Teaching Artist Reflection: Overall, this was an inspiring and exciting process for me. I very much enjoyed working with Ms. De Guzman and Ms. Guzman over the past two years. I have learned a great deal about the collaborative process and how best to balance literacy and music to best enhance student learning. Ms. De Guzman has a great deal of experience with the arts integration process and works very well with the other teachers at Perez and so I was able to learn a lot from her. Our varied backgrounds and skills complimented each other very well. We had a good balance of creativity, structure, innovation and a solid foundation in terms of teaching styles. The principal at this school is extremely supportive and that always makes things run more smoothly.
Producing a show was a very exciting process and worked well over the two years. We were able to alter the process the second year to fit with our big idea of teamwork. The first year we had all the students work on all the areas that are required to make a show. The second year we allowed each student to 'specialize' in some areas of the process. They were given the option to work on the set, props, costumes, script, and music in small groups for a number of classes. We did have everyone eventually write music and the script, because those are integral to our literacy and music integration curriculum. This year we also added recit singing instead of just speaking the lines and partner songs. This helped to make the final show more like a real opera and helped the students make connections to the opera they saw on the field trip. A highlight of the year was going to the backstage tour of the Lyric Opera. The students were so engaged the whole time and brought that excitement back to their own show 'jobs'. They were seeing real professional work and relating that to their work at school!
This year the classroom teacher took a greater roll in the process. They helped with rehearsals, writing assignments, prop making, social studies collaboration and more. The communication between all the teachers this year was very good.
I like the idea that the students get the chance to perform the whole show during the Fine Arts Festival at Perez instead of just as an assembly during school hrs.
Ms. Guzman was always very excited about helping out over the year and even helped make props for the final show!
MCLT Reflection: I was impressed at how students grew in their use of journals. They were initially somewhat stilted in their use, just writing what was asked of them, but later in the process they grew to add more of their own ideas and illustrations.
Teamwork and student discourse was an important part of this project and happens to be part of the school's second literacy cycle. As the students created their own scripts and music, they took more ownership of their work. This class had the opportunity to sing with a professional opera singer last year as part of the Chicago Arts Plan, so this project was a perfect fit for them in their on going work in music and writing.
Ms. Bryna contributed a great deal to their singing and writing skills as well as taking their singing to the next level by going from melody to harmony. Students responded quite well to the teamwork of producing a performance under their direction.
This class had a strong engagement due to their previous experiences with opera, including improvised recitative singing using a "Three Billy Goats" script. They were then able to be coached by Renee Fleming. So this was so exciting for them to continue on with the development of their musical and literacy skills through opera. Field trips through CAPE and the Lyric Opera were also key influences.
Teacher Reflection: Student engagement in the writing and performing of scripts was strong. They were able not only to write their own opera script, but also write a critique of a Lyric Opera performance and a backstage tour. They really were able to make strong connections to teamwork and how it works to create a performance. I really value the importance of student reflection through the use of a journal. Parents also became involved by contributing to the final performance at the Fine Arts Festival.
What did not work?
Teaching Artist Reflection: A lot of the initial planning time was spent developing theoretical concepts for the year, and not enough time deciding the specific details of how we wanted to implement the ideas we had. The professional development days are very informative and useful, but we can always use more time to plan the day to day curriculum. Ms. De Guzman is an extremely busy teacher who takes on lots of exciting art projects to help students get great opportunities. It can be difficult to find enough planning time in her busy schedule.
The final rehearsal process seemed a little rushed, because we had the added elements of the orchestra, sets, costumes, props, and recit singing. We could have used a bit more time to put all the pieces together.
MCLT Reflection: Time is always an issue with music instruction, since we only have class once a week. Pushing into the classrooms for added sessions is always helpful. More time is needed to include teachers in the planning process. All teachers are so busy
Teacher Reflection: Scheduling planning sessions. We did have some, but not enough. This is an ongoing process, even though this is year three. I hope we can improve on teacher collaboration.
What questions do you still have?
Teaching Artist Reflection: How can the teachers carry the knowledge and skills the students have learned in this process over into their classrooms? How does the information the students have learned and the experiences they have had translate to quantitative data? Does the work we have done with the classes show in the final evaluations and interviews with the students?
MCLT Reflection: How can the teaching artist be more a part of the school culture? How can they get to know the school's dynamics beyond the MCLT and the classroom teacher?
Teacher Reflection: How can students learn more from their reflections?
What new ideas do you have?
Teaching Artist Reflection: I have so many ideas about how to streamline the process of creating a show with the ideas of literacy and music integration. I think having pre-designed templates for each element of the process. (I did make graphic organizers for most of the areas) It would be good to have a writing question for each area before and after the creative process and give that to the classroom teachers to allow more reflection time.
I have ideas about how to better my own collaborative work with other teachers in the future. I think that having more planning time would help and setting an overall schedule for the year would help a lot.
I have ideas about how to better the 'portfolio' process. I think lined paper as well as blank paper would be helpful to have for writing assignments. Sometimes the students forget to date things and then adding it back into the portfolio is always a tricky process.
I think next time I would give students more time to look at the work they have done periodically throughout the year.
MCLT Reflection: Students will definitely continue building their portfolios and to use opera to expand on their musical and literacy learning even though the PDP project is at an end. The journal is in the beginning stages with 4th graders. It is still "messy" for them. I would like to use teamwork as part of the process again. The students really were engaged in group work and came up with some excellent ideas that they need more time for follow through. I would like to spend more time on developing that. It is a good real life skill as well as musical skill to get into.
Teacher Reflection: I hope we can find a way to incorporate dance into future musical collaborations.