CPS Department of Arts Education JUNE 2020 newsletter

Title image: Quarantine Activities by Fionn Hui, Walter Payton College Preparatory High School, Grade 11

What a Year!

We are deeply appreciative of the resourcefulness, inventiveness, and resilience that our CPS arts teachers have shown all year, whether you were engaging your students in vibrant art-making in the classroom, making music in the streets during the strike, leading All-City ensembles, engaging in professional learning, learning new tools and skills to provide engaging arts remote learning experiences, or helping your kids feel cared for, seen, and heard during these exceptionally difficult times.

We are also incredibly proud of our students. Time and time again we are in awe of the persistence, independence, and creativity they have shown in the face of great challenges, and the extraordinary artwork they have created—virtually and in person—throughout the entire year.

Thank you! This newsletter is a celebration of all of you!

Feeling of Emotions, Jorai Harris, Clark Elementary School, Grade 8

The following message and thank-you video comes from our 2019-20 CPS Arts Student Voice Committee:

At the beginning of 2020, none of us could have predicted what challenges this year would bring. Living through a pandemic was already an extremely difficult time for us all. The murders of George Floyd and countless other black people have been weighing on many of us on top of that.

As this country and as the world are going through this unprecedented and transformative time, teachers have been there for students like us. The Arts Student Voice Committee would like to say thank you to all of the arts teachers who have made this difficult time that much more bearable and who have supported students like us in every way, whether that be giving us a platform to speak out, offering to listen if we need to get something off our chests, or just letting us know that they stand with us.

We would not be where we are today without our teachers and all of those helping us to learn and grow into the best people that we can be. In hopes of spreading joy and encouragement to the teachers that have done the same for us, the Arts Student Voice Committee has made the following video:

Our inaugural Arts Student Voice Committee is: Violet Barton, Tarik Brown, Fabrizio Coss, Fiona Fryman, Darwin Mizhquiri. Daisy Salto, Joanna Soltys, Ethan Tam, and Skye Wang.

Do you have an exceptional high school student who would be interested in joining the Arts Student Voice Committee in 2020-21? We are still accepting student applications here! The deadline is June 30th.

My Magical Reality by Stephany Ramoz-Toquica, Lindblom Math & Science Academy High School, Grade 7

Arts Remote Learning: Persistence, Flexibility and Growth

During the months of April, May, and June, nearly 250 CPS arts teachers gathered online in our Arts Remote Learning Support Sessions to share ideas, resources, tips, and encouragement. A huge thank you to everyone who attended—we've learned so much from you about what quality arts learning looks like in virtual spaces, what your needs and challenges are, and above all, what immense resilience, creativity, and strength you and your students possess. A special shout-out to our Arts Instruction Specialists, who co-facilitated all meetings, offering their own examples, resources, and advice to their peers!

Access all slides, meeting recordings, and other resources from our Support Sessions at our Arts Remote Learning Support Session webpage.

We've also created a Summer Arts Enrichment Guide full of virtual arts resources that students and families can engage with over the summer, including follow-along tutorials and classes, arts apps and websites, streaming performances, and more. Each resource indicates age level, supervision level, and method of instruction. Feel free to share this guide with families in your school community!

Home Away From Home by Robin Lockhart, Robert Lindblom Math & Science Academy, Grade 10

Shout Outs: Remote Learning Triumphs

We asked arts teachers of all disciplines to share their remote-learning tips and successes. These accounts show how teachers, students, and their families leapt into learning new skills, discovering digital resources and making imaginative use of materials at hand.

Your students created great things with the help of these remote-learning tools and supports:

  • Leif Ericson Scholastic Academy media arts teacher Monique Ferguson used Screencastify to teach her lessons and found the videos were especially helpful for her diverse learners. Monique also received a Donors Choose $1,000 Remote Learning grant, which she used to purchase educational games and supplies for her students. Congratulations, Monique!
  • The Art21 Portraying the Black American Experience Playlist engaged Anne O'Malley's Frederick Douglass High School students. Viewing, writing about, and creating artwork inspired by an artist they chose from the playlist, students were able to make connections to their own life and the world around them. After viewing artist Latonya Frazier's work, junior student Toniya Dixon observed that, like Frazier, she "makes artwork that leaves people wondering."
  • Music teacher Christian Smith of Mather High School shared, "I found using online music tools such as Soundtrap and Noteflight were invaluable both in the creative freedom that they give students and the ease with which teachers are able to manage and grade assignments. Both of these programs make differentiating for skill and experience easy and provide a robust platform for the motivated student. Each can be used for elementary or high school students." Listen to one of his student's compositions below!

Other teachers wrote in to describe incredible remote-learning projects that engaged students and uplifted their voices, thoughts, and ideas:

Inspired by her students and in collaboration with an NYC dance teacher, Hibbard Elementary School dance teacher and Arts Instruction Specialist M.K. Victorson and her students created movement sentences with actions inspired by birds: float, swoop, soar, spin, flutter, etc. She recounts, "we looked at bird imagery in dance performances, as well as photos of birds. We discussed the birds and nests we were finding in our neighborhoods. Each one of my 2nd and 3rd grade students choreographed their own bird solo. I filmed the solos (performed all together on Google Meet) with Screencastify and then edited and shared on our school platforms for parents to see."

The arts are a powerful vehicle for processing and transforming difficult emotions. Hammond Elementary School visual arts teacher Sue Voss shares, "I tried to make my lessons pertinent to what the students were going through. Projects were designed for the whole school with an emphasis on families working on them together. I encouraged family art time as a great stress reliever. June 1st was a hard day for everyone in the city. The project for that week was, 'What brings you PEACE?' Students could use any materials or medium. I showed them a painting of mine for inspiration. It was great to see all of the beautiful and meaningful works of art."

"What Brings You PEACE?" inspiration painting by Sue Voss

Dance teacher Melinda Wilson of Curie Metropolitan High School gave her students a choreographic project to empower their voices. Thoughtful written narratives helped them to devise and share the meaning of their choreography. View their work below!

Juana Duran of Peace and Education Coalition Alternative High School capitalized on a silver lining of distance learning—developing important contemporary art and college and career digital skills. "My students worked with Google Drawing and Google Sites to learn how to edit, upload, download and digitally display their work. While it was challenging at times, we learned a lot. I am sharing our virtual website created on Google Sites. It is a user-friendly platform and I highly recommend it. We plan to continue updating these sites on our short days (once a week), as [students] enroll in art programs and other creative classes. Students will now use them for their resumes when applying for summer jobs or programs and other academic applications." View the Peace and Education Coalition Google Site below!

During the last two weeks of school, theatre teacher Sydney Ruiz of Baker College Prep High School activated her drama students’ passion for social justice through a series of solo and group dramatic exercises over Zoom and a poster project that encouraged students to experiment (with on-hand media that appealed to them) to create posters that communicated their views and perspectives. Over Zoom, they performed “Grab the Mic” monologues and “Emotion Statues." She relates, “Scholars really embraced these activities! When we combine the invested interests and passions of our scholars, creativity and ART arise naturally!”

Scholars in the Baker College Prep Drama Club freeze in their "Emotion Statue" when prompted with the question, "How do you feel currently in our country?" Top Left: Senior Matthew Arellano demonstrating his thoughtfulness in the moment. Top Right: Rising Junior Anu Sanumi demonstrating her desire to fight for justice. Bottom: Senior Jacqui Logan demonstrating her feeling of empowerment and desire to fight.
Baker College Prep students used Snapchat, Google Slides, and their own materials to create posters that support social justice. Left: Created on SnapChat by rising sophomore Canaya Walls. Top Right: Created with at-home materials by rising sophomore Alicia Williams. Bottom right: Created on Google Slides by rising junior Rihanna Middleton, who wanted to show the solidarity of her home country Belize with the current justice movement.

Wentworth Elementary visual arts teacher Krystal Grover-Webb delivered standards-based arts lessons about the art and lives of South Side community artists. She highlighted artworks of different styles including self-portraits, community scenes, still lifes, and art constructed from discarded items. Students were encouraged to be creative in making their own art from whatever materials they had at home. Writing artistic statements helped them to synthesize their ideas and insights, and they were encouraged during this process to reflect on their inner strength and determination. Says Krystal, "Their artwork makes a connection to how important creativity is during challenging times, as well as how creativity is needed to build strong future communities." Their culminating collaborative project, Our Creativity Continues ... We Are Determined: The Art of Wentworth Scholars, was shared in multiple forms—a PowerPoint, a virtual art exhibition, and a hard-copy manual. These artifacts record their authentic learning experiences during the pandemic. View it below!

Portage Park Elementary School has a tradition of counting down the last days of school using the alphabet. They continued this tradition virtually—families could post their alphabet pictures on the school Facebook page. Dance teacher and Arts Instruction Specialist Gina Spears says, "I jumped on board, developing a dance lesson for every letter of the alphabet. I posted the lesson every morning at Class Dojo, Google Classroom, the school Facebook page, and my personal TikTok and Twitter pages. I offered students the opportunity to share their dances with me through FlipGrid. It was a huge hit!"

All-City Performing Arts Jazz Ensemble performs at the 2020 Senior Portfolio Exhibition

2019-20 Student Programs End the Year on a High Note!

All-City Performing Arts (ACPA)

The first-ever Virtual All-City Performing Arts Spring Showcase premiered on June 17, 2020 on YouTube! The showcase featured the talents of 100 students from 50 CPS schools who have been rehearsing in remote performing-arts ensembles since school closures in March. With an introduction from Mayor Lori Lightfoot, the event has earned more than 900 views (and climbing), and was featured in the evening and morning reports on WLS Chicago ABC 7 Eyewitness News! Congratulations, All-City students and directors!

Did you miss the livestream? Click below to watch the incredible performances from Modern Band, Symphonic Band, Orchestra, Percussion, Mariachi, Jazz Band, Music & Media Production, Choir, Dance, and Theatre!

Want to be a part of All-City 2020-21?: Applications for ACPA directors will open in July. Student applications will open in August. Stay tuned to cpsarts.org for more information.

All-City Visual Arts (ACVA)

A sampling of high school work in the ACVA virtual exhibition, from top left: Reenacting Le Désespéré by Gustave Courbet (detail) by Melanie Avila, Solorio Academy High School, Grade 11; Girl in Rain by Skye Wang, Walter Payton High School, Grade 10; Untitled by Bryan Dominguez, Senn High School, Grade 12; Hands by DeAndrea Carr, ChiArts, Grade 12; A portrait of Marsha P Johnson by Anonymous, Senn High School, Grade 9; Grandma by Esperanza Rivera, ChiArts; Family Migration Story (detail) by Gianna Canieso, Walter Payton High School, Grade 9, Untitled by Jairam Narvez-Miranda, Clemente Academy High School, Grade 12; Magical Adventure by John Shalinath, Schurz High School, Grade 12; Untitled by Angelina Cofer, Kenwood Academy, Grade 11; Los Hermanos Herrera (detail) by Angelica Villagomez, ChiArts, Grade 12
A sampling of elementary school work in the ACVA virtual exhibition, from top left: what my father calls me by Georgia Pooler, Agassiz Elementary, Grade 5; Windy the Robot by Benji Nechas, Bell Elementary, Grade 1; Squareface Man by Conner Rhaburn, Swift Elementary, Grade K; Trapped Shapes by Carmen Delfino, Blaine Elementary, Grade 1; Jen and Friends at the Supermarket by Jennifer Medina-Maciel, Twain Elementary, Grade 8; Line Monster by Kurt Joritz, Cassell Elementary, Grade K; My Robot by Jayden Liang, Gunsaulus Elementary, Grade 1; Self-portrait by Koa Ingstad, Ogden Elementary, Grade 3; Lines (detail) by Mark J. Reefer, Bell Elementary, Grade 2; Foxface by Natalia Rojas-Duran, Orozco Elementary, Grade 5; FAMILY by Ojifela Cobb, Barnard Elementary, Grade 6; My Word Portrait by Christopher Edison, Vanderpoel Elementary, Grade 8.

The exceptional art above was created by CPS students from across the city in grades K–12. It's just a sampling of the work you will see in the first-ever All-City Visual Arts Virtual Exhibition! Over 750 students from nearly 80 schools are featured. Thank you to the Design Museum of Chicago for their partnership in creating this inaugural virtual exhibition, and to all the students, parents, and teachers who participated. Visit the exhibition by clicking below!

Congratulations to our 2020 All-City Visual Arts Scholarship Winners!

Working with the Chicago-based Facility Foundation, the All-City Visual Arts Exhibition offers several unrestricted scholarships intended to support students’ ongoing pursuit of creativity, whether it be in purchasing supplies, taking classes, or other applications. Congratulations to our 2020 winners:

  • High School: Edmonde Olongo, Advanced Arts Program/King High School, 12th Grade ($500)
  • Elementary School: Stephany-Ramoz-Toquica, Lindblom, 7th Grade ($250) and Moses Duenez, Gunsaulus, 3rd Grade ($250)

Advanced Arts Program at Gallery 37

A sampling of some of the artwork that you can view and watch in the AAP Virtual Gallery. From top left: AAP Theatre Arts Ensemble members Will Lafleur, Brithany Arias, Imani Aluqdah, Victoria Avudzivi, Chris Oropeza, Marla Chinbat, and Octavio Montesdeoca; AAP Vocal Ensemble members—left to right, front row: Frank McClinton, Rakyra Cullar, Iyanna Herring, Marelis Alvarez, Adrianna Sykes; back row: Yazmina Ginwright, Myia Shaffer, Marquice Boyd; AAP Dance Ensemble members—from top to bottom: Briana Samano, Ana Mercado, Fiona Fryman, Andy Butron, Ariana Martin, and David Acosta-Cruz; Fox, Rock N Roll, Thrill by Aaron Bergante, Von Steuben HS, Grade 12; Untitled (detail) by Beata Semeniuk, Ogden International High School, Grade 12; Dessert project by Leyla Jacob, Culinary Arts, Whitney Young High School, Grade 11; Video still by Natalie Garcia, Kennedy HS, Grade 11.

Our Advanced Arts Program teachers, teaching artists, and staff put together a Virtual Gallery Walk to celebrate the achievements of 100+ AAP students from 43 high schools across the district. View their exceptional work below!

Want to be part of the Advanced Arts Program in 2020-21? Applications for students, teachers, and teaching artists are now open! Please visit the AAP website for more information.

2019-20 Arts Professional Learning: Growing Stronger Together

Over 200 arts teachers attended our final Arts Intensive in January 2020 at the Chicago Cultural Center.

Districtwide Arts Professional Learning

This year, we welcomed over 1,100 attendees to nearly 60 arts professional learning events hosted by the CPS Department of Education, including:

Here's what some of you had to say about your professional learning experiences this year:

The topics this year have been ultra relevant to our needs and applicable right away! ... This year, it's been more "by teacher for teacher" and that's been amazing!
I like the opportunity to collaborate and share ideas, experiences, successes, struggles with colleagues and content experts. I left each PD with strategies and content to implement immediately.
I attended a Demonstration [Site] and it was fantastic. I was able to see first hand someone else's teaching and student learning. ... The facilitation was well-planned and the discussion after was spot-on and totally relevant to me and my teaching.
I think the Dept. of Arts has done a great job of listening to what teachers actually need to improve their classroom instruction.

Your deep engagement at these events shows your great commitment and passion to providing exceptional arts education to your students. We thank you for your dedication, and we hope to see you next year!

Tell us what you think! Our Annual Arts Professional Learning Survey is your opportunity to tell us about your engagement with our professional learning in 2019-20 and how we can continue to improve it in 2020-21 and beyond. Your voice is essential—click below to take the survey now (and have a chance to win some great prizes)!

Fine & Performing Arts School Professional Learning

This year we were thrilled to provide support and partnership for our 66 Fine & Performing Arts Schools across the district. This included the release of the Fine & Performing Arts School Standards for Success, guideposts to ensure the arts are flourishing in every Fine & Performing Arts School; professional learning opportunities designed specifically for F&PA Magnet Cluster Lead Teachers and Arts Leadership Teams, and increased departmental support and networking opportunities across schools.

We held three successful professional learning sessions exclusively for Fine & Performing Arts Schools, focused on exploring and building understanding of the Standards for Success. Here's what some of the attendees shared about their experiences:

Hearing from other teachers about their challenges and accomplishments was so helpful.
I left with an understanding of the standards that encompass successful magnet cluster programs.
I appreciate the flexibility of the presenter. These concepts are a challenge to get a whole school to buy into and the presenter was reassuring in adding that the Department is here to support us and it's okay for every school to be in a different place.

For more information on Fine & Performing Arts Schools, or to access materials and resources from F&PA professional learning, please contact Christine Rudy-Reed, Fine & Performing Arts School Specialist, at creed18@cps.edu.

Thank you, Arts Teachers!

Please enjoy some well-deserved rest, recuperation, and rejuvenation. You've earned it!


Photographs by Department of Arts Education staff, CPS Communications, and CPS arts teachers.