DES MOINES – Iowa fine arts and social studies teachers have a new professional development program to further engage students.

The Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs has launched a new Iowa Arts Council program called “Folk Arts in the Classroom,” a two-day, immersive training that encourages teachers to incorporate folk arts into K-12 arts and social studies learning.

“Studies show that students who have access to the arts do better in school and develop creative and critical thinking skills that employers value,” said Chris Kramer, director of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs. “This program gives teachers a unique opportunity to integrate Iowa arts and history into their standards-based curriculum.”

Developed by the Iowa Arts Council, the program connects Iowa K-12 teachers, folk artists and cultural heritage organizations through continuing education and training. Every year, 10 pairs of teachers – one social studies teacher and one fine arts teacher – from 10 different Iowa schools will work together to learn about folk and traditional arts and to create integrated lesson plans that incorporate the practices in the classroom.

The program is led by master social studies and fine arts educators and includes two day-long visits to Iowa cultural heritage organizations, folk arts classes and presentations by museum professionals. For the inaugural year, the program will take place on June 10 at the National Czech and Slovak Museum in Cedar Rapids and June 11 at the Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum in Decorah.

During each visit, teachers will tour the facility, learn about the organization’s resources and participate in a class led by a local folk and traditional artist who incorporates both social studies and fine arts standards.

The Iowa Arts Council folk arts program is supported by the National Endowment for the Arts and offers one Iowa License Renewal credit through the Iowa State Education Association at no cost to educators upon completion of the program, plus meals and a stipend to help offset travel expenses. Current social studies and fine arts educators at Iowa public and private K-12 schools are encouraged to apply by Dec. 1.

The Iowa Arts Council is a division of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs. More information is available at iowaculture.gov or by contacting Jennie Knoebel at 515-242-6194 or jennie.knoebel@iowa.gov.

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