by Ailiana Denis
Would THIS have happened in a classroom 20 years ago? probably not.
But just imagine how many students would be excited to come to school if they knew that their teachers were planning to produce a hip-hop music video during math class? Well that’s exactly what these Chicago Public School teachers did for their 6th grade students. Check out this video!
Arts programs have been proven to improve academic performance. Also, several studieshave concluded that curricular art studies and extracurricular arts activities help keep high-risk dropout students in school. Unfortunately, in spite of these benefits, arts education has been on the decline in many U.S. public schools, especially in under-resourced communities. This has led to an equity gap in the availability and quality of arts courses in socio-economically disadvantaged schools. Many American schools do not have stable positions for arts teachers, even though the “No Child Left Behind Act” clearly mandates that the Arts (music, art, foreign language, etc.) be taught as core academic subjects.
Fortunately, proactive teacher’s such as Monica Rozelle, Deshonda Sisco, and Rhonda Parks-Jackson are doing their best to make arts enrichment a part of their curriculum, even if it’s not their core subject. After receiving the Creative Schools Funds Grant fromIngenuity Inc., these Chicago public school teachers brought their students to Street-Level Youth Media (SLYM) for an afternoon of digital media arts training.
While at Street-Level, the energetic Gillespie Technology Magnet Cluster School students worked with Street-Level Media Arts Instructors Lisa L.U.S.T. and James Duke. Their song, “Sixth Grade was Fun,” was written, performed, directed, and produced by the 6th grade students (with the help of their Street-Level teaching artist mentors). During their time at Street-Level, the students learned about song structures and the basics of the music video production process. Then they headed to the recording booth for a more hands-on experience.
Anyone who listens to this upbeat song and watches the video will be immediately drawn in by enthusiastic smiling faces. Lisa L.U.S.T. remarks, “The kids were obviously excited about it. And these kinds of learning experiences give them an opportunity to celebrate their education while expanding their minds through art.…We want the kids to have fun and we want to provoke their creative development.”
Through Arts Education Partnerships, Street-Level offer several types of arts enrichment opportunities including Media Art Integration programs, Elective offerings, After-School OTC Workshops, Street-Level Studio field trips, and Do-It-Together custom programming in which Street-Level works with educators in a synergic planning session. “We encourage the youth to explore their interests, take creative risks, learn new things, and to learn to learn— which is probably the most important skill we can give them,” said Street-Level Executive Director Manwah Lee.
For some it’s a medium for self-expression, giving life and body to their most important ideas. For others it’s a means for survival. One thing for sure is that Art Matters! It stimulates student engagement, develops critical thinking abilities, and enhances creativity. But most importantly, art is an important avenue through which children can develop a passion for learning.
The “Sixth Grade was Fun” production is just one Street-Level example of how art can be a powerful educational tool. For more information about how you can help students increase their arts exposure through media literacy & digital technology proficiency email our Director of Education Marc Furigay at firstname.lastname@example.org.