Dance, drama, music and visual arts – are all important for engaging learners. They also boost learning in literacy, numeracy, critical thinking and problem-solving.

Yet the arts are being squeezed, in part, by the tentacles of National Standards. Educators can feel inadequate when it comes to lesson planning and execution due to a lack of available professional development.

Many think they don’t know what to do beyond teaching the basics of painting and drawing, says Juliette Laird, artist and art educator at Glendowie Primary School.

“But children have a right,” says Graham Price, senior lecturer in art education, Waikato University, “thanks to the Curriculum, to a sustained programme in the arts across all four disciplines: dance, drama, music-sound arts and visual art; at every year of schooling up to year 9.”

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Do observational drawing, says Gretchen Buwalda of Island Bay School. Buwalda does it every week with children at her school. The freedom to be creative within a supported environment really pays off and the outcome of the work can be seen at gretchenbuwalda.blogspot.com. Buwalda also takes a leaf from one of her lecturers who would always look for an aspect in a child’s work to give positive feedback about.

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trees

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boys

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See yourself as a learner, says consultant Merryn Dunmill. “If you engage with the arts and learn with the kids, it won’t seem so foreign.” Think of it this way: it’s not okay not to teach maths, even if you’re not good at it. The same should be said for the arts. Seek out PD opportunities such as the New Zealand Music Commission’s mentoring scheme, or Music Education New Zealand Aotearoa workshops.

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Make real music together:

  1. sing students’ known and liked songs, says Dunmill.
  2. imitate contrasting rhythmic patterns and layer them up.
  3. create and represent musical ideas using a range of sound sources, such as instruments, found sounds, environmental sounds, digital sounds, and vocal sounds, to illustrate moods or feelings interpreted from, for example, a picture, poem, story, legend, drama or dance

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skate

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flower

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Collaborate/share/borrow from other teachers’ ideas and expertise, says Juliette Laird, rather than relying on Google or Pinterest, which may have poor instructions or use materials we are not familiar with. Good ideas for lessons and the value of teaching children visual thinking strategies can be found on www.artsonline.tki.org. nz. The “Reviewed Resources” button takes you to useful links and the Teacher Resource Exchange.

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Adopt the Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS) programme as a way to enhance the study of art. It offers a way to measure changes in students’ thinking over time (vtshome.org). It will change your teaching, says Juliette Laird. “VTS encourages aesthetic development and develops critical thinking.”

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girls-apples

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Art

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Integrate the arts into topics, says Annette Searle, drama and dance specialist. If, for example your topic is sustainability, encourage your students to share their findings through drama and dance.

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More reading : Arteducators.org/advocacy/10-lessons-the-arts-teach