Coming soon to a classroom near you

linwood.jpgMusic class at Linwood Elementary School (MPR Photo/Tom Weber)

Students returning to school this fall can expect some changes in their arts classrooms. Revised K-12 arts standards go in to effect this school year and while not a significant departure from the last set of standards there are a few key changes.

Among them is that students will begin taking media arts in kindergarten instead of waiting until high school. Media arts includes film, photography, audio, digital arts and interactive media. The state does not currently license media arts teachers, so these classes will be taught by other arts teachers or computer instructors.

Under the new standards, all dance, theater, visual art, music and media arts classes will now emphasize the role technology plays in the field.

Another change is that all arts teachers also will be expected to cover the contributions of Minnesota’s American Indian tribes and communities to the arts.

Teachers in our Public Insight Network shared with MPR News how they plan to incorporate these standards in their classrooms. Betsy Maloney, a dance teacher at the Main Street School of Performing Arts in Hopkins says she plans to meet the technology standard by teaching students how to document their performances using video. Noelle Johnson, an elementary music teacher in Pine River, plans to invite the nearby Leech Lake Band to demonstrate Ojibwe music for her students.

The way Minnesota schools implement the standards likely will vary. There are no tests or visits to make sure schools are complying.

Schools are required to offer three kinds of arts classes and Minnesota high school students must have at least one art credit to graduate as part of the state graduation requirements. Beyond that, it’s up to individual districts and teachers how they will cover the standards.

andrea rusk.jpgAndrea Rusk, principal of Brainerd High School, said the three arts teachers at her school took a class this summer on how to implement the American Indian arts standard.

Rusk said her teachers are committed to including the new standards in their curriculum, but she lamented that in a time of significant budget reductions, the state does not provide money to help adopt these standards.

The teachers “end up having to develop new curriculum on their own time and expense,” Rusk said.

If you work in a school, we’d love to hear how you’re school is implementing the revised standards: Share your insights here.

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