Using technology in the arts gives students endless possibilities

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There are tons of great charter schools in New York and Connecticut going above and beyond for their students. This means staving off the summer slide, either with an extended year or a robust program to keep their students engaged in these summer months. For students at Broome Street Academy in Soho, incorporating technology into the arts made for an exciting summer program.

With today’s constantly changing and evolving world, making sure students are equipped with 21st century skills is becoming more and more important each day. For students at Broome Street Academy Charter High School in Soho, summer was a time to learn and hone those skills. Thanks to a summer program you wouldn’t find at most schools, breaking the summer slide was a fun and incomparable experience.

Broome Street’s summer program is called TAPE – Technical Arts and Physical Education. For a school that specializes in serving the most marginalized students – BSA has an admissions preference for homeless students and students in foster care – a program like this is critical in speeding up development and offering students a world-class education.

Eighty BSA students took part in the six-week TAPE program. The program has a project-based technology and arts curriculum that gets kids engaged in creating content and exploring new technologies. There was also a physical education component to keep the students active. The program offered opportunities for the students in areas like 3D modeling and animation, 2D design, game design, programming and filmmaking.

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TAPE is led by BSA’s Arts Director Karrieann Damon. This is the program’s first year, and Damon says the goal was to make learning for fun and exciting for the students.

“You find so many schools where there is great curriculum, but kids can be bored. That’s because the arts are missing,” Damon said. “We wanted this to be something the kids would really love. We have incorporated technology into the arts program, and we’ve worked a lot of the STEM curriculum into this in ways to make the kids passionate about their learning.”

Damon was blown away by the reception the program had from students.

She said, “Even just in the first week engagement went way up. Being here has created a positive attitude about school and life in general.”

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Looking at the activities the students did, it is easy to understand their excitement. Google Expeditions brought virtual reality into the BSA classrooms, giving students a firsthand look at the future of technology. It gave students the opportunity to explore the world and the universe, and was even featured on the Today Show.

A big focus in the program was allowing students to work on things that were close to them and steer the learning and projects.

“It was a great way to provide more interactive learning as it was so student-driven. The possibilities were crazy,” Damon said.

Students used projects at TAPE to explore their identity. As a play on the school’s initials “BSA”, students worked under the theme of Being Seen As – having the kids think about how they want the world to see them. Students could show off who they are through a variety of mediums, such as games, video projects, blogs or performances. It all culminated in a gala where students could show off what they had worked on this summer.

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TAPE helped get students far more engaged than they likely would have been over the summer, and the results are looking promising for the fall. The school is looking to hold the program again next year, and even step things up.

BSA’s Head of School Dr. Barbara McKeon said of the program, “Our students now have a greater understanding of the ‘why’ in the math and literacy skills embedded in the curriculum. In some ways it will affect the way we teach as much it has impacted student learning. We are super excited to grow this program and are discussing opening it up to other students in the city in the future.”

Joe was the Deputy Communications Director for New York for the Northeast Charter Schools Network.
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Using technology in the arts gives students endless possibilities
Using technology in the arts gives students endless possibilities
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