By Charlotte Smelser, MAC Arts Education Director
At MAC, we believe every child deserves to be taught in and through the arts. But we also understand the realities and challenges of modern-day education with standards to meet, paperwork to complete, assignments to grade, etc., etc. That’s why we strive to develop quality arts curricula teachers can easily incorporate into their classrooms and existing lesson plans.
Teachers can even choose pieces and parts of a MAC curriculum to present in a way that makes sense for their particular class and subject matter. The beauty of these curricula is that, for the most part, they’re flexible. Teachers can present one lesson or a few ideas from these curricula or teach the entire piece.
MAC ensures the quality of our curricula through partnering with other cultural arts groups and tapping the expertise of educators, historians, dancers, musicians, and folk and fine arts scholars.
The three MAC curricula listed below have been created by scholars and used by teachers around the state and beyond. All are available for download, free of charge, via the links below.
MAC’s newest curriculum was written to commemorate Mississippi’s bicentennial year. Mississippi History through the Arts is an impressive document that covers 200 years of history along with images of artworks and artifacts. It provides information on pre-statehood Mississippi including the Native Americans and early settlers, travels through major historical periods, and concludes with a unit that contemplates Mississippi’s future.
This curriculum was written to accommodate three levels: Elementary, Intermediate, and Advanced. MAC received special permission to provide access to more than 100 images of artworks created by Mississippi and non-Mississippi artists. Many of these images can also be seen at the Mississippi Museum of Art as a part of their permanent collection.
The Mississippi Blues Trail Curriculum focuses on individual Blues Trail markers placed across Mississippi. This curriculum brings the blues into the classroom for students to learn about the music and the musicians. Students also have the opportunity to create music while learning blues basics and instruments of the blues. Because blues music focuses on everyday life, students learn how history, emotion, and hardship are woven into the fabric of this musical style.
The curriculum is designed for 4th grade history classes, but lessons are written in such a manner that teachers can easily modify it to be taught through the 12th grade. Resources such as interviews, field recordings, songs, and videos are included to support each of the lessons. The curriculum also encourages partnering with the music specialists at the school and even inviting blues musicians for a live performance.
Moving to the Art of Good Health focuses on health, nutrition, and social etiquette. This curriculum brings ballroom dance into the physical education classroom. It is an excellent resource for teachers who are looking for a creative way to get students moving and promote good health, nutrition, and fitness. Teachers using this curriculum find that ballroom dance is a great way to teach respect, self-esteem, and working in partnership. The curriculum is designed for 6th grade health and PE teachers but can be modified for other grades as well.
All of these are available as a free download here. To give students an arts experience to complement the lessons of these curricula, schools can apply for a minigrant to bring a professional dancer, musician, or artist to campus. What a great way to expand the richness of these curricula!
For more information, contact MAC’s Arts Education Director, Charlotte Smelser at firstname.lastname@example.org.