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2022 Grants Challenge

Teacher Lesson Labs: Arts Integration

Turnaround Arts: California partners exclusively with public schools in historically marginalized communities to effect school change through the arts. Our “Lesson Labs” pair teachers with teaching artists to design lessons that align core standards (i.e. math, science) with arts standards, bringing the arts into more classrooms. Lesson Labs train, equip and empower teachers to create arts-rich lessons that engage students and provide multiple entry points to learning.

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What is the primary issue area that your application will impact?

K-12 STEAM Education

In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

San Gabriel Valley

South LA

Other:: Southeast LA

In what stage of innovation is this project, program, or initiative?

Expand existing project, program, or initiative

What is your understanding of the issue that you are seeking to address?

Students need the arts to support their learning, develop social emotional skills, & become critical thinkers & engaged citizens. Research shows the benefits of arts education but decades of narrowed scripted curriculum & budget cuts have eliminated the arts from many children’s lives and disempowered teachers from innovating their lessons to incorporate the arts. LA County public school students in historically marginalized communities - students of color, those who qualify for free/reduced priced meals, English language learners - are consistently denied access to the arts-rich education available to their more affluent peers. Reports show this lack of arts education harms teachers’ ability to engage & motivate students (leading to high drop-out rates), deprives students from developing 21st century skills i.e. problem solving, critical and creative thinking (limiting their employability), & diminishes the likelihood of engaged adult citizens. This is an issue of basic equity.

Describe the project, program, or initiative this grant will support to address the issue.

Our Lesson Labs empower teachers to bring the arts back into their classrooms for the benefit of students, and all within the confines of curricular requirements and budget restraints. After a successful pilot in the 21/22 school year, Turnaround Arts: California is seeking to expand our Lesson Labs program with 5 of our partner schools in LA County. Through Lesson Labs, teachers are paired with a teaching artist to design, implement, and evaluate lesson plans that align core standards in subjects like math and science with arts standards. For example, teachers can use dance to help students understand the oxygen cycle, or use visual arts to teach key math concepts. By teaching with and through the arts, teachers create rigorous lessons that meet standards and also make learning more accessible for students (i.e. those learning English as a second language or those who struggle with reading and writing). Lesson Labs are an exciting addition to Turnaround Arts: California’s work and hold great potential to disrupt traditional inequitable school structures and teacher professional development models. Lesson Labs put teachers in the driver's seat to create arts-rich and culturally responsive curricular experiences that benefit all students. Moreover, through Lesson Labs teachers learn strategies they can regularly replicate across classrooms, for impact across growing numbers of students.

Describe how Los Angeles County will be different if your work is successful.

LA County is the nation’s creative capital, yet most students here don’t have access to the arts. Lesson Labs help change this. By empowering teachers, we create a ripple effect of positive change classroom by classroom and across the school, for the benefit of LA County’s students. Teachers will have opportunities to come together and exchange around their work. This supports further innovation in support of students across LA County. Lessons created through the program will also be formalized and made available to schools in our statewide network. We also take advantage of the rich creative landscape in LA. We leverage and uplift the expertise of local arts orgs and artists (such as P.S. ARTS and Budding Artists) and partner with them to bring their diverse expertise to our schools. This “collective impact” approach means we are able to make real progress to move forward a new vision for public education and arts access across LA County and California.

What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?

We piloted Lesson Labs in the 21/22 school year and teachers quickly reported an increase in student engagement, motivation, comprehension and knowledge retention. One teacher noted: “Lesson Labs allowed me to develop a creative unit on a content area that I teach every year, but is often difficult for students to grasp the concepts. Through this work, I was able to develop a unit that was engaging and relevant.” We realized we had created a model with potential for deep impact across the teaching profession, and are excited to build upon this work in the year ahead. In the coming year, we will evaluate Lesson Labs’ impact via (1) Mid-year and year-end teacher reports with qualitative & quantitative data; (2) Regular communication throughout the process on progress and areas for support; (3) Quarterly meetings with teaching artists re progress and areas for support; and (4) Creation of a shared teacher framework for assessing student learning.

Approximately how many people will be impacted by this project, program, or initiative?

Direct Impact: 3,650

Indirect Impact: 10,500