Dana Project Final Report

Dana Foundation / Rural Arts Education Project

Borderlands Theatre  & SAAA Project Collaboration

Theatre Professional Development

Final Report  –  March 30, 2011

Summary of 2008 – 2011

Submitted by :      Karen Kay Husted, SAAA Project Director  karenkkhusted@gmail.com
Alida Wilson-Gunn, Borderlands Theater Education/Outreach Director

            First we would like to thank the Dana Foundation for supporting and embracing this unique and innovative rural school professional development project.  The eight sites who have experienced the training, coaching, and mentoring are experiencing  a culture shift in teaching and learning through arts integration.

As we come to the culmination of the Borderlands Theatre & SAAA Project Collaboration we believe we have very successfully met our professional development goals.   Significant teacher change is evident as measured by our five – point teacher observation rubric.  All teachers have embraced arts integration, but have found drama and theatre integration to be a very effective learning tool.    We have witnessed them using it as an instructional tool to integrate language arts, social studies, science, math and technology.

Through teacher change we have also been able to significantly impact the learning of students.   We believe we have met the overall goals and intent of this grant.

“It has opened up a new world for our students by encouraging them to take risks and be courageous enough to bring their true, creative selves into the classroom.  The activities they have engaged in have helped them realize why school is important to them on a personal level and see learning as relevant and meaningful.”

Ft. Thomas High School English Teacher


Narrative  (include 2008 – 2011):

            Borderlands Theater (BLT) and Southeastern Arizona Arts in Academics (SAAA) Project is a professional development theatre collaboration for isolated rural school teachers who are located in two rural Arizona counties.  We believe we have made a definite impact by providing teaching artists an effective model/framework to implement professional development in the classroom and to be a part of on going professional growth with teachers.

1.  Summary of Dana-funded project:

A)   Proposed professional development goals:

  • All eight sites have received professional development in storytelling leading to script development
  • Seven sites have received training in readers’ theatre approaches for teaching and learning as well as for performance.
  • Seven sites have received training in story theatre and some sites have utilized it for their community performances.
  • All teachers are able to use Understanding by Design as a tool for planning an arts integrated curriculum.
  • All of the teachers have demonstrated an ability to use performance-based assessment.
  • Five of the sites have received training in digital story telling and the ability to transfer those stories to a performance venue
  • All three years BLT has produced a performance that was generated from the student’s stories and writing.  Students were able to view their work being performed on stage by professionals.

B)   Samples of  theatre integrated projects developed by students with the leadership of their teachers:

  • A dramatization of the Gulf Oil Spill  (Grades 3 -  5)
  • A video of the choices one can make between good and evil regarding such issues as substance abuse, poverty, and further education on the San Carlos Apache Reservation Grades 9 – 12)
  • A dramatization of the discovery of the Monarch Butterfly in Mexico (Grades 6 – 8 )
  • A dramatization of the events leading up to the American Revolutionary War (Grades 1 – 2)
  • A student written interpretation of  “Macbeth” and the “Crucible” performed as a readers theatre  (Grades 10 – 12)
  • A story theatre performance, of original student legends, regarding animals of the Sonoran Desert and Apache culture (Grade 4)
  • Dramatization of traditional and non-traditional holiday literature.  (Grades 1 – 5)
  • Dramatization of literature from social studies, language arts and science.  (Grades 1 – 12)
  • The project will culminate with two all school workshop/performance events.   One scheduled for April 28, 2011, at the Safford Performing Arts Center in Safford, AZ.  The other is scheduled for May 4, 2011, at the Phoenix Art Museum in Phoenix, AZ.
  • All sites are interested in further professional development in arts integration and want to receive further support and mentoring.
  • Four of the sites, who have excelled with the professional development, are seeking ways to mentor other neighboring small rural schools. We believe this speaks to the success and the impact this project has had on teachers and their strong articulation of the benefits of the project.  We are exploring ways to assist and fund these sites with continuing professional development.

2)         Problems with the project as related to budget and timeline adjustments :

  • Basically we were able to follow the timeline and the budget that we proposed.   Our biggest challenge was to work around statewide mandated testing.  Due to testing, we will not be able to culminate our workshops and events until May of 2011.
  • Scheduling adequate training time at sites to fit within the budget resulted in sites not having the same amount of training each year

3)        The most challenging and surprising aspects of the project:

  • Our most difficult issue in the implementation of this project was the lack of technology and a lack of training in the use of technology.    We did some of our training and planning with technology and had to significantly modify it to meet the equipment and skill level of the sites.  In addition,  some limited support in technology was provided.
  • Scheduling enough quality training time at each site is always a challenge, because of mandates on schools and artists schedules.   However, we believe we were able to schedule adequate time for a majority of the sites.
  • Surprisingly, teachers and artists, in general, had no training or exposure to Understand by Design and performance based assessment.  They had not heard of this method of curriculum and assessment development.   It took more training and coaching time to enable teachers and artists to implement these methodologies.
  • Since we are dealing with multiple school districts, they are all on different school calendars.   They frequently had different start and end of school dates, and different breaks and holidays.   These issues all added to the complexity of scheduling combined training sessions and overall scheduling and reporting issues.

4)         Next steps for this project and the use of its outcomes: 

  • We plan to publish some of the planning and assessment templates that were developed and used in this project.   We believe they would be of assistance to anyone working to establish a professional development program in arts integration.
  • We plan to present the process, planning and assessment tools at a conference in order to provide us with feedback for improving all the instruments.
  • We hope to be able to find funding to provide service to these underserved rural schools and to further perfect the model we have developed.

5)         How the support of the Dana Foundation has benefitted the organization.

  • The support from the Dana Foundation has significantly elevated the educational outreach component of Borderlands Theater.
  • We believe this change in status has contributed to the long term viability of the theater and has elevated its status as a significant community and statewide partner in the cultural arena.
  • More staff members and artists have received training and experience in educational outreach, which contributes to sustainability of the theatre.

Statistical Overview

6)         How many artists were trained as a result of this grant?

  • Over the course of the grant 15 BLT artists have been actively involved with the professional development process.
  •  An additional 5 artists who are part of the SAAA cadre have been impacted.

7)         Number of training sessions offered:

  • October, 2008  a  4 hour training session for artists
  • December, 2008 – an 8 hour training session (teachers & artists)

Another ½ day for artists

  • January, 2009  – an 8 hour training session for artists & teachers

Another ½ day for artists

  • February, March & April, 2009,   3 training sessions for artists of approximately 2 hours per session.
  • June, 2009, a 3 day training for artists and teachers

Another ½ day for artists

  • August, 2009,  a one day training for artists and teachers

Another ½ day for artists

  • January,  2010, a one day training for artists and teachers

Another ½ day for artists

  • February & March, 2010, 2 training sessions  for artists of approximately 3 hours.
  • June, 2010, a 2 ½ day training for artists and teachers

Another ½ day for artists

  • August, 2010, a one day training of 8 hours for teachers and artists

Another ½ day for artists

  • January, 2011, a one day training of 8 hours for teachers and artists

Another ½ day for artists

  •  March & April, 2011, a 2 hour training and planning  sessions with artists
  •  April 28 & May 4, 2011, all day trainings/performance event

(The above summary accounts for major training, but not all coaching and mentoring that has occurred in the classrooms and electronically with regard to lesson planning, strategies for various school populations, additional technology support, and additional training in Understanding by Design.)

8)       How many hours of training were provided?

  • Over the three years the project has had 20 full days (160 hours) of training for artists and teachers.   Artists have had approximately 3 additional days (24 hours) in addition to the 20 full days.
  • During their residencies, artists have been coached and mentored by the director for an additional 8 hours per year which is an average of 24 hours over the three years.
  • Throughout the three – year process the teachers have received an averageof 200 hours or professional development.
  • In addition the teachers have had in classroom mentoring and professional development that averages 60 hours per site which over the 3 years and 8 sites is 480 hours of in class artists and director providing mentoring and teaching.

9)         The average number of training hours per participant is approximately 200 hours.

10)       How many sites were served by the training?

Eight sites received training from artists and the program:

Ash Creek Elementary                        Double Adobe Elementary

Ft. Thomas Elementary                       Ft. Thomas High School

Mt. Turnbull Academy (9 – 12)          Naco Elementary

Willcox Elementary                            Willcox Middle School.

* Due to scheduling issues and site emphasis some sites received more training than others.

“Many other inspiring moments have occurred during the past three years.  In my classes, the drama programs have had the greatest effect on my students.  The conflicts we faced the first year, when some students refused to participate, were not so much overcome but incorporated into our overall journey.  I think that one of the reasons students have developed the self-assurance they have today was because their feelings were honored.  Both Paul Fisher and Alida Wilson Gunn had many conversations with groups and individuals to help students work out their feelings of resistance.  This year we saw all the students participate in drama activities and performances in the classroom.  Mr. Fisher, Ms. Wilson Gunn and I were also impressed by the cooperation of students working in groups on readers’ theater scripts or other drama-related endeavors.”

Sandra Hill, English Teacher. Ft. Thomas High School