Intersecting Cultures: Strengthening the Performance of Students in Language Arts, Math and Other Subjects Using Culturally Responsive Standards-Based Arts Education

"Project Intersect" was funded from 2006-2010 by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Innovation and Improvement, Arts in Education Model Demonstration and Dissemination Programs, Project # US351D06000. Project Intersect was a comprehensive and collaborative model designed and facilitated by the University of Minnesota's Institute for Community Integration and Curriculum and Instruction Art Education Program, for American Indian and non-American Indian students in grades K-8 to enhance their interest, understanding, enthusiasm, and performance in standards-based subjects.

Project Intersect addressed specific gaps and weaknesses in educational service, infrastructure, and opportunities for American Indian and non-Indian students in Cloquet Public Schools and the Fond du Lac Ojibwe School. The Ojibwe of the Fond du Lac Reservation, located in rural northern Minnesota, are primarily members of the Lake Superior Band of Minnesota Chippewa. Chippewa or Ojibwe refers to the bands of Great Lakes people who also call themselves "Anishinabe." Created by the treaties of 1837, 1842, and 1854, twelve Ojibwe reservations occupy the woodlands of northern Minnesota and Wisconsin; these are just a small portion of the Ojibwe Nation, which stretches around the Great Lakes in both the United States and Canada.

This project helped Cloquet and Fond du Lac students better understand and appreciate the visual and performing arts, language arts, math, science, and social studies and how they intersect with Ojibwe cultural teachings and learning. This work resulted in a new and effective model for arts education that integrates culture-based arts learning with standards-based education across content areas.

Overall Purpose of Project Intersect

  1. Partner with local American Indian artists to infuse culturally responsive American Indian visual and performing arts curriculum into K-8 education.

  2. Strengthen standards based-arts education in elementary and middle school grades.

  3. Integrate American Indian arts activities into arts education, language arts, math, science, and social studies.

  4. Ensure that this American Indian arts-based curriculum is aligned with state and national benchmarks and content standards in the visual and performing arts, language arts, math, science, and social studies.

  5. Research the effectiveness of the culturally integrated American Indian curricular model in improving student academic performance in the arts, language arts, math, science, and social studies.

  6. Disseminate the findings of a culturally-relevant approach to local, state, and national audiences for replication.

This curriculum guide was created in fulfillment of the grant, and serves as a resource for all teachers working to integrate art and culture in their classrooms. The lesson plans on this Web site were created, taught, and evaluated by the teachers of Fond du Lac and Cloquet public schools.

The teachers worked to design curriculum that mapped where American Indian arts and culture learning intersected with state academic standards and district benchmarks in other core subjects. These lesson plans showcase the success teachers, classrooms, schools, and communities experienced throughout this four-year project.

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