The performing arts have great potential for inspiring environmental awareness and appreciation of nature while promoting the kinds of attitudes that are the heart of environmental ethics. Many artists create works that speak metaphorically, with layers of meaning, calling us to a deeper consciousness of the Earth. The study, creation and performance of nature centered art can touch students in ways that are perhaps less evident in other subject areas.
Skills influenced may include perceiving, producing, knowing, communicating, evaluating and connecting. Accepting other's work and ideas as unique and valuable expressions of themselves and gaining respect for the art of various culutres should also result.
Standards for the English Language Arts
Sponsored by NCTE and IRA
1. Students read a wide range of print and non-print texts to build an understanding of texts, of themselves, and of the cultures of the United States and the world; to acquire new information; to respond to the needs and demands of society and the workplace; and for personal fulfillment. Among these texts are fiction and nonfiction, classic and contemporary works.
2. Students read a wide range of literature from many periods in many genres to build an understanding of the many dimensions (e.g., philosophical, ethical, aesthetic) of human experience.
3. Students apply a wide range of strategies to comprehend, interpret, evaluate, and appreciate texts. They draw on their prior experience, their interactions with other readers and writers, their knowledge of word meaning and of other texts, their word identification strategies, and their understanding of textual features (e.g., sound- letter correspondence, sentence structure, context, graphics).
9. Students develop an understanding of and respect for diversity in language use, patterns, and dialects across cultures, ethnic groups, geographic regions, and social roles.
- Contact information for local performing arts schools or community arts groups
- Resources for researching cultural connections between performing arts and selected environments
- "Green" journals
- Materials specific to selected projects
- Many performing artists receive inspiration from nature. Invite such artists to perform for students and speak about their connections with nature and how they translate that bond into creative artistic expressions. Students from performing arts schools or members of community arts groups could be good resources. If possible, arrange for the class to attend a play or concert with an environmental focus. Encourage students to record their thoughts about the artists they meet or the performances they experience.
- Facilitate a discussion of students' ideas on the importance of the performing arts. How would life be different without it?
- Instruct students to select a particular environment, ecosystem or species that is of special interest to them.
- Research the selection to determine if there are any particular cultures with which it is associated. Have people created any songs, dances or dramatic performances inspired by that natural environment? They may find musical interpretations which combine instrumental and natural sounds, beautiful songs or dances which interpret natural phenomena, plays, skits and puppet shows which act out Earth stories. Have students share their findings with the class. Discuss relevant symbolisms as appropriate.
- Instruct students to spend time alone in a safe outdoor environment. Take along a notebook to record observations, feelings and thoughts. Get "in tune" with the surroundings by paying particular attention to all the senses - sound, smell, sight, touch. See the Journaling strategy for specific instructions. By sitting very still with eyes closed, notice distinct sounds and smells. How often do human sounds interfere? How does the wind effect the environment? Watch for movements of leaves, grasses, flowers, insects, birds and other wildlife. Without interfering with its activities, observe one insect or other animal for a period of time. Gently touch and really feel leaves, bark, grasses, flowers and other natural objects. Record your experience in you notebook. Field sketching can be a nice addition.
- Have students work alone or in groups to select creative ways to express through song, dance or drama their knowledge gained, feelings or experience in nature. The possibilities are extensive. Their expressions may be influenced by examples from other cultures. They may make musical instruments from natural or recycled materials and improvise interpretive performances with or without accompanying music, write songs, rearrange existing songs, choreograph or improvise dances, create skits, plays or puppet shows. Costumes may add significant variations. Video tape students performances so they may critique themselves.
- As a class, offer an opportunity for other students and parents to enjoy the performances by scheduling an Arts and Nature Show. Encourage audience participants to interpret the performances for themselves and ask students questions about their creations.
- Students may select environments or specific species they have studied to interpret through song, dance or drama.
- Write a script.
- Teacher or student developed rubric for assessment
- Peer review
- Assessment of an oral interpretation about the performance, using a rubric
- The video taped performances can be assessed in student/teacher conferences
- Recognizing a need for information
- Identification and location of appropriate resources
- Reading required for research
- Extracting relevant information from a variety of sources
- Considering content validity
- Organization of written and spoken thought
- Planning for action
- Evaluation of product
Author: Hamlin, Joy