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November 05, 2012

Infusion partners educators with artists

VANCOUVER, BC — Professional artists are working together with teachers at six elementary schools across BC as they embark on a three-year journey to explore and implement arts integration in the classroom. Designed to be an intensive and sustained professional learning program for both teachers and artists, Infusion: Arts in Education ultimately benefits the students, who will experience an approach to teaching in which students construct and demonstrate understanding through an art form.

Through a competitive application process, six artists and six schools were selected from communities around the province to be the first cohort of "Infusion Teaching Artists" and "Infusion Champion Schools": artist Miriam Colvin at Lake Kathlyn Elementary in Smithers; artist Ewa Sniatycka at St. Joseph’s Elementary in Chemainus; artist Paula Scott at George Pringle Elementary in West Kelowna; artist Cathy Stubington at M.V. Beattie Elementary in Enderby; artist Denise Lemaster at J.A. Laird Elementary in Invermere; and artist Andrea Klann at Mamquam Elementary in Squamish.

"Arts integrated activities are crucial to effective student development and achievement," says Terri Anne Wilson, Arts Integration Manager at ArtStarts. "They can help reach an impressive range of learning styles and are connected to big gains in everything from math to literacy to critical thinking. They enhance student engagement and assist those with diverse interests and abilities to make deep connections across the curriculum. Arts integration is also an exciting approach for teachers because it invites powerful and meaningful learning opportunities into the classroom."

Anne Thomson, a teacher at Mamquam Elementary School in Squamish, BC has already experienced the positive impact of arts integration. During a recent class study of Indonesia, students were thrilled to discover the wide range of musical, visual and dramatic arts that are a significant part of Indonesian culture. "I am so excited to be going on this journey with my students.  It is combining so many curricular areas into one project, yet it feels so organic and rich.  Not one curricular area has felt neglected or diminished,” she explains. “Not only are the students engaged in what they are doing, they are excited about their learning process. Two students have even asked whether they can write up a research report and present it to the class as we go along!  I was pretty surprised that Grade 5/6 students would ASK to do more writing!"

Arts integration is not a new concept in education, but it is a movement that has been gaining traction in recent years. In British Columbia, Infusion: Arts in Education was created by 2010 Legacies Now, with support from the Province of British Columbia, as a legacy of the 2010 Winter Games. In 2012, the program was taken on and reconceptualized by ArtStarts in Schools, a not-for-profit organization that promotes art and creativity among BC’s young people. Since 1996, ArtStarts has been providing innovative arts programs for young people, practical resources for teachers and artists, and leadership in advocacy for arts in education. Infusion is the latest program that it has launched.

"ArtStarts is honoured to provide schools across BC with opportunities to bring art based experiences into schools, through our diverse offerings such as touring performing artists and artist residencies," says ArtStarts’ Executive Director, Navida Nuraney. "Infusion is a natural extension, and a wonderful opportunity for us to deepen the impact of making learning come alive for young people."

Educators, artists and others interested in arts integration are encouraged to join the Infusion Community of Practice at artsinfusion.ca, an online where participants can share their experiences in the classroom, recommend resources and learn more about arts based practices in education.

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