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Theater Department Chairperson Chosen to Create High School Theater Curriculum

(Hartford, Conn.) Brian Jennings, theater department chairperson at CREC Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts High School, was chosen from among 100 high school theater educators and teaching artists nationwide by the Educational Theatre Association (EdTA) to help create a standards-based curriculum framework and instructional units in targeted areas of theater. The goal is to provide high-quality professional development for EdTA members and the field of theater education. Jennings is part of 12, two-member teams from across the country who will work on this project in Cincinnati July 12 through 15.

According to James Palmarini, EdTA director of educational policy, the teams will receive web-based training in standards-based teaching and assessment strategies reflected in the 2014 National Core Theatre Standards. This will help prepare them to create the curriculum framework and instructional units. “The goal is to expand instructional practice for both classroom educators and teaching artists. They both bring a lot to the table for this project — artistry, pedagogy, and a mutual desire to create the best possible learning opportunities for students engaged in theatre education,” Palmarini said.

“Nearly 30 states have adopted new theatre standards in the past two years,” he continued. “To meet those standards, our teachers need a framework that articulates what is important to teach and learn in theatre. Along with creating and sharing quality examples of standards-based learning and teaching, the secondary goal of this project is to demonstrate how theatre educators — classroom teachers and teaching artists alike — can measure the effectiveness of their teaching and the learning of students.” Participating teachers are expected to use the instructional units and assessments during the first few months of the 2018-19 school year. They will also gather videos and written reflections generated during student engagement with the instructional unit. A select number of adjudicated portfolios, judged to be at or above the standards aligned to the individual instructional unit, will be posted on the EdTA website in early 2020.

The EdTA Model Curriculum Framework is supported by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). EdTA’s NEA Art Works matching grant is part of the more than $25 million in grants approved in 2018. The Art Works category is the NEA’s largest funding category. It supports projects that focus on the creation of art that meet the highest standards of excellence, public engagement with diverse and excellent art, lifelong learning in the arts, and the strengthening of communities through the arts.

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