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Teachers take time out of summer to learn about incorporating arts into education

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Posted: Friday, June 24, 2011 12:10 am | Updated: 1:17 pm, Wed Jan 16, 2013.

FAIRBANKS — As kids attend camps, play outdoors and travel to see family during the summer months, some teachers are opting to stay in the classroom. Some of those teachers take the students’ seats to experience a different role.

In Fairbanks for the past two weeks, 28 teachers from around Alaska, 18 of them from Fairbanks, have stepped into the role of the student to learn how to incorporate arts in the classroom. The Arts and Writing Integration Institute is sponsored by the Alaska Arts Education Consortium and is in its second year in town.

“It’s a summer camp for adults,” said Dora Powell, a principal-teacher at the John Fredson School in Venetie. Three out of six of the school’s teachers came for the program, with an obligation to teach another teacher back home what they learned. When they’re all done, the entire faculty will know how to incorporate arts in their lessons.

“With a lot of the children, they need to have the kinesthetic” teaching to succeed, Powell said.

Genie Grammer, also from Venetie, is a poet and a music teacher on top of teaching kindergarten and first grade. She said she was enjoying getting together with people from other districts and doing art projects she could translate for her own students. Learning interpretive dances matched to poems isn’t in her normal repertoire.

“All of the teachers aren’t artists,” she said. “We’re just teachers.

The teachers learned performing, visual, cultural and written arts. Four instructors taught the different aspects, including Stephen Blanchett from the music group Pamyua.

On Thursday, he led them through choreographed Eskimo dances with his drum. He sang loudly as the teachers performed the moves, making them laugh as he switched between the Yupik and English languages.

Linda Adamson, a first- and second-grade teacher from Arctic Light Elementary in Fairbanks, danced to a kayaking song from the audience. She couldn’t pick one favorite part of the institute.

“There is no favorite,” she said. “I’ve enjoyed every part.”

Thursday night was the culmination of all aspects of the camp, with the final performances from the teachers. Their visual pieces were on display, they recited poems and performed the dances in front of a crowd of friends.

Music teacher Melanie Linton from Ticasuk Brown Elementary in North Pole was trying to do a different incorporation than most teachers. She was trying to find a way for her students to write in her music classes. Through the two weeks, she learned some valuable ways to do so.

“I would do it again and again and again,” she said.

Contact staff writer Reba Lean at 459-7523.

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