The Education Innovator #10
Volume III
Archived Information

The Education Innovator
 March 14, 2005 • Number 10
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What's inside...
Communities LinkUP!
What's New
NCES releases A Profile of the American High School Sophomore in 2002; television program highlights arts education; Ready to Learn TV and Star Schools competitions now open; Arizona School for the Arts produces training manual and video on its Professional Learning Community project; National Association of Charter School Authorizers issues brief on what to consider when closing a charter school; Black Ministers' Council of New Jersey supports school choice; D.C. superintendent reveals plan to improve city schools; and National Museum of the American Indian hosts electronic field trip with Ball State University.
Innovations in the News
Governors' wives promote arts education, plus information on leadership, teacher quality, and technology.

Communities LinkUP! Links Students to Local Orchestras and Inspires Them to Perform
Orchestra musicians take their seats at the front of the stage and begin to tune their instruments while the conductor arranges his sheet music. The lights are dimmed, and the curtain rises, revealing the grinning faces of elementary school children, their teachers, and professional musicians poised with their instruments. The auditorium erupts into cheers and applause. It is clear that this is not an ordinary symphony orchestra performance. It is the culminating event for the local orchestra and the public elementary school involved in Carnegie Hall's new Communities LinkUP! project.

Communities LinkUP! is the national version of the original LinkUP! program of Carnegie Hall's Weill Music Institute (WMI), which offers educational programs for preschool children through adults in New York City and around the world. Communities LinkUP! can be implemented in conjunction with existing music education programs involving local orchestras and schools. The primary goals of Communities LinkUP! are: to teach musical concepts and skills while exposing students to the symphony orchestras in their communities, to strengthen relationships between local orchestras and surrounding public schools, and to provide rigorous professional development for teachers, orchestra administrators, and musicians. The program is aligned with national and New York State Learning Standards in the arts and is designed for use with public school students in grades four through six. The curriculum focuses on basic elements of music such as rhythm, scales, and chords, while increasing students' performing, creating, and listening skills.

The curriculum is yearlong and is based on sequentially linked activities that move students from classroom instruction in music theory and history to a final concert with their local symphony orchestra. At the concert, students can choose to sing along with the orchestra or play their own soprano recorders, which are flute-like instruments that are provided by Communities LinkUP!. For many students, the orchestra concert may be the first opportunity they have to perform in public. Throughout the concert, the musical concepts that the children have studied during the school year are demonstrated as they sing, read music, and play their instruments.

Each year, the LinkUP! curriculum presents different musical concepts that students examine through specific pieces of classical music. This season's program highlights the concepts of theme and variation and includes selections from Beethoven, Haydn, and the American composer Charles Ives. Teachers participating in the program receive CDs containing the musical selections and LinkUP! instructional guides. The guides include lessons about the ways in which composers use theme and variation to create their music. The guides also feature worksheets, biographical information about the composers, and listening maps that the students can use to analyze the music they hear. During lessons, students explore concepts by singing, creating original compositions, learning to listen critically, and playing along to songs on their recorders.

This year Communities LinkUP! is working with ten symphony orchestras across the country:

  • Duquesne University School of Music (Pennsylvania)
  • St. Louis Symphony Orchestra (Missouri)
  • Honolulu Symphony Orchestra (Hawaii)
  • Baton Rouge Symphony (Louisiana)
  • Interlochen Arts Academy (Michigan)
  • West Shore Symphony Orchestra (Michigan)
  • Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra (Louisiana)
  • Carnegie Hall West Virginia (West Virginia)
  • Whole Schools Initiative and University of Southern Mississippi Orchestra (Mississippi)
  • Ft. Worth Symphony Orchestra (Texas)
To facilitate the implementation of the Communities LinkUP! program in each area, in the fall of 2004 WMI hosted representatives from the participating orchestras and school districts for a two-day workshop. Thirty-nine teachers, musicians, and orchestra directors from eight states gathered at Carnegie Hall. The workshop included sessions on lesson planning and repertoire for teachers and musicians, individual meetings and roundtable discussions about program logistics for orchestra administrators, and presentations on activities that could be used with students.

After the workshop, participants received teachers' guides and students' workbooks, instructional CDs, soprano recorders, and videotapes of the session. Participants then returned to their communities to implement the curriculum with other local teachers and musicians. Throughout the 2004-2005 school year, WMI is continuing its professional development by conducting videoconferences with the local sites to monitor progress and to help teachers and musicians with program implementation and materials.

The LinkUP! program has common elements in each area of the country, although orchestras and schools are adapting it to best serve the needs of their unique populations. WMI selects the symphony orchestras that it believes would benefit from Communities LinkUP!.

Hollis Headrick, Director of the Weill Music Institute states, "Smaller, local orchestras may not have the resources to reach students that Carnegie Hall does. Communities LinkUP! gives materials and support to schools, and the schools have moved the program beyond our expectations."

The Center for Children and Technology at Education Development Center, Inc., will conduct a national evaluation of the program and incorporate case studies at the sites in Mississippi, Louisiana, Missouri, and Michigan. The ongoing study will analyze the program's implementation, delivery, and effect on student achievement.

Communities LinkUP! is a program of the Isaac Stern Education Legacy and is funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Education's Fund for the Improvement of Education. Communities LinkUP! also is supported through a grant from the Verizon Foundation.

  • Carnegie Hall, LinkUP! Program
Note: The featured program is an example of one arts education program. The program is innovative, but does not necessarily have evidence of general effectiveness from a rigorous evaluation.


What's New
From the U.S. Department of Education

The Department's National Center for Education Statistics released a report entitled A Profile of the American High School Sophomore in 2002. The major finding is that students realize the importance of earning top grades and more than half stated that challenging courses, such as Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate, were an important tool to keep them motivated to attend school. The full text of the report is available at can be ordered by calling toll free 1-877-4ED-Pubs, or by visiting EDPubs. (March 10)

Education News Parents Can Use, the monthly television program from the U.S. Department of Education, will air a live program on arts education on March 15 at 8 p.m. Eastern time. The program will feature programs funded by OII. To view the program, visit a facility with satellite downlink capabilities or call a local cable access station or school board channel. Viewers may also visit the site's Registration Gateway for options and times in their area, which may stretch over the next month. (March 7)

From OII

The Ready to Learn TV competition is now open. The competition is for a cooperative agreement to facilitate student academic achievement by supporting the development and distribution of educational television programming for preschool and elementary school children and their parents. The competition has two parts: 295 A for programming and 295 B for outreach. Public telecommunications entities are eligible to apply. The deadline to apply is May 13, 2005. (March 14)

The Star Schools grant competition is now open. The competition includes two priorities: 1) to provide supplemental educational services using emerging technologies for students attending schools in urban and rural communities that have not achieved Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) in two or more years; and 2) to enhance literacy and mathematics skills through the use of gaming and simulations technologies. The deadline to apply is May 9, 2005. (March 8)

Arts Education

Arizona School for the Arts (ASA), a college preparatory charter school in Phoenix, has recently completed a two-year OII Arts Model Development and Dissemination grant for its Professional Learning Community (PLC). The PLC is a school community in which teachers and administrators share learning in order to positively affect student achievement. As part of the grant, the school produced a 250-page training manual and a video on how the PLC was created and operated. (March 9)

Charter Schools

The National Association of Charter School Authorizers' (NACSA) latest issue brief download files PDF (213K) examines what authorizers need to consider when they close down a charter school. The brief recommends that authorizers adopt a "standard, yet adaptable" procedure that is consistent, protects students, and reflects the interest of the public. (March 9)


The Black Ministers' Council of New Jersey issued a statement about school choice as a way to ensure that African American and poor children receive a quality education. The Council supports the idea of giving parents scholarships to follow the student to the public or private school of their choice. The Council also sees choice as a way to bring public school reform through competition. (Feb. 10)

Closing the Achievement Gap

Washington, D.C. School Superintendent Clifford B. Janey revealed a plan to dramatically improve the city's schools. Under the plan, schools will receive new learning standards in every school and grade level, new curricula, new textbooks, and new training for teachers to implement the new strategies and materials. Students will also take a revised standardized test starting in the spring of 2006. (March 5)


The Smithsonian's newest museum, the National Museum of the American Indian, will host a 90-minute, interactive electronic field trip with Ball State University (IN), which will air on Tuesday, March 22, between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Eastern time in 49 states. During the broadcast, viewers will be guided by the museum's cultural interpreters and will be encouraged to call in with questions or submit questions online in a live discussion. Videotaped questions also may be submitted. Viewers can register to receive the Internet broadcast by visiting, or checking local cable and PBS listings. (March 10)


Innovations in the News

Arts Education
Florida's First Lady Columba Bush has been promoting arts education as part of a statewide initiative called "Arts for a Complete Education / Florida Alliance for Arts Education." She and South Carolina First Lady Jenny Sanford and Georgia First Lady Mary Perdue recently oversaw the development of a curriculum that uses work from painter Jonathan Green to teach children about the arts and African American history [More-Naples Daily News] (March 8) (free registration)

The Kennedy Center in Washington, D. C. will devote $125 million to performing arts education over the next five years. A Family Theater is being built, where children, not theater professionals, will produce the shows. Other offerings will include a web-based performing arts experience for children, distance learning, and career development for young aspiring professionals. [] (Feb. 16)

Arts Reach, an arts education symposium and expo, took place on March 9 in Ventura County (FL). The symposium, designed for educators, administrators, artists, and arts organizations, was an opportunity for the arts and education communities to meet, make new partnerships, and share resources to advance opportunities for students in the area. [More-Ventura County Star] (March 9) (free registration)

With the aid of school administrators, students in the Emerging Leaders law program at East Baltimore High School (MD) have created a Student Court, which is helping to create a sense of community at their school while lowering the number of students who are suspended and expelled. [More-Baltimore Sun] (March 2)

Home visits are making a comeback in many of the nation's schools. Dominion High School (VA) Principal W. John Brewer credits his school's success in part to his own home visits. Brewer and other administrators and teachers like him use the visits, not only to introduce themselves to families, but also to win parents' assistance in helping children who may be academically or behaviorally struggling at school. The Knowledge Is Power Program (KIPP), a network of public charter and contract schools, asks that teachers visit the home of every new student. [More-Washington Post] (March 8)

Teacher Quality and Development
A growing number of schools around the country are focusing on a global perspective in their classrooms and curricula. In February, nearly 300 educators advocating global studies gathered at the International Studies Schools Association (ISSA) conference where they shared resources for teaching students about other countries and cultures. The conference offered practical advice to teachers to move beyond teaching students about the food and flags of other countries to include politics, geography, and customs. ISSA is a four-year-old network of K-12 schools housed at the University of Denver, committed to expanding the number of teachers and schools that include international content in their curricula. [More-Education Week] (March 2)

The "laptops-for-all" program in Henrico County (VA), begun in 2001, provides every student with an iBook laptop. According to a study commissioned by the Henrico County School Board, 88 percent of students bring their iBooks to school every day, and 80.5 percent of students with iBooks use them at home an average of 1.8 hours per week. [More-Mac Observer from Richmond Times-Dispatch] (Feb. 14)


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Last Modified: 08/13/2009