917 "C" Street
San Rafael, California 94901
Arts Unite Us Mentor Artist Hannah Dworkin writes about her work with Rockne Beeman’s Special Day Class
I have been incredibly lucky to work with Rockne Beeman’s upper elementary special day class for the past seven years. It is the first time I have worked with a community for such a long period of time. These children and teachers have taught me more about teaching and being a mother than any book I ever read or class I have taken.
I started teaching music and dance in Rockne’s class when I was 6 months pregnant with my first child. I brought in songs and ideas that worked in other special day classes. Some worked and some….not so much. I remember Phyllis, one of the aides in the classroom guiding me along with a smile and advice like, “just move on. You’ll learn soon enough that you’ve just got to roll with it when kids don’t get it at first,” and, “It doesn’t have to be just right today. Sometimes it just takes time.” When I was stuck, Rockne always had advice and articles to share, and Betty, another classroom aide, always has a way of finding humor even in the most difficult of situations. They are also quick to help and understand when one of my children was sick, teething or just going through the terrible two’s.
The students have shown such growth over the years. The children who have been in the class for several years have started leading portions of the class and choose their favorite songs. For some, there are songs that have become the touchstone that pulls them out of tantrums, and other songs and games have filtered into many areas of the classroom day.
The experience is wonderful every year,and I hope I am lucky enough to have many more with them.
Show it to a friend!
Over the past 4 months I had the pleasure of making music with the amazing students and teachers at Ocean View Elementary and Albany Children’s Center in the T-K, K and K-1 classrooms. I had such a wonderful time working with the students and exploring so many beautiful ways to make music together! It has been such a pleasure learning with them and I am very grateful for their ideas and enthusiasm for making music!
During our 10 weeks together we explored how to make sounds with our bodies, voices and instruments. We learned about musical elements including: tempo, volume, pitch, steady beat, rhythm and melody. We also explored important themes such as friendship and appreciating all of our differences.
Ms. Haltiner’s class dances and sings “Flying Man”
We had a wonderful musical celebration and invited our families to join us with all 7 classrooms coming together for a Sing-Along. Students showcased their knowledge of pitch, volume, melody and rhythm with our “Fireworks” vocal warm up, Kodaly solfége hand signals and a selection of songs.
Students taught me over 20 ways to say hello in their home languages and we celebrated the diversity of our community by singing our hello song in many of those languages. Students also utilized their great rhyming skills to help write a song appreciating our differences. Together, classes came up with 4 verses to our song:
We are peach, and tan and brown
Hello my friend!
We were born here, and out of town
Some have black hair, some have white
Some like to read, some like to write!
Some are short and some are tall
Some like spring, and some like fall
Some are from here, some from afar
That’s OK that’s who we are!
We are different and that’s OK
Because we’re different in different ways!
Exploring melody on the glockenspiel.
As our amazing Kindergarten teachers can tell you, these types of activities are not just fun, but enrich and support the students’ development as individuals and as a group. Please advocate for continuous and sequential music and arts education for all children grades Pre-K through 3rd, as it is so beneficial to their development during this time when they are developing language, motor and social skills!
Click here to read a recent study discussing the benefits of teaching music in early elementary and links between music & language development. “When you look at children ages two to nine, one of the breakthroughs in that area is music’s benefit for language development, which is so important at that stage,” says Luehrisen.
Keep On Singing!
YIA Mentor Artist and Program Director, Nydia Algazzali Gonzalez
On Friday, April 11 the YIA Gallery opened “Imagining Friendship” the culminating exhibit to three months of work at Loma Verde Elementary School as the first recipient of the Walker Rezaian Creative HeArts Fund.
Over two hundred people experienced the hands on cardboard gallery. Children from 2 to 52 were crawling inside the giant boxes to view the art which explored the meaning of friendship through the lens of visual arts. Mentor Artist Suzanne Joyal helped show families where their kindergarten child’s artwork could be found. Squeals of delight could be heard as students spotted their self portrait and then added images to the 10 foot tall recreation of a classmates depiction of friendship.
People clustered around small buttons to listen to the voices of young artists talking about their creative process. Making Learning Visible books showing photos and children’s quotes during the intensive residency were also widely viewed. Mentor Artist Suzanne said, “The take away is – the more opportunity you give children to share ideas and materials the more ingrained it becomes in them. I loved seeing them grow over the course of the sessions.” One teacher commented, “Today is Friday the day Suzanne usually comes into the classroom, all the kids were asking, “Where is Ms. Suzanne? Luckily I could say, we will see her at the Art Opening tonight!”
A special presentation was made to the Rezaian family on behalf of the school site. Principal Eileen Smith remarked, “Friday evening was one of the most gratifying experiences of my year. Seeing the pride on the students’ faces as they stood in front of their artwork was a beautiful moment. Parents had an opportunity to celebrate publicly with their children and the joyful emotions in the gallery created an unforgettable experience for all in attendance. This culminating event brought our Loma Verde Community together in a celebration of art. It was also very rewarding to observe the donors and know that their generosity is making a difference. This grant brought families together and symbolized the importance of art within a community.”
Applications for next year’s Walker Rezaian Creative HeArts Fund recipient are being accepted until May 17, 2014. For more information, click here.
Special thanks to Peter Rodgers for capturing the photographs and joy of the evening.
WALKER REZAIAN CREATIVE HEARTS AT LOMA VERDE
Novato School Celebrates Friendship with Arts Program
Youth in Arts will open the first annual Walker Rezaian Creative HeArts Fund exhibit, on Friday, April 11, at YIA Gallery on C Street in downtown San Rafael. Entitled “Imagining Friendship,” the exhibit will feature work by kindergarteners from Loma Verde Elementary School in Novato who have been exploring friendship through visual art as part of the Walker Rezaian Creative HeArts Kindergarten Arts Program, celebrating 5-year-old Walker Rezaian’s life and love for the arts.
YIA Gallery is the only art gallery in the Bay Area, and one of only a few in the nation, dedicated to exhibiting children’s art. “Imagining Friendship” will feature children’s drawings, paintings and sculpture displayed on, around and inside large cardboard structures that visitors of all ages can explore from outside and within. Young visitors can crawl through cardboard tunnels and caves and even stand inside a nine-foot periscope to view the gallery. The interactive exhibit will run through May 30, 2014, and admission is free.
sometimes touches of color are enough
Loma Verde School was selected as the first recipient of the Walker Rezaian Creative HeArts Kindergarten Arts Program through a competitive application process. The program’s curriculum focuses on the theme of “Friendship,” an appropriate tribute to Walker, who touched so many lives in his Mill Valley community with his loving and outgoing personality. Youth in Arts developed the program in collaboration with Walker’s family.
For three months Youth in Arts Director of Artists in Schools Suzanne Joyal has been coming to Loma Verde kindergarten classrooms to teach visual art lessons around ideas like “Sharing” “Empathy” “Envisioning” and “Appreciating Differences.” At the same time as the children have been exploring these powerful ideas through their creativity, they have been learning basic fundamentals in line, color and form. Teachers and parents also received special trainings from Youth in Arts.
Principal Eileen Smith, reflected on the program, “The impact of arts on learning cannot necessarily be measured by a standardized test, however the personal and cognitive development of the kindergarten students was greatly increased through the art projects they were involved in this year at Loma Verde. Our students benefited immensely through the generous funding of the Walker Program and Youth in Arts. Students explored friendship through the patterns of playground adventures. The kinder students were able to express themselves in a nonverbal form increasing the cognitive processes used in geometry and furthering their personal development in learning about the patterns of friendship. Watching the students express their thoughts and feelings through art was a beautiful experience and Loma Verde is grateful that our students had this opportunity.’
Joyal described the process as joyful, “I was delighted by how willing the children were to take a risk. I loved how unique every child’s work was. They were so willing to express themselves in their own way. After lessons, teachers would sometimes express that a child was having difficulty and the only way they could share their emotions was through the artistic process. I couldn’t tell which child it was since they all responded so positively to the art.”
Loma Verde serves a diverse student population, including a significant percentage of students from low-income families. Says Principal Eileen Smith, “We have never had funds available to support a formal visual arts program such as this,” adding that the program helped English Language Learners and economically disadvantaged students “express themselves more deeply and feel more an integral part of our school community.”
At the end of the residency Joyal created individualized miniature works of art to give to each of the students. She explained, “The entire school, teachers, parents, kids gave me so much, tried so hard and came to each class with a positive attitude, I felt I wanted to give a going away present.”
Loma Verde Kindergarten Teacher Beth Kraft said, “Suzanne makes art accessible to all students by creating a very safe and accepting place for them to be unique in their expression of art and creativity.”
Youth in Arts Executive Director Miko Lee has announced that applications are open for the 2014-15 Walker Rezaian Creative HeArts Kindergarten Arts Program. “We are very honored to continue this program,” said Lee. “Walker’s family was directly involved in designing the program, and it was important to all of us that we create something with a lasting impact. It’s not just something for these children in their kindergarten year. It’s setting them on the path towards always having the arts in their lives, and having that supported by their teachers and families.”
Interested Title I schools in Marin County should apply by May 17. Apply here.
The Walker Rezaian Creative HeArts Fund is a project of the Walker Rezaian Memorial Fund. Youth in Arts is a nonprofit established in 1970. The leading arts education nonprofit in the North Bay, Youth in Arts offers students experiences and instruction in the visual and performing arts, and enriches the community with cultural events.
Through the Walker Rezaian Creative HeARTS Fund, Mentor Artist Suzanne Joyal has been teaching friendship through visual art with all the kindergarteners at Loma Verde Elementary School.
Learning to draw what your eye SEES, not what your mind REMEMBERS. Children practiced looking closely, and allowing our eyes to guide our pencils. This helped children to better remember their work, and to better appreciate their efforts.
Children used their own sculptures as models for their drawing. They practiced looking closely, defining the types of lines they could see, and even made choices about what they might do next.
Playground drawings using colored pencils in our art journals
Flower drawings using pencil, Sharpie…
… and tempera cakes for lots of color.
We had so much fun with sculpting Model Magic, we decided to revisit the medium. This week, we looked at amazing photographs of flowers and plants, along with the beautiful glass sculptures of Dale Chihuly. We talked about how things grow in nature, and how artists reinterpret what we SEE, into what we IMAGINE!
fern with spores
Glass sculpture by Dale Chihuly
Children were given small bases of mat board and chenille stems. We reviewed the techniques we learned a week earlier to build unique and magical plants.
Kindergarteners at Loma Verde took their line research to the third dimension as they used new folding skills to design their own personal playgrounds.
Local architect Janine Lovejoy Wilford joined us in the classrooms. Janine specializes in designing learning spaces for children: both classrooms and playgrounds. Janine introduced them to the ideas of collaboration and design.
Children practiced, folding, tearing, rolling, and gluing strips of paper to build their slides, steps, tunnels and swings to design their magical play spaces.
Where do we want to PLAY?
What would our FRIENDS like to do?
Kindergarten Art Intro: Self –Portraits
We are so excited to begin the wonderful Walker Rezaian Creative HeArts Project at Loma Verde Elementary School. Our first lesson involved creating the covers of our Art Journals. Using oil pastels and the cool colors of tempera cakes, we created rich and silly pictures of ourselves.
Our first Journal question: What is a friend? We drew pictures.
By Mentor Artist Sheila Berotti
It was with a bit of surprise recently that I realized that 7th graders might have an issue with the custom of removing one’s shoes.
When I teach workshops in Noh and Kyogen theatre with Theatre of Yugen, we ask students to remove their shoes as a matter of course. We work in tabi, which are a special kind of footwear that is a bit more than a sock, but much less than a shoe. In some recent workshops, the students were instructed to take their shoes off and many were willing, but many were plainly defiant and some flatly refused. The point was not over-labored, but it brought me to make a brief explanation of foreign customs and the graciousness of honoring them. I pointed out that there is a practical reason as well: the space, whether it is someone’s home or the sacred arena of the Noh stage, keeps cleaner.
We went on to have great class, wrapping students in beautiful silk kimono and exploring the classic 15th century beauty of the Noh ko-omote mask. We tried on the postures of a few of the Kyogen stock characters – master, servant, priest, woman – and discussed their status in Japanese feudal society. We explored the extreme and fairly silly vocal stylization of the riddle dance, “Usagi,” and asked the students if they had ever experienced a kind of beauty they might call Yugen.
Yu: deep, quiet, otherworldly
Gen: subtle, profound, dark
(This was all part of the lesson plan. I did not expect to include a lesson on observing manners and having respect for other cultures, but when it just came up, it presented the ideal opportunity to make the point.)
Mentor Artist Gabrielle Gamboa provided this update on our art and science integration program at Mary Silveira school. Artwork from this program was featured in December-January at YIA Gallery as part of our “Imaginary Voyages” exhibit.
After creative warm-up exercises, such as “Connect-The-Dot Creatures” and “Mandala Making”, Mary Silveira 5th graders have been adding to their “Imaginary Island” exploration journals. We learned some techniques for drawing and shading in one-point and two-point linear perspective to illustrate island locations, as part of a continuing adventure story that each student is creating.
And since one session happened to take place on Valentines Day, we took a break to make mixed-media greeting cards and gifts!