Stratton’s 5th-grade showcase: Cultivating the arts
Stratton’s 5th graders are branching out.
This semester, the students are engaged in a botany and science unit with a twist—it integrates visual art, music, drama, and dance.
It’s all part of Stratton’s “showcase” program, in which each grade-level learning unit culminates in a public performance. In this instance, they’ll put on a production of “The Jungle Book” in May.
Magnet Schools coordinator Emily Young says, “Along with studying the plant life cycle, our 5th graders designed and 3D-printed self-watering planters. They also visited Allerton Park, where they learned about landscape architecture.” The students then used the knowledge they acquired to create blueprints for a plot, which they’ll also be planting in May.
According to Young, every grade works on a showcase each year. “Showcases started when Stratton became an arts school,” she explains. “It’s a great way for us to show families and the public what we do at an arts-integrated school. And it gives each grade level a spotlight.”
For example, Stratton’s kindergarteners are working on a plants and animals unit, which will wrap up with a performance of “The Very Hungry Caterpillar.” And last semester, 4th graders performed the jazzy “The Aristocats Kids” as part of their studies on the 1920s Harlem Renaissance.
The 6–12-week learning units are collaborative and project based. “We love that it brings together kids at all learning levels,” Young says. “Everybody participates, everybody has a role.”
Stratton students take their showcases seriously. “We notice that school attendance increases in the weeks before and after the showcase,” says Young. “In fact, students sign contracts with our drama teacher,” because they know how crucial each role is—both onstage and backstage.
Young says that she’d like to see more community participation. “We do an evening performance for the public, and we also feature an art exhibit that’s set up to display what our students have learned throughout the unit. It’s a really amazing thing.”