As the beginning of the school year approaches, the Museum is excited to offer a new academic program to the third grade teachers and students in the nine Birmingham City Schools served by the Straight A Program. Designed to explore the impact of arts-integration on literacy and math in fourth grade achievement, Straight A will serve the following Birmingham City elementary schools over a three-year period: Avondale Elementary, Council Elementary, Glenn Iris Elementary, Hemphill Elementary, North Roebuck Elementary, Robinson Elementary, South Hampton Elementary, Central Park Elementary, and Whatley Elementary. To build on the momentum of the Straight A program and to increase preparedness in rising fourth graders, we have selected the third grade for this new pilot program.
Using the Museum’s Start with Art program as a model, participating third grade students and teachers will experience visual arts integration through six comprehensive encounters with the Museum. A Museum educator will visit each classroom three times during the academic year with sequential in-classroom instruction designed to provide students with skills and knowledge in the visual arts in accordance with high national, state, and local standards. The three Museum visits will include a curriculum-based tour of the collection followed by a studio art activity. In addition, the Museum conducted an intensive teacher workshop on September 2nd to generate enthusiasm for the project and give teachers insight into the myriad possibilities of incorporating art into their daily teaching experience.
The program primarily supports the visual arts, language arts and math curricula. Emphasis on close observation and using those observations to analyze and question works of art to help students construct meaning also supports both science and history habits of mind. The program supports important 21st-century learning skills that students must master to succeed in work and life—a blend of content knowledge, specific skills, expertise and literacy. As much as students need to learn academic content, they also need to know how to keep learning — and make effective and innovative use of what they know — throughout their lives. We believe that art is a powerful catalyst to generate advanced-level thinking and creativity in our society, and are delighted to be able to offer such a robust program to the students of Birmingham City Schools.
In addition, the Museum is developing complimentary community-based programs in these same nine communities. To truly affect change, we believe we must educate the whole child. By connecting to not only the students, but becoming a part of the students’ life outside of school, we can situate the Museum as a true partner in education. Although not fully developed, this community-based outreach will target families, community organizations, churches, libraries, and neighborhood associations.