The purpose of The Kaleidoscope Project is to comprehensively integrate the arts into all programs and classrooms at McKinley Elementary School. Just as a kaleidoscope serves both as an object of beauty and as a process to learn about color and light, this exemplary project views the arts—music, dance, visual arts, literature, drama—as positive ends in themselves to develop each student’s full potential. More importantly, the arts are highly effective and engaging in helping each student learn and achieve in core instructional areas. With wide acceptance of Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences, the arts have become an ever more important and obvious tool for reaching children who possess a variety of aptitudes. While schools traditionally focus on linguistic and mathematical skills, students with additional intelligences can have a chance to shine through visual arts projects or the opportunity to write a song or a play, for example.
The Center for Arts in the Basic Curriculum (CABC) has identified schools around the country that have moved from the bottom rungs of student achievement to the top through arts-based curricula (Oddleifson, 1992). Further research has shown that the study of music and dance, for example, helps children in activities such as math and reading because of their promotion of sequential learning, and that students who take arts courses tend to have higher SAT scores (Hanna, 1992). While McKinley is already a high-achieving school, we believe that arts integration can help us do an even better job of allowing each child to reach his or her full potential while closing the achievement gap between identified student groups at our school. As CABC founder Eric Oddleifson has written, “Most of the desired outcomes now recognized to be at the heart of the reform effort in American education can be achieved most effectively and with the least cost through the arts.”
The Kaleidoscope Project will help make the arts an integral part of learning at McKinley by providing:
- teachers with training to make arts a regular part of the curriculum,
- artists-in-residence to assist teachers with special activities,
- extra materials for arts projects and equipment such as stage lighting student,
- after-school arts enrichment classes so that all children can take advantage of arts-related opportunities, and
- transportation for children to participate in after-school classes and additional arts-related field trips.
This exemplary project closely aligns with the APS Strategic Plan.
Strategic Goal 1:The Kaleidoscope Project will promote rising achievement for all students through the arts. As noted above, far from being merely “extras,” the arts are becoming an ever more accepted way to engage students in subject matter and increase student achievement in core areas.
Strategic Goal 2:The Kaleidoscope Project will work to eliminate gaps in student achievement by making the benefits of arts opportunities available to all students.
Strategic Goal 3:The Kaleidoscope Project will clearly provide instruction responsive to each student’s talents, interests, and challenges by training teachers to use the arts to reach students in the regular curriculum. This in turn will help teachers to develop various student intelligences and promote more effective and more individualized learning.
Strategic Goal 4:The Kaleidoscope Project will help McKinley continue to build effective relationships with the community as it strengthens its connections to the Educational Theater Company, the Kennedy Center, and the Levine School of Music.