standards, not to add to their curriculum.”

An important component of the ArtBridges program is bringing the students to the Johnson Center to see the art exhibits that align with the visual arts techniques being used in their classrooms. Following the school tours, the JCA plans a classroom activity integrating the chosen educational standards.