Arts Renaissance in Tuscaloosa Schools

Bringing the arts to Tuscaloosa-area schools.



Growth in Presentation

As we’ve worked with the Alabama Blues Project thus far, we have seen continuously how the students (as well as ourselves as the teachers) have learned and grown through the process of making art. However, rarely have we been able to so directly and so quickly make an impact as we did today.

After working mostly with visual art projects and with the students’ final show coming up, it seemed only fitting to put their presentation skills to the test! The vocal students got the opportunity to stand up in front of their friends and fellow students and introduce themselves as well as a fun fact about themselves. We elaborated on what the vocal teacher had already taught the students and focused on diction, projection, and stage presence. This means making sure the audience can understand you, can hear you, and can see you.

The difference between the first round and the second was staggering! The shyest of students broke out of their shell in a matter of five minutes, volunteering to go again and asking questions. Every student stood taller and spoke louder and more clearly the second go around. And when we asked if anything was different between the first and second times, almost every single one of them expressed how much more confident they were after going through it once.

It was heartwarming and exciting to watch the students enjoy presenting themselves, and I look forward to seeing how far they’ve come at their final performance!


Cartooning at Matthews Elementary

Cartooning is more than just creating overdrawn caricatures, and the fifth grade students of Matthews Elementary School caught a glimpse into that world this past week. The lesson was to draw cartoons of themselves included with adjectives that best described them, while simultaneously bringing out their creativity. The fifth graders were encouraged to exaggerate their favorite feature on their face and then, using lines to create spaces in the background, fill in the spaces with adjectives that best describe themselves like “kind” or “funny” or “smart.”


All of the students that I was able to talk to were extremely enthusiastic about their work. Perhaps the only downfall was that most of them were intent on making their cartoon drawings “perfect;” however, this gave us the chance to show the real reason that we decided to do this activity: to boost self-confidence and cultivate creativity that was not necessarily realistic. By the end of the session, the students seemed to be grasping the concept that cartoons don’t have to look real; in fact, often they don’t and shouldn’t.

When the time came around at the end of class to present their work, it was amazing to witness the shyer students getting out of their comfort zone and presenting their cartoons to their fellow classmates. They were proud, and it was heartwarming to watch.

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