I am employed as a seventh grade English Language Arts teacher in a racially diverse Arts Magnet Middle school in New Haven, CT. This 5-8 institution seeks to educate the child by integrating the arts and the academics. Students are encouraged to think, see, and move in artistic and academic ways that will help them become successful learners. Professional artists who provide instruction in Creative Writing, Photography, Visual Arts, Theatre, Dance, Music and Video teach the Arts program. This interdisciplinary approach to learning ensures that each child makes a positive contribution to the learning environment while at the same time rise to new heights of achievement.
I find that students' levels of performance are improved when lessons are geared to make them think outside the box. Textbooks are used, but the implementation of lessons that include research and integration of the Arts help these students to attain higher level of competency. Students look forward to teaching and learning about the cultures that are represented in their class. Many will bring in items to display and parents may assist in teaching them how to write in the language of their ancestors. In summary, this is a time when all students are on task because they are given an opportunity to learn about real-life situations that take place "outside the textbook".