Garfield Elementary School


Program Descriptors:

  • Traditional
  • Rural
  • Elementary
  • Dance, music, theatre, visual arts
  • Standards-based curriculum
  • Instructional methodology
  • Student assessment
  • Professional development
  • Program administration
  • Personnel Funding
  • Partnerships and collaborations

Garfield Elementary School is a rural, one-school district serving a total of 61 students in grades K-6. The school offers standards-based arts instruction in all four arts disciplines, using part-time teachers in visual arts, drama, and music when they are available, and a physical education program incorporating dance. The district has a stated goal that every student will receive an education that reflects the state standards in visual and performing arts. The specialist and general teachers use the VAPA standards and framework to design lessons. These teachers also offer presentations to parents and the school board which include demonstration lessons showing how the standards are taught at each grade level and how they build upon one another.

The visual arts program is designed so that every child experiences working with a variety of media, develops an understanding of the elements of art and the principles of design, and experiences a sense of history and culture. This year the students received one unit of instruction from a local artist who specializes in drawing and illustrating. Students learned to apply line, shape, form, and dimension to representational drawing. Other units were taught by the school visual arts teacher who instructs all grades using a variety of media. She also includes cultural and historical components, such as an Asian scroll-painting lesson for kindergarteners and first graders. She also highlights specific artists, such as Georgia O’Keefe, and then has students study real-life models to produce their own compositions.

The music teacher comes twice weekly, offering a program that includes singing, reading music, and playing percussion instruments such as glockenspiels, xylophones, and claves. In the upper grades she teaches recorder. She utilizes a variety of songs from different cultures and historical periods and uses music to tell stories. She also includes dance and movement in her music instruction.

The physical education teacher offers movement and dance as a component of physical education. Sometimes the school also has dance majors from the nearby university teach dance units to the students. Each year the school celebrates spring with a dance festival including dances performed by each class.

In the past, the school has had theatre teachers and professional puppeteers work with each class on grade level skills. This year there is no drama teacher, so each teacher addresses the standards for theatre within her grade level and classroom. Each class has produced in-class plays as well as skits and reader’s theatre activities to share with other classes, parents, and the community. Drama is also integrated with language arts as students read stories and plays, write their own stories and scripts, and act out stories.

Arts are an integral part of the district’s School Plan. As with theatre arts this year, when a specialist teacher and/or funding is not available, all of the teachers use the standards and frameworks to create lessons and units. Most of the teachers have received additional training and experience in both visual and performing arts and have a broad range of experiences and resources from which to draw. The school’s K-2 teacher attended the Northern California Arts Project at Chico, and provides ongoing consultation to teachers. She also develops curriculum and coordinates school “Arts Nights.”

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