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Tag Archives: Hornsby-Dunlap Elementary

Teachers and Students Go on Adventures in Art

by Natalie Goodnow, Artistic Associate

Theatre Action Project (TAP) teaching artists Frank Nappi and Lindsay Palmer had the unique opportunity to craft linked curricula for their 2nd grade after school classes at Hornsby-Dunlap Elementary. They focused on the work of four artists: Frida Khalo, Rosa Bonheur, Salvador Dali and Faith Ringgold.

Actor Frank Nappi guided the students through an interactive process drama framing the entire semester as an urgent quest. He began the semester by showing students a short video which he filmed with another Teaching Artist, Miss Kate Shaw. She was in disguise as the mysterious super villain, “Z” who explained that he had magically captured teachers from the students’ very own school and transported them into famous paintings by artists such as…you guessed it– Frida Kahlo, Rosa Bonheur, Salvador Dali, and Faith Ringgold! Z cackled that the students had no hope of ever rescuing their teachers, because they knew nothing about art!

After seeing this video, the students could not wait to prove the mysterious Z wrong!  With visual artist Lindsay Palmer, the students:

  • Learned about the historical context in which these artists lived.
  • Asked big questions about why and how these artists engaged in discussions of activism about the social issues of their time.
  • Created their own artwork inspired by Kahlo, Bonheur, Dali, and Ringgold.

Back with Mr. Frank, the students engaged in narrative pantomime and improvisatory play to further explore the artists’ work. Using just some tape lines on the floor, and a lot of imagination, the students crafted a magical airplane that could journey straight into the paintings themselves, where Mr. Frank used narrative pantomime to guide students through the worlds of the paintings, their sights, sounds, smells, and textures, their people and places, and then finally (through the power of improvisatory play, also known as make believe) to rescue their captured and beloved teachers.

I’ll venture to say that the students retained much more historical knowledge than they would have had they been taught it in another way. The arts-based teaching strategies gave them a compelling need to learn that information, and also fun and hands-on ways to learn. They also learned social-emotional skills such as teamwork, confidence, and leadership, as they strategized how to work together to create these works of art, and to rescue their teachers.

And that’s how it works! Theatre Action Project uses the creative arts to activate the social, academic, and emotional development of young people. In school, after school, in our communities, every day!

Special thanks to Teaching Artists Frank Nappi and Lindsay Palmer for all your hard work this semester, and for ACE Afterschool Program Coordinator Jennifer Corrigan for your support!

In defense of chaos, Or why we need to make a mess

by Lindsay Palmer, Teaching Artist, Hornsby-Dunlap Elementary School, Del Valle ISD

So here’s the thing about creativity…it’s messy! Oh how many times have I had the experience of a visitor walking in my class room mid-art production and seen the not so subtle look of horror on their faces at catching the chaotic mess that is 15 first graders’ whose puppets are still in progress. Or drums, or costumes, or movie sets, or paintings. Yes, I know this room looks a mess but I promise there is genius underneath all of those pipe cleaners. You see it takes a mess to make greatness in my classroom. Creativity requires a certain freedom. This is the kind of freedom that kids are rarely allowed during their regular school day. I believe learning should always be a hands-on, nitty-gritty process, and in art it is essential. Once that first messy art project is underway, it sets the tone for who I am as a teacher and what this class will be like. I am the teacher that allows a little crazy. I know this is scary because one kind of crazy can lead to another, and I have experienced that. And yes, my classroom gets a little loud too. Finding balance between keeping some order, and maintaining authority in the room, while simultaneously easing up on their normal school day rules in order to foster creativity, is a tricky line to walk. Read the rest of this entry