What is BRAINworks?
Berkshire Regional Arts Integration Network (BRAINworks) is a federally-funded grant program providing professional development in arts integration for Berkshire County educators across PreK-12 classrooms, leveraging the region's existing cultural assets.
The program is a collaboration between the North Adams Public Schools and the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, in alignment with the Berkshire County Education Task Force.
Vision & Mission
Create a county where the arts are at the center of the curriculum, engaging with and benefitting from the rich cultural assets that are a pillar of Berkshire County.
To grow and expand educators' instructional practice in arts integration across the curriculum in order to increase rigor and deepen student learning.
Offer professional development to Berkshire County teachers, and engage with area cultural assets
Promote use of intentional planning and assessment strategies
Engage educators in the use of Webb's Depth of Knowledge schema to understand, scaffold, and deepen rigor in lessons through the arts
Deepen reflective practice for educators in both PreK-12 and cultural organizations through the creation of Learning Stories, including robust assessment of arts-integrated learning
Document and disseminate promising practices online and through the county-wide learning management system
Arts Integration and Webb's Depth of Knowledge
BRAINworks provides arts integration strategies that incorporate Webb’s Depth of Knowledge. What are these concepts? They’re large ideas that encompass assessment, rigor, artistic techniques and the scaffolding of learning.
The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts offers a comprehensive interpretation of arts integration: defining it as “an approach to teaching in which student construct and demonstrate understanding through an art form. Students engage in a creative process which connects an art form with another subject area and meets evolving objectives in both” (Silverstein and Layne, 2010). This type of teaching strategy can take the form of using creative movement to teach and assess learning about the water cycle, or creating a collage to illustrate the main themes of a difficult piece of literature.
Webb’s Depth of Knowledge (or, DOK) is a schema for understanding academic rigor, with four levels that help educators identify how rigorous a student task might be. Developed by educator Norman Webb, DOK categorizes the academic actions into four levels. Each subsequent level indicates increased rigor, and prompts educators to consider the cognitive effort required by a student to complete a task. Webb’s Depth of Knowledge is often illustrated by a wheel with a section for each of the four levels.
The C4 Initiative
The Creative Compact for Collective Impact and is a collaborative effort between Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA), Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation (BTCF) and the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission. C4 will bring together a network of cultural organizations, public school educators and administrators and private employers to create a K-12 arts education blueprint for Berkshire County that provides public school students with regular opportunities to participate in creating art and to experience Berkshire County's many cultural institutions. The C4 Initiative is made possible with support from the National Endowment for the Arts Creative Compact for Collective Impact (MCLA) and the Barr Foundation’s Creative Commonwealth Initiative (BTCF). Click the left-hand photo to visit the C4 webpage for more information.
Leveraging Change: Increasing Access to Arts Education in Rural Areas
Funded in part by the National Endowment for the Arts, this report was co-authored by Dr. Lisa Donovan, Ph.D. and Maren Brown, M.B.A. in 2017 to highlight the challenges and opportunities of increasing access to arts education in rural areas. The report also showcases effective practices, including creating collaborative rural networks and using technology to bridge physical barriers. Suggestions from a cross-sectoral convening in Berkshire County are featured. You can watch Dr. Donovan discuss this reserach in her talk from the TEDxNorthAdams event.
Improving Teacher Quality Grant Program
This federally-funded project serves preschool through second grade teachers in Berkshire County schools, including those in the Adams-Cheshire Regional School District, Child Care of the Berkshires, Head Start, North Adams Public Schools, North Berkshire School Union, and Pittsfield Public Schools. Since its inception in 2014, the program has emphasized the STEAM education model and the benefits of arts integrated curriculum. Professional development opportunities include workshops, summer classes, and in-classroom coaching.
MCLA Institute for Arts and Humanities
The MCLA Institute for the Arts and Humanities (MCLA-IAH) is a grant-funded initiative, supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, which works to strategically promote equity-centered change on campus and in the community by (1) expanding access to area arts and humanities resources, (2) catalyzing opportunities for interdisciplinary engagements, and (3) advancing experiential teaching and learning practices in higher education.