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February Skill Share

by Cassie Swayze, After School Programs Associate VISTA

After School I had the pleasure to host the first Skill Share of the spring semester here at the Theatre Action Project office on February 8th. Skill Shares are an excellent opportunity for our Teaching Artists (TA’s) to share their talents with their peers. Our February Skill Share was one of our best yet!

We started the evening with Benjamin Taylor, one of our TA’s at Creedmoor Elementary in Del Valle. Ben has taken TAP’s new mission to inspire our students as creative artists, courageous allies, critical thinkers, and confident leaders to heart in his classroom. In TAP After-School we call these the “4 Cs” and Ben is truly a 4C Teaching Artist. He manages to teach his kindergarten students what courageous allies and critical thinkers are; no small feat with young students. Whether they’re learning that courageous ally means “to be a good friend” or critiquing each others drawings as creative artists, they’re always using their critical thinking hats, which Ben graciously modeled for us.

Next we heard from Teaching Artist Simone Barnes who recently relocated from New England to work with TAP. Simone taught us to use objective questioning when   exploring the content of non-representational art. This method is known as Visual Thinking Strategies, which draws on critical thinking skills and analytical reasoning. We broke into small groups, and using our reasoning, past knowledge, and intuition, were able to dissect several images from art history. We were so fortunate to learn this technique with such an experienced, professional teacher.

Our next TA skill was something I enjoyed very much: using recycled materials to create musical instruments. I invited Khara Vincent to share her talents with music, found objects, and patience to teach us about using rhythm in a kindergarten classroom. She showed us how to make a guitar out of a USPS box, paint stir stick, and rubber bands; a tambourine out of pie plates and rice; and a drum using only a tin can and tape! We then sang “Jambo Bwana” while using our new instruments. It was chaotic but fun!

Finally, Lindsay Palmer shared her method for making a stencil out of poster-board. Her simple yet effective process involved only a piece of $0.49 poster-board, an x-acto blade, and an overhead projector. Stencils created in this way can be used for painting, murals, t-shirt designs, and much more.

It was another successful and fun Skill Share. I am more impressed with the talents and abilities of our Teaching Artists this semester than ever before. TAP Skill Shares are free and open to everyone. Contact Cassie Swayze at cassie@theatreactionproject.org for more information about the next meeting. We would love to see you there!

About creativeactionaustin

We are based in Austin, Texas and reach more than 16,000 young people every year through our unique blend of theatre and education programs.Our programs expose young people to critical social problems and offer opportunities for them to creatively think about how they can be a part of solutions to these problems. Creative Action is a unique blend of art and education – for us, the two are intertwined. We believe that using the arts as a teaching method provides a fun, engaging and inspiring way to learn – it incorporates the whole mind and body.

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