Sunday, July 20, 2014

CT Office of the Arts + NHPS

The Connecticut State Office of the Arts finds ways of encouraging kids to learn about Immigration while teaching empathy.

Students at W.Hooker Perform a Story of Immigration

As students at Worthington Hooker are learning about American history, they're also learning about not just the procedure of immigration over the centuries, but the experience of being an immigrant. The students, with the help of Doe Boyle, hired by CT Office of the Arts to assist New Haven Public Schools, encouraged the participants to write diary entries of those who were trying to become American citizens via Ellis Island in the 19th and 20th century. The students performed their composed diary entries to an audience of available parents and their peers during the middle of the school day towards the end of the year.

The PTA of Worthington Hooker hired Stereomedia to film and upload the performance, so that parents and grandparents of the performers would be able to see it at their convenience with a link and a password. The Parent-Teacher Association provided the password and the link.

Students acted out scenes from the imagined lives of immigrants
"Higher Order Thinking" is the term used to describe the method of teaching adcovcated by CT Office of the Arts for encouraging the process of educating students on the topic of empathy, hardly a subject normally taught in schools. Says Bonnie Koba, the Arts in Education Coordinator, "to walk through that process, so to research it, to experience it, and it connects students emotionally to their learning, which is really what we want to have."
She also says, "We do a lot of work to teach teachers to use the arts to teach kids. What we've learned is that if you have a way into the minds of young people that engages them and connects them emotionally to their learning, you have students that want to learn. And the arts do that for kids."

"I reviewed their writing and their journals and their paragraphs that they did everyday. And, with the children, compiled this into a script. Because it was worthy of dramatizing. Of presenting as our culminating project. Something on stage that had real power that could reach an audience," says Susan Arnold, the music director for Worthington Hooker School.  (Watch the video for more of her talk).

Songswere composed by Mike Kachuba with the kids. 
"It was very difficult for people back then who were coign to America. Immigrants had to come to new surroundings and they thought it would be beautiful and they would get so much money, but it was actually very difficult," said one student who performed the play when he was in 3rd grade.

"My ancestors were immigrants. They had pieces of letters and diaries, and I didn't get a chance to read those things," said one student.