Finding and Sharing Our Voices Through the Arts

Educator: Kate Finnick

Teaching Artist: Adriana Devers

School: Robert Moses Middle School, Grade 6

District: North Babylon School District


Robert Moses 6th grade students explored ideas of “our individual voices”and how culture influences who we are.  They discussed the value of sharing our voices in writing and speaking with others to learn how we are different and unique yet also similar in many ways. Students presented original literary pieces and spoken word/performances to demonstrate how the arts convey meaning and serve as a bridge to cultural understanding. 

Student Context: The school is designated as a Targeted Support & Improvement (TSI) school by the NYS with approximately 58% of 6th graders scoring at a proficient level in English Language Arts (ELA). Students at this school are 43% economically disadvantaged with 67% minority enrollment. ELA skills of reading, writing, speaking, and listening are a priority for this community.

Big Idea/Guiding Question(s):

  • Self exploration, community building and identity through the arts. 
  • Analyzing, connecting and creating original writing to discover one’s voice. 

What learning goals/standards did this meet?:


Literary arts, performance, visual arts, movement. 

  • Creating Conceiving and developing new artistic ideas and work.
  • Performing Realizing artistic ideas and work through interpretation and presentation.
  • Responding Understanding and evaluating how the arts convey meaning.
  • Connecting Relating artistic ideas and work with personal meaning and external context. 


  • Exploratory enrichment and arts in ed: Where does an artist’s inspiration come from? What inspires you?
  • Civic identity: How can the arts (poetry, music, paintings) assist in understanding our cultural heritage? How do we explore our own cultural identities through the arts?
  • College & Career Readiness: communication skills, understanding personal strengths, written expression, context, as it relates to interpersonal communication. 


Project will address the four principles of CR-S

  • Welcoming and affirming environment
  • High expectations and rigorous instruction 
  • Inclusive curriculum and assessment
  • Ongoing professional learning


KNOW…  how to contemplate art (poetry, music, visual arts)  beyond the aesthetic, finding meaning that allows us to dig into the creator’s process, his/her/their cultural background and how culture plays a major role in cultivating creativity. 

UNDERSTAND… how the arts can be used as tools in our society to build cultural awareness and appreciation.

ARE ABLE TO DO… original literary pieces, conveying individual messages/sharing parts of their family history/heritage.