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Waxing poetic: Arts in the Classroom funded for another year


Carmen K. Sisson



Annunciation Catholic School received two grants this week that will have students dancing, singing and waxing poetic as the second year of the Arts in the Classroom Whole School Initiative gets under way.  


The initiative, which is funded by the Mississippi Arts Commission, uses dance, drama, art and music to teach academic benchmarks. The two grants will be used to purchase materials and training to help teachers incorporate the arts into their lesson plans.  


Karen Overstreet, curriculum coordinator for Annunciation, said even though the grants only total $2,100, they are still appreciated.  


"It doesn''t sound like a lot, but it''s a lot for us," Overstreet said Thursday morning. "We''re very appreciative of the money out there to help us do these things above the normal curriculum. It makes a big difference." 


The Center for Creative Learning, based in Sarasota, Fla., presented Annunciation with a $1,000 grant which will allow two consultants to work with students schoolwide for a "Celebrate Diversity Through the Arts" program. Students will learn about various countries through hands-on activities like making and playing percussion instruments, writing song lyrics, performing plays and learning native dances.  


"You can imagine how it will enrich their understanding, to do all that," Overstreet said. "We use a textbook if we have to, but we try to teach in creative ways." 


A $1,100 grant, provided by the Mississippi Arts Commission, will be used to help teachers learn more about assessing students'' creative and expository writing skills.  


Dr. Devon Brenner, associate professor of reading and language arts at Mississippi State University, will spend two days working with teachers on the six traits that should be present in students'' writing. The lesson will first be taught to middle school teachers, using poetry as an example. 


"Creative writing is a hard thing to assess," Overstreet said. "You don''t want to stifle a child''s creativity. ... For most teachers, it''s hard, when a child has put forth the effort to write a poem, to give them a bad grade on it." 


The workshop will help teachers identify what is present and what is missing in a piece of writing, removing the subjectivity and providing concrete standards such as theme and vocabulary usage.


Carmen K. Sisson is the former news editor at The Dispatch.



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