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Grant to Lead to Arts Integration in More Schools in 2015-2016

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Grant to Lead to Arts Integration in More Schools in 2015-2016
Posted on 08/11/2015
This is the image for the news article titled Grant to Lead to Arts Integration in More Schools in 2015-2016

This past academic year, Side x Side, a Portland nonprofit whose mission is to integrate the arts into the curriculum of Maine public schools, successfully piloted five arts-integrated programs at Reiche Community School. During the 2015-2016 school year, those programs will expand to three more Portland Public Schools elementary schools: Ocean Avenue, East End and Riverton.

The interdisciplinary programs – which focus on such topics as poetry, the ocean, Maine animals, social studies and history – are made possible by a four-year, federal arts education grant of more than $1.9 million that Side x Side and the University of Southern Maine were awarded last fall.

The U.S Department of Education Arts in Education Model Development and Dissemination grant of $1,911,849 went to Youth in Action: Side x Side, in conjunction with the University of Southern Maine, for Project IMAGINE.

The grant allows Side x Side and USM to pilot and evaluate Project IMAGINE in grades K-5 at Reiche, Ocean Avenue, East End and Riverton elementary schools as a framework for broader arts integration, increasing proficiency in mathematics and reading and strengthening learning for all students, while providing teacher training in arts integration practice. Project IMAGINE is expected to eventually impact 1,700 students and 80 teachers.

The goal of Project Imagine is to design, develop, and test a set of comprehensive arts integration programs for elementary schools in order to create a system of professional development supports and resources for teachers.

The programs piloted in the past year all began with a “Kickoff Event,” in which visiting artists and experts were brought in to introduce the students to some of the basic concepts of the project they would be working on.

For example, in the “Moving Oceans” unit for second graders, marine scientist Mary Cerullo kicked off the study of oceans by sharing her passion for ocean life, presenting her work and experiences as a marine researcher and author. Students then researched their chosen creatures and created information cards and scientific illustrations along with 3d sculptures. These props facilitate re-teaching what the students have learned to other students, parents and friends.

Another program is “Bringing History to Life,” in which fifth-graders honed communication skills in writing and via film, learning about the importance of image selection and how to use iMovie. Students collaborated in groups to create informational films about the historical topic they studied in class, becoming comfortable with iMovie, image selection and audio recording using their school's technology platform.

In June, Side x Side hosted its first annual Summer Institute for approximately 60 Portland elementary teachers and teaching artists who will participate in programs next year. Attendees spent two days experiencing the arts and contemplating integration into the classroom curricula. Professional development is an integral part of Project Imagine, helping to ensure successful and sustainable arts integration programs by providing classroom teachers strategies and confidence to succeed. The Institute proved to be a successful way to introduce next year’s participating teachers to the Side x Side framework.

(Photo caption: A wild animal expert shared his knowledge and a few animal friends with Reiche first-graders in the kickoff event for an “Animals All Around” arts-integrated unit. The unit involved each student researching and creating an informational book about an animal that shares their habitat in Portland and students collaborating on a mural at the school representing the animals in the urban environment.)