Project Progress

ArtCore: Finding Our Way

In the inaugural post for the ArtCore blog, I want to take a moment to reflect on the first year of work and accomplishments, the many creative contributions from all of our schools and partners, and anticipation for what is to come. The Oregon Community Foundation notified us in June 2014 that the ArtCore Studio-to-Schools grant with Oaklea Middle School in Junction City would be fully funded over the following five years. Then, at the end of September, lightening struck twice, and the U.S. Department of Education notified us that the ArtCore 4-year Arts in Education Model Development and Dissemination grant had been fully funded. This large grant allowed us to ramp up development of the model and include an additional four schools in the process: Hamlin Middle in Springfield, Kelly Middle in Eugene/4J, Cascade Middle in Bethel School District, and Network Charter School in Eugene. Since then, we have all been very busy, learning from a wide range of challenges and successes. Some highlights include:

  • We assembled a strong team of five teaching artists, aka ArtCore Weavers, and fine-tuned roles and responsibilities of the management team.
  • The Institution Review Board approved our mixed methods longitudinal research design.
  • Over five hundred sixth grade students across five schools experienced at least 7 weeks of ArtCore arts integration in 2015.
  •  ArtCore Weavers immersed themselves in their schools collaborating with a total of 15 teachers in Social Studies, Mathematics, Language Arts, and a Leadership course.
  • ArtCore Weavers developed a total of ten different teaching and learning modules.
  • Media Arts Institute documented the first modules in action and produced five videos to introduce the school communities to ArtCore and anchor the Studio Habits of Mind*.
  • We assembled a strong research team to conduct over 80 hours of observations, interviews, focus groups, and extensive survey data in order to glean insights for next year and establish a baseline.
  • We planned a 3-day Summer Institute for classroom Teachers and Weavers and created a 1-day summer design charette to imagine new ways for ArtCore to go schoolwide.
  • Every participating student completed a personally meaningful, creative work and learned new skills.

Each ArtCore school embraced the project in their own way, starting down a unique path for this project. The framework driving this model includes the value and belief that, to be sustainable, each school will need to interpret the parameters to best fit their unique culture and ongoing work. It has been exciting to observe this in action—teachers seizing the creative opportunity to collaborate and imagine new, rigorous, and personalized learning endeavors alongside a committed, creative thought partner.

We established the Studio Habits of Mind as the foundation for each learning module, the common classroom vernacular for creative engagement and feedback, and the driving purpose behind the video production. By asserting these metacognitive strategies into the creative practice of each ArtCore learning experience, ArtCore reinforces the thinking skills and habits that research tells us can affect student achievement across all content areas. As a team we will continue to develop new ways to scaffold and reinforce this visible thinking into ArtCore learning at every stage of the process.

As to be expected, we have met numerous challenges over the past nine months that required ingenuity, teamwork, and persistence to overcome. New challenges will continue to present themselves demanding the same level of care and persistence. The ArtCore team appreciates all of the patience, dedication, innovation, and enthusiasm that our schools, teachers, artists, partners, and behind-the-scenes magicians continue to bring to this important work. Our students are excited to grow their creative skills and depend on us all to grow our own.

Contributed by Ross Anderson

*ArtCore has adapted the Studio Habits of Mind, developed by Hetland et al. (2013) to support standards-based arts integration and strong reflective practices in the classroom. These habits include: Envision, Observe, Engage & Persist, Express, Develop Craft, Question and Explain, Stretch and Explore, and Understand Art Worlds.
Hetland, L., Winner, E., Veenema, S., & Sheridan, K. (2013). Studio thinking 2: The real benefits of visual arts education. New York, NY: Teachers College Press.