Educator Development

Using the Arts to Enhance Student Learning



Free virtual professional development workshops for Iowa educators

Teachers create their own “sampler course” to explore different arts integration strategies, choosing among an exciting array of topics designed to meet student needs in this distinct moment and beyond. Class content will be a mix of asynchronous modules completed on your own time and synchronous sessions with nationally acclaimed workshop leaders.

Presented in partnership by Des Moines Performing Arts and Des Moines Public Schools, with guest instructors from Focus 5, Inc.

Additional Info

  • These virtual workshops have flexibility, for participants to mix-and-match topics that fit their interests.
  • Participants may register for a single topic or multiple.
  • License renewal credit is available! Those who wish to seek 1 license renewal credit should select and complete topics totaling at least 15 hours. Those who wish to seek 2 license renewal credits should select and complete topics totaling at least 30 hours.

Email with any questions.




Let's Talk Workshop

Let's Talk! Facilitating and Managing Student Conversations in the Arts Integrated Class
For Teachers of Grades K-12 with Melanie Rick

An arts integrated approach to teaching is grounded in collaborative, social, cooperative learning. This session explores how to establish the literacy of academic conversations so students can effectively engage in, navigate, and negotiate creative conversations. 

5 Hours Total:

Asynchronous Modules: completed April 6-13, 2021
Synchronous Session: Tuesday, April 13, 2021 | 3:45-5:45pm via Zoom
Threaded Discussion Due: Tuesday, April 27, 2021



Cut Paper for Emerging Writers

Sequential Storytelling: Creating Visual Stories with Cut Paper for Emerging Writers
For Teachers of Grades K-2 by Jamin Carter

Young storytellers will be thrilled to learn a new way to produce stories with characters, settings, objects and events through the simple process of cutting and gluing paper.

3 Hours Total: January 2021


Symbols and Vocabulary

Drawing Symbols to Acquire and Understand New Vocabulary
For Teachers of Grades 3-5 with Jamin Carter

Drawing is a powerful and untapped tool for students to build and explore their understanding of new vocabulary. Combined with a use of symbols it's a winning combination to acquire understanding of new and challenging words!

5 Hours Total: January 2021


Symbols and Reading Comprehension

Drawing Symbols to Enhance Memory and Deepen Reading Comprehension
For Teachers of Grades 5-8 with Jamin Carter

When drawing is used to make sense of information presented audibly or through text it can’t be beat! If you want to greatly increase students’ ability to accurately recall what they read, organize events in the proper sequence, and make sense of unfamiliar content this interactive workshop is for you.

5 Hours Total: January 2021


Dance and Movement for K-3

Dance and Movement Strategies for Virtual Learning
For Teachers of Grades K-3 with Harlan Brownlee

This participatory workshop introduces and illustrates dance and movement strategies that you can immediately take back to your virtual classroom.  Learn basic creative movement structures that will engage your students and form a foundation for effective dance integration. Please come prepared to move.

3 Hours Total: February 2021


Dance and Movement for 4-6

Next Level Up: Dance and Movement Strategies for Virtual Learning
For Teachers of Grades 4-6 with Harlan Brownlee

Building upon the K-3 workshop, Harlan Brownlee leads this participatory workshop that introduces and demonstrates basic choreographic processes and movement activities that will engage your students in the virtual classroom.  Learn concepts related to simple abstraction, form and function, and improvisational structures that strengthen a foundation for effective dance integration. Please come prepared to move.

3 Hours Total: February 2021


Acting Right

Acting Right: Building a Cooperative, Collaborative, Creative Classroom Community Through Drama
For Teachers of Grades K-12 with Sean Layne

This engaging, step-by-step approach empowers students to take ownership of and be responsible for their own behavior. Learn how to help students build the skills necessary to establish a sense of self-control, accountability, and teambuilding in your classroom.

6 Hours Total: February 2021

Moving and Breathing through Feelings

Moving and Breathing through Feelings: SEL and Creative Movement
For Teachers of Grades K-6 with Jessica DiLorenzo

Our emotional states shift as we move through events in our day. In this session you will not only learn a strategy to help students become aware of feelings and the events that shape them, but you’ll also learn how dance can become a tool to manage and express emotions.

5 Hours Total: March 2021


Sound and Rhythm Workshop

Building Reading Comprehension Through Sound and Rhythm
For Teachers of Grades K-8 with Imani Gonzalez

Explore new paths to help students develop reading comprehension strategies and make connections between music and language. This session guides participants through a process to help students create a Soundscape – a way to retell the story that connects students to the story’s tone, mood, setting, and the characters’ culture(s). This learning process will help students create sensory images, use questioning strategies, develop inference skills, and determine importance.

6 Hours Total: March 2021

Des Moines Performing Arts Partnerships: