SchoolArts Magazine

February 2017

SchoolArts is a national art education magazine committed to promoting excellence, advocacy, and professional support for educators in the visual arts since 1901.

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B e-bop de-be-bop de-be-bop do! The sounds jangled out in bro- ken rhythms and ecstatic joy across my classroom as first- grade artists wiggled, spun, jumped, kicked, and simply moved to the jazz music of Louis Armstrong. One voice cried, "Look! I'm moving just like the jazz ladies did to Duke Ellington!" Another mimed his fingers in the air, "And, I'm playin' the saxophone!" We were knee-deep in our exploration of the Harlem Renaissance, and students were fully immersed. At first glance, it would seem introducing the Harlem Renaissance to six- and seven-year-olds might be overwhelming. In truth, they are more than capable of learning about this amazing time period. The Har- lem Renaissance, a full-on visual and performing arts movement, offers art educators the unique opportunity to integrate culturally relevant peda- gogy, literacy, music, dance, and his- tory with visual arts. Engaging Students It is vital to me that students enjoy learning. I hooked them by playing a 1933 video of Bessie Dudley and Florence Hill dancing to music led by Duke Ellington. I provided them with prompts such as, "What do you see?" "Why are these people danc - ing?" and "Do you see any moves we use today?" They observed the cloth - ing, movements, instruments, and sounds they saw. Students today are accustomed to looking, observing, and sitting still. Less familiar is the request to kineti- cally mimic and/or interpret observa- tions. Yet for many younger students, movement is directly linked to deeper memory and meaning. After outlin- ing some safety procedures, I played "Ain't Misbehavin'" by Fats Waller. I asked students to listen for twenty seconds and then make movements based on what they heard. When they were finished, I asked them to reflect on their movements and emotions. "Reading" Art (and Books) Whenever possible, I like to mirror the student practice of reading a book by asking them to "read" an artwork. Students examined the artwork Out Sean Tate, grade one. 36 FEBRUARY 2017 SchoolArts E A R L Y C H I L D H O O D & the Harlem Renaissance Amy Zschaber BABIES JAZZ

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