Tonia: Let's keep that good concentration going.
Girl: They cleared land by cutting down forests.
Tonia: All four turn out, one big chop. Good job!
Tonia: Because our students use the arts to deepen their understanding they remember content for a longer period of time, and they're able to use their voice, their body, their art skills to demonstrate knowledge in a way that is fun.
Teacher: Here we go. [drumming]
Jessica: Having the arts as a core part of our academic program was critical to our founders. We've seen the arts as important for two reasons. One is because they are beautiful and joyful in and of themselves. But the other reason is we think that kids can arrive at new understandings about other content areas through their work in art.
Leah: You want to be thinking about colors--
Tonia: Students are either integrating social studies content with an arts discipline, or science content with an arts discipline. The art staff and classroom teachers look at the guiding questions, what the big ideas are. So there's just a lot of discussion, a lot of collaboration.
Sharanya: The four forces help an airplane to fly.
Sharanya: This semester our expedition is about the physics of flight. The goal is for students to learn about how airplanes fly in the air.
Stuart: Our problem is people at the National Airport don't understand the physics of fight, even though they're about to get on planes.
Paz: We're going to put up art at the airport so people can know what the four forces of flight are like lift, gravity, thrust, and drag.
Leah: Thinking about using our four forces, we can use paintbrushes, we can even do a little bit of pouring.
Leah: So we begin with Jackson Pollock and some of his artwork, and kids realize pretty quickly that he's using the four forces. They see him using gravity and thrust in his really active style of painting. And they start trying it out.
Leah: And what force will you be using as you're pouring?
Leah: So yeah, when you poured it, it didn't just go out into the air.
Girl: Gravity pulled it down.
Leah: That was gravity.
Ethan: Jackson Pollock used forces like drag because when there was a big puddle of paint, and some paint went through the big blob of paint, it slowed down, because that blob of paint was bigger.
Boy: That is so cool!
Leah: All right! Good job!
Leah: It's really just about making those abstract concepts concrete.
Leah: What if we do a little bit of this?
Ethan: I like art and science, so I'm doing two things I like to learn how something works.
Leah: You guys had a great contribution. I'm loving it.
Sharanya: With these art experiments, it's something they could hold onto and point to and say, "Here's how a force works, and I was able to do that myself."
Leah: Great job today, guys!
Tonia: All right! Here we go, action.
Class: There is a river that tells a story.
Alex: So this semester, we're learning about the Anacostia River, and all of like the problems and things going wrong with it, like all the pollution.
Alex: It is a story of the community's efforts to save it.
Tonia: They were using an anchor text in their classroom called, "A River Ran Wild," which is a true story about the Nashua River in Massachusetts. And they were using that to help build students' background knowledge. And we decided to let that be their drama piece.
Tonia: Step back upstage, high five. Natives come downstage and--
Tonia: We just started acting it out, playing around with the characters, and it just kind of just started gelling together.
Tonia: And so we put all of our ideas from playing with it in class into one organized script.
Boy: This is a story about people who made a difference!
Bryn: It's teaching you through something more fun, so you can like learn more through something like active.
Tonia: Pose like you're overcome with grief and sadness. Crying.
Tonia: When you put movement to text, it helps you have to think about it much more deeply. Kids have to make intentional choices about how they're going to use their voice, how they're going to use their body, how they're going to depend on one another to relate the story.
Bryn: And slowly the Nashua's fish grew sick from the pollution.
Tonia: Let's do that again, Wilson. That might just be the showstopper right there.
Bryn: Through the play we were showing that if they can clean up the Nashua River, then we can clean up the Anacostia, so people know you can make a difference.
Tonia: Give Wilson a hand! [clapping]
Leah: When they recognize something they've been studying in their classroom in this new environment, their faces just really light up, and you know that's going to stick with them.
Leah: Arm created.
Leah: They're not going to forget that, that's an experience that is going deep.
Class: New York!
Tonia: Whoo-hoo! Yes! [claps]