Graduate School of Education

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Program helps teachers incorporate arts into curriculum

Wednesday, November 9, 2011
By Rachel McGrath
Posted November 8, 2011 at 5:27 p.m., updated November 8, 2011 at 6:38 p.m.

"Integrating the arts into core academic subjects was the focus of a free workshop hosted by the department of teacher education at California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks.

More than 100 teachers and student teachers attended the symposium Saturday at the Lundring Events Center.

The purpose was to give educators training on using art, dance, drama and music to teach subjects.

"With the focus on standardized testing, teachers and administrators don't put it as a priority. When it comes down to real application, it doesn't happen, so we're helping to shift that," said Maureen Lorimer, assistant professor and director of master's in education programs at the university. "We need innovators who can think outside the box. We need folks who can come up with new and creative solutions. Arts is a great way to train your brain to think outside the box."

Sandra Velasquez is the art elective teacher at Rio Vista Middle School in El Rio and this year and is teaching sixth-grade math and science and an eighth-grade elective art class.

"Because it's all about the scores, they want you to just work on the standardized tests and core subjects," she said. "Now they're realizing you have to stimulate both sides of the brain, and they're learning that arts draws out dialogue from children and helps improve their reading, writing and critical thinking skills, so it's so exciting to have your craft promoted in the field."

Claudio Lonardo, 26, is studying for his credential at the university and training to teach physical education.

"I want to learn about how to implement art into the classroom. It's a little bit easier for me because art and music combine easily with P.E. so I am finding this very interesting," he said. "I think it's really important for kids to learn art so they can express themselves and be more confident."

Tanya Narasaki, a first-grade teacher and the lead visual arts teacher at Rancho Rosal Elementary School in Camarillo, led a workshop session.

"It is a challenging thing," Narasaki said. "There's actually standards for art, and we usually overlook them or ignore them, so we do have a responsibility to expose our students to the arts."

Alfred Alvarado, who teaches kindergarten at Rio Rosales Elementary School in Oxnard, said the symposium was helpful for developing lesson plans.

"It's very practical work," Alvarado said. "I think it's important to develop the whole child and to bring out the talents in every child and not just in the visual arts but in theatrical arts and musical arts."

Suzanne Schaffer teaches third grade at MATES in Thousand Oaks, a charter elementary school with an emphasis on arts and technology.

"I have two lessons that I am absolutely going to implement," she said. "I am going to change one to fit in with the Chumash, which is what I am teaching right now, integrating art into the social studies curriculum that I am doing, and I am also going to do still- life photography to go along with another unit, so I am incredibly excited."

The symposium was the first event in the Susan Greiser Price Arts Integration Program, which was funded by a $150,000 gift to the university's Graduate School ofEducation.

The event also included a keynote address by Joe Mendoza, director of special populations educational support for the Ventura County Office of Education, and performances by Rio Mesa High School's Folklórico Club and music by Los Cerritos Jazz Band."


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