Building Momentum: ALT in Action!

An interview with Dan Donovan, Digital Media Arts Teacher at Willard Intermediate

What is the Arts Leadership Team (ALT)? How did you form Willard’s team?

The ALT is a core group of teachers and administrators charged with leading a positive shift in school culture and building staff capacity to utilize arts-based teaching strategies and arts integration to boost student achievement. Following the 2016 Turnaround Arts Summer Leadership Retreat, which I attended with our principal, Amy Scruton, and our 8th grade Science teacher, Laura Compton, we were energized to share this amazing program with our Willard Intermediate School community. Part of being a Turnaround Arts: California partner schools involves developing a Strategic Arts Plan (SAP) to identify our school’s short- and long-term goals and guide our use of the arts to move toward those goals. With the development of this living document in mind, we set out to create an ALT that was representative of all grade levels and content areas.

SBAC scores on the rise at Mary Chapa Academy!

An interview with Principal Sonia Arámburo

What is the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC)? What kinds of things does it measure
In the transition to the Common Core State Standards, California selected the SBAC as its statewide assessment tool. Unlike the former California Standards Tests (CSTs), which were made up of multiple choice questions and answers, the SBAC is a computer-based test that measures students’ knowledge of English Language Arts (ELA) and Mathematics standards. The SBAC uses multiple sources of information to assess a range of skills, including listening, reading, speaking, writing, research, inquiry, problem-solving, modeling, and data analysis. By answering in paragraph form vs. selecting multiple choice options, students are tasked with analyzing a given problem and demonstrating their understanding of it by citing evidence.

Family Art Night at Burbank Elementary!

By Deirdre Moore, Arts Specialist at Burbank Elementary

It was 20 minutes before the event. Inside the Multi-Purpose Room, a team of dedicated volunteers was busy covering tables and putting out art supplies while outside a line was forming down the sidewalk of families eager to get started. It was Burbank Elementary’s first-ever Family Art Night in collaboration with P.S. ARTS*, a nonprofit organization based in Los Angeles. As I stood at the door and took the tickets for entrance, I witnessed the smiles on the faces of the dads, moms, grandparents, teens, and toddlers who’d come with their Burbank students to enjoy a night of making art together as a family.

Family Portrait Night at Florence Griffith Joyner Elementary!

By Charlotte Borgen, Primary SDC Teacher at F. G. Joyner Elementary

On October 11th, the halls of Florence Griffith Joyner Elementary School were transformed into a vibrant, colorful art gallery. Every inch of wall space held a student-created self-portrait in the style of a famous artist. Mothers, fathers, siblings, and grandparents streamed through the front door in droves, stopping to admire the work and talk to their children about the process of creating their masterpieces. Everywhere you turned, a student was shouting “Look at my art!” or explaining their inspiration to friends and family. Parents stopped to write “Artist-Grams,” to be delivered to classrooms later in the week, for their children telling them how proud they were. Outside, families posed for their own portraits taken by a professional photographer. It was our school’s first art show, and our first event as a Turnaround Arts: California partner school, and it all started at the Turnaround Arts Summer Leadership Retreat.  

Regional Coach Spotlight: Sunset Center

This fall, we launched a Regional Coach Pilot Program (RCPP) across our statewide network of schools, through partnerships with a group of local institutions with experience providing arts integration training or artist residency programs in public schools. The RCPP gives us an opportunity to work with local partners to align coaching, arts integration, and artist residency resources to target school-identified goals for growth. The RCPP also contributes to our long-term sustainability plan by developing regional support networks around Turnaround Arts: California schools that have the potential to grow deep roots.

Over the next year, we’ll introduce you to some of our regional coaches and the work they are engaged with in our schools. First up is an interview with Alex Richardson, who represents the Sunset Center in Carmel as a Regional Coach at two schools in Monterey County: King Elementary in Seaside and Mary Chapa Academy in Greenfield.

FloJo, VTS, & MOCA!

By Cathryn Deering

What is VTS?

This year at Florence Griffith Joyner Elementary School (FloJo), we have decided that the school-wide, arts-based strategy we’re implementing will be Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS). VTS is a method that teachers can use to lead inquiry-based discussions around different art images.

In this process, students are asked to look carefully at a work of art without knowing the name of the image or the artist. They discuss their observations and give evidence from the image to support their observations. In using the three VTS questions, teachers are able to facilitate thought-provoking conversations in a neutral way that promotes critical thinking and creative problem solving.

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Turnaround Arts Summer Leadership Retreat 2016

Last month, approximately 70 representatives from our 16 California partner schools attended the annual Turnaround Arts Summer Leadership Retreat at Airlie, a historic conference destination in Virginia, about an hour away from Washington, D.C.

This weeklong retreat was a chance to orient our new school teams to the pillars of our program, create space for collaboration among new/veteran participants and presenters, and connect deeply with the dedicated team of “Turnarounders” from across the nation championing our collective mission to transform priority schools through the strategic use of the arts.

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Taking “Flight”: Compton Unified’s King Elementary Students Perform at the White House

On May 25, 2016, nine students from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School (King) in Compton, CA, confidently took the stage and performed at the Turnaround Arts Talent Show, hosted by First Lady Michelle Obama at the White House! Their powerful spoken word piece, “Flight,” was aptly titled, as many of the student performers had never been on an airplane before — it also spoke symbolically to the ways in which King’s entire school community has soared since becoming a Turnaround Arts: California partner school in 2014.

Investing time in your team: Lessons from the CAEYC conference

Sometimes you have to slow down to keep your momentum, especially toward the end of the school year when short-term priorities have the potential to distract from long-term goals.

Last month, ECE coaches Ana Rosas (Avenal ES) and Brenda Selva (King ES) explored the topic of sustaining instructional change at the annual conference for the California Association on the Education of Young Children. In the week following the conference, the pair identified several strategies to help their grade-level teams slow down, recharge and refocus.

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Story time for grown-ups: Resources for reflection and planning

Gather ’round, everyone. This story begins on an unseasonably warm Wednesday in March. Arts leaders from Avenal, Burbank (Hayward), Fremont-Lopez and Warren Lane gathered at the Fresno County Office of Education for a mid-year Turnaround Arts: California workshop. They laughed, they danced, and they “tableau-ed.”  Their objectives: to reflect on arts-based successes at their schools and to plan for continued growth.

School teams began by breaking down their successes using the language of theater. As each group reflected, the room came alive with frozen pictures of after-school dance clubs, whole-school gallery nights, and other arts-based achievements.