Opera by Children and the Utah State Core Standards

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OBC: Michael Ballam created Opera by Children in 1997. It is a dynamic program and offers teachers professional development accredited through USOE and our participation in the POPS program. We have developed a process which uses goals and objectives that encourage whole child learning and enriches curriculum through arts education integration.  This process is a hand and glove fit to the Utah State Core Standards which assist teachers in maintaining and meeting required standards through its implementation and identification of what the final desired outcomes should be; which are the individual and community learning in the classroom through the process and not a polished and refined opera production by adult definition in the end.
      OBC is an entry level collaborative integrated learning program; it is “active” learning and uses cooperative learning strategies throughout its application in the classroom. For this very reason OBC is a hand and glove fit for utilizing and teaching the Utah State Core Standards for English Arts Language (ELA) and Literacy in History, Science, Social Studies and Technology aspects through their reading and writing standards and objectives.
      The introduction to the Utah State Core Standards states: “When students meet the new  . . . core standards they develop the skills in reading, writing, speaking, and listening that are the foundation for any creative and purposeful expression in language.” (Utah State Core Standards for ELA, page 3) This very statement could be said about Opera by Childrenand has for years by the teachers that have implemented the program in their classrooms.
      The classroom becomes a learning TEAM where everyone is assisting the learning of not only themselves but also the other students in the classroom through cooperative learning which embraces students at their own level allowing each student to feel and be a contributor to the education of the whole group.  This is whole child learning and community building.
      It is project based instruction.
OBC Utilizes the Top Ten Core Standards for Writing and reading with ELA and incorporates history, science, social studies and technology as the students make connections:
·       Identify the learning goals to be met through OBC
·       Identify students learning outcomes throughout the OBC process.
·       Easily develop a rubric which identifies how learning objectives are accomplished with opera.   
·       Technology with research using  internet sites, media and opera highlights DVD
·       OBC utilizes writing techniques for students to express opinions or arguments, to explain, and to convey information at all stages of the writing process and expands to the physical and vocal communication of the story in performance.
·       OBC uses narrative and informational texts to gain background information and is used in new and unexpected ways.
o    OBC discusses the ingredients of a good story.
o    OBC teaches technique of changing tense to create the libretto.
o    Help the students understand appropriate “song moments”.
·       Students learn the multiple ways their writing may be revised beyond editing.
Opera by Children naturally encourages the growth in individuals and classes in the area of College and Career readiness in Reading, Writing, Speaking, Listening and Language:
·       Students “demonstrate independence” as they desire to research and understand complex texts while creating their operas to support their ideas. This enables them to “construct” language which effectively communicates in written, verbal and physical communication. OBC is about building on others ideas, to synthesize information.
·       Students use OBC to further expand their knowledge  generally as well as “discipline Specific”
·       Students evaluate their work and how it affects their relationship with audience and for all purposes and disciplines utilized. They learn how to effectively communicate not only through writing but vocally as well as physically.
·       The students must understand and fully comprehend the material they are creating in order to constantly critique their work and evaluate how effective they are with their new masterpiece.
·       While developing an opera together, students must come to understand one another’s culture and background as well as other cultures and perspective s as they communicate their stories; especially when utilizing history and social studies curriculum as a basis for their work. This process encourages and enables the students to develop respect for one another.
All of which is accomplished through our program philosophy of: Trust, Risk, Affirmation and Growth. It is explored through the medium of OPERA, which interpreted means “Great work!”  That is Opera by Children!
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