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Volume VI: Play it Again, Sam


Clearing Through the Smoke and Smog: The Beginning of the Pittsburgh Renaissance
Margaret J. Bryant
Pittsburgh High School for Creative and Performing Arts (CAPA)

This curriculum unit, Clearing Through the Smoke and Smog: The Beginning of the Pittsburgh Renaissance, is designed to promote the city of Pittsburgh and its grand history in the steel industry by introducing high school students to a city they are unfamiliar with during a time period that has some familiarity. Except for events and demonstrations during the Civil Rights Movement, students learn very little about what took place here.

Students will be presented with a sample of the steel industry and a variety of examples of revitalization occurring in the city during the 1950’s and 60s as well as the problems that national developments posed on the city. Students will examine national and local issues and then compare that to what was happening at home with parents/grandparents and other relatives. When they are able to make a direct connection to circumstances that may have formerly been thought of as happening to someone else in another time, students will be more receptive to the lessons within this unit.

The activities in this unit, which will span a period of approximately three to four weeks, will consist of a considerable amount of history as well as writing. For some variety, research and technology will be infused. Using block scheduling (80 minute classes), the activities in this unit can be completed in less than half the time of regular class periods. These lessons can also be broken up to fit with a particular time period being studied in a history class or particular literary period.


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What is There: A Study of Found Objects and Sounds
Melissa Butler
Helen S. Faison Arts Academy

Have you ever looked at a piece of fuzz and asked “What is there?” Ever picked up a button and wondered “From where did this button come?” While glancing at an ordinary, household object, have you stopped to look further, look more closely at its lines, textures, colors, shapes? These are the questions that guide my first graders’ inquiry of found objects: What is there? What is not there? From where did this come? Of what else does this remind you?

Found objects are objects that may otherwise be thrown away or ignored. They are the everyday fragments of our lives, the small things that often go unnoticed. A vast space for learning opens up from teaching a method for noticing those things that too often go under-appreciated.


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Time Shifting Arts Hook – Up
by Marylloyd Claytor
Linden Academy

This curriculum is written for 4th and 5th grade students in an elementary general music classroom. The goal of this curriculum research is to assist students in making links from past art forms to current art forms. Through these connections they will be better able to create and refine their own original work. They will acquire a deeper understanding and appreciation of art forms they are not familiar with. They will also be better able to understand where they are in the history of man creating art.

Students will have an opportunity to explore spoken/melodic line, and rhythm. Students will be able to explore the musical past of Gregorian chant to rap music as well as exploring being a composer librettist themselves. Standards addressed cross curriculum lines of music, communications, and mathematics.


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Using the Art Arenas of Pittsburgh as Volunteer Sites for High School Individuals with Learning and Emotional Support Needs to Enhance Appropriate Social Skills
Jessica Colbert
Langley High School

This unit will serve as a guide for an integral part of the educational experience, volunteering. This unit is part of a larger curriculum unit where students would volunteer at both a direct service site like a food bank or senior center and the part detailed in this unit, at a place where the students can learn information of an academic nature, like a history museum or photography studio.

This unit will span an entire school year and will continue throughout the individual student’s school career. Students will use reflection writing and journaling to discuss their experience. They will self assess strength and need areas as evident during their volunteer time. This curriculum can be used in conjunction with any subject area with students with or without disabilities. The focus is using volunteering as an avenue to improve social skills.


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Building Bridges with Opera
Gretchen Eckroat
Friendship Academy/Spring Hill Elementary

How does the teacher connect school, community and local artist? This has been a question I’ve been asking myself for several years. Living in a city that has many cultural venues should make it an easy task to complete. In my search for ways to connect these three areas I have found several arts people to work with along with some grant money. There is a need to build bridges between the school, the community, and willing artists. In my paper you will see how I plan to use the Pittsburgh Opera and a community partner.


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Developing Fluency Using Readers’ Theater
Maureen Ellis
Mifflin Elementary School

As a first grade Language Arts teacher my job is to develop my students into fluent readers who understand what they are reading and can give meaningful answers about the text given to them. We formally test the children three times a year on their fluency rate and have expectations that by the end of the first grade they will be able to read and understand various genres of literature. There are many ways that fluency can be developed, however, for my project I have focused on one particular area, which is readers’ theater. I hope by using this approach I can bring something new into my classroom that will generate a unique way to instill excitement about reading. This will bring about changes in the attitudes of students and increase their participation level and interest in reading.

I have also developed a unit that integrates our character education program with our goal of building reading fluency. By using fables as the basis of my readers’ theater activities I will connect the morals of the stories to the traits that we stress in our Caring Habit of the Month character education program.

Through the activities I have developed in the unit I will be addressing the Pittsburgh Public Schools Communications Standards, reinforcing the character education program and completing writings that will be suitable for inclusion in the Communications portfolios. I also feel this approach will boost listening and speaking skills, enhance confidence and transform reluctant readers into confident and fluent readers.


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The Effects of American Advertising and Consumerism
Barbara Gamrat
Mifflin Elementary School

We live in a nation of advertising and consumerism! Children and teens are at the very cortex of this industry. It seems only natural to make students aware of the effects these have on our American culture. This is an all inclusive and intensive unit about advertising and consumerism. If so desired, this unit could be broken up into smaller, more manageable units. Every year, I try to find creative ways for my students to fulfill the Pittsburgh Public Schools communications reading and writing requirements. Upon completion of this unit, the students will have produced four completed pieces for their portfolios while exploring an interesting topic. “The Effects Of American Advertising and Consumerism” is geared towards middle and high school age students. Through a variety of readings, research, discussions, and activities, students will engage in exploring the effects of advertising on American society. This unit will explore the history of advertising and consumerism and have students decide whether advertising is representative of our society and discover and discuss how advertising has played a major role in shaping our society. Along with identifying target audiences, the students will also explore and be able to identify different strategies and techniques used in advertising. The students will be required to read and research to produce informational, opinion, and persuasive pieces about advertising which fulfill the current 7th grade Communications curriculum requirements and address the Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening and Citizenship Content Standards for the Pittsburgh Public Schools. The students will also be required to produce a product/service/idea, advertise it, and sell it to a targeted audience. Ideally, to accomplish all the goals in this unit, you would need a time span of approximately nine weeks. However, depending on how many writing pieces you want to focus on and how in-depth of an entrepreneurial endeavor you want to take on, time could be shortened or lengthened accordingly.


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Artistic Inspiration – Where Does It Come From?
Patricia Gordon
Rogers CAPA

This unit is an attempt to investigate those things and situations that inspire us to artistic creativity in the world of costume and fashion. I would like this unit to also make us look at other areas of personal creativity in our world.  We, each of us, view the world around us in different ways. We are personally and culturally attuned to respond to stimuli in specific ways. This unit will be designed to encourage students to use an inner eye to see the usual in unusual ways, to break free of mundane thinking, to take what is already available and generate a new look. All students will be required to learn to use the many web sites that focus on costume and fashion.


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It Takes a Good Eye
Joanne M. Hattrup
Grandview Elementary

This curriculum unit, It Takes a Good Eye, which is designed for third, fourth, and fifth grade art classes, will introduce children to two legendary African American men, artist Romare Bearden (1911-1978) and photographer Charles “Teenie” Harris (1908-1998). It highlights their creative achievements and focuses on their outstanding contributions to art and photojournalism. The beauty of their work is discovered in the way they portrayed and “captured” everyday community life, as they both paid attention to the particulars as well as to the universal in their art. The unit will immerse pupils in art history, aesthetics, and techniques of collage, photomontage, and photography. The unit will engage them in art, reading, music, research, and history and in the process, will equip them with the skills and knowledge required to analyze the subject, composition, and content of a photograph or collage. It can easily be modified for older students.


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Cultural Experiences for Students in Transition
By Sarah Hornung
Langley High School

I created this curriculum unit to fill in a space in the Life Skills Curriculum at Langley High School. The program at Langley High School currently lacks enough electives for special education Life Skills Students to experience a diverse array of classes over their four-year career. With this unit, I have written a course that will give students social opportunities in the community setting. The students will have the chance to explore various arts programs and to possibly develop lasting relationships with community leaders. The class will also have an educational focus so that the students will be able to complete the mandated Graduation Project based on their experiences over the years. The unit also supports the IEPs of individual students and their transition goals within the Life Skills Program.


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EKPHRASTIC POETRY
Exploring Visual Arts With a Poet’s Eye
Lynn Marsico

Ekphrastic poetry is simply writing poetry in response to visual art. This curriculum explores the history of ekphrastic poetry, explains the benefits of using ekphrastic poetry in the classroom, and provides suggestions for presenting the poetry to children and methods for reading and discussing the published poetry in the classroom. In addition, it offers activities that encourage children to write their own poetry in response to art and techniques for helping children connect to visual images. Resources are provided for actually viewing art up close in the Pittsburgh community and there is a listing of the rich resources of museum collections available on the web.

Although I teach at the middle school level, activities that promote the writing of poetry in response to art are appropriate for every grade level, from first grade through university. The reader of this curriculum will find ideas appropriate for all ages.


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Blues as a Source for Popular Contemporary Music
Arthur Powell
Miller African Centered Academy

When I was a child, I heard music everywhere. Of course, there was the radio and at the time “phonograph records.” The music that influenced me most was the music I heard people singing as they worked or when they were just walking by. Sometimes they would be far off in thought and half hum-half sing very haunting melodies. They would sing in times of stress and sadness as well as moments of joy. I heard these same melodies in the neighborhood, in the house, at social gatherings and in church.

Some time later, I became aware of this music’s being assigned such labels as Spirituals, Gospels, Blues, Rhythm and Blues and so on. The text may change to accommodate a message, event or purpose, but the music, if you closed your eyes and “listened” to the music, was the same.

In the secular music market, the music known as “the blues”, or “rhythm and blues” was immensely popular and influential. This music from the African-American experience also had a growing White audience since the early twentieth century. But in the early 1950’s, it exploded onto the national and international music stages with impact and influence felt to this very day.

This curriculum will present some of the blues legends and icons and their influence on their contemporaries and future generations. It will also present information and activities for students in grades three through five to help them appreciate the music and artists that provided foundation and influence for the music they enjoy today.


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Arts Advantage Using Theater to Open the Eyes as Well as the Mind
By William G. Scheuering
Rogers Middle School for the Creative and Performing Arts

This curriculum unit will give students exposure to the important benefits that the arts will play in their development. In this unit, the students will explore different dramatic formats. They will learn more about the different careers available in theatre. Students will also develop an understanding of how these different career disciplines work closely together to produce a quality performance. The unit includes elements of play writing including plot and character development, as well as conflict development and resolution. It also explores the importance of costume design. The students will also investigate concepts involved in set design and construction, as well as how lighting and sound technology can play an important role in setting the mood for a performance.

The students participating in this curriculum unit will successfully produce a live puppet show. They will be required to create characters with costumes, a set for the puppet stage they will be using and a script of written text. These students will be sixth grade creative writing, costume and stagecraft major. They will be divided into groups of three or four and each group will have at least one student from each of these majors. These groups will work closely together and take advantage of their individual strengths to produce the final project of a one-act puppet show.


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Geometry and the Buildings We Live In
Cathy Schwartz
Homewood Montessori

The unit Geometry and the Buildings we Live In can be used along with the regular Pittsburgh Public School 4th and 5th grade Math Curriculum, specifically in conjunction with the geometry units 3 and 11 in 5th grade and 1 and 11 in 4th grade. The activity may be accomplished in a 2 to 3 week period.

Information in this unit provides students opportunity to learn by being an observer, by exploring, by deconstructing and building geometric figures within the context of the buildings kids live in and around. Lessons include identifying geometric form in the world around us by first observing, then constructing, geometric figures, cubes, tetrahedron, prisms and pyramids. These forms are then explored outside the classroom in design and architecture in the school, community and with the help of the Pittsburgh History and Landmark Foundation, of the greater Pittsburgh area.


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Enriching Pennsylvania History with the Study of Pennsylvania Art
By: Erin Shortt-Spring
Carmalt Academy of Science and Technology

This curriculum unit is designed to be used with the fourth grade social studies curriculum recently adopted by Pittsburgh Public Schools, Scott Foresman Pennsylvania. The unit is designed to collaborate with and enrich the curriculum with respect for the pacing guidelines which have been established by the social studies department. The curriculum spans the entire school year with enrichment studies and activities spanning the times before humans inhabited Pennsylvania up to the present day.

By implementing this curriculum, students will experience the history of Pennsylvania with the accuracy of the social studies text but also with a creative aspect as well. The activities and studies involved include various forms of art study as well as numerous opportunities to create art.


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Chatham University
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Jointly sponsored by Carnegie Mellon University, Chatham University and the Pittsburgh Public Schools.
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