A passionate group of parents and classroom teachers–collectively known as the Arts Focus Team–committed to the idea of developing an enhanced curriculum with more art, music and technology, have seen their dream come true.
The Las Virgenes Unified School District School Board unanimously approved an innovative plan known as the YB BEAT or ’s Bridging Education, Arts and Technology plan. This program is the culmination of the Team’s three-year initiative to add creativity and digital media proficiency essential for student success in today’s world.
Emblematic of its rich tradition of academic excellence, Yerba Buena Principal Christina Desiderio formed the group in 2010 to explore how the arts and technology could be integrated into its educational instruction to both support and motivate student learning. With this ambitious objective, the Team developed a plan in which the arts and technology are an integral, interdisciplinary, sequential part of every student’s academic experience to foster inspiration, creativity, and provide a foundational grasp of relevant technologies.
The YB BEAT program will enable students to focus on problem solving and employ creative thinking as they design, create and execute tasks, as well as encourage flexibility in tackling problems from different perspectives.
In math, for example, students will be able to utilize more artistic and technology tools to envision mathematical concepts. These skills are what students will need for the complex, interconnected challenges awaiting them in higher education and, ultimately, in the global workplace.
Students will engage in rich interactive experiences with visual and performing arts as well as in new technologies in curricula that meets or exceeds California’s academic standards.
The school’s enriched focus has already been recognized by the Los Angeles County Arts Commission and the Los Angeles County of Education, which awarded an Arts for All grant to fund professional development that focuses on practical arts and technology integration for the 2012-’13 school year.
The grant will support performing arts in first, second and third grade classrooms for a variety of such multicultural experiences as African drumming, storytelling and dance. The new program will also kickoff a creative initiative called Friday Focus for students in the fourth and fifth grades learning community who will have the opportunity to choose from a wide range of artistic electives in six different six-week sessions.
YB BEAT will also integrate technology learning and interactivity in the classrooms. Building on a foundation of such computer lab activities as developing personal narrative podcasts in Garage Band and iMovie or storytelling on the Storybird and Glogster Websites, this new program will incorporate the new National Educational Technology Standards created by the ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education) to ensure students are ready to learn and work in an increasingly connected global and digital society.
“The Yerba Buena Elementary School community believes that children deserve a safe, stimulating, enriched learning environment in which every child thrives,” said Desiderio. “Our focus is academic rigor and excellence within the research-supported framework of arts and technology integration, strong teacher collaboration, high expectations of achievement in core content areas and community involvement.”
The Yerba Buena staff is dedicated to providing a rich educational experience that challenges all students develop meaningful academic and social skills as well as provide opportunities to develop an awareness of their innate artistic and creative abilities through an arts and technology focus, said Desiderio.
"Our goal is for all students to become motivated and responsible learners, resourceful problem solvers, and respectful partners and collaborators with their peers while being challenged to achieve in the core basics of reading, writing, speaking, listening, critical thinking, computing and reasoning,” she said.
The faculty will prepare for the YB BEAT program first with a focus on crafting the visual arts curriculum and, in Phase Two, designing the new performing arts curriculum, which will include elements of dance, music and drama.