Defining Quality in Arts Education

Arts Education Demonstration Project of the Marin Community Foundation

Digital Portfolios

A word about the project documentation:

We used an ongoing developmental approach to documenting our work, seeing it as a strategy for creating a vibrant learning community. Continually reflecting on practice was a key feature of the Arts Education Demonstration Project. We hope that the insights and questions of the participants in the "Demonstration Project" will be useful to colleagues in the field who are engaging in similar work.  Viewing documentation provides a way to enter into a dialog with others about defining “quality” in arts education and what it takes to create a system that supports it. We welcome the opportunity to hear from you.


Discrete Arts Instruction

Offering discrete instruction in the arts is the foundation of a quality program. It makes it possible for students to develop artistic technique and knowledge in the four arts disciplines (Dance, Music, Theatre and Visual Arts), and to have authentic art-making experiences. Without discrete arts instruction, students do not have the ability to produce high-quality work in a well designed arts-integrated unit of study, nor do students reap the cognitive and social-emotional benefits of quality arts education evidenced in neurological and educational research. In the video below, three music teachers outline some of the elements and outcomes of sequential, dedicated music classes.


Ellen Franz: Explorations in Architecture

Second-grade teacher researcher Ellen Franz guides students to look at architecture through many lenses, providing them opportunities to investigate culture, history, physics, engineering, earth sciences, and visual art, as well as to develop and practice collaborative skills and the art of persistence.


Liza Matthews: Stories Are Powerful

Kindergarten teacher Liza Matthews integrates theater, dance, music and drawing with literacy to increase students' engagement and understanding of story.


Behind the Curtain of Effective Arts Integration

The below video takes a look behind the scenes to show how Liza Matthews planned a "Power of Story" unit, how she integrated it with a variety of curricular areas, and used it as a vehicle to meet Common Core standards.


Max Perkoff and Alan Scofield: Embodying Musical Concepts with Dance

A Music Teacher and an Arts Integration Coach collaborate to teach students musical concepts through the performance of dance.


Debbie Wolman: Creative Dance

Building a dance program within a Physical Education program, Eigth-grade Physical Education teacher Debbie Wolman focuses on the 21st Century skill of collaboration.


Miriam Kazan: Hero Letter Collage

Second-grade teacher Miriam Kazan combines writing and visual art in a project that asks students to write a letter to one of their heroes, in addition to making a collage representing that hero.


Gretchen Klaubert: Understanding Body Parts

Gretchen Klaubert teaches a dance unit on body parts.


Amy Jehling: The Magic of Colors

Kindergarten teacher Amy Jehling teaches a unit on color mixing, incorporating the concept of experimentation.


Gretchen Klaubert: Discovering "Do"

A music and dance teacher gives a "sight to sound" lesson, approaching the concept of musical notes in a multifaceted, embodied approach.


Ellen Franz and Brooke Toczylowski: Persisting

In this podcast, a teacher and a teaching artist discuss a collaborative approach in using art to cultivate "persistence" as a habit of mind.


Amy Jehling: Line

In this Podcast, teacher Amy Jehling discusses her “Seeing Lines in Your World” Lesson. Using a Line Chart and the book “Follow the Line Through the World,” Jehling discusses different types of lines, and shows how lines can be used to make shapes. Students add elements and colors to abstract shapes, turning them into a variety of objects, ranging from faces to dragons to fire engines. She discusses the possibility of, in the future, pushing the exercise into a consideration of more abstract design, and talks about the enthusiasm of the students for using line-making strategies in more self-directed work.

In terms of arts integration, the lesson touches on the use of lines to create letters and shapes, and enriches students’ vocabulary of the variety of lines and shapes.


Tina Shannon: Abstraction

This podcast discusses the relation between the practice of Abstract Expressionism and Memoir at a process level, and how understanding emotion and the psychology of color can improve students’ descriptive writing skills.

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