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Arts for Summer Learning

Stephen Decatur Elementary

Grades 1-6

June 15 - July 10, 2015

Case Written By:

Taylor Fengya

Summer Program Assistant, 2015

Butler University, B.S. Arts Administration

Graduating in December 2015

[1] “About Us.” Summer Advantage USA, 2015.

[2] "Understanding Individualized Education Programs." Understood: For Learning & Education Issues, 2014.

Meaningful Student Learning

Apart from an increase in two sets of scores, Arts for Summer Learning students displayed an increase in their creative and artistic capacities which was evident in their final artistic products. Students in this program studied an art form Monday through Thursday for four weeks. They were exposed to dance, theatre, the visual arts, and music.


It was remarkable to see students in 1st and 2nd grade form a series of tableaux and be able to hold their positions without moving a muscle. This required amazing artistry, and it was incredible to see them grow and learn over four weeks. The students in the 3rd and 4th grade classrooms created beautiful collages that portrayed Roberto Clemente, a true everyday hero. The work that they produced exhibited artistic qualities such as contrast, emphasis, and texture. 5th and 6th grade students displayed their originality by producing an alternate ending to My Father’s Dragon. This took creativity, imagination, and a lot of time, effort, and mastery.


No student left the program without having increased their artistic skills and capabilities in some capacity.


Closing Thought

"After observing this program Monday through Thursday for four weeks, I have concluded that continuing arts education over the summer is essential to a well-rounded and quality education. Students that do not continue learning and exploring the arts over the summer suffer during the school year. By providing students with arts enrichment over the summer, these students are able to continue learning in a fun and creative environment. This summer program does just that. However complex and multi-faceted Arts for Summer Learning may be, it is important to remember why we have it. This program is for the kids. Without the kids, we would not be able to see the large impact that arts education has on young learners." - Taylor Fengya, Summer Program Assistant

The second set of scoring was completed by the Summer Advantage teaching assistants through the unit’s “TRAIL Markers.” Each unit had two to three TRAIL Markers that were scored after the students completed the task in the student notebook. Each TRAIL Marker assessed the same three skills to ensure consistency in the scoring.


TRAIL Markers from Unit 1, which focused on tableaux, scored the students on their abilities to make appropriate acting choices to portray character traits, make appropriate choices to portray feelings and thoughts, and identify and connect character clues from the text to acting choices. TRAIL Markers from Unit 2, in which students studied graphic novels, scored the students’ abilities to identify descriptive text, make sketching choices that match images from the text, and explain how visually descriptive parts of the text connect to sketching choices. TRAIL Markers from Unit 3, which culminated in the creation of a collage, assessed students in their abilities to identify an important everyday hero quality that inspired their collage, explain how evidence from the text supports that quality, and explain how collage choices were made.


After analyzing scores from the TRAIL Markers from all three units, students showed a 36% increase in all three skills from TRAIL Marker #1 to TRAIL Marker #2. This is a substantial increase for these students. It should be noted that a large portion of these students were not at the proper reading level or had IEPs, “Individualized Education Programs.”[2] Taking these facts into account, an average 36% increase is substantial.

The Creative & Learning Process

Mondays: June 15, June 22, June 29, July 6

  • Students observed a performance from an Arts for Learning teaching artist

  • Students went to their respective classrooms for two 50-minute workshops from visiting artists

Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays: June 16-18, June 23-25, June 30-July 2, July 7-8

  • ­Students in 1st and 2nd grade studied tableaux with Roche, Whistler, Young-Cutsinger, and Gould

  • Students in 3rd and 4th grade studied collage with Tharp-Perrin/Ditchley and Brooks

  • Students in 5th and 6th grade studied graphic novel with Friesen and de la Rosa

Thursday, July 9

  • Students partook in a “Perform & Inform” or “Gallery Walk” with students of the same unit from different classrooms


Friday, July 10

  • Students had a one-hour performance for their families showcasing what they learned from Arts for Learning teaching artists

  • Students went back to their classrooms and participated in a “Perform & Inform” or “Gallery Walk” for their families


Data Analysis

Students who completed the Arts for Learning lessons were evaluated through two sets of scoring. Arts for Learning staff scored the students’ notebooks which focused on their ability to understand literary concepts.


Students in Unit 1: Character Clues in Action were scored on their ability to infer character traits and identify story elements. Unit 2: Graphic Story Adventures students were required to visualize and identify story elements and evaluate the author’s choices in point-of-view, text types, the panel’s shape and size, and character depiction. Students in Unit 3: Everyday Heroes were evaluated on their ability to determine importance and synthesize by making clear choices.


Because not all of the tasks in the student notebook were fully completed by all students, and the tasks increased in difficulty level throughout the units, not all students showed an average increase in scores. However, of the tasks that were completed, the 142 students of the program maintained an average score of a 2.3, with a 4 being the highest score. Students on average displayed “beginning evidence of the skill” or “developing evidence of the skill.” This average takes into account those students who scored a 0 at “no response” through a 4 at “evidence of skill proficiency.”

Our Partnership

Arts for Learning partnered with Summer Advantage, a program whose mission is “to harness the power of summer learning to raise the educational achievement of all students.”[1] Together, Arts for Learning and Summer Advantage provided quality education to students for four weeks over the summer.

The Creative Team

Arts for Summer Learning had a team of ten teaching artists. These teaching artists were trained in Arts for Learning lessons which were taught to the students on Tuesday-Thursday for four weeks. Beverly Roche, Shawn Whistler, Laurie Young-Cutsinger, and Will Gould taught Unit 1: Character Clues in Action to students in 1st and 2nd grade. Laura Friesen and Jingo de la Rosa instructed 5th and 6th grade students in the graphic novel curriculum, Unit 2: Graphic Story Adventures. Carol Tharp-Perrin, Lauren Ditchley, and Angie Brooks taught the art of collage, Unit 3: Everyday Heroes, to students in 3rd and 4th grade. Ditchley taught Week 3 to the 3rd grade class as a substitute for Tharp-Perrin.


Each Monday, Tharp-Perrin instructed yoga class and Friesen taught visual art to both 1st grade classes. Whistler instructed a dance workshop, while visiting artist Lawrence Clark taught drumming to both 2nd grade classrooms. Roche taught mime and de la Rosa instructed a visual art workshop to 3rd and 4th graders. Young-Cutsinger taught dance and Gould instructed an acting workshop to 5th and 6th grade students.

Program Objectives

  • To increase students understanding of characters and story elements and skills in making inferences through tableaux, statues and vocal expression.

  • Students will work in small groups and function as effective team members.

  • To build teacher confidence in using theater techniques: tableaux,statues and vocal expression, to teach characterization and story elements and building students' skills in making inferences.

  • To familiarize teaching artists in the development of mutually reinforcing lessons that support the development of reading skills and understanding of theater

Program Design

Arts for Summer Learning provided students from 1st through 6th grade with a unique combination of the arts and literature on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays.


Unit 1 students read the stories The True Story of the Three Little Pigs followed by Toys Go Out. Throughout the unit, 1st and 2nd grade students learned about the art of tableaux which helped them to develop body awareness and make clear acting choices.


Unit 2 students read the story My Father’s Dragon, and developed their drawing skills. These students improved their visual art abilities while simultaneously working to understand story elements to create a condensed graphic novel of their own.


Unit 3 students read Roberto Clemente: Pride of the Pittsburgh Pirates, while studying the art of collage making. These students were tasked with creating their own collage that depicts one or more everyday hero quality. Students learned vocabulary to describe what makes someone an everyday hero, while using their artistry to make a final collage.


On Mondays, students took a break from Arts for Learning lessons and participated in two workshops from visiting artists. These artists taught their art form while reminding the students about some of the terminology and ideas that they were discussing in their units of study during the rest of the week. Additionally, students were exposed to four different performances from Arts for Learning artists during lunch on Mondays. Adzooks Puppets, Garret Uyeno, Fiddle ‘n’ Feet, and Mundo Beat performed for the students, and each had an interactive element. Students were able to assist the artists in making music and even make the puppets move!

At the end of the program, students in Unit 1 partook in a “Perform & Inform,” while students in Units 2 and 3 participated in a “Gallery Walk.” For the Perform & Inform, students presented a series of tableaux from the story Toys Go Out. Students learned the mechanics of a tableau, were taught how to make smooth transitions from one tableau to the next, and some classes even added a spoken element. Four classrooms completed Unit 1: two 1st grade and two 2nd grade classes. On the last Thursday of Week 4, these classes performed for each other and asked each other questions about the tableaux-making process, their acting choices, and their feelings about the characters they portrayed from the story.


For the “Gallery Walk” portion of the program, students from Units 2 and 3 showcased their final products and answered questions about their work. Unit 2 students drew one scene from the graphic novel that they read throughout the four weeks of the program or created their own alternate ending. These 5th and 6th grade classes viewed each other’s work in a gallery walk and asked questions about their work, their artistic choices, and the meaning behind it. Unit 3 students created a collage of Roberto Clemente’s life and included elements of what makes him an everyday hero. These 3rd and 4th grade students observed each other’s collages in a gallery walk and inquired about what everyday hero qualities were depicted.

Program Summary

From June 15 to July 10, 2015, Arts for Learning partnered with Summer Advantage at Stephen Decatur Elementary in order to prevent learning loss in 142 students in grades 1-6 over their summer break. Arts for Learning was responsible for the enrichment portion of the Summer Advantage program on Monday through Thursday for four weeks of the summer. Every morning, students in this program studied math and English, taught by Summer Advantage teachers and teaching assistants. On Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday afternoons from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m., Arts for Learning teaching artists went into eight separate classrooms to teach Arts for Learning lessons with help from Summer Advantage teaching assistants. On Monday afternoons, students were exposed to two visiting artists. These visiting artists were responsible for teaching their art form while tying in what the students were learning about on Tuesday-Thursday afternoons.


Arts for Learning teaching artists were trained in Young Audience’s Arts for Learning lessons in Units 1, 2, and 3, which combine the arts with literature. Unit 1 focused on character development with the creation of tableaux. Students in 1st and 2nd grade during the previous school year completed Unit 1: Character Clues in Action. Unit 2, titled Graphic Story Adventures, explored the art and design of graphic novels. Students in the 5th and 6th grade classes studied this unit. Students in 3rd and 4th grade completed Unit 3: Everyday Heroes by creating collages about the story and life of Roberto Clemente, a former professional baseball player.