The Right Brain Initiative


Classroom status report!

April 5th, 2011 by Right Brain Team

Spring is one wild tornado ride for staff at The Right Brain Initiative. We become so wrapped up in making sure that arts experiences run smoothly in the schools we serve—and collecting evidence of our impact—that it becomes a challenge to come up for air long enough to report on what’s happening.

We’ll take the late spring and summer to fully process and analyze the work that has unfolded.* But in the meantime, here’s a bit of a status report, to give you a sense of the magic-making going on in our partner schools.

Total  residencies scheduled: 44 at 23 schools (see our complete map of the schools we serve in the 2010-11 school year)
Students served: Nearly 11,000 K-8 children in approximately 420 classrooms.
Artists engaged: 9 individuals and 9 organizations (this includes Young Audiences and Wordstock, who are both engaging multiple artists this year).

What’s been done!
So far, we’ve completed 27 residencies, and have taken documentation from one classroom at each school. Please visit our Flickr site to see the gobs of photographs we’ve collected and uploaded thus far.

Here are a couple of examples of what’s been happening:

Addie Boswell worked with the kindergarten – 3rd grade students at Ardenwald Elementary (Milwaukie) on a writing and visual art residency.  The school wanted to create books that would actually be published and find a permanent home in the school library. Students  in all grades wrote  self-expressive poems, with younger students using simple “I am” structures and older students exploring more complex poetic structures and tackling both how they see themselves and how they wish others to see them. Each student then worked with oil pastels and highly-pigmented New Zealand dyes to create vibrant illustrations that represented imagery from their poem.  

See more images of this residency below and on Flickr.

Addie Boswell and students at Ardenwald Elementary. (Photo by April Stephens)

• 4th – 8th graders at Beach School (North Portland) worked with Right Brain artist Rodolfo Serna to explore culture, community, history, math and language arts through large-scale public art. At Beach, a bilingual school, students explored the relationship of history to their own lives. They used math to scale their mural, and engaged in writing before and after the residency to articulate what they learned about their culture incorporating new vocabulary.

See images of the mural unveiling ceremony below and on Flickr.
Read how Beach described the project on their school webpage (scroll down to the third story on the homepage).

Right Brain artist Rodolfo Serna makes an announcement at the public unveiling of the mural at Beach. (Photo by Ernie Jones)


Beach School community members view the mural at the unveiling ceremony. (Photo by Ernie Jones)

What’s coming up!  

We still have 17 more residencies either in progress or slated to start sometime this spring.

• Kindergartners at Spring Mountain (Happy Valley) will work with Wordstock’s Nancy Coffelt to collaboratively create a fictional narrative song based on their science curriculum around  frogs, insects and butterflies. Each student will also create an oil pastel illustration to accompany lyrics of the song.

• As we speak, Woodlawn PK-8 School (Northeast Portland) is working with both Beth Rogers and Young Audience’s Bernie Duffy. Students will learn to use movement to communicate safe, responsible and respectful behavior. The school aims to build a healthy climate through a shared artistic experience either in the creation of photographic murals and the production of a theatre-based PSA.

• Later this spring, 1st grade students at Jackson Elementary (Hillsboro) will work with the Portland Children’s Museum to integrate visual art and science. Students will observe things in their natural environment with a keen eye as both an artist and a scientist, noticing detail and learning to create visual depictions of what they see – first in line drawing, then painting, and then three-dimensionally in clay.  Each class will explore a different animal, like birds or frogs, familiarizing themselves with specific anatomies and stages in their life cycle.

For more documentation on our work in classrooms as it rolls in, keep your eyes on this blog, and on our Flickr site.

*And stay tuned for our mid-August Show + Tell event, where we’ll unleash our 2011 annual report and publicly reflect on what we’ve accomplished this year.

A student at Ardenwald Elementary gleefully creates a portrait based on her own poetry. (Photo by April Stephens)


Right Brain Team