Arts in Schools: Technology, High Outcomes
In This Issue
Music and Empathy
Arts' Impact
PAL-Principals' Arts Initiatives
Weaving Art and Technology
Students who play music together develop more empathy

See the story below!

Survey for 14 States
NAESP is surveying principals regarding their needs,progress, and concerns about implementing the Common Core State Standards.
The survey is being sent to principals in WA, CA, IL, CO, UT, OH, PA, NY, NC, MD, FL, MA, KY, GA.
 If you are in one of these states, please watch for and 
respond to the 

Resolutions for 2013:


Investigate the Mentoring and Certification Program from NAESP


 Watch for the Arts Integration Preconference Workshop to be held at our NAESP Annual Conference


Register for the NAESP Conference


Connect with other Principals   


Read  some blog entries for insights on:


Big Data, Big Potential, Big Career Opportunities 


Brains, the Common Core & Leadership


LearnLab Helping Students' Brains Grow 


& More EducationNOW blog entries! 




 ~ ~ ~


Visit the NAESP website!


  Visit our Website 

where we have a library that includes previous editions of Wow! Ed 


 To help us meet your needs, please send an email with answers to the following questions:  

1. Primary concern or need: 2. Proposed dates of service:  

3. # of teachers:____  

4. What you expect from CEI:  


Carolyn Lieberg, M.A.
Contact Information
Contact our Director,
Dr. Christine Mason.

toll-free 800-386-2377 

To be removed from this email list please send an email with the header

 Dear Educator, 
Happy New Year!  As we enter 2013, we are struck by the multitude of issues that schools are facing. In addition to the pressure schools face to perform -- not only to compete --but to excel, schools now must address a heightened need for school safety and security.
In December, Wow! Ed publication was delayed by the violence at Sandy Hook. We mourn the loss of lives and the horrific tragedy at that elementary school. The violence captured our attention and caused me to focus on "Art" from a new perspective since the December issue was on art.  While art is not the answer to school violence, a curriculum that speaks to the individual and the strength of the individual student is a component of what is needed.
As we prepare students for their futures, we must provide activities in schools that acknowledge individual strengths and interests.  As I reviewed the articles that follow and as I considered the wealth of resources that are at our fingertips, I became even more convinced that tomorrow's future for all will be enhanced with inclusion of the arts. Whether it is art, music, or virtual opportunities for integrating art, curricula that include the arts provide for powerful learning experiences.  I encourage you to take a minute or two to follow a couple of links and share resources with your teachers.


The Arts Enhance: From Steve Jobs to Portland to Oklahoma City
By Suzan Mullane, MS Ed

"In my own philanthropy and business endeavors, I have seen the critical role that the arts play in stimulating creativity and in developing vital communities....the arts have a crucial impact on our economy and are an important catalyst for learning, discovery, and achievement in our country."
    -Paul G. Allen, Co-Founder, Microsoft

 "It is in Apple's DNA that technology alone is not enough--it's technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields us the results that make our hearts sing."
    -Steve Jobs, introducing the iPad 2 in 2011


   ~~Two scientific inventors who revolutionized the world.

   ~~Two passionate advocates for arts education.

Steve Jobs successfully integrated art in advanced technology, working on the belief that artful technology creates a better product. Would Jobs's extraordinary achievement have been a reality without the influence of a caring art professor? Perhaps not. Art drove Jobs's creative genius into the highly technical world of digital design. Inventing the Mac, then creating Pixar and eventually the iPad, Jobs's vision for the first Mac was fueled by his love of elegant fonts. His dream and initial creative drive was nurtured at Portland's Reed College, in a surprisingly novel place--an undergraduate calligraphy class. Seem like an unlikely choice? Consider Job's keynote speech for Stanford's 2005 commencement (The college posted the text of the speech and the video).


Public School art advocacy is getting a lot of press in both specialized publications focused on education and in general newspapers. (Principal, Ed Week, The Oregonian). Voters in Portland, for instance, agreed to a mandatory yearly tax of $35.00 for anyone living above federal poverty levels to support specialized art teachers for public school students (Schmidt, 2012).

Other states are exploring "art data" on student engagement, attendance, graduation rates and student resiliency. The goal? Launch kids on successful trajectories for academic proficiency and excellence where traditional programs have failed.    

Developed in North Carolina, A+ Schools are gaining ground in magnet, charter and some public schools. It is a positive answer to students who find themselves with limited art opportunities from funding cuts. Oklahoma's A+ Schools are an oasis for kids needing art engagement. Funded through state and private foundations, A+ is growing. According to Ed Week's Eric Robelen, Oklahoma's A+ School Network has grown from the involvement of 14 schools to nearly 70 in a decade (2012).
A+ was founded "to nurture creativity in every learner" through an art-infused curriculum that stresses: team teaching and collaboration, project-based learning, Gardner's multiple intelligences, and alternative assessments that adhere to individual needs. Some A + schools are literally A+. Others struggle with the ebb and flow of principal and teacher turn-over or community buy-in; in other words, fidelity checks are not necessarily scripted protocol in all A + Oklahoma schools. Nevertheless, the data looks promising.

A+ schools that followed A+ methodology with greater fidelity excelled in the area of: attendance, positive behavior, and academic achievement in reading and math, as compared to non- A+ Schools. Oklahoma's 2010 five volume report measured the years of 2002-2007.
It found that participating schools, on average, "consistently outperform their counterparts within their district and state on the [Oklahoma] Academic Performance Index," a measure that relies heavily on student-achievement data. The study also found other benefits, including better student attendance, decreased disciplinary problems, and more parent and community engagement. But it found the level of fidelity to the A+ essentials uneven, with those schools that adhered most closely seeing the strongest outcomes (Robelen, 2012).

Meanwhile, a separate, more limited study in Oklahoma City compared achievement among students in A+ schools with a matched cohort of students. It found that, on average, students across the seven A+ schools "significantly outperformed" a comparable group of district peers in reading and math, based on 2005 test data. However, not all individual schools outperformed the average, and the study did not measure growth in student achievement over time (Robelen, 2012).  


Another school in Oklahoma City making inroads is the Millwood Arts Academy, an art magnet school serving grades 3-8 that exemplifies a shining example of infusing art well (Robelen, 2012). Perhaps Millwood Academy will produce another creative genius for this century.  

   Adams, H.(2011, Oct 6) A tribute to a great artist: Steve Jobs. The Smithsonian
   Robelen, E. (2012, Dec 5) A+ Schools infuse the arts, other principles into study  Education Week. Print. A+ Schools infuse arts and other 'essentials' 
   Schmidt, B. (2012, Nov 6) Portland arts tax: Voters approve measure 26-146 to pay for arts teachers, organizations. The Oregonian. The OregonianLive     


ArtsEd at Work in Washington State 

When principals in Washington State want to add more arts learning to the curriculum they have access to a program that focuses on that very challenge. Principals Arts Leadership (PAL) supports the development of school-wide, individualized plans for integrating the arts into classrooms.


PAL was created by ArtsEd Washington, a nonprofit organization devoted exclusively to advancing arts education in K-12 schools. The director of ArtsEd Washington, Una McAlinden, describes the group's approach this way: "ArtsEd Washington embraces a vision of the arts as an integral part of student learning -- a vision that is supported by a number of educational studies. We are working to create systemic change in how arts education is perceived, funded, and taught in our schools. And we are having an impact because we remain flexible and responsive to what students, teachers, and schools need."


PAL was founded in response to principals who wanted to provide a complete education -- one that includes the arts -- to the students they served. Many of these leaders had also benefited from personal participation in the arts when they were children, and they recognized that these opportunities are essential for children today. In developing PAL, ArtsEd Washington wanted to    


create sustainable ways to activate arts in the classroom. To that end, PAL provides peer coaches to guide development of plans that help build school capacity by considering both teaching and learning. Each school creates a customized roadmap that builds upon that school's characteristics and community. The program positions the principal as the guiding force in a three-year cycle, where opportunities are matched with overarching principles to infuse arts learning into classrooms.


In Graham, Washington, about an hour south of Seattle, Rocky Ridge Elementary School provides the kind of success story that spreads encouragement to others. In 2005, the school was one of the lowest scoring in the district. Then assistant principal, Leita Earl, who later took the reins as principal (before retiring in 2012), noticed that a lot of the students struggling in math and reading were achieving success in the arts. The school was referred to ArtsEd Washington, specifically to the PAL program. Rocky Ridge was assisted in assembling a School Arts Team (a pillar of the PAL program), and then a plan was developed collaboratively by the team members. The centerpiece of the plan was that staff received training on how to integrate visual arts, theater, and dance into reading, math, science, and writing.


   "Our students love to come to school. They are more motivated because they know they can express their conceptual understanding through the arts," Earl said. In 2010, the school received the district-wide award for "most improved." Rocky Ridge met the AYP goals in special education reading and met proficiency goals for all in areas of reading and math.


Discipline issues also diminished. While the average monthly office visits were 65 in 2006, that number shrank to 12 in 2010. One other important piece of news from the principal is that she and the staff have not found an increase in their workload; instead, the teachers can be more intentional about their teaching. They have been able to shift their energy and time, and the benefits are flowing for everyone. Leita now serves as a peer coach in the PAL program.


The PAL model of long-term support and coaching gives principals the edge they seek via practical solutions, peer networks, and most importantly, the ability to embark upon sustainable and systemic change for the future. With this in mind, extending PAL to more schools statewide in Washington -- and potentially expanding regionally and nationally -- is the next major step for ArtsEd Washington.


Currently available in Washington State only, recruitment for the 2013-14 school year will open in Spring 2013. To learn more about PAL, and for announcements about future PAL enrollments and other capacity-building opportunities for your school, please visit and subscribe to the trACTION newsletter.


Go here for the PAL brochure.
Music and the Brain:
Two More Reasons to Say "Yes"

by Carolyn Lieberg 

Long-term studies are revealing unexpected outcomes linked to children's music lessons. While repetitions of "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" have become a standard stepping stone for prodigies and average players alike, the latest findings indicate that there is more to the music than the music itself.


When children work together in a band or in a musical game, they cooperate at a very fundamental level, and the behaviors they exercise evolve into empathy. Group music participation teaches children to have an understanding of the emotional state of another person, "which is the definition of empathy"(Hart, 2012). The goal is musical interaction among children, so games based on copying or exchanging rhythms as well as playing songs together serve the desired outcome.


The findings come from a year-long project at the University of Cambridge in England, where 52 children between ages 8 and 11 were divided into three groups: music-making, drama and other word activities, and no particular activities. Those children who participated in ensembles or even simple rhythmic exercises during the year had a conspicuously advanced development in empathy. Tal-Chen Rabinowitch, from the Centre for Music and Science, who led the study, said: "We feel that the program of musical activities we've developed could serve as a platform for a new approach to music education -- one that helps advance not just musical skill but also social abilities and, in particular, the emotional understanding of others." (University of Cambridge)


Another study supports the usefulness of taking music lessons, even if only for a few years. The collateral after-effects show that adults have sharper auditory perception, better auditory-based communication skills and improved executive function. "The last of these -- executive function -- encompasses such key learning skills as attention, organization, short-term memory and reasoning." (Healy, 2012). It may be that more years of lessons will demonstrate even stronger effects, but even a few years can provide a mental boost to academic thinking. Such results offer a window on "Twinkle, Twinkle" that looks over a much larger world than most listeners imagine.



   Hart, A. (2012, September 4). Music lessons in group settings may help children learn about empathy.  

   Healy, M. (2012, August 21). Mental benefits of music lessons echo years after practice ends. Los Angeles Times  

   University of Cambridge. (2012, June 13). Music of kindness: playing together strengthens empathy in children. Research News.  

Weaving Art into Core Curricula with Technology  

By Suzan Mullane, MS Ed   

With shrinking state and school budgets, art instruction is at-risk and often the first classes cut in spite of research suggesting that art is an effective medium to teach students.


John F. Kennedy once said, "To further the appreciation of culture among all the people, to increase respect for the creative individual, to widen participation by all the processes and fulfillments of art -- this is one of the fascinating challenges of these days." Kennedy's quote a half century later remains  relevant. Many schools have art participation challenges due to lack of funding. Fortunately, however, there is help. Consider free 21st century technology tools to integrate art within core subjects, tools already on hand at no additional cost. A variety of multi-media software can be effectively woven to assist the most challenged learners in math, science and literacy that, in turn, will increase student engagement.

Students in the schoolroom and at home can use technology in a number of new ways to engage and learn through the arts. Integrating the arts into learning serves multiple purposes, including long-term neuro-transmitter benefits (see article on Music and Learning above).


Windows and Mac OS both provide compatible programs for making music and producing movies. In addition, more and more software is available for free that invites children to draw, paint, or create collages. Sites where students can create music and collaborate on compositions offer many potential educational opportunities. Here is a brief program list of free websites compiled by CIETd in a "Tech Works" brief from the National Center for Technology Innovation (NCTI) and the Center for Implementing Technology in Education.   


Other Resources

Destination Modern Art (online)

From the Museum of Modern Art, this interactive online website speaks to students about art -- literally reading out the instructions, a help for students who do not read well. Students of all abilities can explore and use this site to learn about different interpretive ideas, practice vocabulary, learn how art is created, and much more.

Interactive? Yes! And Destination Modern Art can provide students with fresh opportunities to read non-fiction texts that are colorfully engaging. Students can practice note-taking or listen to key vocabulary words through close reading followed by a close-reading comprehension summary. This medium provides a powerful resource to introduce students to engaging non-fiction texts. For example, for a social studies connection, students can explore maps where artists were born or where they studied.   



A free download from Google, this 3D design program allows users to create imaginary cities, buildings, or recreate existing ones. First created for architects, it is a powerful educational tool students can use as well.

Studies show that girls often struggle with spatial relations and may "give up" on math as early as 4th grade. Part of the challenge is learning to manipulate and perceive items in space; lacking skills in this area, girls can develop avoidance behaviors that can impede achievement in math and science in later grades (Encouraging, n.d.).

Teachers can use SketchUP7 to help students visualize, draw and explore angles and plane geometry with fresh practical media.


Extension activities are limitless from students with learning disabilities to the highly gifted. Numerous free lesson plans are provided that will work with Common Core.
Art Partners focuses on addressing learning needs through the arts for children with disabilities in urban schools in New York. They also provide ideas on units of study.

Need a lesson template to integrate prosocial skills, social studies and team building? Try a Mandela. Learning objectives are provided.    
Apple has won five-star reviews from consumers because GarageBand extends real instrumental musicality. The company says: "GarageBand turns your iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch into a collection of Touch Instruments and a full-featured recording studio - so you can make music anywhere you go. Use Multi-Touch gestures to play pianos, organs, guitars, drums, and basses."

Ed apps have some fascinating ideas to link GarageBand to poetry or even slam poetry. In fact, Ed Apps has 15 different ways to utilize GarageBand in the classroom. Take a look!
Got a technology grant or extra funding from a philanthropic foundation? Consider investing in a new tech savvy trend that is literally gaining ground. Arizona State University has created a 15-square foot learning platform that mesmerizes students with a multitude of colorful concepts. No sitting required. Just ask Zachary from Elizabeth Forward Middle School in Elizabeth, PA. He's jazzed about the school's enhanced laboratory called SMALLab. " It's a lot more fun. You get it. And when you do with your hands, it sure seems a lot simpler." 

One of the first of its kind, the SMALLab, or the Situated Arts Multi Media Arts Learning Lab, uses the concept of "embodied learning." Getting kids out of their seats and engaging their brain with full-throttle novelty seems totally worthwhile. But this kind of novelty doesn't come cheap; 35,000 dollars may seem  prohibitive but the SMALLab class will become the most popular classroom in the school. Think of the math games! Or a lesson in science with light, color and gravity or even students manipulating large virtual molecules while learning chemistry? "Embodied learning," a technique that allows students to use their body and a wand to collaboratively manipulate visual objects on the board is art technology on a grand scale. "WOW!" (Digital Directions)



    "The Arts in America." part of a special adaptation of Creative America, The Ridge Press, Inc., 1962. Printed in Look Magazine. December 8, 1962.   

    Digital Directions: Tracking News and Ideas in Educational Technology, (2012, October 10) Education Week  

    Halpern, D., Aronson, J., Reimer, N., Simpkins, S., Star, J., and Wentzel, K. (2007). Encouraging Girls in Math and Science (NCER 2007-2003). Washington, DC: National Center for Education Research. 




Wow! Ed Arts, Science, and 21st Century Learning
Many of you have signed up for Wow! Ed and receive this newsletter directly each month as it is distributed electronically the second week of the month.  Since July all NAESP members have also been receiving Wow! Ed. Beginning in 2013, NAESP members will have two options for getting Wow! Ed--- it will be available as a link in the NAESP Communicator newsletter or you can continue to receive it as a separate newsletter. To get Wow! in your inbox as a stand alone publication, simply send an email with Yes! in the subject line and we will add you to the Wow! Ed database. (The email can be sent to or to

In upcoming editions during the next few months we will focus on  1) students who are twice exceptional with Asbergers and high cognitive abilities, 2) extraordinary examples of principal mentoring, 3) global education, 4) neuroscience and meditation, 5) Heart Centered Leadership, and 6) the Common Core state standards and 21st Century Learning. If you have news of exemplary practices, let us know. We seek to highlight schools that excel in demonstrating the nexus of research and practice.


 Chris signature  

Christine Mason

Director, Center for Educational Improvement

This newsletter has been provided to you by the Center for Educational Improvement as per our mailing list.  
Please send requests to