Tag Archives: arts integration

Guest Blog Post: Why Our School Chose Progressive Arts Alliance

A parent and student work on an art activity at a recent family arts meets academics night hosted by PAA at Dunbar.

A parent and student work on an art activity at a recent family arts meets academics night hosted by Progressive Arts Alliance at Paul L. Dunbar Arts Enrichment Academy.

By: Sofia Piperis, Principal
Paul L. Dunbar Arts Enrichment Academy
Cleveland Metropolitan School District

This spring, our school’s faculty and administration decided that we would like to implement an arts-infused curriculum model. We saw this strategic decision as the best option to effectively engage students and to make their learning meaningful. We were also interested in differentiating our school from other schools in our Ohio City neighborhood.

We chose Progressive Arts Alliance as our partner to implement our new arts-infused model because of PAA’s comprehensive approach to arts-integration. Our team was impressed with the strategic methodology PAA implements that includes instruction that address math, science, and other core curriculum standards as well as standards in the fine arts. We were excited to bring PAA in as experts to tie the arts into the academics at our school. Our teaching staff is new to an arts-infused approach to teaching and we believe working with PAA’s professional artist-educators is the perfect way to model what high quality arts-integrated teaching and learning can look like.

As we’ve been implementing our new PAA partnership this fall, it’s been great to see how much our faculty, students, and families appreciate the access to PAA’s high quality arts learning activities. I’ve also been pleased to see how PAA’s work provides the opportunity for our students to apply their learning in the core curriculum to the artistic process. By working in an arts-integrated environment, our students are able to see how their learning in other subjects can be worthwhile in a variety of contexts. PAA has empowered our students to apply their learning and understanding in more modalities than ever before.

Dunbar sixth graders work with PAA Artist-Educator Ainsley Buckner during a recent residency workshop.

Dunbar sixth graders work with PAA Artist-Educator Ainsley Buckner during a recent workshop. The workshop was part of a PAA arts-integration residency exploring the structure of molecules through creating molecular relief models using clay and other materials.

One of the other reasons we chose PAA as our arts partner is their holistic approach to engaging the entire school community in their work. PAA has helped us involve our students’ families in our new arts-infused model. Engaging our families in this work is crucial. Parents don’t always know the depth of what students are working on in the classroom. Through hosting family programming with PAA, we have connected parents with our arts-infused curriculum. Our parents have participated in activities that have allowed them to create new art and build large-scale work side-by-side with their children. We have been pleased with PAA’s ability to better connect our families to our school curriculum.

The changing landscape of education puts a strong emphasis on standards-based performance assessments and as a result, students often don’t have an outlet for self-expression. The arts are the perfect way in which students can express themselves in a manner in which no one can say what’s “right” or “wrong.” The arts provide a platform for freedom of self-expression and bring joy back to learning and collaborating. I am pleased that my school has made access to the arts a priority for our students and we’re proud to work with PAA to transform our students’ learning experience as a result.

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News from our Artist-Educators

Why Arts Integration Matters

Progressive Arts Alliance serves over 1,300 students each week with arts-integration programs in Cleveland’s PreK-8 STEM Schools. PAA Artist-Educator Dina Hoeynck discusses how students learn how to embrace the interconnectedness of disparate subjects and more while collaborating. Discover how this work develops students’ 21st century skills by clicking below. Click Here to Read More
Scratching the Surface
PAA is collaborating with the MIT Media Lab

Last year, PAA formed a partnership with the Lifelong Kindergarten Research Group at the MIT Media Lab. Primarily our work has been collaborating in Scratch, a visual programming language for kids. This month our team of artist-educators dug more into Scratch to discover how to use the program in our residencies. Artist-Educator Jen Craun discusses a recent training program and the possibilities of Scratch. Click Here to Read More

Fall Semester Project:
Building a Wetu
Residency Connects with Native American Curriculum
PAA Artist-Educator Marcus Brathwaite discusses his design process for a 1st grade project at Orchard STEM School. He explores how the design process that was implemented failed during the first day of the program and how he iterated the implementation to yield the successful, desired result. Click Here to Read More

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Kicking off 2nd Semester

design challenge

During a recent professional development session led by PAA, educators from Mound STEM School participated in a design challenge that fosters team building skills.

This month we’re kicking off second semester in our partner schools in the Cleveland Metropolitan School’s PreK-8 STEM Network with a series of planning meetings and professional development sessions with our partner classroom teachers.  Among the work we are engaging in during this process is a rigorous evaluation of our residencies from the first semester.  Each faculty team at our partner schools has been working with PAA to use the Buck Institute for Education‘s eight essential elements of project-based learning to critique our work. This school year, we’re making sure each and every one of our residency experiences in our partner schools is crafted to nurture students’ voice and choice as they work in the classroom labs our artist-educators create. We’re excited that the collaborative work of our partner teachers and artist-educators puts equal weight on content standards in both the arts and  STEM subjects.  To learn more about the experience in our partner classrooms, click here.


Soldering irons are among the tools our students, artist-educators, and classroom teachers will be using during residency projects this semester. Recent professional development sessions allowed our partner classroom teachers to learn about the proper way to use a soldering iron.

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Semester finale at our partner schools

PAA at Gibbons

1st graders from Hannah Gibbons STEM School share the work they completed with PAA during a presentation at the Great Lakes Science Center.

Our residencies in the Cleveland Metropolitan School District’s Pk-8 STEM Schools culminated this week with an exhibition of students’ work at the Great Lakes Science Center. This semester, students used such art forms as sculpture, dance, mixed media, video production, animation, and digital photography to deepen their understanding in a wide variety of STEM content areas. Read more about the arts-integration work of our artist-educators in CMSD’s STEM Schools by visiting their blog here.


Watch the video below to see this semester’s work in action:

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Preparing Teachers for Arts Integration

photo 2Yesterday at Mound STEM School, we worked with faculty members to assist them in preparing for our arts-integration residencies that will begin at the end of this month.  As part of our professional development offerings, we created a lab for each grade’s faculty to engage in hands-on arts activities.  These activities were designed to enable the teachers to be better prepared as they work side-by-side with our artist-educators.  Among the activities that the teachers participated in were green screen photography, clay and ceramics work, soldering circuits, building sculptures, creating mixed media animals, and stop motion animation.  We’re pleased that the administration at Mound made dedicated professional development time available for our artists and parters teachers to use as an important part of our planning process for this semester’s activities.  To keep up with the latest developments on the planning and implementation of our residency activities, be sure to visit our artist-educators’ blog here.

photo 1

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