University News

SUU ArtsBridge Project comes to fruition with "Big Event"

Published: November 12, 2008 | Category: Arts

Six Southern Utah University students have completed the pilot semester of the University's ArtsBridge project and have planned an event to showcase their results. The showcase, "The Big Event," will be held Friday, November 14, from 10 a.m. to noon in the Randall L. Jones Theatre on the SUU campus.

The ArtsBridge program trains university students to take a multi-disciplinary approach to arts education. These students then work with students, ranging from elementary children to high school teens, in the classroom teaching art, dance, drama, music and the digital arts.

This year, the ArtsBridge program focused its efforts in Iron and Washington county schools, with the primary goal of deepening a young students understanding of a selected academic topic by providing opportunities to actively learn and express their comprehension by creating topic-related art projects.

The six SUU students, Wade Arave, Lexie Southworth, Charity Johansen, Diana Hall, Carrie Colton and Ashley Adams, have been working on their respective projects since early this year and have logged some 20-plus classroom hours teaching in local elementary and high schools.

Their projects ranged from teaching first grade students about reading, vocabulary, emotional expression and cooperation through opera to explaining the science behind seismic activity through dance performance.

According to Charity Johansen, a senior music performance major whose students will perform “The Three Piggy Opera,” Friday’s event promises “a lot of fun and a few quirks, as theatrical performance is new for a majority of the students [we] worked with.”

Of the students’ reception to her teaching methods, she remarks, “I really wanted to show that music can teach many different concepts simultaneously and much more subtly than basic classroom instruction.” Johansen feels this approach “engaged students in a completely different way than they normally learn - it was a bit more subtle and that seemed to lend itself well to students who may have otherwise been inclined to disengage.”

Wade Arave, a senior secondary education major from Fairfield, California, has been working on his project with tenth through twelfth grade students at Canyon View High School in Cedar City. His project explored the psychological aspects of historical propaganda-induced fear through an exploration of medieval theater. He attempted to demonstrate to students that fear is both human and universal, and that historical examples of fear are relatable to his current students’ everyday fears and worries.

Avare has seen a definite impact on both his students and himself. "The examination of fear through art, specifically through sketching and drawing, has really changed my approach as a teacher. Incorporating art into all areas of a student's study is not just a great avenue to reach students, but in my view, imperative."

Overall, the ArtsBridge mission focuses on the following objectives:
• Ongoing instruction in the arts for K-12 students in a manner that allows them to explore their own creativity while benefiting from the intrinsic and cross-curricular value of the arts.
• Continuous support for the nation's K-12 teachers that provide unique opportunities to integrate the arts into traditional curricula in ways that address both local classroom needs as well as state and national standards in the arts.
• School-based service learning opportunities for university students in the visual and performing arts.

Of the program’s efficacy, Carrie Trenholm, the Sorenson Endowed Chair for Elementary Arts Education at SUU who has spearheaded the ArtsBridge project with Utah Shakespearean Festival Education Director Michael Bahr, adds, "This project has truly been just what it was intended to do -- a 'bridging.' The SUU students have excelled in their efforts to infuse art form and education into other curriculum. It has been fantastic to see the young students’ response to the ArtsBridge program - exploring new ideas and learning new ways to express themselves.”

A Dana Foundation grant will provide for the project to continue in the spring semester as well as the full 2009-10 academic year.

The Foundation's current interest in arts education is focused primarily on professional development that fosters improved teaching of the performing arts in public schools.

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