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Making Connections Across Time. William McKinley I.S. 259 Janice A. Geary, Principal.

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making connections across time
Making Connections Across Time

William McKinley

I.S. 259

Janice A. Geary, Principal


As a result of I.S. 259’s prior association with the Center for Arts Education as a Leadership and Partnership Grant school, it has developed an interdisciplinary curriculum for its sixth grade in which the arts play a prominent role. This program is Making Connections Across Time (MCAT).

The purpose of this presentation is to offer four units of study in which the arts are used to focus on the theme of Asia. The Student’s Journey gives a glimpse of how the arts are infused through every subject area, thereby enhancing student understanding of culture.

Two of the units are in collaboration with our cultural partners. Symphony Space works with our Social Studies teachers and Creative Arts Team (CAT) works with our English Language Arts Teachers (ELA). Two of the units are presented by our Visual Arts teacher and Dance teacher.

Over 240 students, themselves from many different cultural backgrounds, shared a rich and varied journey through the

histories and cultures of China, Japan and India.

Working in and through the arts, students were motivated to break down many barriers and make connections:

student to student

culture to culture

art form to art form

Learning to think, speak, create and envision themselves and their world anew


The Many Components of

Making Connections Across Time

All areas and art forms are taught simultaneously

within an 8 week block focusing on Asia.





Arts Team

Social Studies/

Symphony Space



Visual Arts

closing statement
Closing Statement
  • Making Connections Across Time (MCAT)
  • The Asian Unit Philosophy
  • Learning occurs best when students are presented with related content in different subject areas (ELA, Social Studies, Art, Dance) simultaneously.
  • Using world history as the lens, students explore the ramifications of culture in which the arts play a major role.
  • Student understanding is maximized because the material is presented in a multitude of ways.
  • This differentiated approach to teaching caters to the idea and belief that not all students learn in the same way.
1 st unit of study social studies with symphony space asian curriculum arts project
1stUnit of StudySocial Studies withSymphony Space Asian Curriculum Arts Project

In social studies, students investigate the geography, history, religions and economics of Asia focusing on China, Japan and India. Through our partnership with Symphony Space teaching artists make classroom visits exposing students to art forms indigenous to Asia.

social studies week 1
Social Studies – Week 1
  • Students begin examining the geography and origins of China.
  • The Great Wall of China is discussed.
  • Students reflect upon the question, “What are the positive and negative outcomes of having a Great Wall both physically and theoretically?”

Symphony Space–Week 1 Chinese Opera

The students are given a demonstration of the five elements of Chinese Opera.

Pictured is a demonstration of choreographed martial arts and acting.

social studies week 4
Social Studies – Week 4
  • Students begin learning about the Dynasties of China:

Xia → Shang → Zhou → Qin → Han→ Sui → Tang → Yuan/Mogul → Ming → Qing

  • Students compare ancient Chinese dynasties to present day ruling families.
  • Students revise drafts of Essay/Silk Route paper.

While learning about the ancient Chinese Dynasties, Tyler pointed out an article from the Daily News (3/21/06) and compared the Trump “Dynasty” to those of ancient China.

symphony space week 5 japanese music
Symphony Space-Week 5 Japanese Music


Students learn about Japanese culture, especially music, dance, and religion. In addition to a live music experience, they are exposed to some Japanese language and typical rhythms. At the end of the class, students have the opportunity to try out the drums.

Students try out and play Japanese instruments with teaching artist Marco Lienhard.

asian studies concert at symphony space week 8
Asian Studies Concert at Symphony Space– Week 8

Teaching artists whom students previously met in the classroom, perform music and dance from India, China, and Japan in this culminating event.

2 nd unit of study english language arts with the city university of new york creative arts team
2nd Unit of StudyEnglish Language Arts withThe City University of New York Creative Arts Team

English Language Arts students link writing and reading of Asian literature in collaboration with teaching-artists from Creative Arts Team to produce a dramatic and interactive story about Asia.


Creative Arts Team (CAT)in English Language Arts Classroom

Week 1

Creative Arts Team introduce warm-up games and some of the main characters in the drama, “Against The Wall.” The piece is set in China and reinforces what students are simultaneously learning about Asia in ELA, in Social Studies, and in their arts classes.


ELA and CAT - Week 5

During this CAT visit, students perform scenes that represent the conflict in the drama between parents and children.

Tyler and partner wrote dialogue between father and son expressing a similar conflict.

Son: Father, I need to talk to you.


Son: You don’t let me say anything.

Father: I’m sorry. Your right.

Son: Really?

Father: No, now go to your room.

visual art with is 259 arts specialist mr karas
Visual Art with IS 259Arts Specialist Mr. Karas
  • After studying the philosophy behind Asian art students view Chinese and Japanese works such as screens, prints, scrolls and textiles.
  • Students are asked to incorporate traditional Asian themes within a contemporary setting.
  • Instruction includes composition, creating varying line quality with sumi ink, color studies and techniques with watercolor.
  • The final project is presented as a screen reminiscent of the Japanese style.
i s 259 visual art class week 1
I.S. 259 Visual Art Class Week 1

Students are introduced to various forms of Asian art.

  • They discuss how culture and philosophy affect the style and themes of the work.
  • The assignment is to incorporate Japanese images in a contemporary setting.
  • Topics include

nature, geishas

or samurai.


Research - Week 2

Students study references such as Hiroshige’s and Hokusai’s prints, Japanese and Chinese ink scrolls and Japanese kabuki screens.


Color Theory - Week 5

Students learn about the relationships of color by examining the color wheel. Some students choose to practice their techniques on their preliminary drawings.


Watercolor Techniques - Week 8

Students are instructed to paint the largest areas first using bright flat color. They are not allowed to use black paint since sumi ink is used at a later point.


Student Self-assessment

“I felt that I have done a very good job in terms of using an original idea, color work and the sumi ink use. There were some obstacles on the way, but I overcame them in this project. My dream is to become a fashion designer and this project highly motivated me to research and draw different patterns and designs, like the ones in Japanese art. I am Egyptian and would like to incorporate Japanese textiles and kimono designs with Egyptian style of fashion. After this project was over I started to make many sketches for my future Japanese and Egyptian fusion fashion.”


Student Self-assessment

“I felt like I have done a pretty good job. My drawing and painting skills have definitely improved since beginning of the year. Also what I have gained from this project is a lot of confidence. Before I felt very insecure about my drawing skills and I could barely paint. This project motivated me to look at other cultures and appreciate them for what they are and for many things they have to offer. This summer I would like to create more drawings made in ancient Japanese style.”


Dance with IS 259

Arts Specialist Ms. Applegate

Week 1

The prop was introduced to the students. Dancers learned how to walk with the ribbon without tripping over them. Proper care of the ribbon was demonstrated such as folding it for storage, and cutting of frayed pieces. The color and fabric of the ribbon was discussed. Students watched a ribbon dance on video performed by professional Chinese Dancers.

“The Dance probably developed in China because of honor and tradition. The ribbons are red because it is a lucky color in China. And they used their greatest treasure, silk, to make the ribbons. “- Israa


Click on me to return to contents

Dance - Week 8

Performers practice transitions as groups enter and exit the stage space. The entire piece is practiced to traditional Chinese music and counted by student leaders.

“I noticed some connections in what I studied in my other subjects and what I learned in dance. Dancing can symbolize many things. In LA we did a play about sacred ceremonies, and in art, we did Chinese drawings. ”- Joanne



Social Studies & Symphony Space

Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4 Week 5 Week 6 Week 7 Week 8

China Japan India

Chinese Dynasties Golden Age Buddhism Isolationism Origins of Japan Shinto Religion Indus Valley Hinduism/Buddhism

Origins of China Silk Route Daoism/ Dynasties Project Class System Haikus Caste System City Planning Project


Chinese Opera Chinese Dance Asian Art Asian Art Taiko Drumming Museum Visit Kathak, Bharata Culmination Concert

Natym &

Contemporary Dance

ELA &Creative Arts Team

Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4 Week 5 Week 6 Week 7 Week 8

Read Journal entries Write letters to Journal entries Write dialogue Haikus Review Journals Celebration

Homeless responding to characters in for skits

situations in “Against The Wall”

“Against the Wall”

Theater Intro to Asian Develop Asian Write Dialogue Develop dramas based onMaking

Drama & Drama based on obstacles and Connections Skit Discuss Historical

Characters difficult decisions Heroes

Visual Art

Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4 Week 5 Week 6 Week 7 Week 8

Looking at Sketching Color Theory Watercolor Sumi Ink Haikus Assembly Critique

Asian Art of Screen


Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4 Week 5 Week 6 Week 7 Week 8

Establish ribbon Asian dance Intro movement Practice Create group Practice dance Stage directions Performance

as prop vocabulary, movement choreography to music

philosophy & nature


Enabling Activities

  • Administrative vision promoted to faculty
  • Administrative support for teachers including providing meeting time, change of room/program to facilitate instruction
  • Varied opportunities for teachers to meet as a group:
        • Official professional meetings
        • After school per session activities
        • Informal opportunities to share ideas, books and resources
  • Enduring relationship with cultural partners
  • Teachers empowered by writing pacing calendar and creating the curriculum.
  • Flexibility on the part of both teachers and teaching-artists to accommodate each other’s needs
  • Tech support from Region 7 through a Title IID Grant
  • General philosophy that the arts provide the motivation for students to learn tolerance and acceptance of all cultures.
  • Conclusions
  • How do different art forms support and enhance a student’s understanding of Culture?
  • The Making Connections Across Time program provides the opportunity for an intensive study of culture though the
  • arts, in all content areas, thus increasing their awareness, knowledge, respect and retention of material.
  • Exposure to the arts, and arts professionals, serve as a motivating force for the study of culture.
  • Through experiential learning in the arts, students develop an understanding and respect for different culture.
  • The arts bring textbook learning to life.
  • The arts provide opportunities for a differentiated approach to teaching students of various learning styles.
  • The arts are the window through which we can make personal connections to a culture.
  • The arts serve to stabilize cultural understanding that would be otherwise evanescent to students. (from The Arts and the Creation of Mind , Elliot W. Eisner)

NYS Learning Standards

For The Social Studies/Symphony Space Unit

English Language Arts Standards:

Standard #1a: Read and comprehend books through the reading of The Silk Route: 7,000 Miles of History

Standard #1c: Read and comprehend informational materials through the weekly reading of the Daily News

Standard #4a: Demonstrate an understanding of the rules of the English language in and oral work through the

revising of their work on their Silk Route project

Standard #4b: Analyze and subsequently revise work to improve its overall clarity and effectiveness

Social Studies Standards:

Standard #2: Demonstrate an understanding of major issues, ideas, eras, themes, developments, and turning points in China, Japan, and India

Standard #3: Through the study of China, Japan, and India, students demonstrate an understanding of the geography

of the interdependent world, including the distribution of people, places, and environments over the earth’s surface

Standard #4: Demonstrate an understanding of how societies develop economic systems and associated institutions to

allocate scarce resources

Art Standards:

Standard#1: Creating, Performing and Participating in the Arts as shown through the creation of Asian landscapes and

participation in the Asian Performing Arts Concert at Symphony Space

Standard#2: Knowing and Using Arts Materials and Resources as shown through experimenting with Japanese sumi ink


Standard#3: Responding to and Analyzing Works of Art as shown through their reflective writing on the concert

at Symphony Space

Standard#4: Understanding the Cultural Dimensions and Contributions of the Arts as shown through discussing and

observing Asian Art, visiting the Brooklyn Museum of Art, as well as attending the Asian Performing Arts Concert at

Symphony Space

Math Standards:

Standard#4: Organizing and displaying data, as well as modeling, designing, managing and planning through the creation

of their City Planning Projects

New York City Department of Education (NYCDOE)Blueprint for Teaching and Learning in the Arts for all Art Forms
  • Art Making – students learn songs, dances, rhythms, make artwork, play instruments.
  • Literacy – students learn about the function of the different art forms; vocabulary associated with each; develop critical, analytical and writing skills through observing, discussing and responding to live and recorded/reproduced traditional art works.
  • Making Connections – students make connections between the various art forms, the different cultures under study, and between the art and what they’re studying in social studies, ELA, and other subjects.
  • Cultural Resources – through interaction with live professional artists and artworks in the classroom, on guided tours at museums, and at Symphony Space, students learn about the vast array of arts resources throughout New York City.
  • Careers and Lifelong Learning – working with the CAP artists and coming to Symphony Space provides students with an understanding of the hard work, commitment, excitement, and variety of careers in the arts. The artists demonstrate their own devotion to lifelong learning, modeling a challenging and rewarding lifestyle.

Assessment Methods For Social Studies/Symphony Space

  • Teacher observations during classroom instruction
  • Individual Student-Teacher conferencing (during class and at designated, informal times)
  • Student Interviews
  • Quizzes:
    • Chinese Dynasties
    • Vocabulary
  • Teacher-made tests
  • Projects:
    • Use of Rubric-Based Assessments For The Following Projects:
      • The Silk Route Project (China)
      • The Chinese Dynasties Project (China)
      • City Planning Project (India)
      • Class System Comparison Chart (China, Japan, and India)


William McKinley I. S. 259

Janice Geary, Principal Carney Haberman, Assistant Principal

Jessica Amato, ELA Teacher Patricia Applegate, Dance Teacher

Marsha Kaplan, ELA Teacher Roma Karas, Visual Arts Teacher

Anthony DeBenedetto, S.S.Teacher Robert Agoglia, Region 7 Technology Liaison

Center for Arts Education

Richard Kessler, Executive Director Greg McCaslin, Director of Programs

Marshell Kumahor, Associate Program Director Russell Granet, Director of Professional Development

Rebecca Ashley, Leadership in Practice Coach Elyse Cogan, Consultant

Creative Arts Team

Chris Vine, Artistic and Education Director

David Mitnowsky, Teaching-Artist Kat Chua, Teaching-Artist

Symphony Space

Madeline Cohen, Education Director Petra Pankow, Education Associate & Visual Artist

Nai Ni Chen Dancers/Chinese Dance Marco Lienhard & Masayo Ishegure/Taikoza

Parul Shah/Indian Dancer Rajika Puri/Indian Dance

Tung Ching Chinese Center/Chinese Opera