«OPERA AND COMMON CORE: CONNECTIONS BETWEEN THE COMMON CORE STATE STANDARDS AND OPERA LEARNING PREPARED BY OPERA AMERICA’S COMMON CORE WORKING GROUP ...»
The ELA standards also guide the study of other subjects such as science and history. Over the years, opera educators have grown adept at using their process-based learning activity to teach various subjects, especially social studies. Schools may find that opera companies are particularly poised to provide programs that achieve ELA standards, but in these other subject areas.
Opera and Mathematics The standards for Mathematics also offer connections to opera learning. The NCCAS suggests that the math standards reference the four essential creative practices: imagining, investigating, constructing and reflecting. These “meta-cognitive activities nurture the effective work habits of curiosity, creativity, and innovation, critical thinking and problem solving, communication, and collaboration, each of which transfer st to all aspects of learning and life in the 21 century.” (National Coalition, 2012) The following eight “processes and proficiencies” are the Standards for Mathematical Practice, which form the backbone for
each grade-specific standard:
1. Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them
2. Reason abstractly and quantitatively
3. Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others
4. Model with mathematics
5. Use appropriate tools strategically
6. Attend to precision
7. Look for and make use of structure
8. Look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning General alignment exists between these math practices and opera programs that help shape students’ attitudes and behaviors. For example, artistic activities that ask students to persevere in solving creative problems and critique the reasoning of others. With production-based programs, opera companies can offer opportunities where students actually apply mathematics when learning about opera sets and costumes. Students can participate in pattern making, creating set drawings and models built to scale, and modifying costumes to fit different casts of singers. These activities are geared toward meeting specific math standards, such as “Measurement and Data,” where students generate measurement data by using rulers (CCSS.Math.Content.3.MD.B.4), or need to understand concepts of “area” and “plane figures” (CCSS.Math.Content.3.MD.C.5). Although mathematics are inherent in a smaller portion of opera education activity, such programs contribute to career readiness and offer practical problem solving in realwork settings.
***** The Common Core State Standards, across all subjects, were built upon key values that prepare students for success. These values are reflected in the ELA introductory section titled “Students Who are College and Career Ready in Reading, Writing, Speaking, Listening, and Language.”
1. Demonstrating independence
2. Building strong content knowledge
3. Responding to the varying demands of audience, task, purpose and discipline
4. Comprehending, as well as critiquing
5. Valuing evidence
6. Using technology and digital media strategically and capably
7. Coming to understand other perspectives and cultures The opera field acknowledges these values and many opera companies strive to meet these goals. The authentic connections to the Common Core State Standards allow opera staff, school administrators and all stakeholders to bolster their partnerships and refine their support of student achievement. Looking closely at the alignment between educational standards and opera programs is a valuable exercise, as it better defines the potential of an opera company’s impact in their communities.
OPERA America’s Common Core Working Group Jill Burnham, Los Angeles Opera Stuart Holt, The Metropolitan Opera Guild Barbara Lynne Jamison, Seattle Opera Sam Lowry, Sarasota Opera Ruth Nott, San Francisco Opera Erika Rauer, New York City Opera Cerise Sutton, Florida Grand Opera Andrea Walters, The Santa Fe Opera Jessica Weber, Chicago Opera Theater Leah D. Wilson, Director of Learning and Engagement, OPERA America Brandon Gryde, Director of Government Affairs, OPERA America Jackie Schiffer, Audience Development Project Coordinator, OPERA America
Arts Education Working Group. “Arts Education: Creative Student Success In School, Work, and Life.” May 30, 2013. Americans for the Arts. 1 August 2013 http://afa.3cdn.net/8e3a2547433204e8e8_x0m6bny1l.pdf.
Coleman, David. “Guiding Principles for the Arts: Grades K-12.” New York State Education Department. 1 August 2013 http://usny.nysed.gov/rttt/docs/guidingprinciples-arts.pdf.
National Core Arts Standards: A Conceptual Framework for Arts Learning. Unpublished manuscript. 2012.
(Appears in The College Board, 2012.) National Governors Association Center for Best Practices, Council of Chief State School Officers.
Common Core State Standards. Washington D.C.: National Governors Association Center for Best Practices, Council of Chief State School Officers, 2010.
Parsad, Basmat and Spiegelman, Maura. “Arts Education In Public Elementary and Secondary Schools 1999-2000 and 2009-10.” National Center for Education Statistics, Insititute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education. Washington, D.C. 27 August 2013 http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED530715.pdf.
OPERA America. “Professional Opera Survey.” Fiscal Years 2009-2011.
The College Board. “The Arts and the Common Core: A Review of Connections Between the Common
Core State Standards and the National Core Arts Standards Conceptual Framework.” New York:
December 2012. 1 August 2013 http://nccas.wikispaces.com/Common+Core+Alignment.
APPENDIX A: Examples of K-12 Opera Education Programs
Music!Words!Opera! Create Your Own Opera (Creating and Performing) Opera companies throughout North America host professional development programs for classroom teachers and music specialists. Teachers learn from opera teaching artists about how to create an original opera with their students. The process involves researching an original story (often based on curriculum in other areas such as history or science), drafting a libretto and composing the score. The opera companies are committed to helping teachers implement the program with their students. Projects have gone on to full productions where students collaborate to build sets, design costumes and perform a staged final performance. Contact OPERA America for a list of companies offering Music!Words!Opera! workshops.
Opera is Elementary (Learning About Opera) Opera is Elementary at New York City Opera introduces young children to the world of opera through the study of an age-appropriate work each year. Teaching artists collaborate with teachers to demonstrate the basics of music and drama during a series of two in-school workshops, and then encourage students to create their own interpretations of the story through original poems, songs or art projects. Finally, students attend a performance of the opera and participate in culminating projects and an optional follow-up visit with a teaching artist. In 2012-2013, the piece was Alice in Wonderland by Unsuk Chin, based on the novel by Lewis Caroll (an illustrative text for grades 4-5 listed in the standards), and this year the piece is Tobias Picker’s chamber opera, Fantastic Mr. Fox, based on the children’s novel by Roald Dahl.
In-School “Informances” (Opera Career Readiness) Florida Grand Opera (FGO) staff or artists from the Young Artist Studio travel to schools to share their talent, knowledge and career path with students in middle school or high school. For students interested in onstage performance, two singers and a coach give an in-depth presentation on the musicology and the performance of songs from operas, operettas, Broadway and concert repertoire. They also help students discuss careers in the fine arts. For students interested in backstage production, a member of FGO’s production team meets with students and gives an overview of the profession, types of jobs available and skills needed to work in the industry. This program can be tailored to specific school interests, including set design, set and prop construction, lighting design and use of lighting instruments.
Opera Time (Multifaceted) Seattle Opera fosters literacy in and through the arts with Opera Time, a curriculum enrichment program for early readers in grades Pre-K through 2 and ELL students. This reading and literacy program is delivered by a teaching artist/singer during a 30-minute session, and aligns closely with Common Core ELA standards.
Students learn a signature “At the Opera” song, that describes the opera experience. The teaching artist then reads a story. The story serves as inspiration for the students to create their own original scenes or arias exploring character and scenario.
Opera for All (Multifaceted) Chicago Opera Theater’s program brings Teaching Artists into Chicago Public Elementary Schools to educate students about music, singing and opera. Opera For All allows kids to understand the art by participating in it, both in production and in performance. Every student takes part in the creation and performance of an original opera. Past iterations of the program have included attending a dress rehearsal of a mainstage performance, an in-school performance by the teaching artists of an original opera, a field trip to research the subject matter for producing an original work (a trip to a planetarium for an opera about space, for example) and lessons with many different types of opera professionals.
In-School Opera Programs (Multifaceted) Los Angeles Opera conducts multi-week residencies, at elementary and secondary levels, teaching students how to perform in an opera along-side professional opera singers. These original works draw upon both mainstage operas and school curriculum (for example, Figaro’s American Adventure is adapted from The Barber of Seville and set in the American Revolution). Students learn the fundamentals of music, vocal technique and staging and put it into practice when Los Angeles Opera comes to the school with portable sets, equipment, crew and professional opera singers who perform alongside the students for their peers, parents and invited community. Students then attend a performance of the student matinee at the opera house.
APPENDIX B: Illustrating the Complexity, Quality and Range of Student Reading Operas Based On Literary Texts Grades K-1 Goldilocks and the Three Bears by Robert Southey (1837), opera by E. Hemenway* Babar the Elephant by Jean de Brunhoff (1931), opera by N. Berezowsky*
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck (1937), opera by C. Floyd *Listed in OPERA America’s Opera for Youth Directory Opera-Related Texts (Informational) The Great Poochini by Gary Clement (1997) Grade K-1 Opera Cat by Tess Weaver and Andrea Wesson (2002)
This list is not meant to be comprehensive. It provides examples of individual titles that are representative