African-Themed Learning Strand

Here are some of the ways artists and teachers collaborate on activities in the African strand at P.S. 156, The Waverly School for the Arts:

  • African dance artist Caren Plummer and African drummer Kojo Plummer collaborate with first-grade teacher Allison Sicuranza and dance and movement teacher Scott Pivnik to prepare first-grade students for the culminating performance.
  • Poet Leonore Gordon works with Sicuranza and the students to create poems of farewell based on an African poetic form. Student poetry is incorporated into the culminating performance and published in a student poetry anthology.
  • Sicuranza uses the study of African dance as a starting point for a social studies and vocabulary lesson comparing dance in African communities and dance in the children’s own community.
  • Teachers and visiting artists communicate regularly about their plans so the artists can develop appropriate activities and teachers can prepare students to learn. Everyone involved in a strand also participates in regular team meetings to review the strand curriculum and plan the culminating performance.

“Learning is reciprocal between artists and teachers,” observes principal Martha Rodriguez-Torres. “Collaboration provides an opportunity for teachers to learn about the art form in a nonthreatening way and for artists to learn classroom skills.”