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Department of Arts Education Winter newsletter, February 2021

Title Image: "A Little Too Warm", Anna Fedczuk, Northside College Prep High School

Perseverance and Excellence

This Fall and Winter, students have shown incredible ingenuity and perseverance as they recorded their own performances, created art out of materials found in their homes, and occasionally took part in classes while tending to younger siblings. Wait until you see the exceptional artwork, they created under these ever-shifting circumstances!

Teachers have also stretched professionally and personally this Fall and Winter. They have redesigned lesson plans while finding creative solutions to countless challenges. Art teachers leaned into learning new technologies and teaching methods while prioritizing their students' social and emotional wellbeing. We are proud of all of you!

In this edition of the newsletter, we are thrilled to share student artworks from our student programs; classroom projects and teacher tips in "Shout Outs!"; highlights and updates to DAE district-wide professional learning, Fine and Performing Arts Schools professional learning; and upcoming opportunities for students and teachers.

"Untitled", Jason Acevedo Jr., Aspira Early College High School

Hey, CPS Arts teachers! Have you submitted your artwork to the CPS Teacher Appreciation Arts Exhibition?

The Department of Arts Education’s Arts Student Voice Committee (ASVC) has worked diligently to create the first-ever CPS Teacher Appreciation Arts Exhibition. This exhibition will celebrate teachers and teaching artists across the district. In their own words,

While many teachers focus all of their time passionately encouraging students to create art, we know that they are also creators in their own right and deserve a space to showcase their work. The ASVC initially launched this exhibition in early 2020 before the COVID-19 pandemic changed the landscape of in-person exhibitions. Using this new virtual format, we are excited to invite teacher artists working in all artistic disciplines to share their creativity.
"Untitled", Genecis Gomez, Lake View High School

All-City Senior Portfolio Exhibition

This image gallery is a sampling of artworks in the 2020 All-City Senior Portfolio Exhibition. From left to right: "Elotera", Mya Corral, Ogden International School of Chicago, Advance Arts Program; "Spirit", Miguel Villafuerte, Marie Sklodowska Curie Metropolitan High School; "Breathe In and Out", Carlos Garcia Jr., Chicago Tech Chicago Tech Academy; "Can't Wait", Schantelle Alonzo, Lane Tech College Prep High School; "Portrait Of George Stinney", Tyshaun Zollicoffer, Nicholas Senn High School; "Regenesis", Oluwatooke Elusanmi, Lane Tech College Prep High School; "Spying on the Doubling Cube", Francesca Neibel-Spruill, Chicago High School for the Arts; "Parallel Opposites", Charlesa Thompson, South Shore International College Preparatory High School, Advanced Arts Program; "The Artist in The Art", Miel Reyes, Theodore Roosevelt High; "Rose", Sunshine Solin, Lane Tech College Prep High School; "Cheese", Victoria Mak, Ogden International School of Chicago, Advanced Arts Program; "Pants!" (detail), Sara Lin, Northside College Preparatory High School; "Public Building", Mario Saucedo Jr., John F. Kennedy High School; "Rushed", Isabelle Snyder, Lane Tech College Prep High School; "Bleacher Bums", Victoria Greco, William Howard Taft High School; "In the matter of Erica Deeman", Angelina Cofer, Kenwood Academy High School

In partnership with the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC), the All-City Senior Portfolio Exhibition gives CPS high school seniors the opportunity to exhibit their artwork and to gain exposure among selected admissions representatives of various colleges and universities. One of the most significant ways that SAIC supports CPS arts students is by awarding Competitive Excellence scholarships to any student who participates in the Senior Portfolio Exhibition, who apply and are accepted into SAIC. These awards are $2,000 per year, or up to $8,000 over four years. We are thrilled for this opportunity for our students.

Learn more about the Senior Portfolio Exhibition and related student opportunities and partnerships in the virtual exhibition launch video below.

Student Exhibition Opportunity

Hope is a Light: Select Works from the Chicago Public School Class of 2021

In the video above, Cynthia Noble from Art on theMART announced a wonderful opportunity for our graduating seniors.

In conjunction with CPS All-City Visual Arts, Art on theMART will highlight selected CPS seniors’ artwork from across the city in this collaborative debut exhibition: Hope is a Light: Select Works from the Chicago Public School Class of 2021.

Art on theMART—a singular public art platform that operates through a custom projection system that includes 34 projectors installed on the Chicago Riverwalk—will transform hi-res photos of 2D artworks from a range of media (created by CPS seniors) into animated, dynamic projections that fill and move across theMART’s façade, set to music. (An example of this is in the video above.) The audio will be a collaboration between Chicago Public Schools and iHeartMedia.

2020 Advanced Arts Virtual Winter Showcase

The Chicago Public Schools Advanced Arts Program (AAP) is a rigorous early college and career arts opportunity for juniors and seniors who attend Chicago Public Schools. The Winter Showcase is an opportunity to for students to share their artistic processes and refine their work in preparation for exhibition and performance.

We are grateful for our partnership with The Design of Museum Chicago, who create and manage the digital space for our student exhibitions. We are also thankful for 50,000feet, an independent global brand consultancy and creative agency, who together with The Design Museum, awarded scholarships to three AAP students demonstrating excellence in the Advanced Arts Program. Thank you!

Congratulations to our 50,000feet Scholarship winners:

$500 scholarship

  • Laylah Freeman, AAP Theatre Ensemble, Chicago Agriculture High School
  • Ariana Winters, AAP Creative Arts and Ceramics, Disney II High School

$250 Honorable Mention Scholarship

  • Tyler King, AAP Drawing & Painting, Kenwood High School

Enjoy a sampling of work from the showcase below. Be sure to check out the full virtual exhibition!

This gallery is a sampling of artworks and screen grabs from performances in the 2020 Advanced Arts Winter Showcase. From left to right: "Lifestyle", Jennifer Lopez, Solorio Academy High School; "Weekend 3, Fire", Eliya Torres, Disney II Magnet High School; "Sleepy", Alejandro Giron, Robert Lindblom Math & Science Academy High School; "Yui Yamamoto", Elia Torres, Disney II Magnet High School; "Portraits", Samantha Franco, AAP, MLK College Prep;"Portraits", Sophia Morris, Whitney M. Young Magnet High School; "Hurts", Choreography: Mr. Rivera & Students, Editorial: Ms. Wilson, Sample Track with Original Lyrics: Tarrance Turner, Pictured Dancer: Da’Quise McDonald, Phillips Academy High School; "Harmony", Choreography: Mr. Kirschbaum & Dancers, Editorial: Ms. Wilson, Pictured Dancer: Laila Lumas-Sanchez, Ogden International High School; "I Want You Back", Advanced Arts Program Modern Rock Band: Bryan Barrera, William Howard Taft High School, Ileanne Cecilio, Walter Payton College Preparatory High School, Sofia Dimas, Sullivan High School, Darion Fenner, Perspectives/IIT Math & Science Academy, Nicole Mateos, Foreman College and Career Academy, Tyrese Mitchell, Kenwood Academy High School, Ezra Pruitt, Walter H. Dyett High School for the Arts, Natalie Ramirez-Amezcua, John Hancock College Prep High School, Sara Rivera Gonzalez, Sullivan High School, Shemerin Villacarlos, Lincoln Park High School, Gabriel Perez, Sullivan High School; "A Raisin In The Sun", Beneatha Monologue, Donald Pieters, Kenwood Academy High School

"Thundercat", Donald Richard, Sequential Arts, South Shore International High School, Advanced Arts Program

All-City Performing Arts Orchestra Ensemble

All-City Performing Arts Virtual Winter Showcase!

The All-City Performing Arts Program is one of the oldest traditions in CPS, now in its 57th year. Any CPS student in grades 3–12, at beginning to advanced levels in their art forms, are eligible to join districtwide music, theatre and dance ensembles.

Students rehearse each Saturday during the fall semester, receiving exceptional instruction from highly qualified CPS arts educators and local teaching artists. Their hard work culminates in a Winter Showcase. Students from Winter Ensembles may be eligible for nomination to the All-­City Performing Arts Ensembles, who rehearse on Saturdays throughout the spring semester. Students then go on to perform at a Spring Showcase in May. Students who participate are eligible for scholarships to Columbia College Chicago.

View the All-City Performing Arts Winter Showcase below.

Congratulations to our talented students and their directors! The All-City Performing Arts Winter Showcase was covered by multiple news stations, including NBC , WBBM Chicago, WGN, Telemundo, WLS-ABC and CBS News Chicago

All-City Performing Arts Mariachi Ensemble

The Spring 2021 All-City Performing Arts Student Application is NOW OPEN!

Are you excited by what you've seen? Students and their families can access more information and apply by clicking the button below.

Chicago Youth TheatreFest

The Chicago Youth TheatreFest (CYTF) is an adjudicated event that brings students from Chicago Public Schools together to observe, present, and celebrate student theatre works and connect students to college and career opportunities in theatre arts. It is run entirely by the Department of Arts Education, the CYTF Committee, and arts partners. CYTF Committee members are: Rob Schroeder (Co-Chair), Renae Stone (Co-Chair), Michael Driscoll, Kathleen Parent, Missy Metz, eD Cisneros, and Laurel Kulig.

This year middle school and high school students competed in Monologue Scene, Two-Person Scene, and Musical Theatre in the first virtual festival.

Students also learned about college-level theatre programs, professional theatre organizations, participated in virtual theatre workshops, and received feedback from theatre professionals on their performances.

Please click the button below to join us in congratulating our student winners!

The Department of Arts Education offers professional learning to Fine & Performing Arts Schools' Magnet Cluster Lead Teachers, administrators, arts teachers, and any other educators who support schools in their program implementation.

To find the most up-to-date information on the Fine & Performing Arts Schools Standards for Success Professional Learning Series or the Fine & Performing Arts Schools' Networked Improvement Communities, please see the Fine and Performing Arts Professional Learning page on the DAE website. Also, be sure to check out the classroom projects and teaching tips shared by Fine and Performing Arts School teachers from Hurley Elementary School, Hampton Elementary School, Franklin Elementary School, and Senn High School in the Shout Outs! section below.

Shout Outs: Artistry in Remote Learning

"The Progression Collage", Owen Sims, Walter Payton College Preparatory High School

We asked arts teachers across the district to share their best moments and successes from remote learning this Fall. We are excited to share a variety of classroom projects, virtual events, and practical tips from some of our teachers.

Devin Hanson of Sarah E. Goode STEM Academy wrote, "I'm very proud of my Studio Ceramics students. I created take home supply bags that students picked up and they have been working on pottery at home. Students are kiln' it." (We see what you did there, Devin!)

Artist credits from left to right: Laura Baez, Daniela Zamora, and Rodney Allen.

The K-4 grade students and the Concert Band of Wildwood Elementary School, led by music teacher Dan Moore, presented a Virtual Winter Assembly. "All the students recorded themselves singing, the footage got sent to me, and I edited them to make a showcase video. The Concert Band worked with Des Plaines Community Band on their song. We had a live premiere on YouTube with families and staff. I am so proud of the Wildwood community for making this possible and for their support of the Music program".

Mark Bennett who teaches grades 3-8 at Mark Twain Elementary School described some of the challenges Media Arts teachers face in remote learning and shared a successful workaround. "Many of my lessons utilize the Microsoft Paint program. This program is available on the Windows 10 operating system, and not the Chromebooks the students were issued to work remotely. I found the Sumopaint app. Sumopaint is a photo editing and drawing tool that can be accessed and used by any device that has online access, and it has many graphic tools that Microsoft Paint does not. It has proven to be a great application to create graphic images during remote learning." The DAE would like to add that you can create and export artwork as png image files in Sumopaint without creating an account.

Artists and their images from top to bottom: Emilia Bielanski, Gradient Cylinders and Spheres; Nina Olvera, Symmetrical Stain Glass Window; Joanna Benitez-Nunez, Design 4 Lava Lamps

Under the direction of Fabian Lopez, Hurley Fine and Performing Arts School presented a virtual performance of "Santa Claus is Comin' to Town" this past December!

Jeni Crone Griffin of Lindblom Math and Science Academy was very proud of her Art 1 class who are, "mostly freshmen who have never met in person, yet they took the lead in putting together a fantastic online art show in the fall. They designed a website, organized a launch event, created a community art extension, while also creating their own art. They exceeded my expectations and proved the extent of what can be done remote".

Sydney Ruiz reports that her Baker College Prep Drama class focused on artistic expression in many forms. "We’ve performed and recorded monologues, read scripts, discussed characters, built empathy, and creative expression! In response to the question, 'What do you see in the world?', scholars could act, write, draw, and express in any way they desired! Let’s connect Art to the heart and build a community from within". Take a look at some of Sydney's student's artwork in the images and video below. For the video, senior Demiah Alexander wrote, performed, and recorded her "I Am" poem for her Drama class' Q1 final.

Collection of student work answering the question, 'What do you see in the world?'. Artist names are credited within the images.

"I Am", Demiah Alexander, Baker College Prep

In Elizabeth Roses' Yates Elementary School music class, students constructed projects on protest music and its evolution. They had options to create presentations, songs, or podcasts to express their knowledge and opinions. She said the creativity and conversations that took place were astounding. Another project students enjoyed was creating a visual Music Map of their musical tastes and journey using Canva.

Sara Simon of Lionel Hampton Fine & Performing Arts School typically hosts a yearly art show for her grades K-5 students where their alderman and local artists are invited to judge. She explains, "After the lockdown in the spring I was unable to host a formal show so I hung the show in my house and made a video of it".

At Hirsch Metropolitan High School the "Art Squad" is a group of dedicated and talented students taught by LeeAnn Thornton. The group was born out of a student's idea to design "profile pictures" or Avatars.

LeeAnn first used this idea as an exam on Fridays that changed themes. The Art Squad was then commissioned by the "Culture & Climate team " at school to create a series of badges: Perfect Attendance, Maximum Effort, and Student of the week.

Art Squad students did a spectacular job and this badge award initiative will be a school wide effort for the remainder of the school year! On to other commissions now...

Image: The Student of the Week Badge designed by the Art Squad.

Anne Gray of Franklin Fine Arts Center says her 6th-8th grade choir members worked hard on a virtual choir performance of "Waving Through a Window," from Dear Evan Hansen, a musical by Steven Levenson. They worked throughout the fall to learn the parts and record them at home. In a collegial collaboration, Colin Cosgrove of Senn Arts did the video and audio editing and Anne shared her planning process for helping students learn their parts remotely and make their individual recordings with Colin.

Several teachers shared new technologies or instructional pathways they discovered through problem solving for remote learning. Leah Stephens teaches K-8 music at Sor Juana Elementary School. "One of my most successful music activities during remote learning, and a student-obsession, is "mystery sound." A student chooses a sound in their household, turns off their camera, and plays the sound a few times for the rest of the class to guess. It's a great opportunity for home/school connection, and I love seeing what they come up with. It's also an opportunity to discuss timbre, and for younger students, think critically about what makes a good mystery sound--one that's just mysterious enough to not be impossible, but provides enough challenge to be fun".

Maria Ambre of Senn High School transformed a disappointment into a new pathway for learning. "Last spring I felt awful that students who had worked for two years towards their senior shows couldn't have one. Now, all of my classes create virtual gallery exhibitions together. We rotate through student curators who pick the layout, fonts, and the specific information that each artist should share. We walk through the virtual gallery together as a class, with each student talking about their work and describing the choices they made. I will keep this moving forward with bulletin boards at school. Students love seeing their work “hanging” in a gallery." The image below shows some of the virtual gallery slides created by students.

Image Description: Virtual Gallery: Student Curators choose the background gallery "room" and make all stylistic decisions.

Danielle Washington is currently engaging in virtual instrumentation with her K-4 grade students at CICS Washington Park. "We are using the website https://www.musicca.com/piano. The website gives our students a sense of the sound of the instruments. It also provides an up-close view of how to operate them. The joy on my student's faces says it all. Some of the students gave me a rating on the first day and I was so excited to receive 10 out of 10. It's just a cool way to keep the students engaged as we are all trying to keep their attention. We are currently getting ready for Black History Month. In the meantime, we are learning how to operate instruments and learning fun songs on them".

Steve Bradley of Acero Charter Schools - Octavio Paz Campus has enjoyed using Shared Piano to have the students learn songs. "They can save the song that they played and share it with me as a submission for an assignment."

Frank Cademartori of CICS Irving Park shares that he's been using SeeSaw for the first time this year and has found it very helpful. "It is one of the things that I'll continue to use even when we return to in-person learning. SeeSaw Centers have been my digital version of music choice centers. I create an assignment and student can navigate through the playlists choosing which ones they want to do, and what order to complete them in."

Images from left to right: Coco Music Centers have students exploring the music and culture of the movie Coco in an interactive playlist on Seesaw; Students sorted instruments into families and designed their own Instrument Monsters for each group; After practicing our song as a class, students create their own rhythms and record themselves performing it in SeeSaw.

Learning, Growing, and Persisting Together

Department of Arts Education Professional Learning

"Unidad", Katia Gomez, Acero-Garcia High School

Despite the burdens of the pandemic, remote teaching, and screen fatigue (it’s REAL, y’all), our arts teacher community continues to show up—and show out—at our virtual professional learning events. Check out these stats on our Instructional Priorities learning series alone:

  • Over 300 arts teachers attended our live back-to-school sessions (Modules 3, 5, and 7) in August ...
  • Over 200 arts teachers attended Arts Intensive #1 (Module 11) in November ...
  • And a whopping 720 arts teachers (and counting) have engaged in our recorded arts-specific modules since July!

Speaking of the Instructional Priorities series, SY21 marks the first official year that the Department of Arts Education has joined the rest of the CPS Office of Teaching & Learning in planning and delivering cohesive professional learning across ALL content areas. We’re thrilled to see our arts teachers receiving the same learning as their colleagues in other subjects, as it opens the door for increased arts advocacy—not only for our team (at the Central Office level) but for teachers (at the school level).

“These presentations have been not only technically and educationally awesome, but they have bolstered my hopes for teaching art remotely! They have given me a sense of being part of a larger supportive group tackling the same choppy seas - instead of feeling as though I have been stranded alone on an island of confusion!” –Instructional Priorities series participant, August 2020

Teachers have also given wings to our Arts Communities of Practice, coming to meetings every month to develop remote and hybrid instruction skills, share resources and teaching techniques, and forge relationships with peers all over the district. Thanks to additional meetings and increased participant involvement, CoP attendance has gone up 167% from last year! We’re also noticing many regular returnees who are creating incredibly tight-knit, innovative communities (we see you, Dance Squad!). Learn more about CoPs in the section following this.

Finally, a special shout-out to Krista Motley (King College Prep), Fay Jensen (Taft HS), and Carmella Berthia (Social Justice HS), who all hosted Wednesday Workshops in Quarters 1 and 2 on remote-learning practices to increase student engagement, voice, and feedback. These after-school sessions have provided teachers with tools, tips, and techniques to add to their remote and hybrid teaching toolkits in an informal, collaborative virtual setting.

“Thank you for the laughter and the light-hearted process of gaining ideas on how to provide meaningful feedback to students.” –Wednesday Workshop participant, October 2020

Heading into Quarter 3, our professional learning team is hard at work planning more relevant, useful sessions that support our arts teachers’ unique wants and needs. Stay tuned—and thank you all! We continue to be awestruck by your dedication, tenacity, and willingness to learn and grow alongside your students.

LOOKING FOR SUPPORTS FOR HYBRID LEARNING? We’ve compiled some key resources here:

Draw Strength and Support from Your Peers in an Arts Community of Practice!

"Honey Flower", Emma Joy Wall, Northside College Prep High School

It’s been so exciting and inspiring to see the Arts Instruction Specialists and their fellow arts educators growing our Arts Communities of Practice into powerful spaces for collaborative learning! In doing so, they’ve also built strong support systems to lean on throughout a turbulent year.

Our Dance, Music, Theatre, and Visual Arts CoPs have been meeting regularly to dive deep into topics like culturally responsive teaching, social-emotional learning in the arts classroom, and adapting to the remote environment. Teachers trade ideas and resources, problem-solve, engage in community-building, and offer each other advice and encouragement.

Here's what arts teachers have said about their Communities of Practice so far this year:

Shout out to all the dance [teachers] for continuing to make these sessions meaningful. I always leave with some nugget of an activity or idea to try and I greatly appreciate that.
[I like] sharing experiences and connecting to teachers in a different way, it was incredible to see how similar our experiences were regardless of our age or backgrounds.
Being in a CoP was extremely helpful last year. I am so happy that this is continuing and that I can continue to learn and be inspired by my fellow art teacher experts!
[I appreciate] seeing that everyone's challenges, needs and goals are similar to my own right now in remote learning.

Interested in joining your peers in a CoP? You can drop into a meeting any time! View the full Communities of Practice Calendar for dates, times, topics, and links to previous meeting content. We hope to see you there!