Professional Development Workshops for Teachers

Professional development workshops COCA offers intensive, hands-on experiences in which our teaching artists lead educators through practical, arts-based strategies to expand their abilities in art making and how to integrate the arts into their classroom teaching practice. Workshops are designed to last 2-3 hours, serve up to 30 participants and are brought to your school or district.

Dinosaurs, Rocks, and Time, Oh My!
In Susan Grigsby’s latest book, Wisteria’s Show and Tell Spectacular: Older than the Dinosaurs (Oct. 2012), a young child explores the concept of “How old is old?” and discovers that rocks are older than the dinosaurs. In this workshop, teachers will learn about arts integration methods to use with timelines and math; the use of creative and observational writing prompted by Critical Thinking Routines that connect to dinosaurs, trees, geology, and family histories; and the use of creative movement and tableaux to make science learning visible. Teachers will receive a copy of the book as well as the accompanying Teacher’s Guide, and learn ways to engage students in being Rock Hounds! (Grades K-8, 2.5 hours).

Dr. George Washington Carver: Teaching Across the Curriculum
Over one hundred years ago, Dr. George Washington Carver encouraged teachers to take children outdoors daily and to connect the outdoors with the school curriculum. He wrote lessons for them to closely observe plants and animals, grow their own gardens, and learn to calculate the math problems encountered in daily life. He also believed in the importance of students understanding how the elements of a habitat are connected.
Working with teacher and author Susan Grigsby, participants will discover ways to engage students using arts integration methods across the curriculum. Participants will receive a copy of Grigsby’s book, In the Garden with Dr. Carver (2010), and the accompanying Teachers’ Guide. This book was selected as one of The Best Children's Books of the Year, 2011 by The Bank Street Children's Book Committee, was named a 2011 Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People by the National Council for the Social Studies and was awarded the Growing Good Kids Excellence in Children’s Literature Award 2011 from the American Horticultural Society/Jr. Master Gardeners.

Focus on Missouri: Habitats, Animals, Agriculture, and People
We’ll look at hands on plant and soil science experiments; practice vegetable garden math and economics exercises that you will design to meet your students’ math needs; and learn how to incorporate the study of MO wildlife and habitats into research-driven persona poems and a readers’ theatre performance. Learn about Dr. Carver and his many contributions, as well as other noteworthy Missourians and how to create biographies rich in figurative language.

The Art and Science of Observation as Prescribed by Dr. Carver: Developing Critical and Creative Thinking Skills in Students while Connecting to the Natural World
In this writing focused workshop, we’ll explore observational nature writing, poetry writing, instructional writing, and the creation of riddles that employ simile and metaphor. Dr. Carver emphasized the importance of students practicing close observational skills, a practice that has been richly developed at Harvard into Thinking Routines.

Caring for People, Caring for the Planet: Exploring Sustainability and Character through Nature and the Arts
In this workshop, we’ll apply Dr. Carver’s philosophies and look at ways to involve students in the following: Reuse, Recycle and Invent – Projects for the Garden and School; Making the World a Better Place by Sharing the Beauty, Joy, and Food Nature Provides with School-Mates and the Community; and Learning the Arts and Crafts of Life Skills - from repairing clothes to making healthy foods.

Learning through Plants
In Susan Grigsby’s book, First Peas to the Table: How Thomas Jefferson Inspired a School Garden (2011), students learn through planting about not only Science and Math tied to gardens, but also Social Studies and Character Education issues. In this workshop, you will learn how to use plants, whether in a school garden or in containers, to engage students in arts integrated learning and how to make that learning visible through visual, written, and kinesthetic responses. Teachers will receive a copy of First Peas to the Table and the accompanying teachers’ guide. (Grades K-8, Two and a half hours)

Lively Classroom Connections through Theatre and Music
In this workshop teachers will learn the many ways to connect creative drama and music activities to reading, listening, speaking and writing in enhancing literacy skills. These strategies encourage problem solving and cooperation, nurture self-esteem, and help students strengthen their ability to speak in front of others. Lead by Diane Davenport, an arts educator for more than 40 years.

Rainy Day Dance
Join Dr. Alice Bloch for an exploration of Brain Dance, developed by Anne Green. Teachers learn to take students through eight movement patterns that promote brain integration, recuperation and oxygenation. This process can provide a quick focusing warm-up to start class, before tests or presentations, and is a great way to diffuse the energy that builds up on those rainy days stuck inside. Teachers will also explore the basics or Creative Movement including space and shape, energy and dynamics, and time. These concepts can also be related to other subject areas such as math, science, the humanities, ad literacy.

Professional Development Workshops can expand your teaching abilities. Pricing is determined by length of program. For more information or to reserve a program, contact:

Eileen Manganaro - (314) 561-4880


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