By Kim Jones, Chairman and CEO, Curriki
Curriki has exciting news for teachers – we are now offering resources from the Jefferson Performing Arts Society! This Louisiana-based nonprofit uses the positive power of the arts as a tool for education, expression, cultural understanding and overall improvement of quality of life. Its Study Companions use performing arts to teach students math, science, history and more.
A Little Background
Founded in 1978, JPAS is a non-profit professional arts organization in Louisiana whose mission is to promote arts performance, training and outreach by providing a diverse range of quality programs that entertain and educate.
JPAS focuses on three main elements:
- Performance: JPAS annually provides a wide range of theatrical performances that appeal to many interests and age groups, from grand opera to musical theater to dance.
- Training: JPAS provides performance and technical-based training in the arts for all ages, with a particular focus on young people.
- Outreach: JPAS provides arts education programming and access to professional theatrical experiences that align to classroom curricula.
JPAS Arts Adventures
JPAS launched its Arts Adventure Series in 1989, offering low-cost, full-length performances to students K-12 in a “field trip” format. Each production is enhanced by a fully researched and illustrated Study Companion that provides background on the production, plus lessons and activities that integrate core subjects such as language arts, mathematics and science with the arts.
Teachers can have students do lessons and activities before seeing a JPAS Arts Adventure Series production, or reinforce learning by delving into them afterwards. The lessons and activities include Standards and Benchmarks so that classroom teachers can choose the ones that best fit the academic content they are currently covering.
Obviously, teachers and students who don’t live in Jefferson can’t attend their shows. But they can still use the student companions, now available on Curriki’s website, as resources for arts-integrated project-based learning experiences within the classroom.
While JPAS has traditionally served the Louisiana and Mississippi community where it is based, it recognizes that school administrators are devoting less and less time and resources to arts education and field trips. Its new involvement with Curriki provides the opportunity to take its mission of education through the arts to a global audience of student learners.
“We are sharing our JPAS Study Companions with Curriki’s network of educators in the hopes that they can be of service to other educators in other regions that may be experiencing similar struggles,” says Karel Sloane-Boekbinder, JPAS’s Director of Cultural Crossroads and Grant Writer. “We hope our Companions will serve as resources to advance a deeper understanding of how the arts can both enhance student learning and increase student achievement during these times of high stakes testing.”
Each JPAS Study Companion includes several arts-integrated lessons that incorporate Louisiana Standards and Benchmarks, and many also highlight some aspect of the region, such as food, culture, architecture and the environment, that offer a window into Louisiana’s way of life. Lessons incorporate technology, large group instruction and individual instruction and include handouts, graphic organizers and writing prompts.
“Through our new relationship with Curriki, we hope to both broaden the understanding of what arts-integrated project-based learning is and provide resources to support this understanding,” explains Sloane-Boekbinder.
JPAS Study Companions
Here are a few of the study companions offered by JPAS through Curriki:
Tuck Everlasting – Tuck Everlasting is the story of journeys and locations, physical and personal. This Study Companion investigates these journeys by providing opportunities for further consideration of three adaptations of the story: Natalie Babbitt’s book, the Disney film Tuck Everlasting and the musical created by Chris Miller and Nathan Tysen. During these investigations, students will reflect on how the setting influenced the author, filmmakers and creators of the musical, and how creating the imagery of a setting can connect to mathematical concepts that include shapes, area and perimeter.
Mary Poppins – This Study Companion begins by exploring the literal history of Mary Poppins, an inspiration of author P.L. Travers. This section is followed by a series of arts-integrated lesson plans, such as Set Design: Curves, Angles and New Orleans Gothic Revival, which explores shapes through the lenses of JPAS Mary Poppins set designs and architecture. Mary Poppins Screeving Narratives: Family Odysseys guides students as they learn about screevings (chalk drawings) for the film Mary Poppins. And that’s only the beginning!
The Nutcracker – The JPAS production of The Nutcracker was named Best Ballet Presentation of 2015 at the Big Easy Classical Arts Awards. The story of has been adapted several times. The original story, “Nußknacker und Mausekönig” or “The Nutcracker and the King of Mice,” was written in German by E.T.A. Hoffman. This Study Companion begins with history, looking at the history of the Nutcracker Ballet, and the history of ballet in New Orleans. Students develop a deeper understanding of dance. The Nutcracker: A Hero’s Tale guides students as they reflect on what they already know about The Nutcracker and then introduces variations on the Nutcracker story filled with new concepts.
Funny Girl – The Lessons in this Study Companion give students opportunities to reflect on the script of Funny Girl as well as events within their own lives. The real-life Fanny Brice did not conform to the prevailing notion of feminine beauty, but tenaciously held on to her conviction that being different was not only OK, it was what would make her a star. Students will also explore a section of the JPAS production of Funny Girl that highlights the real-life Fanny Brice’s beliefs about appearance and individuality.
Other JPAS Study Companions include:
- Alice in Wonderland
- Seussical, Jr
- Lion King, Jr.
- Guys and Dolls, Jr.
- The Hunchback of Notre Dame
- And many others.
Coming next week – Peter Pan! Watch for the Study Companion on Curriki on Tue., Aug. 14!
Check them all out, and enrich your students’ cultural lives, while sneaking in standards-based education in so many subjects! It’s the best kind of learning.
Kim Jones is the Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of Curriki. Kim is active in driving policy initiatives and is regularly featured as an honorary speaker on the impact of technology in education at influential meetings around the world. Learn more at Curriki.org.
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