Higher Order Thinking Schools
The Connecticut Office of the Arts HOT Schools Program is currently completing its pilot year in partnership with Green Street Arts Center of Wesleyan University and has been awarded the grant for 2014. The partnership has exceeded expectations. A working administrative infrastructure is firmly in place with Green Street Arts Center.
The partnership has designed collaborative projects that are advancing the strategic goals and objectives of all stakeholders. These projects include professional development for teaching artists and a seminar for Wesleyan students and educators statewide in understanding The HOT Approach to Teaching and Learning. The HOT Schools Program is looking forward to broadening and deepening our collaborative partnership.
The Connecticut HOT Schools Program, established in 1994, has directly served over 47 schools in all congressional districts reaching over 90,000 students, approximately 4,000 educators and 120+ artist educators. The HOT Approach has been adopted by schools, arts organizations, and teaching artists across the country that are interested in understanding school culture change, curriculum integration, and arts-infused program design. In our partnering schools, we have established a supportive learning community, whose collective experience has molded the unique approach to teaching and learning that is HOT Schools.
The HOT Approach can be adopted by arts organizations, individual artists, and state and local arts agencies interested in understanding school culture, and curriculum design, and wishing to strengthen their school/arts partnerships and arts in education initiatives. The HOT Approach is designed to be flexible for adaptation and uniquely suited to help individual school communities address their specific needs and build community. The program director works closely with each school to design a professional development plan to implement the HOT Approach. Schools using the HOT Approach share a commitment to academic achievement through three essential components:
Strong Arts --Education in, about, and through the arts helps students develop critical thinking abilities, independent judgment and creative problem-solving skills. The arts, as rigorous academic subjects, each with their own sequential comprehensive curricula, convey knowledge not learned through studying other academic disciplines and provide stimulating vehicles for children to communicate their ideas.
Arts Integration --Developing basic skills is central to the HOT Approach to school renewal. An interdisciplinary approach to teaching reinforces learning in all disciplines; encourages students to seek, establish and test connections; and allows them to synthesize relationships between ideas. Integrating the arts into all subjects and creating arts-rich environments enhances and reinforces the power of the arts in learning in each school community.
Democratic Practice-- The arts provide avenues for expression in an authentic democracy. HOT Schools cultivate a school culture in which purposeful activities support choice, participation, connection and contribution to celebrate the unique voice of each member of the school community. HOT School educators plan and work collaboratively and invite parent partnerships, input and participation.
Characteristics of HOT Schools In HOT schools, the arts are rigorous academic subjects, each with its own sequential curriculum that conveys knowledge not learned through other academic disciplines. HOT schools integrate the arts across disciplines, creating arts-rich environments that motivate students to make connections between and among subject areas and ideas. HOT schools cultivate a democratic school culture to which all members of the school community contribute and in which individual leadership is emphasized. The HOT Approach is reflected in a school’s commitment to child centered, experiential, arts integrated teaching and learning. In an arts infused environment, the processes of creating, performing and responding lead to increased achievement, increased attendance by students and staff, lower rates of retention, higher self-esteem, decreased discipline problems, greater parent participation and a growing sense of community.
Professional Development The hallmark of HOT Schools is its comprehensive approach to training and professional development. Classroom teachers, arts specialists, artists, principals, and parents all assist with the planning and design of professional development which is offered year-round.
HOT Schools Summer Institute This weeklong residential program is open to all HOT Schools and interested participants from Connecticut and the nation. The Institute faculty includes national experts and noted artists. The week provides a solid grounding in HOT Schools philosophy, develops arts integration skills, and raises awareness of democratic practice in leadership development for students and teachers.
Leadershops Individual HOT School teams conduct day-long workshops that highlight best practices in HOT Schools. These sessions provide educators a glimpse into various aspects of HOT Schools and an opportunity to observe, engage in, and dialogue about ways in which HOT School teachers have transformed HOT theory into practice. This is a great opportunity for schools interested in knowing more about implementing aspects of the HOT Approach that fit the needs of their school culture. Leadershops are open to educators statewide.
Mini-Institutes The work of the summer institute is reinforced by two 2-day mini institutes, one in the fall and one in the spring. These gatherings hone in on a specific program component.
Peer Days Arts specialists and classroom teachers attend these day-long sessions at which they jointly develop standards-based curricular units or fields of study integrating a specific art form. Peer days are highly valued because they allow arts specialists and classroom teachers time to plan and work together.
Parent Support Parents are a critical part of the HOT Schools team. Parents are invited to participate in all professional development opportunities alongside teachers and become advocates for arts education.
Teacher-Artist Collaborations (TACs) take residencies to the next level and are characterized by the depth and breadth of training provided for teacher-artist teams. TACs promote a collaborative process in which artists and teachers jointly design arts-integrated experiences aligned with state and district standards. TACs provide rich opportunities for children to make connections between and among subject disciplines and ideas.
HOT Strategies HOT Schools employ innovative learning strategies that appeal to multiple intelligences and all levels of ability. Successful HOT strategies include:
Magical Mailbox, a student-owned and student-operated receptacle for student writing
Literary Board, a peer review board comprised of students who meet to set criteria, standards, and guidelines, as well as review Magical Mailbox submissions
Town Meeting, an all-school gathering that celebrates student work such as dramatic readings of poetry or writing set to original music
ECHOS (Enhanced Curricula HOT Opportunities) a series of designated block times when the whole school is engaged in theme-based arts activities.
Student Senate, a student governance group that meets regularly to address and pose solutions to school wide issues, concerns and events raised by their peers.
Application Process --Schools must apply to become a HOT School. Application information will be posted here when the opportunity is available.