When teachers said that engaging students in Arkansas history was difficult, Walton Arts Center worked to help. We knew that the arts could make the facts relevant, help students form enduring understandings, and inspire students to care about our state's history. Walton Arts Center's Learning team worked with Northwest Arkansas artists, playwright and educator Mike Thomas and Trike Theatre of Bentonville to create Digging up Arkansas, a play about three writers from the Federal Writer's Project who invite students to explore and organize historical artifacts before President Roosevelt's scheduled arrival in Arkansas. The writers unearth Arkansas mysteries and demonstrate how communication, cooperation, courage and culture have shaped our state history.
Digging up Arkansas is a state-wide effort to support student achievement through arts learning. In addition to providing performances for children in grades 3rd through 5th, the Digging up Arkansas project helps teachers improve the teaching of Arkansas history by providing online resources. In partnership with the Northwest Arkansas Writing Project, Digging up Arkansas lesson plans were developed. The lessons provide pre and post performance activities for teachers to implement in the classroom to deepen student understanding of Arkansas history and support student achievement in literacy.
This spring Digging up Arkansas will play in schools throughout northwest, central, northeast and southwest Arkansas, reaching more than 8,000 students. Plans are underway to extend the tour in the 2011-2012 school year.
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