Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Arts Education at Work

As you may know, Opera Colorado has one of the most comprehensive arts education programs in the state, reaching over 35,000 students and adults throughout the region during the 2011-2012 school year. One of our newest, and quite frankly coolest, programs is Generation OC (OC for Opera Colorado). Gen OC, as we fondly call it, is an in-school residency program where the arts are used to teach 21st Century Workforce Readiness Skills, a major emphasis under the Colorado Department of Education’s new academic standards. The curriculum is completely customizable to the teacher’s goals and students’ needs and ultimately introduces the students to career options in the arts like design and marketing.

The residency is a huge undertaking between our education department and the teacher spearheading the program at the participating school. We have been incredibly lucky to be working once again with Colleen Holub and her students at Rocky Heights Middle School, the place where Gen OC first started three years ago. We recently asked Ms. Holub about her experience with Gen OC and what impact she has seen it have on her students:

“It's loud.  It's chaotic.  It's not the settled English classroom of my youth, run by sturdy Mrs. Cordes who would certainly not approve of the commotion.  Or would she?  

The chaos and noise?  It's student energy and enthusiasm as my eighth graders discuss themes, symbols, and tag-lines appropriate for Romeo and Juliet.  They're talking about the most appropriate colors and fonts to use as they promote a story written by that old-dead-guy, Shakespeare.  They’re collaborating on marketing strategies while at the same time tutoring classmates through the finer points of using Photoshop.  These 14-year-olds know the difference between the events in the play and the opera, and they're looking forward to actually seeing the opera this school year.  What magic is this?'s Generation OC at Rocky Heights Middle School in Highlands Ranch.  

Gen OC is an amazingly effective way to present to students marketing strategies, story structure, and visual communication, while at the same time building an appreciation for opera and the arts.  With the guidance of Cherity Koepke and Meghan Benedetto, these kids have moved from thinking that opera is loud nonsense (really...many didn't know that opera actually had meaning!) to understanding that opera is yet another way to tell a story.  They’ve grown into critical consumers of information.  They’ve internalized the skill of persuasive writing at a deeper level. They’ve learned to trust each other and many have had the opportunity to be experts in photography, layout and design, image manipulation, Photoshop layering, and so much more.  There’s a lot going on and it isn't peaceful, but the noisy chaos is music to my ears. place I’d rather spend my days than with my eighth graders and Gen OC.”
Watch the Opera Colorado Facebook page to see the students’ final Gen OC projects on Romeo and Juliet and read more about the Gen OC program in the Winter 2013 edition of Ovation! due out in early January.

1 comment:

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