Pomaika‘i Elementary School
Research on impacts of a whole-school arts integrated curriculum.
Pōmaika‘i Elementary School (K-5), opened in Kahului, Maui on July 30, 2007 with 350 students (nearly 150 more than planned). An ArtsPartner School with Maui Arts & Cultural Center, Pōmaika‘i (blessed in Hawaiian), presents a unique opportunity for the Hawai’i ’95 Team to investigate the impact of an arts integrated curriculum on attitudes towards school, effective teaching, and student performance. We are committed to investigating the impacts for at least the next three years.
Objectives of the research:
1. To bring attention to how an arts integrated curriculum effects:
- Teacher morale
- Students’ motivation to learn
- Students’ time on task
- Parental involvement in school
2. Make a strong connection between professional development of teachers and effectiveness of their lessons.
3. Distribute the information throughout the State and nationally with the hopes of increasing support for whole-school, arts integration models.
For more information, contact Susana Browne at firstname.lastname@example.org.
100% of the seventeen (17) teachers interviewed reported student improvement in learning using drama. The major categories we found that were positively impacted for teachers and students were:
- Rigor in learning
- Teacher Self-Confidence
- Positive Learning Environment – finding JOY!
Additional learnings or unanticipated outcomes that came about as a result of the project.
1. It is absolutely critical to have the support of a full-time arts integration curriculum coordinator who can mentor teachers, coordinate artist residencies and professional development and assisting in the research.
2. We saw a marked “growth spurt” in teacher effectiveness after the 3 days of professional development by Sean and Melanie Layne, March 14-17. There was a shared experience of what quality looks like followed by reflection with the TA and 2 full days of direct instruction by an artist and a teacher team.
3. In order for teachers to “own” a strategy, they need to see it used with students in an exemplary way, reflect on that strategy, and practice it. When there is focused use of a strategy, the quality increased as the frequency of using the term decreased.
4. The number of teacher professional development hours definitely correlates with how effectively they teach arts integrated lessons.
5. In addition, when a school has a vision that everyone supports, and when that vision is the foundation for all planning, success is not only possible but probable. The leadership team at Pōmaika‘i has a multi-year plan on how to effectively implement an arts integrated curriculum. The foundation of that plan is professional development which includes arts residencies (modeling); focused, hands-on workshops for staff; mentoring by teaching artists and the school arts leadership team; and reflection/articulation on how the process is working. None of these pieces can be eliminated.
6. What we discovered years ago at Kula School still holds true! If the right teachers are given support and encouragement in teaching, in, through, and about the arts, a life-long passion develops and makes the learning for teachers, students, and parents joyous and effective.
Is the research leadership team providing adequate professional development and school support for all teachers to effectively integrate the arts?
1. The more mentoring, the higher the comfort level and the implementation increases.
2. The more the teacher practices, the better they get.
3. Critical components for success: A teacher’s willingness to take risks, commitment to the arts, willingness to devote time and plan, develop a community, give and receive feedback.
4. Grade-level PLC’s and articulation between grade levels is very important for teacher success.
5. There is a need for more teacher leaders that can coach colleagues in arts integration. Ideally, there would be one at each grade level. Two new teacher leaders will be assisting Takemoto in 2009-10.
How does arts integrated instruction impact students’ oral communication skills?
1. Some students have difficulty telling a story orally.
2. There was a definite difference between students who received the Neighborhood Bridges (NB) program and those that did not. (Storytelling, drama, writing, and critical literacy.) The more often the teacher used these strategies, the more the students improved. Two 3rd grade teachers became very proficient at NB, and their student showed the most gains.
3. All seven of the teachers interviewed, as well as the 15 teachers in the focus group, expressed the value of the arts for improving student’s ability to communicate. They spoke about how the arts increase student’s confidence and self-expression skills. The focus group interview with six 5th grade students also confirmed this. Not only were the children extraordinarily articulate, they were able to give specific examples about how the arts help them communicate in multiple modes.
What is the impact of arts integration on building a strong school community?
1. It is very important to start the year with a focus on the vision and mission of the school so that everyone is on the same page and there is buy in from new and returning staff.
2. A challenge is to bring the parents and community into awareness of the impact/rationale for arts integration.
3. Children and teachers alike stated that they feel “safe” and “supported” at the school. Teachers attributed this sense of community to the personal skills developed through creative drama. Even the children interviewed explained that they thought the arts give kids “other ways to spend their time instead of fighting and getting into trouble.” One fifth grade boy remarked sincerely that he felt “blessed to attend the school.”
4. Parent interview data also supported the strong sense of community at Pomaika’i.