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Free Resources: Project SMARTArt, a Program for Integrating Media Literacy and the Arts Into K-5 Teaching

Posted Jun 3, 2005
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Project SMARTArt, an online resource offering a "how-to" program for teaching media literacy skills to K-5 students, has launched at The new site marks the completion of the Project SMARTArt pilot program at Los Angeles Unified School District's (LAUSD) Leo Politi Elementary School.

The Web site offers educators resources at no charge, including professional development guides, sample lesson plans, and integrated classroom activities covering a range of K-5 subject areas and grades. Descriptions of Leo Politi classroom projects are available in the "Case Study" portion of the site.

Project SMARTArt was funded by the U.S. Department of Education and the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) as one of the first media literacy grants, and it was carried out by a partnership that included the nonprofit Center for Media Literacy, LAUSD, the Music Center's Education Division, and AnimAction. The project was created to integrate two principal tenets of media literacy - critical analysis and self-expression - into traditional curricula, according to Tessa Jolls, president of the Center for Media Literacy.

The Project SMARTArt Web site features a replicable model that meets most states' education standards for Visual and Performing Arts and English Language Development, and provides specific, downloadable tools that support sustainability. Among these are the Five Key Questions of Media Literacy, developed by the Center for Media Literacy as part of its MediaLit Kit. All of SMARTArt's classroom activities, including the student-produced animation project, use one or more of the Five Key Questions to integrate the arts and media literacy into traditional subjects.

Project SMARTArt also provided training on creating 30-second animation shorts to both teachers and students from kindergarten through 5th grade. An animation tool called The Box!, developed by project partner AnimAction, Inc., provided the technology required to turn classrooms into professional animation studios, and teaching artists from the Music Center Education Division worked directly with students after planning activities with teachers. These lessons not only combined media literacy and the arts, but also integrated Open Court, the scripted reading program adopted by LAUSD.

Source: The Center for Media Literacy,

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